The Assyrian king Sargon II and the day could not live without hunting with hunting birds. The Emperor so loved falconry, told the architect to perpetuate the image of two hunters with hunting birds on one of the walls of his fortress of Dur-Sharrukin, which, incidentally, have survived to this day…

Despite the fact that the tradition of falconry has its roots back centuries, still this kind of hunting in our country is quite exotic. But residents of Mesopotamia, where, in fact, came to us falconry, by contrast, believed falconry is quite a common thing.

The tradition of falconry and also kept like frescoes in the old fortress of the king of Taragona, and according to the observations of historians, the essence of hunting over the centuries has not changed. As then, in the Ancient world, hunting with birds of prey full of unforgettable experiences, and incomparable emotions! Millennia later, the hunters arrive on falconry to experience for yourself the charm and beauty of this truly amazing event; to enjoy the grace and speed of the majestic birds, marvel at her strength, beauty, and power.

Why falconry

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After all have served and are serving still the person dutifully (and not) more than a dozen species of birds of prey. Nevertheless, in the literature and in people who are passionate about this, now rare, although fashion passion, any bird trained for hunting, except, of course,the eagles called a Falcon.

For specialists-zoologists a few strange sounds – Falcon, the Goshawk. But we stick to the terminology accepted in the circles of Falcon hunters, especially in English language literature the word hаwk skrivaut such as hunting Falcon, a hawk, and even Buzzards.

Falconry is almost as old as hunting itself. As soon as the man-hunter had felt unable to provide themselves with the familiar prey, he began to try to use in hunting various assistants, and if the first always and everywhere out of the competition was a dog, after it came the swamp lynx house, Cheetah and polecat. But only hunting birds have come along way from hunter to the end and continue to this day to hunt and delight of the soul hunters in different parts of the world.

Interestingly, the commercial nature of hunting with birds of prey was nowhere to be purchased. Very few places and situations where the bird can not only catch prey more than eat itself, but also to provide to the owner acceptable taste meat or skin. At the same time, even in recent times, in the steppe zone of the hunter on a horse with a dog and a Golden eagle on the hand could produce per season to hundreds, and in one particularly successful days and a dozen foxes. Hunters of the Caucasus (in Georgia call them, baseUri), in the Crimea, with a small hawk (in Ukrainian language it has a very accurate name for the main production – Vorobeychik) in August-September, during the span of quail that produce this gourmet bird dozens a day, where in the Russian language and the name of the small Sparrowhawk.

In all other places bird hunting has never been particularly profitable, although always valued for its high aesthetic quality. Enough time to see the attack-rate of a Falcon with folded wings in a pure blue sky or the instantaneous twists of the hawk in pursuit of elusive prey, heavy Mach eagle on the withered autumn grass for the rabbit to jump ahead to get the hunt of a lifetime.

However, the content, training the bird of prey carrying a long and difficult task. Bird needs to be addressed constantly, to keep and feed it in endangered the company, to monitor the progress of moult, to arrange for the winter, i.e. to pay a significant portion of his time. Such a force at each of at least material considerations. This circumstance is natural identified falconry as a privilege of the nobility. It is known that any privilege can quickly turn into a fashion and affect significantly the change of the primary essence and meaning of the phenomenon. That’s what happened with falconry. The fashion for this activity has evolved from a sport into something between a mandatory ritual for nobility and balls, where others to see and be seen.

Falconry – sport and fashion

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Because of this, are valued prestigious, the most rare, of the distant places of the bird. Especially valuable was white and semi-white form of the Gyrfalcon. In sokolata of the nobility they served more often for decoration magnificent ceremonial and official visits, on which the owner could show off in front of neighbors with their status. With the same purpose used the more beautiful objects of care or clothing birds of prey – silver bells embossed leather opulence and straps-dolice, jeweled stones, klobucki (caps closing the eyes between the overlaps on production) and even embroidered with gold breastplates and shoulder pads. Working quality birds ability to hunt, on the first call to return to the glove, hunting skills and efficiency often leaves much to be desired. Before the falcons retreated into the background, the main work of European hunting Goshawk. Historical evidence has reached us stories about how a bird from the hand of the huntsman or Forester fished the count’s favorites.

The hierarchy of birds of prey

In the ranking of the European schools on the first place put the vulture, especially the white, although no noticeable advantages coloration of birds is not allowed. Behind him was the rest of the big Falcon – Saker Falcon, often called East Sharg or sharp (hence its Latin species name), laggar, imported from India, Mediterranean ryzhevolosaya Falcon, and also the fastest but also the smallest of this group present, or wandering Falcon, now known under the name of clearly Turkic origin, the peregrine Falcon.

Bird hunting in Kievan Rus

School of hunting of Kievan Rus used the same birds, although the southern Sokolov received less. But additional confusion in the evidence brought name sokolii males celigi, whence the modern name of the smallest of the hunting falcons of the hobby. He also clearly used in falconry, though under what name is still unclear. Hawk was used less frequently, perhaps due to the less entertainment they were hunting.

And if a big hawk (in the Russian language, in the terminology of Falcon hunters, he kept the name for the bird, which had been assailed – Goshawk, in the Ukrainian – preferred in the nature of prey – a pigeon) and the males of this species – hawks Caligari everything relatively clear, I used solletico medieval small hawk (Sparrowhawk) is unknown. Although, maybe it was Kobzon, some of the name is preserved in the primary, mother tongue today (cbaci of chickens TGA). The appearance of Sokolov, which has the scientific name of the red-footed Falcon (Erythropus vespertinus), appears to be never in falconry were not used, because its main prey – insects and rodents.

Bird hunting in the middle Ages

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Entertainment Falcon hunts of the middle Ages led to a kind of roll in the direction of obtaining not very heavy trophies, a species whose hunting is priestly aesthetic pleasure or transformed into a real air battle – an extraordinary sight appeal, which could see and empathize with thousands of people. The ruling elites of all times and people knew the deep meaning of the Latin phrase: bread and circuses. Most suitable for this purpose prey was a Heron. It is possible to unleash two or even three falcons. With seeming slowness, the Heron can rebuff in the air, hitting long and strong legs, pouring overshot predator jet the litter, and folded into a tight spring long neck can throw a strong beak almost in any direction.

With the same purpose, often letting the falcons on orlikow (apparently of the lesser spotted eagle), in the absence of them, poisoned Buzzards, korshakov (kites) and marsh korshakov (apparently marsh Harriers). All of these species, in contrast to the falcons, in the air let much spend most of the time, easy to use variable air flow, the ascending current of air, wind conditions and the appearance of danger, trying to gain altitude. The falcons have to gain altitude flapping flight. Harriers have an excellent summer qualities (able during mating season to fly back down). The accuracy of the grasp of the defending birds, allowing an easy catch in the dense sedge thickets mouse or slippery frog, a successful hit could put an end to the career of a hunting bird of prey.

Not less valuable trophy was considered as a Raven. This is the true Lord of the air, able to fly anywhere, anytime, in any weather conditions. Easily performing aerobatics, it is not always tries to hide at the sight of a predator under the forest canopy, and over the nest sometimes and he attack the offender. Fortress grip paws that pound bird is significant. Stroke the beak he can crack a skull ground squirrel or rabbit. Attacking in the air by the Falcon folded its wings and in the attack of a Falcon sometimes just removes one wing, letting the falling down of a predator, like a Matador striker skips past the bull, and sometimes falls down, wings folded to their expanding…, to be more of an attacking predator. In the Chronicles there was a case when three falcons of the English Duke never managed to get a crow after a 28-mile chase. Usually after lifting up and three to five attacks-bets Falcon needs to rest.

Bird hunting in the middle East

Very similar path of development was falconry in the Middle East. It maintained the commercial direction in the hunt with Saker falcons on wintering bustards, bustards, partridges and small birds-Talaev. The peculiarity of the Central Asian center was the use of hawks that never happened in the Persian Gulf.

Small hunting with hunting birds

The desire for entertainment of the European schools and the availability of hunting beautiful ladies brought to life the use of small lady falcons – hobby, Merlin and Mediterranean hobby – Falcon Eleonora. Possess a much lower weight (easier to keep on hand), these hunting birds can show the same miracles of aerobatics as their larger counterparts, but prey was already larks, starlings, thrushes, swallows, and other bird’s trifle, although the vicissitudes of the struggle and attack speed here was even higher.

The gun put an end to all that was connected with Sokolnicheskaya

First crumbled to dust falconry hunts, visits with the rich accustomed to racing on the road the horses, then died out experts in their field – Sokolniki, the falconers, podokonnike – fished, fed, coached birds – not because the Viscount or Baron was doing. Has stopped the importation and production of new birds (here it should be noted that no school of falconry until the mid-twentieth century were not engaged in the breeding of birds in captivity, and all virtuosos of the air, and sometimes from one feudal Lord to three hundred, were taken from nature), and after that all was confused and scattered and the art of nurturing, training and hunting with birds of prey.

By the early twentieth century only in a few remote parts of the local population remains of the traditions of falconry. But since the mid-twentieth century it experienced a rebirth and it began in Western Europe and in the countries of the Persian Gulf.

Modern lovers of falconry poisons the life of two interrelated circumstances.

First, a sharp decline of almost all types, especially large ones, is a direct consequence of their extermination in the NINETEENTH and first half of the twentieth century. Birds of prey, such as falcons, was simply nowhere to take. By the way note that in West European countries, came out, started to breed falcons in captivity, but that’s another conversation.

The second – a consequence of the first – introduction of many species in lists of endangered forms, the prohibition of their capture, keeping and trade. We have in Ukraine, in Russia, in Western Europe, all of the Falcon and the eagles are in the Red Book. Thus available for the hunter become only the hawk, although they are protected by law and their content and use should be recorded. However, this does not prevent poachers to catch falcons and even to carry out their illegal sales to the Middle East through illegal channels, where it is caught in nature birds are valued much higher than derived in European nurseries.

Birds used in the classical schools of falconry


The Gyrfalcon is the largest (females up to weight 2 pounds) and strong Falcon. Able to take prey in the air and on the ground. Main food in nature, white and tundra partridge, birds, living bird colonies (gulls, guillemots), corvids, in a significant number of lemmings, and to the East is also long-tailed ground squirrel.

Breeds and resides year-round in the tundra, wintering sometimes in Central Asia, and in former times perhaps in Ukraine. Gestated capable of taking much larger prey, swans, cranes, birds. In the Arab world are training at bustard. Has dark and light forms. Among the prized bright half-white, marked white.

Stands somewhat apart Altai form of this species, known in Central Asia as Shumkar.

Sakers, along with Mediterranean and Indian forms form an almost continuous series of species and subspecies. In different countries, males and females, and birds of different colors is known by different names – Kush-Tur, Tur, Italy, Lanner, laggar, Taisha, sugar, Lachin, Sharg, Saker (sacred Falcon), turul, the poles – Rarog or rruh. They are all somewhat smaller than the Gyrfalcon, males up to pounds, females are slightly more. Ordinary food in nature, gophers, gerbils, rarely medium – sized and small birds, often hunting over the land stolen,the stakes are not so pretty as peregrine falcons and Gyrfalcons. Vyneseny, zapuskayutsya hares, bustards, geese.

They form the basis of the “Park” birds of prey in middle Eastern countries. Peregrine. Hunters from the times of Kievan Rus, known simply as the Falcon, in Europe – errant (from the Latin peregrinus). Migratory Falcon breeding in the tundra and forest zone, wintering farther South. Main prey in nature – birds small and medium size waders, gulls, corvids, pigeons and small passerines produced mainly in flight. May take prey from the ground and from the water (contrary to popular belief). Gestated, was admitted by almost all birds. Those close to him raregroove form – Babylonian or desert Falcon, Shaheen, or Lachin. It is often regarded as a southern form of the peregrine. In Europe and Ukraine was rarely used in middle Eastern countries much more often. The weight of a peregrine Falcon – up to a kilo, Shahin – 350-700граммов.

Hobby – a small Falcon of forest-steppe zone, hunting in the air mostly on small birds. Almost never takes prey from the earth, but often of Swifts, swallows and even pigeons. Weight – 300-400 grams. Even now – quite common in the nature of a bird. Close from the hobby species, occurring in the Mediterranean rocky coasts and Eleonora’s Falcon. This species has adapted to nesting in early autumn, vykarmlivaya Chicks of migratory passerine birds. Gestated, can zapuskatsja on corvids, pigeons and even small wild rabbits.

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Merlin. Maybe Morio, in Europe known as the pigeon Falcon (the color of the backs of males) in England – Merlin. It nests in the tundra and in some places isolated in the steppes of Kazakhstan. It winters widely in the steppe and forest-steppe zone, including in Ukraine. Often hunting low over the ground to one meter stolen, but can do bets and Falcon in the air. Prey – small birds. Weighs about 200 grams.

Rarely used in the past, and now are sometimes hatched Kestrel and Falcon. The name Kestrel comes from sokolnichye features her as unfit to hunt birds. Both species are quite common in Ukraine, and the Kestrel in some places it breeds in cities, producing not mice and lizards in nature, and birds up to pigeon size.


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Goshawk is a large and powerful predator. The female weighing up to six pounds, the male – less than a kilogram. Normal color of adult gray top, striated hem. Young up to one year brown top with a teardrop streaks on Buffy-red bottom. In nature produces birds of different sizes, as well as rodents up to rabbit, occasionally small mustelids. The basis of the power of now – corvids, pigeons and passerine birds, although sometimes produces ptarmigan, ducks, gulls. Vyneseny individuals of this species, almost universal in the hunt.

Is the main hunting bird in the revived Western school of falconry in connection with the rarity and inaccessibility of the falcons. For a long time was persecuted as a harmful predator, now shooting him is prohibited, except for the regulation of its population in hunting forces Rangers. Western Europe’s population in the NINETEENTH century were undermined, in large areas of the disappeared (in England). The modern population of the Goshawk in the UK (about 60 pairs) – descendants of the fugitive solletico birds of prey. Sparrowhawk – now perhaps one of the most noticeable birds of prey, in any case in autumn and winter, when hunting in the settlements. Primary production – passerine birds, although it may sometimes catch larger prey – to the pigeons, inclusive. Earlier Falcon hunters were protravlivanie crows. The female’s weight up to 300 grams, males 150-200.

The eagles

The Golden eagle is a widespread but everywhere rare. Different peoples called this eagle in different ways- halsan, mountain eagle, the Royal eagle, Golden eagle, etc. Primary production in nature marmots and hares, although it can catch everything from mice to young ungulates and birds up to size of grouse, and goose. Gestated, can zapuskatsja of foxes, wolves, gazelles. The largest (not counting the eagles) and perhaps the most aggressive of the eagles. Prey might focus both on the bottom and attacking from a great height. Production pursues hard, although not very agile and not afraid of a fight with large animals. In nature often feeds on carrion, snakes, lizards and even turtles.

Almost the only one of the eagles used in falconry. Probably sometimes along with it was also used a burial ground (in nature it feeds on gophers, sometimes marmots and hares). Young individuals of this species vary with difficulty. The confusion with the names (a number of people it is also the rock or the Royal eagle) compounding the matter. Significantly also used the hawk (long-tailed) eagle. Smaller species, in the nature of mining is basically a wild rabbit, common in the Mediterranean and somewhere in the middle East.

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There is a note about using the middle ages as hunting birds in Central Asia, the marsh Harrier in Europe – crow. In any case now reported cases of the production of wild crows hare, Harrier – Mallard.

Revived modern school Falcon hunts in Europe and North America use a much broader list of birds of prey. Of the eagles – the Chinese, the black, the a number of other African and Asian species, common Buzzards (in North America often red-tailed), almost all types of falcons, and several others. The middle East centers remain committed solely to the falcons.

It is worth saying that the predators have never lived in the wild. According to ornithologists, their fury and pressure is likely to workshop the play. Matured bird will never show aggression to the man, on the contrary, obediently sit on the arm.

To teach the Falcon to hunt on any city pest crows, mice and rats and this is the only green solution a number of these pests. The idea to use birds of prey in the fight against Gorodskoye ravens was born at B. N. Yeltsin, but the airport officials in the city of Mineral Water has long been the practice of falconry within your airport.

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