HAMMOND, La. (WGNO) — Birds are simply incredible. Kitty Carrol has nearly 50 years of experience in falconry. Her knowledge of birds is extensive.
“They can see so much more than we can. They can see the magnetic field of the Earth because they have iron oxide in the back of their eyes that line up like little compasses. That enigma was solved about a decade ago, after years of trying to figure out how birds can migrate,” says Carroll.
The Louisiana Renaissance Festival has been going strong since 2000 and Carroll and her team of close to 20 fiercely feathered friends have been there since the festival opened. Her and her family’s mission is education, conservation and the artistry of traditional falconry. Her international falconry academy is based in Florida and does demonstrations all over the world.
There’s a lot to be amazed at when looking at birds in the sky. Scholars and scientists generally agree that birds diverged from theropod dinosaurs in the Jurassic period, some time from about 60 to 150 million years ago. The biological family group that comprises birds of prey, like eagles, falcons, owls and ospreys are categorized into the family group known as “raptors.”
Falconry began several thousand years ago as a way for humans to hunt prey. “We always say, 3,500 to 4,000 years, but recent findings say it is closer to 10,000 years,” says Carroll.
Carroll goes over the must haves in preparing for the Renaissance Festival shows, saying “for proper falconry equipment, we have a leash, the traditional bells and the gloves.”
In falconry, Carroll explains that there is known ownership. The relationship between a trainer and a bird is a partnership. Carroll is partners with a lot of birds.
While introducing some of her feathered partners, Carroll says, “this is a Harris hawk. It is a new world species. It’s also called a Louisiana Hawk and they are found in western Louisiana from Lake Charles and as far east as Mississippi. This other bird is named Mary Fiona, and she is very special because she is a Peregrine Falcon, a species that was saved because of the practice of falconry. This bird over here is Newton, and he is a Barn Owl! Many villages in Europe encourage barn owls because they are far better than cats at rodent control. This is Buster and he is a Red-Tailed Hawk.”
She spends her life sharing her world of birds to flocks of visitors. Thousands attend the Louisiana Renaissance Festival every year to see her. She always opens her show with Skully! Skully is her Scarlet Macaw, who speaks in exchange for a well-deserved treat.