Falconry is, as webster points out, the art of using birds of prey for the puropses of hunting. Indeed, in the United States there are only three legal reasons for which one can own a Bird of Prey:

1.) Rehabilitation, with the intent to release the bird back into the wild

2.) Education. Birds which cannot be released to the wild are preferred for this purpose.

3.) Hunting.

Falconry is an ancient art that has been practiced by many cultures, it was common in the feudal societies of both Japan and England.

Due to rather strict laws, in the United States Falconry is a life-long commitment. Not only do you have to take a test, you must be sponsored by a licenced falconer, and have your facilities for housing the bird approved my your local fish & wildlife department.

Raptors also take a great deal of care, they must be fed fresh, lean raw meat on a daily basis, and must have their bills and talons filed regularly. Also you must commit to hunting with the birds throughout the season or you may find yourself in violation of the laws stated above. Neglect, or poor care of a raptor in captivity can result in heavy fines and even jail time.

There are a select few types of hawk legal for the sport of Falconry, these laws can vary from state to state. The most popular species of hawks used in Oregon are the goshawk, the peregrine falcon, and red-tailed hawks.

There are many books and online resources aviliable to those interested in falconry, but that can only get one so far. People seriously interested in the sport of falconry should contact a local organization and speak with members.
A short list of falconry terms

1. Different sorts of hawk

During the Middle Ages, every social class had a special kind of hunting hawk associated with it. Thus,

Gerfalcon or a Gyrfalcon (esp. the male, also called tercel) was for the king.
Falcon or tercel gentle for a prince.
Falcon of the rock for a duke.
Peregrine or a bluehawk for an earl.
Bastard hawk for a baron.
Saker for a knight.
Lanner for a squire.
Merlin for a lady.
Hobby for a young man.
Goshawk for a yeoman.
Sparrow hawk for a priest.
Musket for a holy-water clerk.
Kestrel for a knave and a servant.

2. Different parts of a hawk

Sure, you may call yourself a falconer. But do you know your haglurs from your principals? No? Read on...

Arms. The legs from the thigh to the foot.
Beak. The upper, crooked part of... well, beak. :)
Beams. The long feathers of the wings.
Clap. The lower part of the beak.
Feathers summed/unsummed. Feathers full or not full grown.
Flags. The second-longest feathers, next to principals.
Glut. The slimy substance in the pannel.
Haglurs. The spots on the feathers.
Mails. The breast feathers.
Nares. The two little holes on top of the beak.
Pannel. The pipe next to the cloaca.
Pendent feathers. The ones behind the toes.
Petty singles. The toes.
Pounces. The claws.
Principal feathers. The two longest ones.
Sails. The wings.
Sear, sere. The yellow part under the eyes.
Train. The tail.

3. The dress of a hawk

A falconer wouldn't be seen dead with a badly dressed bird. Time to invest on some proper attire:

Bewils. The leathers buttoned to the birds legs, embellished with the hawk bells.

Creanse. A thin twine fastened to the leash in disciplining a hawk.

Hood. A cover for the head, to keep the hawk in the dark. A rufter hood is a wide one, open from behind. To unstrike a hood is to draw the strings so that the hood can be easily pulled off if so desired.

Jesses. The little leather straps with which the leash is fastened to the legs.

Leash. The leather thong for holding the hawk.

4. Terms used in falconry

Assorted terms for advanced snobbery.

Casting. Something given to a hawk to cleanse her gorge.

Cawking. Treading.

Cowering. When young hawks quiver and shake their wings in obedience to their elders.

Crabbing. Two hawks fighting each other when standing too near.

Hack. The place where a hawk's meat is laid.

Imping. Repairing a wing by engrafting a new feather.

Inke. The breast of a bird the hawk preys on.

Intermewing. The time of changing the coat.

Lure. A figure made of a fowl made of leather and feathers.

Make. An old, well-trained hawk that sets an example to others.

Mew. The place where hawks sit when moulting.

Muting. The dung of hawks (isn't it amazing that they need a special word for what's basically just mundane bird shit?)

Pelf. What is left of a prey after the hawk is done with it.

Pelt. The dead body of a fowl killed by a hawk.

Perch. The resting place of a hawk when off the falconer's wrist.

Quarry. The fowl or game that a hawk flies at.

Rangle. Gravel given to a hawk to empty her stomach. Probably a means of producing muting.

Sharp set. Hungry.

I'm no falconer, so if you spot a mistake or know of a term I haven't included here, /msg me.

The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Also thanks to Kidas for helping me with the correct spelling of lanner, gyrfalcon and countless others. :)

Fal"con*ry (?), n. [Cf. F. fauconnerie. See Falcon.]


The art of training falcons or hawks to pursue and attack wild fowl or game.


The sport of taking wild fowl or game by means of falcons or hawks.


© Webster 1913.

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