Master Falconer: Bill Corbett
Bill Corbett is a master falconer who occasionally visits the Splash Center with a variety of raptor species from huge eagles to cute, little owls.
Bill became a falconer because of his interest in birds of prey and because of his love of being outdoors observing nature. Bill was first introduced to falconry at the age of 20, while attending the University of California at Davis. Bill studied Psychology at the University, and learned about falconry in his spare time.
To become a falconer requires educating oneself about the many aspects of birds of prey and their habitat. A falconer has to develop an understanding of the birds and must learn from other falconers the skills to train and care for them. Bill has been studying and caring for birds for 30 years. His knowledge and skill is demonstrated by the longevity of Ethel, the Harris Hawk that thrived under his care until she was 24 years old.
The apprenticeship to become a falconer lasts two years and a test must be taken and passed before a person can become an apprentice. It takes 7 years to become a master falconer. A falconer must truly love birds and be willing to spend large amounts of time with his or her bird and pay for things like licenses and items such as hoods for his birds. The youngest falconer Bill ever met was 16 years old.
On weekdays, Bill works in downtown Sacramento at the UCD Medical Center. In his free time, he continues to learn about birds and their behaviors, which makes him an amateur ornithologist. After work and on the weekends, Bill can be found outside enjoying the open grasslands while practicing his falconry skills with his Harris hawk Ethel.
When asked: “Why is it important to you to share nature with kids?”
Bill says, “It is important to share my love of nature with others because nature is becoming increasingly difficult to find in our daily lives. People will develop an appreciation and will care for things which they come to understand. By exposing people to the beauty and power of birds of prey, it helps to insure that people will help protect the birds and their habitats in the future.”