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Birds take flight at Hawk Manor Falconry

Hawk Manor Falconry is owned and operated by Chip and Sommer Gentry. They are based in Lillington.

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Tandra Wilkerson
, WRAL contributor
LILLINGTON, N.C. — Mixing education and fun is a winning recipe when it comes to our activities. There's nothing like learning and laughing simultaneously. One of the most memorable experiences of this kind happened recently at Hawk Manor Falconry.

It was the epitome of a good time.

Hawk Manor Falconry is owned and operated by Chip and Sommer Gentry. They are based in Lillington. I came across this place while doing research for our summer adventures.

Falconry is the sport (or art) of training birds of prey to hunt. It's one of the oldest sports known to man. Birds we "met" and learned about during this workshop include a red-tailed hawk, a gyrfalcon, a black vulture and a barn owl.

Chip taught us everything from the history of falconry to the specific physical and instinctual characteristics of each bird. We learned the ins and outs of how and, more significantly, why falconry is important.

Chip's ability to teach while keeping us all laughing and engaged was nothing less than impressive. Add to that the good-natured banter of his wife and partner, Sommer (who is also a teacher!), and it's a winning combination.

It was fun but also endearing to witness the interactions between the birds and the Gentrys. A level of respect, trust, and care between them was apparent in ways I didn't expect.

The atmosphere created at Hawk Manor Falconry is exactly how my daughters and I learn best. It was truly a memorable experience. One that we knew we had to share with you.

Know-before-you-go that snacks and water are provided for attendees. There's a restroom on site as well. For us, one of the best aspects of the workshop was posing with the barn owl at the end. What a treat! And of course, this is optional.

A few fascinating bits of information about the birds we saw:

  • Red-tailed hawks have binocular vision. They are able to zoom in and out as they're focusing on something.
  • Falcons are the fastest animals in the world. They have reached speeds of over 200 mph!
  • Black vultures have stomach acidity strong enough to kill anthrax.
  • Barn Owls can hunt in complete darkness. They don't need to see in order to hunt.

This short list doesn't compare to the many things we learned during our visit. I don't want to give away too many details because visiting for yourself-getting firsthand experience- is THE way to go.

What else is offered at Hawk Manor Falconry?

Amazingly, this experience can be brought to other events such as private parties, corporate meetings, schools and home-school groups, festivals and more. Be sure to visit the website for more information and definitely reach out to them if you have specific questions.

Just to let you how much we enjoyed ourselves... Neither of my daughters wanted to leave. And my youngest asked to have her birthday party there before we could get in the car!

If attending a workshop is possible for you, you won't regret it. I know we'll definitely attend another if the opportunity arises.

Also, we captured more videos than photos during this event. You can see those videos on my Instagram - @ThrillerMom.

Hawk Manor Falconry is located at 587 Joe Collins Rd. in Lillington.

Tandra Wilkerson is a regular Go Ask Mom contributor. You can read more of her adventures on her blog, Thriller Mom.


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