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A Family Festival at The Cloisters

Talon Schumacher introduces young visitors to Big Mama, an European eagle owl

Talon Schumacher of "Talons! A Bird of Prey Experience" introduces young visitors to Big Mama, an European eagle owl, at this year's Family Festival at The Cloisters. Photograph by Nancy Wu

Over Memorial Day weekend, The Cloisters was for the birds. Our annual family festival had a falconry theme and included family gallery workshops and self-guided art hunts for young visitors and their families. Children ages 4 through 12 learned about falconry and the medieval hunt through artworks such as the Falcon's Bath tapestry and the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry series. They also made their own cardstock falcons (complete with hoods and jesses with bells) to take home.

Falconry was further brought to life in presentations by Master Falconer Lorrie Schumacher and her daughter, Talon. Lorrie and Talon brought three live birds of prey to the west terrace of The Cloisters. Over the two days of the festival, owls Big Mama and Bella Luna, as well as a Harris's hawk named Machu, delighted crowds with their beauty, grace, and power. Lorrie and Talon discussed the ancient origins of falconry as well as the biology and behavior of these magnificent birds.

Master Falconer Lorrie Schumacher teaches a visitor how to hold Machu, a Harris's hawk. Video by Nancy Wu

In addition to the obvious excitement of museumgoers, the staff of The Cloisters were likewise enchanted by these avian visitors. Educator Nancy Wu was thrilled to have her office turned into a temporary nursery for a two-and-a-half-week-old baby gyrfalcon who came along for the journey. It was a wonderful weekend for all.

Related Link
Events at The Cloisters

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