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Oakley the 'Harris Hawk' requests permission to land on your arm

The Avian Behavior Ranch offers 'Art of Flight' experiences starting at $77.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — The Avian Behavior Ranch is filled with falcons, ravens and eagles but a hawk named Oakley is stealing the show. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Escondido to show you how to get your new year off to a flying start. 

If you are looking for a new experience, you might consider taking a hike with a hawk. "She is very excited. We are ready to go," said Hillary Hankey, founder of the Avian Behavior Ranch.

In the mountains above Escondido, Hillary wants to take your family on an easy stroll with her good friend Oakley. "We are hiking less than a tenth of a mile," said Hillary. "Have you ever caught a hawk before?"

Credit: Avian Behavior Ranch

Take a pause on this path, and your arm becomes a landing strip. "There are two things that a bird of prey likes and that is food and nice steady branch," said Hillary. I thought she was going to say a TV reporter, because Oakley landed on my arm six times!

Credit: Avian Behavior Ranch

Avian Behavior International is a bird training ranch occupying twenty acres in San Diego County.  The property features ocean views and glowing sunsets. The staff is on a mission to help families and nature lovers in Southern California escape city life.

As you hike, Oakley waits in the wings for her next meal. The Harris Hawk has a GPS tracker, not that you'd ever need it. If Oakley wanted to fly away, she could, but why would she fly the coup, when she's so loved? 

"I can't believe I get to do this," said Hillary. "Flying birds is one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world, so when I get to share that with other people, and I get to see the sheer enjoyment of a flying bird coming to them for the first time it makes my day every single day that I am here."

Credit: Avian Behavior Ranch

At the top of the hill, conditions got breezy. "I think the wind caught her she had a tail wind," said Hillary when Oakley flew by my outstretched arm. On a wing and a prayer, she circled, re-calculated and stuck the landing. "Alright Oakley, that's fantastic," I said.  

Even if you lose sight of Oakley, it's never a problem because the whole time, she'll be watching you like a hawk. "Here she comes," said Hillary. If you're looking to spread your wings in 2023 in a way you've never done before, you know where to go.

Credit: Avian Behavior Ranch

The ranch is home to four species of owl, six species of hawks, falcons, ravens and eagles and many more exotic birds, turkeys, deer, fox and bobcats, and offers visitors live, interactive bird experiences, progressive training workshops, and tours of their permaculture farm life. 

Avian Behavior International features one-of-a-kind in person experiences such as an Exotic bird meet and greet, Owl Handling Experience and Art of Flight Experience. The experiences are open to people of all ages. The Hawk Experience starts at $77 and can accommodate groups of six to eight people. 

For more information visit Avian Behavior at www.avian-behavior.org

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