A video showcasing the sport of 'parahawking,' which combines paragliding with falconry, continues to awe viewers with spectacular scenery and magnificent footage of a hawk landing on the outstretched arm of the paragliders in flight.
The video by Lite Touch Films was posted on YouTube a year ago and has resurfaced gaining viral status with over a million views.
Filmed off the coast of California, single and tandem paragliders are spotlighted as they fly with a trained hawk. The hawk can be seen occasionally landing on a paragliders arm to share the ride and enjoy the view.
The hawks are trained to fly with the paraglider, guiding the pilot to the thermals. Their natural instinct makes them ideal for the task. Rewards of meat are giving to the birds of prey, while they are in flight, from the gloved-hand of the thrill-seeking athletes.
The hawk in the video is a Harris's Hawk. Harris Hawks range in length from 18 to 30 inches, with a wingspan of 3.6 feet. "The vocalizations of the Harris's Hawk are very harsh sounds," according to Wikipedia. Unlike other raptors, the Harris's Hawk is known for "hunting cooperatively in packs."
Parahawking is gaining popularity among paragliders in the United States and around the world. In Nepal, paragliders pay thousands of dollars to experience the rush of soaring high in the sky entranced by views of the Himalayas, while be escorted by trained vultures. Paragliders willingly pay from hundreds to thousands of dollars to tour companies offering parahawking adventures to experience this adrenalin rush.
The raptors used in the Nepal parahawking videos are Egyptian Vultures. Portions of the profits made by many parahawking businesses in Nepal help in supporting Vulture Rescue groups and the Himalayan Raptor Rescue organization.
But not all flights with birds of prey end as expected.
A video posted on Digital Journal last week shows a frightening experience caught on a video cam by a paraglider in the Himalayas who experienced a mid-air collision with a wild vulture that nearly ended in disaster.