Lauren McGough is one of only around a dozen golden eagle falconers in the country. Her job is unique, as her eagle doesn't realize that he's an eagle.
Lauren maintains that her job as the falconer or trainer of a golden eagle is an equal partnership. The only way their relationship will work is if the bird is happy with the partnership. If it's not happy, it will simply fly away. So it requires a unique frame of mind, unlike any other human and animal relationship.
"A relationship with an eagle is an equal one," she says. "You don't dominate the bird, and the bird doesn't dominate you. It's an equal partnership. That's the only way that it can work."
Her eagle is named Miles, and he is a little unusual in that, as Lauren indicates, he "doesn't realize that he's a golden eagle." He was taken when he a baby and has imprinted on humans. Therefore, he looks to humans as his source for food and cannot be released back into the wild.
So Lauren's job is to teach Miles how to hunt and get food on his own.
After learning about hunting with eagles directly by living in Mongolia for a year and apprenticing under a golden eagle falconer, Lauren returned to the states and took up the pursuit with Miles.
"My job as a falconer is to keep a bird of prey happy and healthy and fit and active. Everything has to be positive."
Using falconry techniques she is able to strengthen and teach Miles how to get his own food.
"It's like no other bond that I know of in the animal world. It's tenuous but beautiful, and you enjoy every moment of it while it lasts."
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