Thursday, April 4, 2019

Falconry & Hawking in Oregon

by Scott (grade 7)

Red Tailed Hawk
Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-
Falconry is old and it is often referred to as the sport of kings. In my article, you will see why.  Falconry is hunting with a trained bird of prey on your fist or in the air. In the past, there were certain birds that people hunted with.  Here is the list of birds.  The emperor  would get an eagle, the king would get a gerfalcon, a prince will get a tercal male, a duke got a loch falcon, Earl gets a Peregrin, Barron gets a buzzard, knight gets a sacer and a secret, esquire gets a laner, lady gets a marlin, young man gets a hobby, yeoman gets a goshawk, poor man gets a jercal, a priest gets a sparrowhawk, the holy water clerk gets a musket, knave or servant gets a kestrel.            

There's obviously some birds that are used more often than others. The first commonly used bird is the Red Tailed Hawk, which is native to the area that we live in. The Red Tail is a bird that most people use when they are getting into falconry. You can catch a wide variety of quarry (or prey) with them. The next most common bird is the Harris Hawk. These birds are very social and can be used in a cast, which means two or more people can fly them together. The last is a Peregrine Gry hybrid. Gry are very good flyers and peregrines are native to where we live, so they make a very good falcon for hunting.      

American Kestrel
Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-
There are two types of birds for beginners: the Red Tailed Hawk and the American Kestrel. Like I have already explained, the Red Tailed Hawk is a very good falconry bird. the Kestrel is very small, at only 3.5 ounces. It is very easy to over feed and that could hurt it. They don't hunt a lot of animals.      

When you are a falconer you need a lot of equipment to keep your  bird healthy. The house that you keep a bird in is called a mew. Mews have lots of room for the bird to do move around. The mews are usually 10 feet by 8 feet. Then they have a room to work with the bird which is also that same size directly outside of the door to the bird. Before you can become a falconer you have to have enough food until you and your bird can go hunt for food. You also need a lot of other equipment like bells to keep track of the bird when it makes a kill. 

When you get started, you have to take a exam to make sure you know what you are doing. But you can't just walk in to take the test you have to set up a time to take your test. If you pass your test with more than 80 percent to actually become a falconer. You have to have your hunting license and falconry license. After you have to find a master falconer and be their apprentice for two years.   

There are certain stages that you have to go through to get to the point where you and your hawk can hunt together. The first stage is manning, which is when you get your bird acclimated to people, mostly yourself. This is very important because otherwise the hawk will be scared of people and will fly away.  

The second stage is training your hawk to come to the fist and get it to eat out of your hand. This means that it trusts you. Then you slowly move farther back to a step then to a jump, then to a short glide then farther and farther away until about 200 feet. Then you can free flight. 

You can get your bird fit in many ways like training and cutting down until you find your birds best performance weight. Once you get your bird to that weight, make sure you are keeping it at that weight by flying it. You can keep a Red Tail in that weight by going on walks with it. You train Red Tails to follow you from tree to tree. With falcons, you can fly them at the lure.  

Unless you have had your bird since it was a baby you don’t need to teach it to hunt. With a Red Tail Hawk you hunt many different types of game. But with falcons and short wing hawks, you really only hunt birds even though they can also hunt other animals as well.  Despite the differences between short wing hawks, falcons, eagles, and buzzards they are all in the same family, so most of the Raptor family can be used for falconry. Thank you for reading my article now you know more about falconry and I hope you use it to your knowledge in the future. 

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