What is a Falconer?
Falconry has been practiced for almost four thousand years and was once known as ‘the sport of kings’. It involves using a wild hawk, falcon or eagle to hunt and return live prey back to captivity and its master. A falconer will trap his wild bird and then dedicate many years (seven to ten years) in training the bird. There are three levels in falconry: Apprentice Falconer, General Falconer, and Master Falconer. Many parts of the world have specific laws on falconry to ensure that the birds are properly treated.
What does a Falconer do?
A falconer is someone who practises the sport of pursuing live prey with a raptor, such as a hawk, falcon or eagle. Most parts of the world have comprehensive laws and regulations covering falconry to ensure the birds are treated properly and the sport can continue to be practised. Every falconer has an array of equipment they typically use:
Scale - To begin the day, the bird is weighed. These types of birds are carnivores who will only hunt when hungry, therefore if the bird is not hungry, they will not be motivated to fly. To keep the falcon healthy, the falconer feeds the bird what it would normally catch in the wild, such as mice, quail, or pigeons.
Falconry Hood - is used for calming the bird and ensuring it is alert when the falconer needs it
Falconry Telemetry - is a digital tracker that is used for finding the bird when it has flown off
Falconer’s Glove - is used for protection from razor sharp talons when the falconer calls the bird back to the fist
Block and Bow Perches - are proper perches for all raptors, as there is a chance of foot infection developing if a bird is perched on the wrong block or perch for too long
Lure/Dummy Bunny - is a winged lure used for falcons who only hunt other birds. The falconer swings the lure in the air to stimulate a real hunt and to engage the bird's natural behaviour. The dummy bunny is used for buzzards, hawks, and eagles who chase animals on the ground.
Leash & Swivel - a leash is used for tethering the bird and the swivel ensures that the leash won’t get tangled
Knife - Once a raptor has captured its prey, it is not always a given that it will be dead. The falconer must be okay with killing the animal that is caught.
Bewitts, Bells, Jesses & Aylmeri Anklets - are bells that are attached to a bird so that the falconer knows where the bird is even if it’s out of sight
What is the workplace of a Falconer like?
Falcons require wide open expanses of land (with appropriate game available) where they may be flown high over the falconer, while hawks can hunt in smaller fields or farms. If a falconer doesn't have access to land, they must get permission (sometimes written permission) from the property owner to enter.
Falconry is less like a sport or hobby, and more like a lifestyle. There is a significant amount of time and energy required to be a falconer, and training a bird requires even more time. The 365 day a year time commitment may conflict with other parts of life, such as career, kids or spouse. It is important therefore, to think very seriously and understand the sacrifices required before undertaking this sport.
Falconers are also known as:
Raptor Trainer Apprentice Falconer General Falconer Master Falconer