Unless other arrangements are made, all young birds in 2019 will be parent-reared through day 35, about the age of the eyass female pictured here. At this point, when they are well past the age of imprinting, the young gyrs will be removed from the breeding chambers and introduced to the 4 Week Window program developed by Lynn Oliphant. The first stage entails taming of the young birds and introduction to the lure and hood before they are capable of flight. Then comes the hack.
The Hack Site
During daylight hours the young gyrfalcons will be at liberty to explore a wide, wild area. The hack site overlooks a massive ranch with a managed waterfowl production complex incorporating 27 ponds spread over more than 14,000 acres. Beyond this ranch are the Wind River Mountains and the Jim Bridger Wilderness Area. Gyrfalcons surviving this hack will have been exposed to golden eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks and other raptors. Primary potential wild quarry available to falcons at hack are sage-grouse and a variety of duck species.
Once flying the young gyrs will be encouraged to chase and compete with each other using the novel remote-controlled model aircraft known as the Berghwing - building muscle, flying skills and a mindset that are not obtainable in a breeding chamber or barn. Chasing the Berghwing essentially replicates the natural training by the adult falcons at a wild eyrie when they encourage the young birds to pursue them with prey in their feet. This directed, intense pursuit goes far beyond the typical play flying that occurs at a traditional hack and unleashes the full physical and mental potential of gyrfalcons.
The short video below illustrates a flight to the Berghwing in Dubai. This flight incorporates hard chasing by the falcon to 1,000 feet, a power stoop by the Berghwing to nearly ground level with pursuit by the falcon and multiple attempts to bind. Video use courtesy of Peter Henry Bergh.