Falconry Facts

 

Although falconry is now the fastest growing field support, we have lost the true tradition & history of the true sport of falconry, here are a "few" facts I would like to share with you: 

 

  • Falconry is the true Sport of Kings practiced by the nobility throughout the ages.

 

  • Practiced by many nations for over 4000 years, Falconry is believed to have originated in days gone by as a means to supplement food for the table, prior to the advent of the gun.

 

  • Legislated since Norman times, Falconry became a status symbol for many a monarchy.

 

  • Persons caught with birds of prey outside their social standing could be severely punished.

 

  • With the easy accessibility to firearms at the beginning of the 18th century Falconry slowly faded into obscurity, until there was only a handful left practising this ancient sport.

 

  • Ironically the first rifle type gun invented was called a "Musket". A Musket is also the term used to describe a male sparrowhawk, the most common bird of prey in the UK.

 

  • Owls are the second least intelligent of ALL birds by virtue of brain size. First are the Ratite's.(The Ratite family consist of the Ostrich, Emu, Rhea, Cassowary & Kiwi.)

 

  • With the acquisition of American species such as the Red Tail Hawk & the Harris Hawk falconry started to make a resurgence in the late 70's.

 

  • The Harris Hawk is now the most popular bird used in falconry.

 

  • The largest bird of prey in the UK is the White Tailed Sea Eagle.

 

  • Owls cannot turn their heads completely around and there is no such thing a "Wise" owl and most Owls hunt in the daytime.

 

  • The smallest bird of prey in the UK is the Merlin.

 

  • The fastest animal on the planet is the Peregrine Falcon which in test conditions has reached a speed of 242mph (387km/h.)

 

  • The most widely distributed land based bird, is the Barn Owl found all around our planet except the poles.

  

 

Glossary or Terms used in Falconry

 

Austringer: A trainer of short & broadwinged hawks.

Aylmeri anklets: Leather anklets attached to a trained hawk's legs.

Bate, to: To try to fly when tethered.

Bechins: Tiny pieces of meat.

Bind, to: Describes when a hawk grips the quarry or lure with its feet.

Bird of prey: A bird that hunts primarily with its feet.

Block: A perch usually used for longwings and owls.

Boozer: A falcon or hawk that drinks to excess.

Bow perch: perch usually used for shortwings and broadwings.

Bowsing: Action of a hawk or falcon drinking.

Call off, to: To call a bird from its perch.

Call in, to: To call a bird to the glove or lure.

Carry, to: To try to fly away with prey or lure.

Cast: Two hawks flown together.

Cast, to: To hold down and immobilize a bird by hand.

Cast, to: To regurgitate the undigested pellet of fur or feather.

Casting: An indigestible pellet of fur or feather (& sometimes bone.)

Cast off, to: To propel a bird from a glove to reach flight speed quickly or to get to a pitch.

Cere: The casing of the nostrils above the beak.

Check off, to: To hesitate and refuse prey during flight.

Check at, to: to change prey target during flight.

Condition, in: To be fit and reliable to fly.

Condition, out of: To be unfit and unreliable to fly.

Cope, to: To cut and file the beak or talons.

Ceance: A long piece of string used for training a bird of prey. Derives from French "to reclaim a debt".

Crop: A storage sack in the alimentary canal which precedes the stomach.

Crop up, to: To gorge or to give a good crop, often from prey.

Draw the hood, to: To pull the hood straps (braces) closed

Diurnal: Of the day.

Enter, to: To introduce the bird to prey or something new

Eyass: A young fledgling first year bird

Eyrie: A nest of a bird of prey

Falcon: Used to describe longwings (denotes a female.)

Falconer: Generic term for a trainer of birds of prey, originally longwings.

Feed up, to: To give a full crop of food (see gorge.)

Fed up, to be: To be full gorged and unresponsive to being called in.

Flush, to: To move quarry from its place of hiding, for a hawk or falcon to pursue. 

Flying Weight: The weight a trained hawk returns reliably.

Foot, to: To strike out with the foot.

Footer, good: Describes a hawk that is good with its feet.

Footy: A hawk prone to lash out with its feet.

Follow on, to: To follow the falconer from perch to perch.

Fret-marks: Marks of weakness on a feather due to stress.

Get in, to: To get to the hawk after it has taken prey or lure.

Gorge, to: To eat to capacity.

Haggard: An experienced bird taken from the wild.

Hawk: Generic term used to describe longwings, shortwings and broadwings.

Hawking: Hunting with diurnal birds of prey.

High: Describes a bird which is too heavy to be flown reliably.

Hood: A head cap which covers the eyes of a hawk to relieve stress.

Hood shy: Describes a hawk which tries to avoid wearing the hood.

Hunger Trace: Marks of weakness on a feather caused by lack of food.

Hunting weight: The weight a hawk enters to quarry.

Imp, to: To mend broken feathers with previously moulted feathers.

Jesses: Leather straps attached to the anklets of a hawk.

Keel: The breastbone of a bird.

Keen: Describes an eager hawk .

Leash: Piece of rope used to tether a hawk to its perch.

Low: Describes an underweight hawk.

Lure: Imitation prey used to train and call in a hawk.

Lure, to: To entice the hawk by means of the lure.

Mail: The breast feathers.

Make hawk: An experienced bird used to encourage the training of young birds.

Make in, to: To move in close to a hawk when it is on prey or lure.

Man, to: To "tame" a hawk to accept human prescence .

Mantle, to: To spread the wings while feeding to cover food from other predators veiw (French "to cloak".)

Mark, to: Where a hawk keeps looking, where it can see quarry, but waits for assistance.

Mews: Indoor accommodation for a hawk, originally for moulting.

Mutes: Droppings of birds of prey .

Nocturnal: Of the night.

Petty single: The toe of a hawk.

Pitch: Height a falcon reaches before stooping or height a hawk goes up in the trees.

Pitch, to: To land.

Put in, to: To drive prey into cover.

Put out, to: To drive prey out of cover.

Put over, to: To move food from the crop into the stomach.

Pounces: The talons of a shortwing or broadwing.

Point: The position of prey hiding in cover.

Quarry: Prey a hawk is flown to, or offered.

Rake, to: To fly far from the falconer or the point or try grab food off the glove.

Rangle: Small stones or pebbles hawks & falcons eat to aid crushing food in the crop.

Reclaim, to: To train a hawk after a period of liberty (see also Enseam.)

Refuse, to: To give up or not fly to quarry.

Rouse, to: To shake the feathers.

Serve, to: To find and reveal quarry for a hawk.

Sharp set: Describes an eager hawk.

Shortwing: Of the family Accipiter - or 'True' hawks.

Slip: A flight at quarry.

Slip,to: To release a bird to fly to quarry.

Static display: A display of tethered hawks.

Stoop, to: To tuck in the wings and dive headfirst from a height.

Strike the hood, to: To pull the hood braces open.

Swivel: Metal piece of furniture attached between jesses and leash to prevent entanglement.

Take stand, to: To perch in a tree.

Tether, to: To secure a bird of prey to its perch.

Throw up, to: To fly up after a dive or stoop.

Tiercel: Originally the male peregrine, often describes male falcons

Tercel: The male goshawk .

Tiring: Usually bone with a sparse amount of meat on it, used to work the beak and the neck muscles.

Train: Tail of a hawk or falcon.

Turn tail: To give up in mid flight .

Yarak, in: Describes a hawk in good hunting condition (see also Sharp set.)

Wait on, to: To reach a pitch & wait to be served.

Weather, to: To put birds in the open air.

Weathering-pen: A mesh-fronted covered shelter.

Weathering-ground: An open area to allow birds to weather.

Whistle off, to: To call off a hawk a perch with a whistle.

Whistle on, to: To whistle to a hawk to follow on.

 

Ancient Geeks practiced falconry around 2000BC. The Goddess Athena is often dipicted with a Little Owl Athene noctua which symbolised her wisdom.

Ancient Egypt temples dating back to 3,000BC are  covered with hieroglyphics of the sun god Horus a Lanner 

Falcon. 

 

A Painting dating back to 3,000 year ago  of a Chinese man out hunting with his Goshawk and Tazy Hounds. It is most commonly believed the sport of falconry was started in China around 4,000 years ago but it actually dates back much eairlier.  

In documented Iranian history Tahmooreth, a king of the Pishdadid dynasty practiced falconry, who himself lived around 6000 BC.

 

In 2004 archaeologists un-earthed an eagles leg with leather strapping around it ankles, when carbon dated they found the leg to be 12,000 years old dating back to 10,000BC.

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