Falconry is the ancient art of taking wild quarry with a trained bird of prey. Originally, falconry was used as a reliable way of catching food for the table.
It is believed that falconry may have originated in the Far East as early as 2000 BC and was possibly introduced into the British Isles around 860 AD. For many centuries it remained the sport of royalty and nobility. The sons of landed gentry were taught falconry along with archery and swordsmanship to round out their education.
The popularity of falconry in the British Isles peaked and troughed as time went on and is recorded to have been at its lowest during the 18th Century but by the early 19th Century had made a comeback with interest generated by training and hunting methods employed by the Dutch School of Falconry, as Holland had become the focal point for the sport in Europe at that time.
In the UK, the British Falconers’ Club is the oldest and largest of the falconry clubs. The club was founded in 1927 by the surviving members of the Old Hawking Club, itself founded in 1864.
The British Falconers’ Club now has a membership of over 1,200 falconers. It began as a small and elite club however it is now a sizeable democratic organisation that has members from all walks of life flying hawks, falcons, and eagles at legal quarry throughout the British Isles.
Working closely with the Hawk Board, an advisory body representing the interests of UK bird of prey keepers, the British Falconers’ Club is in the forefront of raptor conservation, falconer education and sustainable falconry.(Supplied courtesy of Wikipedia)
Today in Britain a variety of birds of prey are flown in the sport including Harris Hawks, Red Tailed Hawk, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, Goshawk and Gyrfalcon.
Quarry available to falconers in Britain are hares, rabbits, game birds (pheasants and partridge) and birds excluded either wholly or seasonally by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Many falconers in the UK are now using the European Hunt, Point and Retrieve breeds of dogs to find and flush game for their raptors to hunt.
There are numerous commercial falconry centres, clubs and individuals operating in the UK offering raptor handling, care and hunting lessons for visitors and falconry novices.
Books on UK Falconry
Falconry by Emma Ford – Shire Library First Published 1984, Second Edition 2008
Falcons and Falconry by Frank Illingworth – Blandford Press First Published 1948, Fourth Edition 1975
Hunting with Harris Hawks by Bob Dalton – PW Publishing First Published 2006, Second Edition 2008
The Modern Falconer by Diana Durman-Walters – Swan Hill Press First Published 1994
Falconry: The Essential Guide by Steve Wright – Crowood Press First Published in 2006 and now in its second imprint.
Other Books of Interest
Arab Falconry – History of a Way of Life by Roger Upton – Medina Publishing First Published 2010
Sky Hunters – The Passion of Falconry by Hossein Amirsadeghi – Thames & Hudson First Published 2008
Falcons and Falconry in Qatar by Faris A. Al-Timimi – Ali Bin Ali Printing – First Published in 1987