CANTON  Stark County isn’t short on birds of prey. There are hawks flying over most backyards and plenty of owls in the area. Many area bird lovers, photographers and nature enthusiasts got a chance to learn much more about a few of the birds of prey while attending a falconry class at Gervasi Vineyard.

The Ohio School of Falconry held two classes on the grounds of Gervasi Vineyard. When the classes were finished, Director Joe Dorrian and his daughter, Lainey, held a peregrine falcon and a Eurasian Eagle Owl on their arms while visitors to the Gervasi were able to observe the birds and ask lots and lots of questions.

Kendyll Bartran, who works at Gervasi, said they decided to offer the classes because it was a different experience for their guests.

"It’s an interesting way to get people to come and enjoy the property, plus it’s a different way to access falconry classes," Bartran said. "We offered two private classes this afternoon and then opened it up to a free meet and greet for diners and visitors. Everyone enjoys seeing the birds of prey up close. There are bird lovers here along with photographers and people who just want to observe the birds."

The classes ended with Dorrian helping each participant call a Harris’s Hawk named Shelley to land on their leather gloved hand. During the meet and greet, Dorrian and his daughter answered questions about the birds’ diets, weight, characteristics, training and much more.

"Peregrine falcons eat mostly pigeons while the Eurasian Eagle Owl eats mice and other small animals," Dorrian said. "Falcons are one of the fastest birds of prey. The highest validated speed measured for a falcon was 271 miles per hour."

Dorrian said he became interested in falconry when he was a kid. He kind of lost interest when he got into high school and while earning his master’s degree in college.

"When I was a kid, I walked around carrying a whistle and a leather glove," he said. "After college and getting married, I picked the interest back up and have been working with the birds over 17 years. I once told my dad I wanted to be the best falconer in the world. I may not be the best falconer, but I am a really good educator and love teaching others about the birds and about falconry."

The Ohio School of Falconry offers individual and group programs such as Introduction to Falconry and Walk with Hawks. It also offers corporate team building retreats, school programs and special events.

The Ohio School of Falconry has a flight team of hawks, owls and falcons. The federally licensed falconers are also experienced educators. For more inforatmion, visit https://www.ohioschooloffalconry.com/.