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Beginning falconry requires important paraphernalia

Oct 24, 2012, 8:23 a.m.
Falconry training is one possibility for those who enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors and working with an animal partner willing to hunt prey for them.

Some older adults discover that as they gain more spare time, they also want to take on a new hobby adventure. Falconry training is one possibility for those who enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors and working with an animal partner willing to hunt prey for them. Falconry for beginners involves a major commitment in time and equipment as well as in developing a working relationship with a responsive animal.

Birds of prey, like the peregrine falcon, have been used for hunting partnerships with man since before 2000 B.C. Beginning in China, the sport spread throughout the world. Falconry has always been very popular; even playwright William Shakespeare was an avid falconer in the 1600s. In 1970, the U.S. peregrine falcons were dangerously reduced to just 39 pairs. By 1999, President Clinton was able to remove them from their endangered species status.

Falconry for beginners training begins well before owning the bird, starting with acquiring a Falconry Permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, plus any state permits required. A 100 question test must be passed with at least 80% correct answers. Beginners must first be an apprentice under an experienced falconer for two years. In this time, they learn how to handle and care for the bird, and they may acquire only an American kestrel or a red-tailed hawk to work with. The bird must be taken from the wild and be at least one year old. Bird training only takes about 3 weeks.

A beginner should be aware that hawks can live up to 20 years , and initial equipment expenses are involved. A complete list of recommended equipment can be viewed here , and following is a shorter checklist of must-have paraphernalia for new falconers:

Gauntlet -- the falconer's protective glove

Jess -- leather strips that are attached to the bird's legs

Anklets -- these hold the jesses on the bird's legs

Id -- leg band or other identification

Perch

Leash

Traps -- to capture bird

Chaps -- protective gear for the bird that squirrel hunts

Aba -- a soft cloth used to immobilize the bird

Bells -- for locating bird

Telemetry -- radio transmitter and receiver to locate bird

Scale -- very important -- birds must be hungry to hunt and weighed daily

Tail guard -- to protect delicate tail feathers

Mew -- a hawk house or secure enclosure for the bird

Whistle -- training tool

Falconry can be a long term sport and enjoyable hobby, but it requires gentle care and specific training and equipment needs. Go out with an experienced falconer before you invest in this sport to be sure it is for you.

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