Alia Di Genova
President and founder of The Northern Wings
Alia is the owner, founder and president of the Northern Wings educational center. She also is a mandates trainer for the Quebec’s falconers’ permit.
Her interest for birds of prey started while she was in elementary school on a day where a falconer came in class to present his birds for one of the students’ presentation. Right there, she got the spark and, from there, dived head first in studying birds of prey and sharing her knowledge all around during presentations of her own. Alia received her falconers’ permit in 2013 and, after a while where she would educate her friends and family, decides to share her knowledge to the masses with educational groups and participation in many conventions and meet-ups.
She was the devoted trainer to many birds who passed by the Northern Wings, such as Atlas senior, Storm the falcon, Auron, Atlas, Khaleesi and Drogo the Harris hawks, Arya and Piplup the American kestrels, Yuma the European kestrel and Sitka the Saker falcon. Right now, she’s the proud owner of Atlas junior the Harris Hawk, Astrid the Ferruginous hawk, Piper the barn owl, Kass the Peregrine Falcon and Elijah, the female Great Horned Owl.
While maintaining the operations at the center and being the mentor to several falconers’ apprentices, Alia takes care of the well-being of all the animals at the center – human volunteers included! An inexhaustible source of knowledge, she happily shares her passion with anyone showing passion and curiosity in the
art of falconry. Be it information, facts or anecdotes, she has a trick or two up her sleeves!
Alia know how to perceive the personality of the animal she handles and treats them as the individual that heir are. She is meticulous about everyone’s well-being and will bring her apprentices to explore many venues and techniques in the art.
<<The relationship that is built between a falconer and its bird is, according to me, the most amazing thing about falconry. And the hunting; to see our own bird in its true environment and in full instinct is even more remarkable.>>
Maggie always had an interest for birds or prey but the passion came through during the viewing of flying demos as one could see in most of the animal related shelters, zoos and educational center's. When she learned that it was indeed possible to have her own bird, she didn’t think twice and subscribed for her falconer’s class.
The love story between Maggie and the Northern Wings educational center started for her as it would for many other apprentices and she had her training with Alia in 2015.
Maggie’s first bird was Hylow, the Borealis red tailed hawk. Before having a bird of her own, she worked with Atlas junior the harris hawk and Auron the red-tailed hawk, Arya the American kestrel and Astrid the Ferruginous hawk. Now, Maggie owns a delightful red tailed hawk named Kenya, the <<old lady>> of the bird crew.
Within the center, Maggie particularly enjoys the Medieval conventions; she finds con-goers to be the most respectful to the birds and the art of falconry. She also feels there is such a positive vibe and a symbiosis with the fellow participants of the various festivals. Most of these events happen in the outdoors – which is invigorating to the birds.
For Maggie, the most special moments in the apprenticeship of falconry is the first flight of one’s bird. The complicity between bird and human at this stage, when a relationship of any kind is barely possible in the beginning of training... Maggie qualifies it as <<pure magic>>.
Gabriel is one of the permanent members of the Northern Wings and also Maggie’s life partner. His passion for birds of prey actually came from being together! Therefore, he takes care of Maggie’s bird, Kenya, and they take part in many of the center’s activities. Gabriel shares his knowledge with the people he meets in festivals and expos and according to him, the best thing about falconry is the build-up of a relationship between falconer and bird – starting from nothing and going to a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Gabriel’s profession as a carpenter makes him a very talented aviary builder – let’s say that Kenya has a five star condo built especially for her (lucky bird!). Fun fact – his handy job makes the skin on his hands so thick that even a very motivated bird would have a hard time clawing through his skin…!a
...And the volunteers!
The Northern Wings educational center can count on the help and support of motivated and dedicated volunteers – both experienced and ‘’newbies’’ in order to keep the center clean and the birds in shape with their training. Many different people with many different backgrounds of life constitute this passionate gang of birds of prey and falconry aficionados. May they share their knowledge with visitors, clean the aviaries or update the different social network platforms, the volunteers put their whole heart in their mission so the guests’ experience with the Northern Wings can be educational and positive for all implied.
The 2020 cohort is formed by Gabriel B., Isabelle R., Amparo C., Jonathan P-L., Francis D. et Julie V.
Any funny anecdote to share?
When asked, both ladies were unanimous on what came to their mind.
<<We used to train the birds in a gymnasium during winter. There was this one time were Atlas (Junior) decided to perch on a beam near the ceiling. Our mission was now to get him down by luring him with food... but he was playing hard to get. So, Alia decides to go up in the bench section to be closer in distance. That’s when Maggie pitches a young chick to Alia so she could catch it, which she did. But not without the chick exploding on impact with Alia’s hand and ‘’everything’’ landed... in Alia’s mouth!’’