We have already published materials about hunting birds on our portal. This time we will touch on falconry in more detail.
Falconry is a type of game hunting in which tamed birds of prey are used instead of the usual gun. In this hunt, birds from the family of falcons and hawks are used. Hunters who practice this type of leisure are called falconers.
A brief history of falconry
From time immemorial, we hear references to the use of hunting birds, in particular falcons, during hunting. The first documentary evidence of this was found in the Assyrian fortress of King Sargon II. During the excavations, archaeologists discovered a stone bas-relief depicting two hunters, one launching a bird into the sky, the other catching it.It was popular among the nomads of Mongolia. The emperors of China also hunted in this way. Knew her and Percy, and in the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula.
In Western Europe, hunting using a Falcon was unknown or not very popular until the thirteenth century. In any case, until this time there is no documentary evidence of the use of hunting birds during hunting. Only in the year one thousand two hundred and seventy-four appeared the treatise “the Art of hunting with birds” authored by the Roman Emperor Frederick the second Gogestaufen-falconry and then was more than an elite occupation. This was even enshrined in law, so only members of the upper class could hunt.
The real “Golden age” of European falconry was the reign of Louis the thirteenth. Such hunts were conducted by him, almost daily. They were divided into components. It all depended on what kind of animal was being hunted. A separate person was responsible for each such part.
But nothing lasts forever, and with the widespread use of firearms, hunting with birds of prey began to gradually fade into oblivion, but did not disappear at all. Today, falconry has its trembling fans in many countries, Russia is no exception in this case.
Birds that are used in falconry
Gyrfalcon, one of the largest representatives of the family of falcons. It can hunt both in the air and on the ground. Under natural conditions feed him to serve ptarmigan (tundra and white), birds from bird colonies (gulls, cleaning), corvids, sometimes lemmings. The flight of the Gyrfalcon can reach a two-kilometer height, and is almost invisible in the sky. A well-trained bird is quite capable of hunting large game, such as a hare, crane, or Swan. In the Arab countries, such a bird is trained for hunting bustards.
Sakers are slightly smaller than a Gyrfalcon. Under natural conditions feed on ground squirrels, common in the southern areas of the diet includes and large lizards. A little less often it eats medium-sized and small birds. When hunting above ground, it is allowed to steal its prey. Bets are not as spectacular as the Gyrfalcon or peregrine Falcon, which will be discussed later. When worn out, the Saker can attack a hare, goose, or bustard.
The Falcon – Sapsan in natural conditions, the diet usually consists of gulls, waders, corvids, pigeons, and passerines. A Mature bird is able to hunt almost any bird.
Cheglok in nature preys in the air, usually on small birds. Most often they are swallows, Swifts, and sometimes pigeons. Almost never attacks the victim from the ground.
Very close to cheglok view-Eleanor’s Falcon. Matured bird can hunt corvids, pigeons, small rabbits.
Merlin (Merlin, blue Falcon). As a rule, it hunts low above the ground (up to a meter), is allowed to steal, but still, it can make bets in the air. Small birds serve as its prey.
The black grouse is a fairly large bird of prey with decent strength. Its diet includes Vranov, pigeons, sparrows, sometimes ducks, gulls, partridges, and can attack a hare. The worn-out grouse is suitable for almost any hunting.
During hunting, before releasing the hunting bird, it is worn on the hand, which must be protected from the sharp claws of the predator with a glove made of suede or leather. If you need to carry several birds at once, then a special frame made of wooden bars is used for this purpose. It is called a “cage”, serves as a nest for birds and is usually worn on the shoulders. On my feet birds of prey put on opulence – ring belts or cloth. This belt is used to fasten a bird of prey to the glove, so that it does not fly away ahead of time. In addition, a small bell is attached to the tail or paws. He will not allow the bird to hide with already caught prey in a secluded place. On the head of falcons put special caps that cover the bird’s eyes, they are called hoods.
The advantages of a Falcon are determined by two factors. The first is the number of bets he is able to make. A bet is a bird-hunter’s flight up, to the height from which he, having stopped for a moment, falls on his prey. If the first attempt fails, the predator will try again and again until it succeeds.
Baiting of game, with the help of hunting birds, is carried out either “with the hand” or “with an affectation”. The first method is used with a hawk, the bird immediately rushes to the prey. The Falconer, practically does not participate in the process, except that he opens his hand to release the bird. And during the hunt, the second way the Falconer throws the bird from his hand. There are several different methods of filling:
“In flight” – a bird of prey is launched at the prey from afar. The bird flies close to the ground and fasting overtakes its victim.
“Up” – the bird rises up to its feathered prey, then flies above it and then attacks from above, while making bets. This overlap can be implemented exclusively with falcons, Sakers, and Gyrfalcons. Apply it when hunting herons, crows, geese, kites, rooks.
“From the top” – the predator is thrown over the place where it is decided to poison the game, and only then raise the prey. You can do this in completely different ways – with the help of people, dogs, you can even use a drum roll. After the game is raised, the bird attacks it from above, makes bets, or poisons the prey “into hijacking”. This method is used when hunting ducks, snipes, partridges, hollows, woodcocks, crows, jackdaws, rabbits and hares.
The Falcon strikes its prey with its claws. It is worth noting that the legs of this bird are so strong, and the claws are sharp, that the blow is very strong. Sometimes it even breaks the duck’s neck in half. To take the caught game from the hunter bird, you need to use a “wabilo”, this is one or two wings of any bird to which a piece of meat is attached.
If the hunter need to replace caught the game on vabilo, it makes it so that the bird of prey did not notice the substitution. Also vabilo used in case of missing bird of prey. It (wabilo) is tied to a rope, and the hunter swings it over his head to lure the bird.
Some features of the behavior of hunting birds
Large falcons such as the Saker Falcon, Gyrfalcon, and peregrine Falcon are high-flying birds. Rapidly attacking, they are able to hunt large, agile and cunning birds. This feature is almost the entire success of falconry. Having spotted its prey, the Falcon is able to reach a speed of up to two hundred kilometers per hour. Prey is not only knocked down with the help of clawed paws, it uses the mass of the entire body.
If the victim was detected by a hunting bird at a high altitude, it immediately makes a steep dive in order to overtake it. To raise the birds that are hiding on the ground, the Falcon sweeps over them at high speed, causing them to take off. Then the predator abruptly rises up, from where it strikes the victim. If falcons hunt in pairs, then one of them scares the birds, forcing them to find themselves, and the second hovers at a height, waiting for the moment of attack.
It is important not to forget that falconry is, first of all, a way of communicating with a beautiful bird-hunter, admiring the beauty of its flight, the rapidity of attacks. The number of trophies obtained, there is no comparison with hunting in traditional ways.