Youth “Falcon Club” held its first meeting at Altai State University

5 February 2024 Department of Information and Media Communication
Photo by Maria Dubovskaya

On February 1, the first meeting of the youth club for reviving the traditions of Russian falconry was held at Altai State University. It was created on the basis of the Zoological Center of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology, but any student is welcomed to become a member of the club.

About 20 students took part in the first meeting of the Falcon Club. Alina Bushueva, Head of the Department of Youth Policy and Educational Work of Altai State University.

“We are forming a new community at the university with the working name being “Youth Club for the Revival of the Traditions of Russian Falconry.” It’s no secret that last year the falcon became the symbol of our university featured on both the logo and the university’s coat of arms. This is a majestic and powerful bird carrying a scroll in its paws. Now we have a club at the university dedicated to working with these beautiful birds. Thanks to everyone who showed interest!”

Sergei Smirnov, Director of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University, noted that the new club for the university is deeply connected with the history of mankind:

“Falconry is a very ancient human activity; several thousand years BC, people hunted with birds of prey. This story goes through centuries and in many states and nations this type of hunting has been preserved; historically it was associated with the nobility and aristocracy. Its cultural significance led UNESCO to include falconry in its list of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. I would like to note that falconry is more than just a way to catch game. It embodies traditions, history, and human interaction with nature, with birds. This practice is of interest to a wide range of disciplines, including biology, history and art history which can deal with studying, and maybe even restoring, the historical costume of a falconer. Physicists can take part in the development of radio sensors for tracking birds, and so on. Everyone will find something to their own interest. Communication with a living object is always inspiring.”

Sergei Snigirev, Director of the Zoological Center of Altai State University, spoke about the Altai-Falcon nursery and the work that needs to be done.

“Our Rector Sergei Bocharov was inspired by the idea of creating a club while we were attending an international forum in Vladivostok. Falcon Day was held there, and we had an opportunity to observe how falconry is developing in Russia and its prospects. Today, dear students, you have a unique opportunity. Altai State University is the only university in Russia that has a falcon nursery. We have the necessary base, and most importantly, a unique population of a genetically pure subpopulation of the so-called Altai falcon. For those who are afraid of the word “hunting,” I note that falconry can be humane. For example, we can hunt a decoy bird, such as the golden pheasant, which the falcon catches, but does not kill, it can be taken away.”

Sergey Snigirev noted that the first eggs are expected to be laid in March making the beginning of the hatching process for falcon chicks. Five or six birds will be selected for raising by members of the falcon club under the guidance of the most experienced falconer Pavel Konnov. He will provide instructions on communicating with the birds, training them to perch on your hand, take food from a person’s hand, and respond to vocal command for flight. It will be followed by training hunting techniques using dummy prey. Additionally, students will develop their skills in conducting public demonstrations with falcons.

After the introductory lecture, the event participants watched an interesting educational film about the Altai-Falcon nursery and the life of falcons. Then they visited the Museum of Nature of Altai State University, where Director Viktor Petrov spoke about different breeds of birds of prey.

The highlight of the event was the visit to the Altai-Falcon nursery itself, which is the place of work with falcons. Dmitry Ryzhkov, a leading engineer of the nursery laboratory, demonstrated the birds and spoke about their habits, the history of hunting, and answered students’ questions.

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