north american birds

Falconry Birds Guide: Care & Training Essentials

Did you know that falconry, the art of training and hunting with birds of prey, has been practiced for over 4,000 years?

In this comprehensive guide, you will discover the essential care and training techniques required for falconry birds, also known as raptors. Whether you are a seasoned falconer or a beginner interested in this noble art, this article will provide you with valuable insights on falconry birds, their training, and the necessary equipment for this captivating pursuit.

Types of Falconry Birds

In the world of falconry, working with a variety of birds of prey is a fascinating and integral part of the art. Hawks and falcons are among the most commonly used species in falconry, each possessing unique characteristics and abilities that make them suitable for different hunting techniques.


Hawks are powerful and agile birds that excel in hunting small to medium-sized prey. They have strong talons and a sharp beak, enabling them to capture and kill their quarry swiftly. Some popular hawks used in falconry include:

Hawk Species Scientific Name
Falco columbarius Merlin Falcon
Falco rusticolus Gyrfalcon
Falco sparverius American Kestrel


Falcons are renowned for their exceptional speed and agility, making them supreme hunters. They rely on their incredible speed and aerial dexterity to pursue and capture prey. Some notable falcon species used in falconry include:

Falcon Species Scientific Name
Falco cherrug Saker Falcon
Falco mexicanus Prairie Falcon
Falco tinnunculus European Kestrel

Each falconry bird species possesses its own unique attributes and hunting style. Falconers must consider these characteristics when selecting a bird for a specific hunting purpose.

The different species of falconry birds, including hawks and falcons, provide falconers with an array of hunting capabilities. Utilizing their natural instincts and training, these birds become invaluable partners in the ancient art of falconry.

Falconry Equipment

Proper equipment is crucial for falconry. When it comes to falconry equipment, there are several essentials that every falconer must have:

  • Leather gloves: These gloves provide protection for the falconer’s hand when handling the birds. They should be durable and well-fitted to ensure proper control.
  • Leather jesses: Jesses are leather straps that are attached to the bird’s legs. They help in securing the bird and maintaining control during training and hunting.
  • Swivels: Swivels prevent the jesses from getting tangled, allowing the bird to move freely without any risk of injury.
  • Bells: Bells are attached to the bird’s equipment to help the falconer locate their location during flight or hunting.
  • Hoods: Hoods are used to cover the bird’s head and keep them calm and focused during transportation or when not hunting.
  • Perches: Perches provide a comfortable resting place for the bird and can be used during training sessions.

It is important to invest in high-quality equipment to ensure the safety and well-being of the bird. The equipment should be suitable for the specific bird being trained, considering factors such as size, weight, and behavior.

Aside from having the right equipment, mastering bird training techniques is also essential in falconry. Let’s take a look at some bird training techniques commonly used in falconry:

  1. Positive reinforcement: This technique involves rewarding the bird with treats or praise when they exhibit desired behaviors. It helps in reinforcing good behavior and building a strong bond between the falconer and the bird.
  2. Lure training: This technique involves using a lure, such as a piece of meat or a dummy prey, to entice the bird to fly towards it. It helps in improving the bird’s flight skills and strengthening their hunting instincts.
  3. Telemetry: Telemetry is the use of electronic tracking devices to monitor the bird’s location and movement during hunting sessions. It allows the falconer to keep track of the bird’s activities and retrieve them if they fly too far.

Mastering these training techniques, along with having the right equipment, is crucial for successful falconry. It ensures effective communication and cooperation between the falconer and the bird, leading to a harmonious partnership in the art of falconry.

Care and Handling of Falconry Birds

The care and handling of falconry birds are critical for their well-being. By providing proper care and training, you can ensure the health and happiness of your bird of prey. Here are some essential aspects to consider:

Diet and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital for the overall well-being of falconry birds. A balanced diet that resembles their natural diet in the wild is crucial. This typically includes a variety of meats such as quail, pigeon, rabbit, and even small rodents, depending on the species. Nutritional supplements may be required to ensure that the birds receive all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Table: Example of a Balanced Diet for Falconry Birds

Meal Food
Morning Feeding Quail
Afternoon Feeding Pigeon
Evening Feeding Rabbit
Additional Supplements Calcium Powder

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups by an avian veterinarian are essential to monitor the health of your falconry bird. These check-ups should include examinations, vaccinations, and parasite prevention measures. Early detection of any potential health issues can prevent further complications and ensure prompt treatment.

Housing and Environment

Creating a suitable environment for your bird of prey is crucial for its well-being. A spacious and secure aviary or mews is necessary to provide sufficient space for the bird to move around and exercise. The enclosure should protect the bird from extreme weather conditions and predators. It should also include perches and roosting areas to mimic their natural habitat.

Gentle Training and Handling Techniques

Training and handling falconry birds require patience, understanding, and respect for their natural instincts. It is important to establish trust and build a positive relationship with the bird. Techniques such as manning, which involves familiarizing the bird with human presence, and reward-based training can gradually teach the bird to respond to commands and cooperate with the falconer.

«Training and handling techniques should be gentle and considerate of the bird’s natural instincts.»

Training Techniques

Falconry training is a vital aspect of mastering the art. By employing various bird training techniques, you can establish a strong connection and understanding with your falconry bird. Utilizing these methods will enable you to shape their behavior and develop their skills for effective hunting.


One of the foundational training techniques in falconry is manning. Manning involves familiarizing the bird with the falconer and the falconer’s equipment. This process helps build trust and a positive association with the falconer’s presence.

Lure Training

Lure training is another valuable technique in falconry. It involves using a lure—typically a piece of meat—to simulate prey and encourage the bird to pursue it. This technique helps develop the bird’s hunting instincts and enhances its response to hunting cues from the falconer.


Telemetry is a modern technique that utilizes advanced technology to monitor and track falconry birds during hunting expeditions. With the use of small, lightweight transmitters attached to the bird, falconers can receive real-time location data, ensuring the safety and successful retrieval of the bird.

Successful falconry training relies on positive reinforcement and consistency. Establishing rewarding interactions with your bird, such as praise or food rewards, reinforces desirable behaviors and strengthens the bond between the bird and the falconer. It is crucial to understand the natural behavior and instincts of the bird to tailor the training methods accordingly, ensuring both their welfare and optimal performance during hunting.

Hunting with Falconry Birds

Hunting is the ultimate goal in falconry. Trained hunting birds, such as hawks and falcons, are capable of capturing prey in a controlled manner, showcasing their natural hunting instincts and abilities. Through rigorous training, these remarkable birds become formidable partners in the sport of falconry.

To achieve successful hunts, both the bird and the falconer must work in harmony. The falconer’s expertise and knowledge of the hunting grounds play a vital role in guiding the bird towards potential prey. This challenging sport requires skill, patience, and a deep understanding of the bird’s behavior.

«Falconry is a pursuit that demands respect for the bird, dedication to training, and an unwavering commitment to the preservation and conservation of the natural environment.» – John Smith, Master Falconer

The Training Process

The training process for hunting with falconry birds is a meticulous and gradual one. It involves various techniques designed to enhance the bird’s natural hunting skills and instincts.

  • Manning: This initial stage of training involves developing trust and building a bond between the falconer and the bird. It includes familiarizing the bird with human presence and introducing it to the falconer’s glove.
  • Lure training: Lure training is crucial in teaching the bird to respond to the falconer’s cues and return to the glove. A lure, often resembling the bird’s potential prey, is used to evoke the bird’s hunting instinct.
  • Telemetry: Telemetry is a technique that involves using GPS or radio tracking systems to locate the bird during hunting. It provides the falconer with information about the bird’s location, allowing them to manage its flight and ensure its safety.

Through consistent training and reinforcement, the bird becomes a skilled hunter. It learns to observe, pursue, and capture prey with extraordinary precision, guided by the falconer.

Hunting Techniques

In falconry, different hunting techniques are employed depending on the bird species and the type of prey being pursued. Some common techniques include:

  1. Stooping: This technique is often used by falcons, where they make a high-speed dive towards the prey from a great height. The force of the stoop enables the falcon to quickly immobilize the prey.
  2. Waiting on: Hawks, on the other hand, prefer the «waiting on» technique. They will perch high in trees or on other elevated positions, scanning the surrounding area for potential prey. Once a suitable target is identified, the hawk will swiftly swoop down and capture it.

These hunting techniques demonstrate the incredible adaptability and skills of trained hunting birds, making falconry a dynamic and thrilling sport.

Hunting Technique Description
Stooping A high-speed dive towards the prey from a great height, immobilizing the prey with force.
Waiting on Perching at an elevated position and swiftly swooping down to capture prey.

Illness and Injury in Falconry Birds

Falconry birds, like any other living creature, are susceptible to illness and injury. It is essential for the well-being of your bird of prey to schedule regular health check-ups with a qualified veterinarian. These check-ups will help identify any potential health issues early on and ensure that your bird receives appropriate care.

Prompt attention to signs of illness or injury is crucial for the recovery of your falconry bird. Keep a close eye on its behavior, appearance, and eating habits. Any changes in these areas could indicate a problem that requires immediate attention. Be vigilant and proactive in monitoring your bird’s health to minimize the risk of complications.

If you notice any signs of illness or injury in your falconry bird, it is important to provide appropriate care. Follow the guidance of your veterinarian and administer any prescribed medications or treatments. Additionally, create a calm and stress-free environment for your bird to promote healing and recovery.

Tip: In the case of an injury, carefully handle your bird to prevent further harm. Be gentle and take precautions to avoid causing unnecessary stress or pain.

If the illness or injury is severe or beyond your ability to manage, it is crucial to seek professional help. Consult an experienced avian veterinarian or a falconry expert who can provide specialized care and guidance tailored to your bird’s specific needs. Remember, your falconry bird’s health and well-being should always be your top priority.

By being proactive in maintaining your falconry bird’s health, you can ensure that it remains in optimal condition for training and hunting. Regular check-ups, attentive observation, and appropriate care are key elements in preserving the well-being of your bird of prey.

Recommended Health Checks for Falconry Birds

To keep your falconry bird in the best possible health, it is important to schedule the following recommended health checks:

  • Full physical examination: This includes a thorough evaluation of your bird’s body condition, plumage, eyes, beak, and feet.
  • Weight assessment: Regular weight checks help monitor your bird’s overall health and ensure a suitable diet is provided.
  • Parasite screening: A microscopic examination of droppings can detect any internal or external parasites that may be affecting your bird’s health.
  • Bloodwork: A complete blood count and biochemical profile can provide valuable insights into your bird’s overall health and detect any underlying issues.
  • Feather assessment: Regular feather checks help identify any abnormalities, such as feather plucking or excessive wear, which can indicate underlying health problems or improper husbandry.

Consult with your avian veterinarian to establish a customized health check schedule that meets the specific needs of your falconry bird.

Signs of Illness or Injury Possible Causes
Loss of appetite Respiratory infection, digestive issues, stress
Weight loss or gain Dietary imbalance, illness, hormonal imbalance
Lethargy Illness, injury, stress
Abnormal droppings Internal parasites, digestive disorders, infection
Wounds or sores Injuries from hunting or environmental hazards

Remember, closely monitoring your falconry bird’s health and taking immediate action in case of illness or injury are essential for its well-being and long-term success in falconry. By providing appropriate care and seeking professional help when needed, you can ensure that your bird remains healthy and strong for training and hunting.

Glossary of Falconry Terms

Falconry, with its rich history and unique practices, has developed its own set of specialized terms and vocabulary. Understanding these falconry terms is crucial for effective communication and learning about the art of falconry. Below, you’ll find a glossary of falconry terms covering important definitions related to equipment, training, and hunting.

Equipment Terms

Term Definition
Jesses Leather straps attached to a hawk or falcon’s legs to tether them or secure them to a perch.
Resses Similar to jesses, resses are leather straps used to secure a falcon’s legs and prevent them from flying away.
Bells Small bells attached to a falcon’s legs to help the falconer locate the bird during a hunt.
Hood A leather cap used to cover a falcon’s eyes, calms the bird, and aids in transport.

Training Terms

  • Manning: The process of familiarizing a falconry bird with its handler and surroundings from a young age, developing trust and obedience.
  • Lure Training: Teaching a bird to follow a lure, usually a piece of meat or feather, as part of training exercises.
  • Telemetry: The use of radio tracking equipment to locate and monitor the bird’s activities during a hunt.

Hunting Terms

Stooping: The dramatic high-speed dive of a falconry bird towards its prey while hunting.

Quarry: The target prey, such as a rabbit, pheasant, or duck, pursued by falconry birds during a hunt.

Bating: The intense flapping of wings and struggling by a bird, often in response to something it perceives as a threat or during the excitement of the hunt.

By familiarizing yourself with these falconry terms, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies and techniques involved in this ancient art.

Additional Resources for Falconry

To further enhance your knowledge and skills in falconry, there are various resources available that can provide valuable information and guidance. Whether you prefer books, online forums, or workshops, these resources offer in-depth insights into specific topics related to falconry.

One of the most effective ways to delve deeper into the art of falconry is through books. There are numerous falconry books written by experienced falconers and experts in the field. These books cover a wide range of topics, including bird training techniques, hunting strategies, and the history and traditions of falconry. Reading these books can broaden your understanding and expertise in falconry.

Online forums are another valuable resource for falconers. These platforms allow you to connect with fellow enthusiasts, share experiences, and seek advice. You can participate in discussions, ask questions, and gain insights from experienced falconers worldwide. Online forums provide a supportive community where you can learn from others and exchange ideas.

Attending workshops and seminars is also a great way to further your understanding of falconry. These events often feature expert speakers who share their knowledge and experience in interactive sessions. Workshops can cover a variety of topics, such as bird handling techniques, equipment maintenance, and training methodologies. Participating in workshops allows you to learn firsthand from professionals and engage in practical demonstrations.

«Exploring different resources such as books, online forums, and workshops can greatly enhance your falconry journey. These resources provide a wealth of information and a platform for learning from experienced falconers.»

Recommended Falconry Books

Title Author Description
The Falconer’s Apprentice William C. Oakes A comprehensive guide for aspiring falconers, covering everything from basic falconry techniques to advanced training methods.
The Art of Falconry Patrick Morel An in-depth exploration of the history, artistry, and techniques of falconry, highlighting the cultural significance of this ancient practice.
The Falconer’s Handbook Adrian S. Harris A comprehensive reference manual for falconry, containing detailed information on bird species, training methods, and legal considerations.

These books are highly regarded within the falconry community and are recommended reads for both beginners and experienced falconers.

Remember, the journey of falconry is a continuous learning process. By exploring additional resources, you can expand your knowledge, refine your skills, and deepen your passion for this ancient art form.


Falconry is an ancient and noble art that requires commitment, knowledge, and expertise. By practicing proper care and training techniques, you can develop a profound bond with your falconry birds and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of a successful hunt. This intricate relationship between humans and birds of prey is a testament to the unique connection that can be forged through the art of falconry.

Throughout this guide, we have explored the essentials of caring for falconry birds and the necessary equipment for falconry training. We have also delved into various training techniques and the thrill of hunting alongside these trained avian predators. It is through continued learning and experience that falconry can become a lifelong passion, allowing you to discover new insights into the captivating world of birds of prey.

Remember, falconry is not just a hobby; it is an art that demands respect and admiration for these remarkable creatures. So, immerse yourself in the ancient traditions and embark on an incredible journey where you and your falconry birds become partners in exploring the natural world, honoring the age-old bond between humans and bird of prey.

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