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Red-tailed hawk. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Paparo)
Red-tailed hawk. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Paparo)

Mario Didomenico of Hampton Bays still gets an adrenaline rush every time he goes on a hunt with his falcons and hawks — even after 30 years as a master-class falconer.

“I think it’s the pinnacle of outdoor activities where you can take a wild bird and train it into a hunting partner,” he said.

Mr. Didomenico, who trained Chris Paparo of Calverton and sponsored him when he received his own falconry license, has four birds of his own. He said he hunts with them every day so long as it’s not raining or too windy.

Mr. Didomenico said Long Island keeps losing parkland to development, making it more challenging for falconers to practice their sport. Despite the impediments and huge time commitment needed, he said it’s still worth it.


“It’s very relaxing and relieves a lot of stress from my daily work,” he said.

Falconers use a variety of birds when hunting and each has its own specific hunting style and dietary needs. Hawks are generally larger than falcons but falcons are faster. These are among the most popular birds in falconry.

Red-tailed hawk (Pictured Above)

Average weight: 2.4 pounds

Average wingspan:  4 feet

Prey: rabbits, squirrels, pheasant

Falconry style: Red-tailed hawks hunt by waiting in a tall tree, then swooping down on prey that are flushed out by the falconer.

Northern goshawk. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Paparo)
Northern goshawk. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Paparo)

Northern goshawk

Average weight: 2.2 pounds

Average wingspan: 3.6 feet

Prey: rabbits, pheasant

Falconry style: Goshawks are fast enough to be flown from the falconer’s gauntlet. They sit on the falconer’s arm until they leave their perch to chase down prey.

Peregrine falcon

Average weight: 2.3 pounds

Average wingspan: 3.6 feet

Prey: ducks, pigeons, crows

Falconry style: When diving, Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on earth and are capable of speeds up to 238 mph. Falcons “stoop” by flying high above their prey and diving to attack. They kill by knocking their prey out of the air.

Sources: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Chris Paparo

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