Here are definitions for some common falconry terms I’ll use on the blog.

Accipiter – A genus of hawks.  In North America we have (from smallest to largest) sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus), Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii) and northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis).  Sharpies and Cooper’s are native to North America but goshawks are circumpolar and also found in the Old World.  A few Accipiter species are commonly flown in the Old World, including Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) in Europe and the black sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus) from Africa.  Accipiters tend to be bird specialists (except the goshawk, which can take rabbits and squirrels) and are more difficult to train properly than red-tailed and Harris’s hawks.  Accipiters have short wings and long tails.

Aylmeri anklets – Leather anklets secured around the leg of the hawk, often secured with grommets.

Bate – When a bird attempts to fly off the fist or a perch when it is held or tied.

Brancher – An immature hawk that cannot yet fly, but can hop among the branches near the nest.

Break in – When a bird breaks through the skin of a kill.

Broadwing – This refers to Buteo and Parabuteo which have relatively broad wings.

Buteo – A genus of hawks that contains, among other species, red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), and ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis) in North America and the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) in Europe.

Carry – When a hawk attempts to fly off with quarry or the lure in it’s foot.

Cast – 1. Two hawks flown together; 2. When a hawk disgorges a pellet of understandable food parts, such as fur and feathers; 3. To hold a hawk (often with a towel) for imping feathers, putting on anklets,  &c.

Cope – To file down the beak or talons when they become overgrown.

Crab, crabbing – When two hawks grab each other, either on the ground or in the air.

Crop – An expandable sac into which food is first stored when it is eaten.  It is later passed into the stomach.

Eyass – A nestling hawk that is taken from the nest

Falcon – Technically this only refers to female peregrines, but is often used for any female Falconidae or and Falconidae in general.

Feak – When a bird wipes it’s beak off after eating.

Flush – To force quarry out of cover.

Foot, to – To strike with the feet.

Hawk – Technically this only refers to species of Accipiter.  In general use it is used to refer to all diurnal birds of prey used in falconry.

Hawking – Hunting with a hawk.

Hood – A close-fitting leather helmet used to keep the hawk from seeing anything, thus keeping it calm.

Imp – A method of repairing a broken feather by replacing the broken feather with the same section of a previously shed feather.

Intermewed – A hawk that has molted in captivity.

Longwing – All Falconidae, which lave long, pointed wings.

Lure – A device, often shaped somewhat like prey, that is used in training and to recover the bird after a day of hunting or from dangerous situations.

Make in – When you approach a hawk on the lure or on quarry in order to pick the hawk up.

Mews – Also called a hawk house, this is the building where the hawk is kept at night, in bad weather, or during the molt.

Parabuteo – Harris’s hawks, a commonly used bird in falconry.  They hunt socially in the wild and take well to hunting with people.

Passage hawk/passager – An immature hawk that is caught before the first molt.

Quarry – Game at which a hawk is flown.

Shortwing – This refers to Accipiters, which have comparatively short wings.

Tiercel – Technically this only refers to male peregrine falcons, but in North America is commonly used to refer to any male falconry bird (e.g., tiercel red-tailed hawk, though this would more appropriately be just male red-tailed hawk).

Wait-on – To wait in flight above the falconer while the falconer flushes the quarry.


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