n August of 2020, John Moran passed away after
a long battle with cancer.
Everyone knew John as a master hood maker. His
painted and designed hoods which he call “Dazzlers”
were inspired by Native American blankets and
beadwork. His hoods always had the impeccable reputation of
fitting falcons perfectly and he spent his adult life perfecting the
patterns to insure perfect fits. I spent many hours watching John
work on hoods while we talked about birds and life.
I met John in a field west of Longmont, Colorado in 1978. John
was flying a young tiercel falcon at a duck slip and I was flying
an inter-mewed male Goshawk. I had just moved to Colorado
from upstate New York to be able to fly falcons and his flight
was the first longwing that I’d seen fly at wild quarry. It was a
start of a friendship that spanned over 42 years. He took me
under his wing and showed me how to train and fly falcons. His
requirements for helping me were very specific. I had to pull a
Prairie falcon at approximately five weeks and chamber raise
it. Once it was hard penned, she was pulled from the chamber
and the training began. John met me every day in a field in
Lyons, Colorado where we would train my Prairie and he would
train two Anatum Peregrines. Johns first love was Anatum
falcons. Bill Burnham had given John a pair of Rocky Mountain
Anatums to fly that season. We spent most of that summer
training and the fall flying and hunting our birds together. Its
was an act of kindness that I’ve never forgotten. And ever since
then, John and I spent time hawking together almost every year.
John had many adventures as a falconer. He moved to the
Middle East and worked for a Sheik for a few years training
birds and advising them on falcon breeding. He worked for The
Predatory Bird Research Group in Santa Cruz, California
{which was affiliated with the Peregrine Fund} for many
years. During this period, he was hired to train the
passage Peregrines used in the movie, The Falcon and the
Snowman and worked closely with Timothy Hutton and
John Schlesinger during the filming. In one of the scenes
where Hutton was flying a falcon, Hutton was wearing
Johns hawking bag. John made that bag himself which was
covered with bead work and his carvings. The bag is on
display at the Archives of Falconry in Boise, Idaho.
The birds used for the filming were passage Peregrines
trapped in Mexico. Most of the Falconry scenes were shot
near Mexico City. Pigeons were used from a local pigeon
racer to train the birds. He told me that the owner of the
pigeons said that his pigeons were the best in Mexico City
and that the Peregrines would never be able to catch them.
It didnt take long for the Peregrines to start catching
the pigeons. The pigeon owner was distraught about the
loss of his best pigeons
but he was being paid
handsomely for each
killed pigeon. John always
laughed when he told that
story because he knew
that the passage birds
would be lethal on tossed
His experience hunting
pigeons began in the 1960’s in the Los Angeles basin. He would
hunt large flocks of feral pigeons with a passage Peregrine
named Maleficent. He once pulled out his 16mm movie
film and showed me some of that hawking. It was amazing
to see wide open spaces for hawking in the middle of L.A.
Unfortunately, the 16mm film has been lost.
In recent years he lived in Hazelton, Idaho just outside of Twin
Falls. He and his two English Pointers were avid Pheasant
hunters. We hawked the area together many times and he always
showed me great sport and a great time. John was a great friend
and I’ll miss our long talks on training falcons, hood making
and life.
John was a great
friend and I’ll
miss our long
talks on training
falcons, hood
making and life.
(1943 – 2020)
Falconer, Hood Maker,
and friend
Donors: James Eddy, Steve Duffy
Above left: John Moran,Tim Hutton & Haggard Harris Hawk.
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark,1984.
Above right: John and Arnold schwarzenegger
John was a master hood maker. His painted and designed
hoods he called “Dazzlers” were inspired by Native
American blankets and beadwork.
John’s many adventures as a falconer included
training passager Peregrines in the movie, “The
Falcon and the Snowman” with Timothy Hutton.
Movie famous
Hood maker
The North American
falconry community
lost an exceptionally
talented artist and
passionate falconer.
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark