Raptor Trivia

It has been suggested that some of terms from falconry have come into common usage in English, though I can't find confirmation from the OED.

Mantelpiece :
from the birds habit of 'mantling' over its food once caught.
Boozing :
from 'Bowse' or 'Bouse', describing birds drinking water (sometimes excessively)
Fed-Up :
from giving the bird her full ration of food for the day
Gorge :
an obsolete term for the crop, filling the crop was known as gorging
Hoodwink :
from fooling the bird into thinking it is night by hooding it
Cadge :
the portable perch used to carry falconry birds was called a cadge. The person carrying the cadge was often unpaid, & had to beg, or "cadge" tips from the onlookers.
Codger :
the person who carried the cadge was called a "cadger", most were old falconers. The term, now corrupted to "codger", has come to refer to all old people.
Callow :
callow referred to a nestling raptor, still in the blood-quill stage, now refers to someone young and untested.
Haggard, Hag :
haggard refers to an older hawk, caught in adult plumage. These birds were once prized, but now the term is often used derogatorily.
Mews :
this was the name for hawks housing, derived from the French word "muer", meaning "to moult". As falconry became less popular, the word passed to being used for horse stables.

I have found some difficulty in finding a reliable source to confirm the Patron Saint of Falconers & Falconry. I have found three possibilities : Saint Albans, Saint Bavo and Saint Tibba. Unfortunately, I have not been able to corroborate any of these.

The most detailed story I found related to Saint Albans (not the same Saint Albans as the first British saint). According to the story, in the middle ages, it was a criminal offence to be in possession of a bird of prey beyond one's station, resulting in imprisonment, chopping off hands or even death (it should be noted that this was not the case). Legend has it that a parish priest was found in possession of a pure white Gyrfalcon, which could only be owned by the king. He was accused of stealing it from the King, was found guilty & sentenced to death at the stake. When the pile of wood beneath him was set alight, the Gyrfalcon managed to get free, & flew to perch on the stake above the priest's head. The town's people believed this to be a sign from God & doused the flames & freed the priest. When the Pope heard about this, he declared it a miracle & decreed that the priest would be known as Saint Albans, the Patron Saint of Falconers. Unfortunately, I can no longer find the source to this story. It may be possible that there is some confusion due to "The Boke Of Saint Albans", also, the Duke of Saint Albans was, historically, the king's head falconer.

A similar story is attributed to Saint Bavo of Valkenswaard in the book "Falconry For You" by Humphrey ap Evans. Valkenswaard was a small Dutch village which became a very important centre for falconry from the late middle ages onwards. Other than ap Evans' book, I have not been able to find any details of Saint Bavo of Valkenswaard, Saint Bavo of Ghent is often depicted with a hawk or falcon, though I can find no reference to him being the patron saint of falconry.

Saint Tibba, is also mentioned as the patron saint of falconers. She was the niece of King Pendra of Mercia, she lived on the site of the church in Ryhall, Rutland during the 7th century. Again, other than one passing reference, I can find no other details about Saint Tibba being the patron saint.

The only patron saint that I can confirm from multiple sources is Saint Hubert, the patron saint of hunting, which would include falconry, .

In 1486, Dame Juliana Barnes, the prioress of Sopwell nunnery (close to the town of Saint Albans), published "The Boke Of Saint Albans", which described all aspects of falconry in the middle ages, including setting out the rigid rules of "Social Rank & Appropriate Bird" :

Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin
Gyrfalcon (male & female)
Female Peregrine
Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine)
Saker (male & female)
Lanner Falcon (male & female)
Female Merlin
Poor Gentleman:
Male Goshawk
Holywater clerk:
Male Sparrowhawk
Knaves, Servants, Children:
Old World Kestrel

Despite claims that the ownership rules were part of the law at the time, there is no evidence to that fact. It is most likely that ownership of the birds was determined by the ease of obtaining the bird & the cost of ownership (not unlike current times).

An Arabian story holds that the first falconer was a king of Persia. He watched a wild falcon take a passing bird & was so captivated by the grace and beauty of the bird and ordered his men to capture the bird. He kept the bird at his side at all times and learned much from the bird, most importantly changing from a violent king to a wiser, calmer ruler.

In the 13th Century, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Sicily and Jerusalemm, wrote "De Arte Venandi cum Avibus", "The Art of Falconry". The book took over thirty years to complete and, as one of the first scientific works on the anatomy of birds, has placed him as one of the founders of ornithology. He was so obsessed with falconry that he once lost an important military campaign because he decided to go hawking instead of continuing the siege of a fortress. He added to his knowledge of falconry by bringing back many experienced falconers from Arabia and Syria, following his crusades.

To estimate if prey is near or far in the desert, the technique used Arabic falconers is once the bird has spotted its prey to place their hand directly in front of the birds line of sight. If the bird looks over the top of the hand, the prey is further away than if the bird looks underneath the hand.

Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon falconry seem to indicate that falconers did not use gloves.

In the US, provision has been made for the religious requirements of the native Indians, who require eagle feathers for their ceremonies. All carcasses of birds confiscated for illegal killing (e.g. from taxidermists & sportsmen) or accidental death (e.g. road deaths), are stored in a special warehouse for supply to the religious groups. This reduces the temptation to illegally kill eagles. There is also a ban on the sale of eagle artefacts, such as war bonnets made from eagle feathers.

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