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The Sport of

Falconry or Hawking


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Falconry is the training of falcons or hawks to capture wild game
or fowl. It is also the sport of hunting with these trained birds of prey.

Sometimes the sport is also known as hawking.

In falconry two types of hawks are used: the long-winged or
dark-eyed hawks and the short-winged or yellow-eyed hawks.

The first type includes the gyrfalcon and the peregrine; the
second, the goshawk and the sparrow hawk. Different hawks
hunt different kinds of quarry. Thus, tiercels are used for snipe
and partridge; gyrfalcons for heron and rook; and goshawks for
rabbit, hare, and pheasant and other wild fowl.

In general, the female of each species is more highly valued for
hunting because it is larger and more powerful.

Hawking may be practiced by individuals or by groups on foot
or horseback.

When several hawks are to be carried to the field, the birds, hooded
so they will not fly at anything before the quarry is flushed or started,
are carried in a cadge. Dogs, such as pointers and small greyhounds,
are used to flush birds or to start game.

One class of hawks is released when the hunting field is reached,
whereupon they fly high and wait on the quarry, that is, hover in the
air until the quarry appears, a procedure for which they are trained.
Other hawks are kept hooded in the cadge or on the wrist of the
falconer until the falconer, with or without the aid of dogs, starts
the quarry, whereupon the hood is removed
and the falcon flies in pursuit.

In either case, the hawk swoops down upon its prey from a point
high above it.

The prey falls to the ground, and the hunter comes up and takes
possession or, if the hawk clings to it, takes it from the hunting bird.
A plan often used is to employ a dog to point the hunted game and
then to release or cast off the hawk when the dog points; after the
hawk has flown to a high point, called its pitch, the falconer flushes
or starts the quarry.

If falcons are not kept separate they will kill each other. At night
they are kept in an apartment called a mews and are tethered so
they cannot get at one another; during the day when not
hunting they are tethered to blocks, usually out of doors

Falconry uses it's own special vocabulary.

Falconry Terms Include:

Aerieor is a falcon's nest
Bating is fluttering the wings
Binding is when the bird clings to the prey
Clutches is when it seizes the quarry in its claws
Crabbing is when birds fight among themselves
Coping is blunting the bill or talons
Eyas is a young hawk taken from the nest.
Eyrie is a falcon's nest.
Haggard, or blue hawk or passage hawk, is a mature wild bird
Imping is mending a hawk's broken feathers
Intermewed is time after a bird's first molt
Jesses are leg straps
Jonking is sleeping
Mewing is when a hawk molts
Pannel is the lower stomach.
Pounces are claws
Rufters are leather eye hoods
Sails are wings
Stooping is when the bird dives upon it's prey with wings closed

See Also:

Index of North American Birds



Stuffed Plush Falcons, Hawks & Birds

Colorful Falcon & Bird Calendars