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Falconers in town this week
Public can see birds up close
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Heather Nelson, Joliet, Ill., a member of the North American Falconry Association, picks up her juvenile red-tail Hawk Tuesday morning from the weathering yard set up behind Great Bend’s KFC restaurant. She was headed to a wildlife refuge near McPherson in search of rabbits and squirrels and quail.

Members of the North American Falconry Association are in Great Bend this week for their annual convention. They attended a welcoming reception and breakfast sponsored by the Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Best Western Courtyard Tuesday morning.  County officials and city representatives were on hand to meet and visit with members as they fueled up before heading to the field with their birds for an exciting day of hunting. 

 Brandon Borquist is one of the yard wardens, volunteers who tend to the birds throughout the day.  He and his father, Rich, were manning the weathering yard club members set up on the vacant lots at 9th Street between Madison and Monroe, behind the KFC restaurant.  

The yard provides a staging area for falconers to prepare their birds for a hunt.  The cold morning air and access to water helps bring the birds’ weight down to a very specific target weight to ensure they are prepared to focus on their hunt,  

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Raptors of all sizes can be viewed at the NAFA weathering yard this week. Early morning and mid to late afternoon are the best times to stop by and visit with falconers and eye their birds.

The yard will be manned through Friday by the Borquists, and is an excellent opportunity for the public to stop in and see the many species of raptors up close and visit with falconers about falconry.  The yard is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and falconers begin returning with birds around 3 p.m. daily. Species range in size from small Kestrels to Golden Eagles, with many North American raptors as well as exotics from Africa and Europe represented.