Joanne K. Austin, Bellingham Cold Storage, Brad Felger, Randy Shaw,
Washington Falconer’s Association
Remembering Dave Foley
By Randy Shaw
I rst met David Foley when he was in high school in Cheyenne,
Wyoming. He introduced himself as a young man interested in
falconry. Over the next few years, it became obvious that the
“student” was learning and practicing things so quickly that he
was teaching the “teacher.” Dave was one of the rst people to
hawk sage grouse in Wyoming when he lived in Riverton in the
early ‘70s. For the most part, he trapped, trained and ew
Prairie Falcons – which were challenged by the sage grouse!
In the early ‘80s, Dave decided that gyrfalcons might be more
appropriate. He trapped his rst gyr and with the help of Warren
Higby, trained it, and ew it with some success. He helped me
trap my rst gyr! Dave taught me a great deal about falconry,
hawking, and what it is like to be free and wild as a person.
He was very intense, generous with time and knowledge, and I
always learned from him. He was a great friend and I will always
remember him fondly.
The Adventurer
by Gordon D. Crawford-Casper, WY
In the winter of ’78-’79 after a week of sub-zero highs the
temperature rose to almost 0 degrees. Dave decided he needed
to y a passage prairie falcon before she lost condition. She rung
up above some ducks in a eld and killed. It was soon dark, but
Dave had the new technology of telemetry attached to her. After
triangulating her in a lone cottonwood tree in a fallow eld some
miles away from her kill we went to retrieve her.
Many times I wanted to turn back to the Jeep Wagoneer
because my feet were getting too cold. Dave climbed the tree
because she would not come to lure. He broke the branch her
bloody feet were frozen to. Back on the ground he stuffed her
in his coat for the 10 min walk back to his Jeep. I had no
feeling from my knees down. All was numb. Upon reaching the
Wagoneer he turned on the radio only to nd the temperature
to be a balmy -53 degrees. My feet have never been the same.
Dave was always an adventure. I can recount many of
them. He became a singular light in my life. One of the most
brilliant and compassionate human beings I have ever known or
heard of.
avid M. Foley, 60, passed away September 22, 2014, at his home
in Mount Vernon, Washington. He was the son of Michael and
Barbara Foley and the second of 8 children.
David had four children: Eugene, Sarah, Katherine, Joshua, and a stepson,
Derek Austin. His wife, Joanne Austin, is a retired Extension Faculty for
Skagit/WSU Extension.
Before moving to Mount Vernon, David had been a pre-med student, a
microwave site technician for Ted Turner, and a general contractor/owner
around Pullman, WA. After meeting his “to-be wife, he decided to move
to his favorite place on Earth, the Skagit Valley. Once again he changed
his career. His hobby of falconry became his job. He was passionate about
making falconry purposeful.
David, the “Bird Man, was a pioneer of bird abatement. He used falcons to
prevent crop damage from starlings, a big bird keeps little birds out of the
fields. He began work in 1996 at the Bayview Farms blueberry fields. This
later extended to oil refineries, landfills, dairy barns, and fish processing
plants. Other falconers sought him out to learn more about his training
techniques and caring for birds of prey.
Those who knew David realize it would take more space (volumes!) to
describe his lifetime. Life with David was an adventure and exploration
of nature. He always wanted to know what made things “tick and “why.
He was known for his gift of gab, “Mr. Fix-It skills, contagious laugh,
high personal integrity, curiosity, wealth of knowledge, and love of family,
friends, and nature.