What is falconry?

What is falconry? 

Falconry is the tradition of hunting with birds of prey, or raptors. It is called falconry because the birds are in the Falconidae family, which includes all birds of prey that kill their prey with their sharp beaks.

Birds in the Falconidae family include falcons, gyrfalcons, hobbies, kestrels, and merlins.

Other birds of prey are also trained, such as those in the Accipitridae family, including eagles, goshawks, and hawks. Accipiters kill their prey with their feet, by swooping on their prey and killing it with their sharp claws, called talons.

This form of hunting with birds in the Falconidae family or in the Accipitriae family is collectively called falconry. 

People of countries that practice falconry have specific terminology for the type of tradition in their region.

The most common birds that are trained are the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), as well as other species. 

The photographed bird is likely to be the Asian Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos daphanea), which is a sub-species of the Golden Eagle.

Falconry is practiced in Mongolia, Central Asia, Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and many other countries.

The people of Central Asia—the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Turkmens—continue the tradition, and each falconer has his or her own special techniques, connections, and interactions with their bird.

The falconer wears a protective glove, called a gauntlet, which covers the hand and forearm and protects it from the bird’s sharp talons.

More information on falconry

[Location of photographs: Shymbulak near Almaty, Kazakhstan] 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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