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Falconry

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For the unblack metal album, see Falconry (album).

Chart by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1920) illustrating falconers terminology.

Flying a saker falcon

Falconry is the hunting of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an austringer (German origin) flies a hawk (Accipiter and some buteos and similar) or an eagle (Aquila or similar). In modern falconry the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and the Harris’s hawk are often used. The words “hawking” and “hawker” have become used so much to mean petty traveling traders, that the terms “falconer” and “falconry” now apply to all use of trained birds of prey to catch game.

In early English falconry literature, the word “falcon” referred to a female falcon only, while the word “hawk” or “hawke” referred to a female hawk. A male hawk or falcon was referred to as a “tiercel” (sometimes spelled “tercel”) as it was roughly one third less than the female in size.[1][2] Many contemporary practitioners still use these words in their original meaning. The practice of hunting with a conditioned falconry bird is also called “hawking” or “gamehawking”.

History[edit]

Detail of two falconers from De arte venandi cum avibus, 1240s 

Evidence suggests that the art of falconry may have begun in Mesopotamia, with the earliest accounts dating to approximately 2,000 BC. There are also some raptor representations in the northern Altai, western Mongolia.[3] The falcon was a symbolic bird of ancient Mongol tribes.[citation needed] There is some disagreement about whether such early accounts document the practice of falconry (from The Epic of Gilgamesh and others) or are misinterpreted depictions of humans with birds of prey.[4][page needed][5][page needed] During the Turkic Period of Central Asia (A.D. 7th century). concrete figures of falconer on horseback were described on the rocks in Kyrgyz.[3] Falconry was probably introduced to Europe around AD 400, when the Huns and Alans invaded from the East.[citation needed] Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194–1250) is generally acknowledged as the most significant wellspring of traditional falconry knowledge. He is believed to have obtained firsthand knowledge of Arabic falconry during wars in the region (between June 1228 – June 1229). He obtained a copy of Moamyn‘s manual on falconry and had it translated into Latin by Theodore of Antioch. Frederick II himself made corrections to the translation in 1241 resulting in De Scientia Venandi per Aves.[6] King Frederick II is most recognized for his falconry treatise, De arte venandi cum avibus (“The Art of Hunting with Birds”). Written himself toward the end of his life, it is widely accepted as the first comprehensive book of falconry, but also notable in its contributions to ornithology and zoology. De arte venandi cum avibus incorporated a diversity of scholarly traditions from east to west, and is one of the earliest and most significant challenges to Aristotle‘s often flawed explanations of nature.[7][page needed]

Three panels depicting hawking in England from various time periods, as reprinted in Joseph Strutt’s 1801 book, The sports and pastimes of the people of England from the earliest period. The middle panel is from a Saxon manuscript dated to the late 900s – early 1000s, as of 1801 held in the “Cotton Library”, showing a Saxon nobleman and his falconer. The top and bottom panels are drawings from a manuscript held, as of 1801, in the “Royal Library” dating from early 14th century showing parties of both sexes hawking by the waterside; the falconer is frightening the fowl to make them rise and the hawk is in the act of seizing upon one of them.[8]

A Falconer and a Gamekeeper, Brooklyn Museum, c. 1600 .

Historically, falconry was a popular sport and status symbol among the nobles of medieval Europe, the Middle East, and Mongolian Empire. Many historical illustrations left in Rashid al Din’s “Compendium chronicles” book described falconry of the middle centuries with Mongol images. Falconry was largely restricted to the noble classes due to the prerequisite commitment of time, money, and space. In art and in other aspects of culture such as literature, falconry remained a status symbol long after it was no longer popularly practiced. The historical significance of falconry within lower social classes may be underrepresented in the archaeological record, due to a lack of surviving evidence, especially from nonliterate nomadic and non-agrarian societies. Within nomadic societies like the Bedouin, falconry was not practiced for recreation by noblemen. Instead, falcons were trapped and hunted on small game during the winter months in order to supplement a very limited diet.[9][page needed]

In the UK and parts of Europe, falconry probably reached its zenith in the 17th century,[1][2] but soon faded, particularly in the late 18th and 19th centuries, as firearms became the tool of choice for hunting (this likely took place throughout Europe and Asia in differing degrees). Falconry in the UK had a resurgence in the late 19th, early 20th century during which time a number of falconry books were published.[10][page needed] This revival led to the introduction of falconry in North America in the early 1900s. Col R. Luff Meredith is recognized as the father of North American falconry.[11]

Throughout the 20th century, modern veterinary practices and the advent of radio telemetry (transmitters attached to free-flying birds) increased the average lifespan of falconry birds and allowed falconers to pursue quarry and styles of flight that had previously resulted in the loss of their hawk or falcon.

Timeline[edit]

  • 722–705 BC – An Assyrian bas-relief found in the ruins at Khorsabad during the excavation of the palace of Sargon II (Sargon II) has been claimed to depict falconry. In fact, it depicts an archer shooting at raptors and an attendant capturing a raptor. A. H. Layard‘s statement in his 1853 book Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon is “A falconer bearing a hawk on his wrist appeared to be represented in a bas-relief which I saw on my last visit to those ruins.”
  • 680 BC – Chinese records describe falconry.
  • 355 ADNihon-shoki, a largely mythical narrative, records hawking first arriving in Japan as of the 16th emperor Nintoku.
  • 2nd-4th century – the Germanic tribe of the Goths learned falconry from the Sarmatians.
  • 5th century – the son of Avitus, Roman Emperor 455–56, from the Celtic tribe of the Arverni who fought at the Battle of Châlons with the Goths against the Huns introduced falconry in Rome.
  • 500 – a Roman floor mosaic depicts a falconer and his hawk hunting ducks.
  • early 7th century – Prey caught by trained dogs or falcons is considered halal in Quran.[12] By this time falconry was already popular in the Arabian Peninsula.
  • 818 – The Japanese Emperor Saga ordered someone to edit a falconry text named “Shinshuu Youkyou”.
  • 875 – Western Europe and Saxon England practiced falconry widely.
  • 991 – The Battle of Maldon. A poem describing it says that, before the battle, the Anglo-Saxons’ leader Byrhtnoth “let his tame hawk fly from his hand to the wood”.
  • 1070s – The Bayeux Tapestry shows King Harold of England with a hawk in one scene. It is said that the king owned the largest collection of books on the sport in all of Europe.
  • c. 1240s – The treatise of an Arab falconer, Moamyn, was translated into Latin by Master Theodore of Antioch, at the court of Frederick II, it was called De Scientia Venandi per Aves and much copied.
  • 1250Frederick II wrote in the last years of his life a treatise on “The Art of Hunting with Birds”: De arte venandi cum avibus.
  • 1285 – The Baz-Nama-yi Nasiri – a Persian treatise on falconry was compiled by Taymur Mirza – an English translation of which was produced in 1908 by D. C. Phillott.[13]
  • 1390s – In his Libro de la caza de las aves, Castilian poet and chronicler Pero López de Ayala attempts to compile all the available correct knowledge concerning falconry.
  • 1486 -See the Boke of Saint Albans
  • early 16th century – Japanese warlord Asakura Norikage (1476–1555) succeeded in captive breeding of goshawks.
  • 1600s – Dutch records of falconry; the Dutch town of Valkenswaard was almost entirely dependent on falconry for its economy.
  • 1660sTsar Alexis of Russia writes a treatise which celebrates aesthetic pleasures derived from falconry.
  • 1801James Strutt of England writes, “the ladies not only accompanied the gentlemen in pursuit of the diversion [falconry], but often practiced it by themselves; and even excelled the men in knowledge and exercise of the art.”
  • 1864 – The Old Hawking Club is formed in Great Britain.
  • 1927 – The British Falconers’ Club is founded by the surviving members of the Old Hawking Club. Today, it is the largest and oldest falconry club in Europe.
  • 1934 – The first US falconry club, The Peregrine Club of Philadelphia, is formed; it became inactive during World War II and was reconstituted in 2013 by Dwight A.Lasure of Pennsylvania
  • 1941Falconer’s Club of America formed
  • 1961Falconer’s Club of America defunct
  • 1961North American Falconers Association (NAFA) formed
  • 1968International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF) formed[14]
  • 1970Peregrine falcon listed as an endangered species in the U.S., due primarily to the use of DDT as a pesticide (35 Federal Register 8495; June 2, 1970).
  • 1970 – The Peregrine Fund is founded, mostly by falconers, to conserve raptors, and focusing on peregrines.
  • 1972 – DDT banned in the U.S. (EPA press release – December 31, 1972) but continues to be used in Mexico and other nations.
  • 1999 – Peregrine falcon removed from the Endangered Species List in the United States, due to reports that at least 1,650 peregrine breeding pairs existed in the U.S. and Canada at that time. (64 Federal Register 46541-558, August 25, 1999)
  • 2003 – A population study by the USFWS shows peregrine falcon numbers climbing ever more rapidly, with well over 3000 pairs in North America
  • 2006 – A population study by the USFWS shows peregrine falcon numbers still climbing. (Federal Register circa September 2006)
  • 2008 – USFWS rewrites falconry regulations virtually eliminating federal involvement. {Federal Register: October 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 196)}
  • 2010 – Falconry is added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)[
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