A true highlight of the New York Renaissance Festival is the Sky Kings Falconry presentation, an awe-inspiring birds-of-prey presentation that takes place right above the audience.
The sport of falconry took place during ancient times and enjoyed a resurgence during the Renaissance, practiced mostly by the upper class and royalty.
Wildlife Revealed, a nonprofit dedicated to the education and preservation of wildlife, has been presenting the Sky Kings program at Renaissance festivals for more than 12 years. This is the second year they have presented at the New York Renaissance Faire and will be there for the full season, through October.
The organization’s demonstrations and educational programs feature hawks, owls, falcons, falcons, vultures, parrots and other colorful and interesting animals. They focus on the history, unique traits and natural abilities of these incredible animals.
Jordan Turner, originally from Georgia, leads the presentation, with the help of John McLaughlin, from Monroe, NY, and Taylor Cousineau, from Paige, TX, where Wildlife Revealed has a facility.
At the show, audiences see several types of birds. First, Xena, a Harris’s Hawk, glides gracefully over the heads of those in the crowd. Next, Romeo, a Eurasian Eagle Owl with an enormous wingspan follows Turner’s commands.
Later, Grimley the vulture makes an appearance with distinct white tufts on his wings. “Grimley might have come in contact with poles of a transformer or two power lines and burned his wings to the bone, destroying the follicles where the primary feathers grow from,” said Kevin Gaines, founder of Sky Kings Falconry Service. “Since he cannot fly, he could not be released. So we gave him a job as an animal ambassador.”
Grimley is friendly with the audience and a favorite of children in the crowd. The entire presentation is a birdwatcher’s dream. Visitors can get up close to the majestic raptors and there’s a new photo opportunity every second.