Joe Roy III works as the onsite Falconer at Terranea Resort. His love for birds of prey began when he was just nine years old — in fact, by his count he’s most likely trained over 200 birds of prey so far in his career. “Falconry didn’t come to me as a ‘career choice.’ Falconry came to me as a lifestyle,” said Roy.
Roy’s days start around 4 a.m. when he wakes up and drives to Terranea from his home 40 miles inland in Brea. “I have the first part of the morning to myself and often I spend time at the working farm at first light, which is about a mile south of the property to do some drone training.” Roy uses the drones to exercise the falcons, keeping them fit and conditioned.
The birds climb several hundred feet in the air to grab the bait from his drone. “My falcons need to be competitive — they need to be able to fly at a tip top level. Drone training is one of the ways I’m able to get them some cardio.” The falcons have tracking devices on them so Roy can find them while they’re roaming free. One of the most common questions he gets is, “will they come back?” to which he responds “well if they didn’t, then I would only be able to fly each one exactly one time.” He jokes he’s the guy that gives them breakfast — so they have to come back!
At 9 a.m. he hosts hourly individual appointments to show his birds to guests. At 11 a.m he hosts a larger show. Then, he has more free time to work with his birds. “Every day is a little different — you never know quite what you’re going to get,” said Roy of his “daily routine.” He usually brings five-six birds to the property with him each day.
“All of the animals are very adaptive,” he said. “Many of the guests think that I’m solely on property for entertainment, but in reality my responsibilities include so much more.” He keeps pesky seagulls at bay from guests enjoying Terranea’s outdoor dining offerings and pool facilities.
During Terranea’s temporary COVID-19 closure, the property underwent significant renovations to improve the guest experience. This included painting the entire complex — which Roy and his birds now keep pristine by shooing off local pests who might make a mess on the new paint job. “We harassed not only seagulls to keep them off the building and out of the pools (the seagulls had decided that when the people were away, they would play — in all of the on-property pools) they were having the time of their lives, it looked like,” said Roy.
One of Roy’s largest hawks, “Alaca,” is affectionately referred to as his “rabbit catching fool.” This seven-year-old female Harris’s hawk accompanies him on hikes around the resort’s grounds to search for pests that might disturb guests onsite. “The rabbits took note… we have an enormous rabbit population, and I won’t get into details but let’s just say that she had more fun than the rabbits were having…” Roy jokes. Terranea is extremely wildlife friendly, with coyotes and bunnies roaming free on the grounds. Without guests onsite coyotes took back their land at night.
April was also peak “crow season” in Ranchos Palos Verdes — and the flowers on the coral trees lining the resort’s path are known to attract crows in groups of over 100 each spring. “Not having people on property allowed me to do a more effective job of keeping the crows out. Crows are really smart. They will pattern me, they know when I arrive, when I’m leaving, and they also know when I’m busy — so, when I’m not occupied with guests and I can focus my attention more specifically on them that makes life a lot more challenging for them to evade my falcons.” Roy says he had his best crow season ever, and was able to use his birds to evade them successfully.
“I love training the birds on my own. They’re these little pieces of clay, that hopefully if you do things well, they’ll shape up into wonderful flying partners that will provide hours of entertainment and engagement.”
Roy enjoys his personal sessions with guests, and interacting with the younger wildlife experts. “This little girl was like an encyclopedia in her knowledge of birds. She was sharing information with me that was years above her time. In the back of my mind when I work with those sorts of kids, a piece of me wonders if that interaction will spur some kind of long-term effect for the child’s interest in birds.” He said. “I can’t help but wonder how many of these kids will go on to become wildlife biologists, themselves. Or perhaps there’s something they’ll take with them that will inspire them to become involved in wildlife conservation at some point in their lives.”
Terranea Resort is a breath of fresh air, and a unique getaway experience for families, couples, and friends alike. It’s an oasis of wildlife and nature located in close proximity for escaping the hustle and bustle of urban Los Angeles life. Its miles of trails, beach access, and outdoor water and land activities offer seemingly unlimited opportunities for entertainment. “I say that it’s only a few miles away, but it’s actually a world apart.” said Roy.
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