Pennsylvania Falconry and Hawk Trust
John J. Celley ~ Ridley Park, Pennsylvania
Favored bird: Finnish goshawk
ohn J. Celley was the typical falconer. His Finnish goshawk was the center of
his life. Perhaps not obsessed, but he certainly fussed over that bird.
Celley lived in Eastern Pennsylvania where he was a self-taught certified
master electrician and state electrical inspector. He also served as master
electrician for Cheyney University in West Chester, Penn., for 13 years. But like
many other falconers, his life was much more complex than amps, watts and
He also served as a deputy for the Fish & Wildlife Commission of Delaware
County and as secretary of the National Falconry Association. In addition,
he was in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and served as a recovery captain of the
Delaware River Launch Service — experienced at boat hook towing.
Sure, he was good with boats, radios, fishing and even shooting pool, but
after starting with a red tail, the Finnish hawk became his lifes passion.
Jack Hubley knew him with his first bird, and he was quite impressed with
Celley’s meticulous notes of the bird’s weight, hunting experiences and
“He was certainly in love with his craft, Hubley said. “There was no doubt
about that.
That, in itself, makes sense as to why he would later become secretary of the
He was remembered by Michael Kuriga as a quiet and unassuming man,
and they would sometimes look for goshawk nest sites in North Central
And Celley would often take his bird to hunt upland game like rabbits,
ducks and squirrels.
A father of two, Celley’s life ended tragically in 2005 at age 53 in a
motorcycle accident on a hilly Pennsylvania road.
To no ones surprise, he was buried with a goshawk
feather neatly tucked into his sports coat.
Reminiscences: Mike Kuriga, Jack Hubley, Gary Bolis
Sure, he was good with
boats, radios, shing and even
shooting pool, but after starting
with a red tail, the
Finnish Goshawk became
his life’s passion.