Tone Davis, Grainger Hunt, Frank Ely and The California
Hawking Club, Atle Allder, Gloria Seelman
ouis was born in Macomb, Oklahoma on May 12, 1938, to
Herman Benton Davis and Media Hamilton, he was the
youngest of six children.
His family moved to Hayward, California when he was two years
old to escape the dust bowl in Oklahoma. He graduated from High
School in 1957. He was drafted and served in the US Army as a
guard on the border between South Korea and North Korea. He
trained German Shepherd guard dogs and was awarded a medal for
his expert marksmanship.
Louis married his sweetheart Tone Liv Davis shortly after his
discharge in 1965. They were married for 53 years. He is survived
by his wife, Tone, and two children, Kai Davis and Ingrid Seelman.
Louiss son Erik Davis was killed in a tragic car wreck at the age of
16 in Petaluma, California in 1984. Louis has four grandchildren,
Luke Davis, Joshua Davis, Cole Seelman, and Alexa Seelman.
He was employed with the United States Post Office for 28 years
and was working at the Northern California Sorting Center in
Petaluma, California before he retired and moved to San Diego.
He loved his family and grandchildren and was their biggest
cheerleader. He loved to tell a good joke and hear people laugh. He
was known to be generous and quick to help a stranger in need.
He enjoyed reading and was passionate about falconry, building,
photography and art. He built his own home in Petaluma,
California that was constructed as a passive solar home design.
His passion for falconry was ignited at the
age of 16. He was inspired by a National
Geographic magazine article written by the
Craighead brothers, entitled Adventures
with Birds of Prey. The idea of training
a wild bird of prey for hunting was
fascinating to him. That spring a pair of
sparrow hawks nested in his backyard, he
climbed the tree and captured a young
sparrow hawk for falconry. His first hood
was made from an old leather boot tongue.
As his interest grew he continued to work
with an ever increasing number of birds for
falconry. He trained; sparrow hawks, red
tailed hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, coopers
hawks, goshawks, harris hawks, merlins,
peregrines, prairie falcons, gyrfalcons,
Golden eagles, and even owls.
His favorite bird of prey
became the peregrine falcon.
He eventually exclusively
worked with peregrines. He
was fond of saying there is no
such thing as a bad peregrine
only good and better. He
considered the peregrine, the
King of birds for falconry.
Louis developed a system of
trapping falcons on the coast
of Texas during their annual
migrations along the Texas
coast. He would bring them
back to California, and work
with them for several months to determine which ones he felt had
the most potential to be a good bird for falconry and then give away
the ones that did not show as much promise. If he gave you a bird it
meant he saw great promise in your ability as a falconer.
Louis read every book on Falconry that he could find and often
more than once. He valued friendships with ornithologist Steve
Herman, PHD and zoologist Grainger Hunt, PhD. He was eager
to learn from their vast knowledge of birds. Louis could be very
generous with his knowledge and at other times stingy. If he felt
like an apprentice falconer was not paying attention and he made
numerous mistakes he would eventually stop helping him. He hated
to see an incompetent falconer ruin a good bird.
When the insecticide DDT was introduced
to farming, it not only killed the small insects
that caused damage to the crops but it was also
stored in the song birds that ate the insects.
The peregrines would often feed their young
with songbirds and the adults ate these birds
also. The DDT chemical accumulated inside
the peregrine falcons body and made their
eggs soft and they would often crack before
hatching and the young falcons would die.
The peregrine falcon population plummeted
and was placed on the endangered species list
in 1970, and officially declared endangered in
1972. In 1971 when it was still legal to trap
peregrines in the wild Louis trapped Nugget,
she was a haggard female peregrine caught in
Herman “Louis” Davis
Lou’s passion for falconry began at age
16 and included breeding peregrine
falcons-his favorite bird.
the San Francisco, South Bay, Louis also had
a male peregrine named General. Shortly
after there was a ban on trapping birds from
the wild due to low numbers. In 1975 he
built an enclosure in the corner of the back
yard and started praying his pair of birds
would breed.
On a Sunday morning in the spring of 1976,
Louis still in his Pajamas, went out to the
back yard and peeked into the small shelf
of sand in the top corner of the breeding
enclosure to see a bright and shiny peregrine
egg. He was so happy that he let out a shout
and came running down the stairs in the
backyard into the house. You would have
thought he had won a million dollars. It was
one of the happiest days of his life! On this
day April 18, 1976 he started taking detailed
notes about the eggs, their parents, and later
when they hatched notes about the chicks,
their feeding times and behavior. That first
year Nugget had two clutches of four eggs
for a total of eight eggs and 5 survived.
Louiss bird Nugget went on to be a major
breeder and the majority of her young
were donated back to Santa Cruz Predatory
bird research program for breeding or to
be placed on cliffs to help restore the wild
population. When the program was shut
down, of the 12 breeding pairs, 9 birds,
were related to Nugget. At the age of 20
Nugget passed
away from
natural causes.
She was also
one of Louiss
greatest birds
for falconry.
She had one day
that she caught
7 ducks, and
several days that
she caught 5
ducks, and two
days that she caught 3 ducks off the same
pond. Louis always said Nugget was worth
her weight in gold and took great pleasure
in hunting ducks with her. On August
25, 1999, the peregrine was taken off the
endangered species list.
Louiss definition of wealth was a peregrine
falcon and a coup full of pigeons. He flew
peregrines for as long as he could, he only
stopped when his knee started to give out,
his health was poor, and he could not run
in the fields he loved. He always maintained
two or three large pigeon traps around town
in Petaluma, California, and would check on
them on a regular basis. Louis was happiest
surrounded by his falcons and pigeons.
He passed away peacefully in San Diego,
California, on November 11, 2018, he was
80 years old.
Photos above, left-right:
-Lou with his kids
-Beebe Original Awarded
to Lou in recognition of
First Longwing to take
game at a NAFA Reno
Meet - 1962
-Louis and his friends
2000 Steve Herman, Ster-
ling Bunnell, Louis D., Ed
Hobbs, Grainger Hunt,
Hans Peeters
Lou was happiest surrounded by his falcons and pigeons.