- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WADSWORTH, Ill. (AP) - Craig Hendee’s dad was a biology teacher and one day several of his students showed up at the family’s door with an injured red-tailed hawk.

Hendee was just a kindergartner at the time, but he became fascinated with the bird and turned to the encyclopedia to find out how to care for its damaged wing.

The boy and his dad nursed the bird for two days, keeping ice on its wing, until they finally were able to release it back into the wild.

Hendee was hooked.

Years later, when he was grown and leaving home, Hendee immediately decided to get into two things: motorcycles and hawks.

It set him on a path that turned his childhood fascination into a lifelong career working with birds of prey around the world,

The Old Mill Creek resident now has been a licensed falconer for 47 years, teaching the ancient art of falconry and keeping it alive for future generations.

As the executive director and president of the International Heritage Conservancy, he works with 19 birds, including a pair of sibling Peregrine falcons, Alvin and Tommy, who he not only uses for hunting and bird abatement, but also for educational purposes.

They may be brothers, but the two falcons are very different birds, he says. Alvin is calm and can even travel in the car without wearing a hood. Tommy, on the other wing, is more high strung and an excellent hunter, always looking to chase after prey.

As a falconer, Hendee holds six permits that allow him to use the birds in his conservation and education programs for a variety of uses, depending on their species.

Hendee says he’s very active in the preservation world, helping to document wild populations of birds by first capturing them, recording their vital data and then banding them before releasing them back into the wild.

He works closely with the Mongolian Artificial Nest Project, which seeks to protect and restore the saker falcon in the wild, and is U.S. coordinator of the Mongolian Schools Link Program, which connects children in Mongolia with U.S. students, including those at Rockland Elementary School in Libertyville, where he frequently teaches kids about birds of prey.

He also works with a conservation project in El Salvador, where many of the migratory birds from Illinois spend their winters, and helps organize the third annual Festival of Falconry in Abu Dhabi, sponsored by the Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates.


Source: (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald, https://bit.ly/14zzzbd


Information from: Daily Herald, https://www.dailyherald.com

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