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Falconry

The art of hunting using birds of prey as your partner.

 falcon_glove sm

This sport has been around well before the birth of Christ. Little has changed in all this time. In the United States there are only about 4000 falconers. Some states have only a few while states like California have over 300. Learn how you can become a part of this ancient sport.

A little History

flying overheadThe history of falconry is very confusing and conflicting. There is some speculation that falconry began in two separate areas in a “parallel evolution”.

In my opinion, falconry started in the ice age when man was domesticating the wolf around 10,000 years ago.

8000 BC – Iran/Persia. In documented Iranian history the one who used birds of prey for the first time was Tahmooreth, a king of the Pishdadian Dynasty. (first dynasty in the Shahnameh and Iranian mythology)

1000 BC – Mongolia. The level of sophistication of falconry at this time had to have taken hundreds if not thousands of years to develop.

700 BC – An Assyrian bas-relief found in the ruins at Khorsabad. (Today’s Northern Iraq)

400 BC – the Romans learned falconry from the Greeks.

70-44 BC – Caesar is reported to have trained falcons to kill carrier pigeons.

500 AD– The earliest reliable evidence of falconry in Europe is a Roman floor mosaic of a falconer and his hawk hunting ducks.

8th and 9th century – Falconry flourished in the Middle East.

875 – Western Europe and Saxon England practiced falconry.

1600′s -First settlers in the US, but was short lived.
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1934 – The first US falconry club, The Peregrine Club, is formed. But it died out during World War II.

1970 – The Peregrine Fund is founded, mostly by falconers, to conserve all raptors, but focusing on Peregrines.

Many falconers Red tail on glovestepped in and donated their breeding pairs. Today, most peregrines in the wild have the blood line of a falconer’s bird in them.

5 Responses to Home

  1. Dana Glei says:

    Thank you for all the detailed instructions for building a mews. It is enormously helpful. I have two questions:

    1) You noted that the lean-to design is great for a Harris Hawk, but not so much for a red-tailed Hawk (RTHA). Why is that?

    2) You suggested using bricks as an alternative foundation to pressure-traed 2×4s. I like that idea, but then you cannot staple the hardware cloth barrier to the bricks, nor can you screw the panels to the brick foundation. So, how would you anchor the mews structure to the foundation and to the ground?

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    • aart2000 says:

      Red tails have a nasty habit of baiting towards the sky. Before long your red tail would have every feather trashed. Both this design and the design with the bars on the roof would not be good for a redtail for this reason. Harris Hawks don’t do this and would really enjoy the more open space.

      When using the bricks or pavers for the foundation, all you have to do is put the hardware cloth down then then the bricks or pavers on top. The mews just sits on the pavers. No need to anchor it down. It’s own weight will keep it in place. Unless you live in Florida and have to deal with hurricanes, it’s not going anywhere. You would be the best judge for your area.

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      • Dana Glei says:

        Ah…I see. That is good to know. I want to build a raptor mews that could accommodate a variety of different types of raptors (as big as a red tail—but not an eagle). I volunteer at a Bird Rehab Center where I have worked with the raptors (as well as songbirds) for several years. Sometimes we get a raptor that needs long-term care (e.g., neurological problem). I am thinking about building a proper raptor mews on my property (under the rescue center’s rehab license) to house a raptor when they don’t have the space at the center for a long-term stay. We get a lot of red-tails (RTHA), but it could also be a red-shouldered, great-horned owl, barn owl, western screech owl, and maybe a falcon or an accipiter (they are so high strung that I am not sure they would want to send one off-site). Obviously, we don’t get an Harris Hawks. But, I am wondering if some of the raptors (other than the RTHA) might enjoy the design with bars on the roof to give them more light. What do you think about making a temporary roof (to cover the half with bars) that could be left on for a RTHA but removed for another raptor that might do better with more open space? Is that just a bad idea? For this purpose, would you advise sticking with a closed roof appropriate for a RTHA (which is probably what I would get most of the time)? In the case of a RTHA, would you include the large window openings on only one side of the mews? Or would it be okay to add a small window on one of the sides as well?

        FYI: I am in CA, so no hurricanes—just earthquakes.

        Thanks again for your advice.

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  2. aart2000 says:

    That’s a tough question. But, I think I would make the mews for the RTHA. All the other birds will do just fine in it since it is only a temporary housing for them and you won’t have to change things to suit them. Falcons and accipters are another story all together and I would leave them for those that have experience with them. They can do themselves and their feathers a lot of damage if not handled correctly. I trained non releasable golden eagles and teathered them in an 8′ x 8′ mews, but If you can make your mews 10′ x 10′ or larger, it will be a better size for them.
    What part of CA do you live? I’m in the Inland Empire area. I’m so glad this blog has helped you.

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    • Dana Glei says:

      I am in Sonoma County (N of San Fran). They will not be sending me any eagles (we send eagles to an eagle rehab expert near Sacramento). But, I am hoping to build a mews that is bigger than 8×8…Ideally, I would go 12×12, but I don’t think I have the space, esp. when I add on the double-door (which is a must…we cannot risk an accidental release before the bird is fit for release). We do not tether our birds in the mews, so they need to have sufficient space for free-loft. I am going to try for 10×10 plus the extra 3′ in one corner for the double-door. I need to check, but I don’t think our mews at the rescue center are bigger than that. Of course, we would love to have a 100′ flight hallway for them but that is not an option in my suburban yard and the rehab center doesn’t have the resources for that (like other wildlife rehab ops, we run on a shoestring budget based on donations witth 90% of the labor is provided by volunteers).

      But, as you say the stay is temporary–we try to get them back out in the wild as soon as they are deemed fit enough to survive.

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