Daria Kadovik and Melina Zúñiga

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018

Arizona falconry takes flight in efforts to promote conservation

CHINO VALLEY – Joseph Pravongviengkham slips a hood of red kangaroo leather over the head of his falcon, Sully. He wants to keep his bird calm for the 30-minute drive to an open field filled with quail, jackrabbits and cottontails.

When they reach their destination, Pravongviengkham releases Sully from his box, removes the hood and takes the bird off its tether. Sully soars above the small group gathered, spots a pigeon and dives.

“Hey yo!” the crowd shouts.

Pravongviengkham, 21, of Waddell, brought his juvenile Barbary falcon to the three-day Arizona Falconers Association Desert Hawking Classic, a gathering of falconers – people who train birds of prey to hunt for sport. He’s happy with Sully’s performance, and the bird gets a reward – the pigeon. But when there is no kill, sometimes the thrill of the chase is reward enough.