What is Falconry?
Falconry, in definition, is the taking of wild quarry in it’s natural habitat with a trained bird of prey. It is a hunting sport. It is not education, displays, demonstrations, or having an exotic pet. We train the birds to allow us into their world, and then we give them the opportunity to do what they do best – hunt.
How does it work?
Falconry is 100% positive reinforcement. You cannot punish a bird and expect any results. Birds are trained to accept us, to understand that they can trust the falconer, and in doing so will be provided food, and to some extent, safety. If the hawk does not trust you, it will not return.
In falconry raptors are turned loose to hunt and in hunting may choose not to return to the falconer. It’s an accepted risk when working with wild things, that the falconer must learn to accept if they wish to be a successful falconer.
Birds are initially skeptical or fearful of interactions with humans, so early training is showing them that you are useful and that they can trust you via positive reinforcement.
Nature and Hunting
Falconry is a natural sport. The birds are doing exactly what they would do in the wild-hunting. They are not coerced into taking game, it’s what they have evolved to do. It’s in every fiber of their being. Hawks that cannot chase and kill game regularly often develop behavioral issues such as self mutilation. It is the falconer’s job to provide their bird with as many opportunists to catch and kill game as possible.
In falconry the falconer typically acts as a hunting dog. Their job is to provide slips and flush quarry for the birds. This means pulling vines, beating brush, wading through briars, trecking through cow manure, or in some cases, jumping into a pond or stream to flush ducks.
Then once the bird has made a kill, it is our job to locate our bird, and assist it on the kill, and humanely dispatch the quarry.