- Scales :
The most important piece of equipment. Raptors are essentially lazy birds, who will only fly to catch prey. They will only fly when they are hungry, in captivity, this is usually determined by the weight of the bird. The birds have an optimum flying weight, which is dependent on the individual bird - it is very dangerous to assume average weights for birds, especially the smaller birds (e.g. kestrels). For the smaller birds, a weight loss of as little as 1/2 oz can cause death, especially in cold weather, the bird becoming critically ill & unable to feed & digest sufficiently to recover. Larger birds are better beginners birds, as it is harder to drop their weight to the critical point. During training, the optimum flying weight of the bird is determined, basically by trial & error, carefully adjusting the birds weight, via the amount of food given, until the weight is found that the bird reliably flies at. The birds are weighed frequently & any sudden unexpected change of weight can indicate that something is wrong with the bird.
- Anklet :
attaches around the leg of the bird. The type mostly used these days are referred to as Aylmeri, after the inventor Major Guy Aylmer. These are a loop of leather, joined with a brass eyelet, & frayed at the top & bottom edges to protect the birds leg.
- Jesse :
Long strips of leather attached to the anklets, through the eyelet. There are three main sorts of jesse :
Prior to the invention of the Aylmeri anklet, the traditional jesses consisted of a long piece of leather with a slit in each end & the middle, by looping around the leg, no separate anklet was required - being similar to the anklet & mews jesse all in one. Because of the danger of the bird becoming entangled on branches, etc, the have now fallen out of use.
- Mews jesse :
thick strong jesses, with a button at one end & holes at the other end, used for tethering the bird, usually removed during flying
- Field/hunting jesse :
similar to the mews jesses, but with no holes, used for hold the bird while hunting & aid catching the bird up flying. The lack of holes is for safety reasons, twigs & branches, for example, can get caught in the holes, trapping the bird.
- Flying jesse :
similar to field jesses but much thinner and permanently attached to the eyelets on the anklets.
- Swivel :
attached to the mews jesses, consisting to two rings attached by a swivel, to avoid the jesses & leash getting tangled.
- Leash :
the cord (usually terylene) attached through the swivel for tying the bird to the bow perch or block. Sometimes when on the fist, the bird maybe tied to the glove by the leash. Leashes were once made of leather, but this has a tendency to snap unpredictably, so man made fibres are now preferred.
- Creance :
This is the thin (often terylene) line connected to a handle, used during the initial training period of the bird. When training the bird, the creance is attached to the swivel (or sometimes the swivel slits of the jesses) & the leash removed. The bird can be sat on a post, & trained to fly over progressively longer distances without fear of her flying off. The term comes from the French describing a bird "de peu de creance" : "a bird of little trust", deriving from the Latin : credo - to believe in (to have trust in).
So we can hear where they are and locate them by sound, either in flight or perching, hawks have a habit of tail-waggling when they hop to a new branch. The bells are attached to the tail (by first attaching to a small piece of plastic, such as a guitar plectrum, & then either glued or sewed to the tail feathers) or to the legs using a small leather strap called a bewit. Bewit derives from the Old English word "bewitian" meaning to care for, watch over or superintend.
- Telemetry Device :
Radio transmitter for tracking a bird if she flies a long way off. Not radio-control or radio receiver attached to bird to give instructions. Usually attached to tail feathers, using a clip fitting attached the same way as the bell, sometimes to the leg. Mostly used for falcons, which tend to fly further afield than hawks.
- Hood :
It is a cap made specially to fit the bird which effectively blindfolds it. Basically it is hoodwinks (this is where the term comes from) the bird into thinking its night time and therefore it does not get upset or scared - it is not a crash helmet. It has the same effect as covering a budgerigars cage to keep it quiet). During nighttime, falcons are particularly vulnerable to nocturnal predators, including owls. The eyesight of the nocturnal predators is often very sensitive to movement, & they usually have exceptionally good hearing, so while roosting in the dark, falcons tend to stay very still, to avoid being noticed by their predators. In addition, if the birds see other raptors, or food/prey, they will, more often than not, do their best to fly after the other birds or food. If they can't see it, they are not bothered by it (as they don't have a sense of smell, odour is not a problem), it is acting in a similar fashion to the blinkers used on work/race horses. Hoods are mostly used for falcons, but hawks are sometimes hooded when taken hunting or, if they are especially nervous, when carried on the fist.
- Lure :
This is used for exercising falcons (sometimes hawks) & also training them to fly at live quarry. It is often made from a horseshoe shaped piece of leather filled with stuffing. A piece of meat is attached to each side of the lure. If the bird is being trained to fly at live quarry, then feathers from that type of bird will also be attached. The lure is swung in a vertical fashion, when the bird appears interested it is thrown outwards (presented), encouraging the bird to fly towards it, & it is pulled away at the last moment. This is done for as long as possible, the falconer uses a magic word 'Ho' on the last pass to indicate to the bird that she will get to catch the lure this time. It is important never to try & trick the bird by calling out the word & not letting it catch the lure. In the event that a bird flies off, the falconer will continue to swing the lure & call out the word, if the bird hears the word then it will always be sure that if it flies back it will get fed. Despite looking very easy when demonstrated, swinging the lure is a very difficult art & care must be taken to avoid hitting & injuring the bird when presenting the lure. During training the bird is sometimes allowed to catch the lure without the magic word being shouted, this helps keep the interest of the bird, which may get the idea that all it has to do is sit still until the falconer gets bored & shouts the word. If the bird strikes the lure on any pass, then often the falconer will concede to being caught out by the bird & let the lure drop & the bird to take it, simulating what would happen if the bird were flying at live quarry. Once the bird has caught the lure, it will be allowed to eat the food on the lure, which it will mantle. Once eaten, the falconer will present the bird with a larger piece of food, to get the bird off the lure, always approaching low to the ground & in front of the bird.
- Dummy Bunny :
For training hawks to hunt, they need to get the idea of what they are hunting & be trained to attack it. The dummy bunny is usually a piece of wood covered in rabbit fur with a white tuft at the rear to look like the tail & occasionally ears. This is attached to a long cord. A piece of meat is attached to the back of the dummy bunny, & it is hidden in the undergrowth. The bird is set on a post or branch of a tree & the trainer sets off running, pulling the dummy bunny out of its hiding place. In theory, the bird should chase & catch the dummy bunny. (In practice the bird often sits looking terribly confused & occasionally makes itself sick with laughter.)
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