Falconry for Rehabilitation: Imping

Imping is an extremely useful skill in the falconry toolbag. This post provides a broad overview and some good photos of the process. One thing I don’t like is the use of hard metal pins in the feather shaft – they don’t bend easily and may cause a second break. Instead you can use bamboo, which has more give, or imp the new feather directly into the old one by cutting it too long and making a slit along the excess shaft so it fits into the old feather.


Imping is something really cool I learned to do from my falconry sponsor, and now I use it on rehab birds fairly often.

Essentially, it’s the falconry practice of replacing damaged flight feathers on birds with unbroken feathers, either from a previous molt, or a donor bird.

Here’s a Before & After of a Coopers Hawk that needed new tail feathers (from rather different angles):

imp1 impfinal

In rehabilitating wild birds, it helps birds who have broken feathers so that they can be released sooner, rather than waiting around until they molt. Most raptors only molt once a year, so imping really comes in handy.

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