619-722-0092 info@skyfalconry.com

Love is in the Air: Nesting Season and How to Help

Tis’ the season for love! Mating and nesting season is upon us here in many parts of the country. Keep your eyes to the sky and you are likely to see Red-tailed Hawks flying in unison with dramatic aerial displays, part of their courting ritual. Some raptors already have eggs in the nest, like the now famous Bald Eagles of Big Bear. Others, like the Great Horned Owls, may even have little owlets already hatched. This is a time to make sure you are doing all of the things to keep our local habitats safe for birds. Some of these things include the following:

Do NOT use rodenticides, aka rat and gopher poison. One poisoned gopher or rat can kill an entire nest of raptors. Secondary poisoning is a huge issue with all of our predators. Raptors rarely survive eating poisoned prey. Great alternatives include catch and release traps, rat zappers/electronic traps (only in safe locations) and cayenne pepper. Glue traps are NOT safe. 

Reflectors on glass windows: Glass strikes kill millions of birds, not just raptors, annually. Window reflectors specific for birds are available for purchase online or through your local bird store.

Water Sources: Putting fresh water out to make available for wildlife of all sorts is always a good idea. Water = Life

Properly disposing of trash, including biodegradable food: Throwing apple cores and such out the car window can attract prey to the roadside. This encourages raptors to hunt there and often leads to car strikes.

Tree and bush trimming: To be on the safe side, the best time to trim is in the fall and winter. This helps to avoid harming and disrupting nesting birds of all kinds.

Raptors are critical to keeping our ecosystems balanced and healthy. Do your part and spread the word in your community!


Join us to free fly birds of prey in the wilds of San Diego while learning first hand about raptor biology, conservation and the ancient art of falconry.

World Falconry Day

On November 16, 2010, falconry was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The definition of falconry is the taking of quarry in its natural habitat with a bird of prey, along with their training and care. The types of raptors most commonly used include hawks, falcons, and eagles.

Falconry has been practiced for thousands of years, spreading through many cultures across the world. Initially, it was a hunting technique used as a means to obtain game for food. Through the centuries it evolved to also hold important political and social significance. In more modern times, falconry is practiced as a recreational sport and a way to connect more deeply with the natural world.  Though diversity exists in falconry dependent upon the culture, the essence of the art remains the same throughout time, a common thread woven through history across the world.

From falconry, we have seen other practices evolve, including raptor rehabilitation and abatement. Also, falconry education has emerged in many countries, allowing access for the public at large to learn more about raptors, the ancient art of falconry, and the importance of conservation, both of birds of prey and the natural habitats that support their survival. Sky Falconry holds a special, educational permit from USFW that allows us to legally hold our hands-on, interactive falconry programs with the public. In the United States, falconry is one of the most highly regulated hunting sports since all raptor species in North America are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. 

Today, and every day, we celebrate the importance of falconry and it’s reverberating significance from deep in the past to present day.

The Great Horned Owl, more than a hoot

The elusive Great Horned owl, Bubo virginianus, is one of the most common owl species in North America. Their distinct feather pattern and coloring allows them to camouflage themselves against tree bark and blend seamlessly. Thus, they are often heard more than they are seen. A fascinating new book published this year by Jennifer Ackerman, “What an Owl Knows” delves into the complex lives of owls, including their vocalizations. We strongly recommend giving it a read if you are interested in learning more about owls. 

The hoot is the most common sound heard from the Great Horned Owl. After hundreds of hours of meticulous observation, 15 separate vocalizations have been characterized. Six of these are hoots, along with chitters, and squawks. They will also hiss and snap their beaks when threatened or fearful. Clearly, not just the hoot we so commonly associate to them. Amazingly, they begin vocalizing while still in the egg, a couple of days before hatching. At two weeks old, owlets will start their iconic hooting, posturing along with it as the adults do, leaning forward and titling the tail skyward. The hoot is used for multiple purposes: to establish their territory, to court and communicate with a partner, as well as duel with potential trespassers.

So, when you hear the hoot, pay close attention, perhaps there are other sounds that follow. What you may have associated to other birds or animals could actually be the Great Horned Owl!

To experience an up-close and intimate encounter with our Great Horned Owl, Tig, join us for a Private Raptor Experience. To learn more, click here. We look forward to having a hoot with you!


Raptors Sunbathing, bird behaviors seen up-close

Our signature class, the Hawk Walk, allows for a unique and intimate window into the innate behaviors of raptors. One of the most unique is to experience them sunbathing. Vitamin D is essential for a healthy bird. All raptors have a uropygial gland at the base of their tail that creates oil containing a precursor for Vitamin D. Birds will dip their beak into the oil, then preen it through their feathers. When exposed to the ultraviolet light, it is changed into Vitamin D3. For efficiency, birds will spread their wing and tail feathers out, laying on the ground.This posture increases the surface area exposed to the sun’s rays, showing off feathers to their fullest. It is a behavior common in birds but rare to catch a glimpse of in the wild. The sun’s heat also serves to kill tiny mites and lice or activate them so they may be easily preened out. This preening process is also how raptors can absorb the newly created Vitamin D3. This chain of events improves the overall health and wellness of birds.


For a chance to see this behavior up-close, join us for a Hawk Walk. Click here to view calendar dates and book directly. We look forward to hosting you for this unique raptor encounter!


Celebrating 10 years of offering falconry excursions with Sky Falconry

Time really does fly! Denise Disharoon and Kirk Sellinger, co-founders of Sky Falconry, met through a shared passion for birds of prey, falconry and conservation. Sky Falconry officially launched as Southern California’s premiere falconry school in March of 2013. This month we are reflecting with deep gratitude on this journey and the thousands of people we have been fortunate enough to have through our doors. We feel incredibly honored to have the rare opportunity of sharing the art of falconry and world of raptors with the public. Our interactive classes with birds of prey allow everyone the opportunity to glove up and free fly a variety of raptor species while learning about the ancient sport and how simple daily choices ripple out to affect birds and wildlife. The critical role raptors play in keeping our ecosystems healthy and balanced cannot be underestimated. Our hope is that you leave your falconry experiences with a newfound sense of awe for the natural world and inspiration to make small changes that have a big impact. We are honored to say these 10 years have included a stint on Animal Planet, Travel Channel and National Geographic, along with numerous articles in Westways Magazine, Men’s Journal, San Diego Reader, among others. Thank you to all who follow along with us on our journey and have supported our mission through the years. Cheers to many more years to come!

Thank you to all who follow along with us on our journey and have supported our mission through the years. Cheers to many more years to come!


Sky Falconry added to the list of amazing San Diego gems by Hidden San Diego!

Sky Falconry is excited to be included on Hidden San Diego’s list of amazing San Diego gems and must visit places in San Diego County.


Our experiences offer guests the rare opportunity of gloving up and free-flying raptors in the beautiful mountains, just 30 miles from the coast of downtown San Diego. Visit our private ranch for the total raptor experience, including working with hawks, falcons, and owls. “This is a truly magical experience combining nature, master falconry and the connection between humans and birds. Their classes offer a glimpse into a world of ancient traditions resulting in an unforgettable adventure that will leave a lasting impression on everyone.” To read more, check out the full article at https://hiddensandiego.com/things-to-do/places/sky-falconry

Thank you, Hidden San Diego! We look forward to your next visit.


To learn more about our program and to book your visit at Sky Falconry, take a look at our classes here.

Sky Falconry Ranch Featured in East County Magazine

A huge thank you to Josh Stotler and East County Magazine for visiting Sky Falconry and the beautiful article on our educational, hands-on experiences with birds of prey. Our classes offer falconry to everyone, giving the rare chance to glove up and free fly raptors in their natural habitat. Visit us to meet our hawks, falcons and owl and learn first hand how these amazing birds move through the world and the important role they play in our ecosystem. As Josh shares, “Seeing this magnificent bird swoop, soar, dive and interact with all of us is truly something you have to see to believe.” Read more of his first hand account at https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/experience-sky-falconry-ranch-east-county

Hope to see you all soon!

To learn more about our program and to book your visit at Sky Falconry, take a look at our classes here.


Sky Falconry Welcomes Sam Tippetts with National Geographic

We were honored to be selected by Sam for the Nat Geo Assignment Inspiration for the “Uplifted Quest”. Sam is an incredibly talented photographer with a unique eye and ability to capture the deeper essence of his subjects. His approach and respect to the photographic process put us at ease immediately. Sam was a true pleasure to work with and we look forward to seeing his career as a photographer unfold

Experience Sky Falconry

Basic Falconry Lesson

  • Price:  $80 per participant, $40 per Observer
  • Duration:  1 hour
  • Times: 8am, 10:30am & 1:30pm
  • Age Minimum: 6yrs for participants
  • NOTE: Wheelchair accessible
  • Gift Certificates Available

Hawk Walk

  • Price: $150 per participant, $75 per observer
  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Times: 8am & 10:30am
  • Note: Some agility and fitness required.
  • Age Minimum: 9 yrs for participants and observers
  • Gift Certificates Available

Private Hawk Walk

  • Price: $550 for two participants, each additional participant $100 and $50 per observer
  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Times: 8am, 10:30am & 1:30pm
  • Note: Some agility and fitness required.
  • Age Minimum: 9 yrs for participants and observers
  • Gift Certificates Available

Private Raptor Experience

  • Price: $650 for two, each additional participant $100 and $50 per observer
  • Add a Great Horned Owl Encounter $100
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times: 10:30am & 1:30pm
  • Age Minimum: 6 yrs for participants
  • Gift Certificates Available


What People are Saying

Absolutely Magical

 “My wife and I took the trek to Alpine for the private raptor experience and we are both so glad we did. Sky Falconry love what they do and it shows through in every moment of your time with them. If you’re scrolling through reviews trying to figure out if it’s worth it.. Stop and schedule, you will not regret it!”



DO NOT MISS THIS EXPERIENCE!! Kirk and Denise couldn’t have been nicer or more knowledgeable. They were very warm and personal, and their passion for Falconry definitely shows. We got to fly a Harris Hawk, and he was spectacular! Very highly recommended!”


Great experience

Great experience, love the passion and enthusiasm Denise and Kirk have for the birds, their work and their clients! My brother and I had an amazing experience on Easter Sunday and I can’t wait to schedule another visit. If you’re debating doing this, go for it, I don’t see how anyone could be disappointed in Sky Falconry!


“Unforgettable Experience

There aren’t enough stars to rate the Raptor Experience. You get to free fly two raptors; a falcon and hawk. When Kirk and Denise are speaking and teaching you about these birds, you can see their respect and love for them. Just amazing!


Sky Falconry Dreams Take Flight in Southern California


Sky Falconry, a hands-on falconry school located in the mountains of San Diego, offers the rare opportunity to glove up and free fly a bird of prey! We feel honored to make the dreams of so many come true through our falconry lessons and free flight raptor experiences.  We find our clients coming from all walks of life, young and old, from all over the world, have one common theme connecting them all, a passion for raptors. Many of them have dreamed of flying a hawk to the glove, soaring a falcon in big skies, and connecting with these majestic birds on a deeper level, eye to eye. These experiences are offered in Sky Falconry’s interactive and educational falconry programs. Learn about raptor biology, conservation, and the art of falconry in a variety of falconry experiences.

Come visit our private ranch in Alpine, just 25 miles from the coast of San Diego. The majestic views from our mountain top perch offer a completely natural habitat to free fly birds of prey among the wilds and wide open skies of Southern California. Click here to book your experience today!


Sky Falconry San Diego Featured – Men’s Journal The Raptor’s Eye

Sky Falconry, a San Diego based falconry school, is honored to be included in the article “The Raptor’s Eye” in Men’s Journal February, 2018 issue.

Sky Falconry is a west coast falconry school where experienced falconers teach what is often called the “ancient sport of kings”. The article outlines the immense predatory strength of birds of prey. The power found in the talon grip of raptors we fly at Sky Falconry can be 6 times greater than that of a strong human male. Their sharp eyesight is 8 times greater than ours and can also see ultraviolet light to seek out prey and thermal waves to gain altitude effortlessly on hot columns of rising air.


Mutual trust and respect are key factors in the relationship of falconer and raptor. Join us to experience the awe of free flying birds of prey to the glove and learn just how we build these relationships. Click here to learn more about our falconry experiences offered in Southern California and book directly.


Sky Falconry Travel Channel Top 10 Unique Trip Ideas for Animal Lovers



Sky Falconry, a west coast falconry school offering the opportunity to fly a raptor in San Diego, is deeply honored to be included as #1 in Travel Channels Top 10 Unique Trip Ideas for Animal Lovers.

Here is what Travel Channel has to say about us: “For a truly unforgettable experience, you can visit Sky Falconry in San Diego, Calif. Their mission is to educate the public and offer hands-on experiences (no pun intended), with free-flying birds of prey. You can choose from a number of different classes and experiences to interact with these majestic birds. A basic falconry lesson will teach you how to hold a hawk, cast it from your glove and call it back again. Their “hawk walks” allow you to interact with trained raptors while hiking trails in the San Diego mountains.”

To learn more about our raptor encounters at Sky Falconry, visit our website at www.skyfalconry.com and book your experience today!



Sky Falconry Private Raptor Experience in San Diego, CA

fly a raptor san diego

Sky Falconry, located in Alpine just 30 miles from the coast of San Diego, offers a variety of interactive falconry classes with raptors. It is one of a few raptor schools in the US where non-licensed falconers can put on a glove and fly a bird of prey. We teach about the ancient art of falconry, raptor biology and conservation in all of our class offerings, with something for everyone.

One of our favorites is the Private Raptor Experience. This is the only class at Sky Falconry where our raptor encounter includes flying not only a hawk, but also a falcon. Falcons are much more advanced falconry birds. They fly farther, higher and faster. Our Private Raptor Experience opens you the world of raptors, working with these two species back to back gives participants an intimate window into their distinct flying and hunting skills.

Prepare to be amazed! Fly a raptor in San Diego, join us for this rare opportunity to free fly two birds of prey in their natural habitat while enjoying stunning views of the coastline and San Diego Mountains!

san diego raptor school san diego raptor experience



Falconry Lessons in San Diego CA – Bird of Prey Classes


Sky Falconry, Southern California’s premier falconry school located in the mountains of San Diego, offers the rare opportunity to glove up and free fly a bird of prey in their natural habitat. Our location is an intricate part of our outdoor raptor experiences and is one of the most beautiful in California. We are located on the side of Mt. Viejas, a sacred winter solstice site for the Kumeyaay Indians that have lived in this region for more than 10,000 years. Our property sits at 2700 ft. in elevation offering a 360 degree view of San Diego County. This view includes the San Diego coastline stretching from Coronado to Catalina Island looking to the west. Our eastern views offer a rare glimpse into the expanse of the San Diego River Watershed that includes Eagle Peak out to San Jacinto in Palm Springs. The back drop of our school home base is the iconic Cuyamaca Peak, the second highest peak in San Diego County. Looking out into this vast expanse absent of human development takes you back to  an ancient and wild time when California was less inhabited and makes for the perfect setting to learn the sport of hunting with a trained raptor.

Sky Falconry offers a variety of hands on falconry classes at our private Alpine ranch. We invite you to experience this unique location that sets our falconry school apart. You will be immersed in the natural habitat of birds of prey that allows you to see innate raptor behaviors first hand while being just a short distance from the coastline of San Diego.

Book your raptor lessons today at www.skyfalconry.com and come see what our guests rave about!




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Sky Falconry – Fly a Raptor Hawk Walks San Diego


Sky Falconry, located in the quaint town of Alpine, just 30 miles from the coastline of San Diego, is a bucket list must! We offer a variety of falconry lessons for everyone on our private ranch with stunning views of San Diego County.

One of our favorite experiences is the Hawk Walk, a raptor adventure. The Hawk Walk is held in small groups, creating a more intimate interaction with the our birds. We go meandering on smooth, easy trails in the San Diego mountains, free flying the hawk to and from the glove. This stunning natural setting, close to town yet completely surrounded by national forest, allows for innate behaviors of the birds that would not otherwise be seen. Participants get long, graceful flights from high in the tree tops down to the glove. You see special maneuvers through rocks and around curving paths. The inquisitive nature of the birds of prey is in full display during our Hawk Walks, allowing a unique view into the intimate lives of these majestic birds.