TRADITIONS - Huxleys Birds Of Prey Centre

Birds of Prey Centre and Gardens
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Falconry being amongst one of the oldest practised sports has many traditions that have been carried forth into modern falconry. Traditionally falconry involves the flying of longwings i.e. falcons therefore they earn the title 'falconer' and anyone who flies hawks, buzzards, eagles and owls is known as an Austringer. At Huxley's we try to keep as many of the falconry traditions going as possible...

Hoods: In falconry the use of hoods is to keep the bird calm whilst preparing it for flying and allows the bird to be transported without becoming stressed....did you know the term hoodwinked comes from hooding a falcon!

Bells: The bells in falconry are very handy for locating the bird (especially when you're wandering through fields after they have gone AWOL from time to time) and as for our audience it's a good indicator for when you need to duck!

Jesses: These are thin straps, traditionally made from leather which is used by the falconer to hold onto the bird whilst it is sat on the glove. Although with our larger birds the case may be the bird holding on to the falconer!

Gauntlet (glove): The gauntlet has always been used in falconry; it is a leather glove that allows the bird to comfortably sit on the fist and offers the falconer protection from those big sharp talons.

Modern Adaptations

GPS: This is a product that is still in its early stages, the technology is available but the issue is trying to find a way to make it small enough for the birds to carry without affecting their flying. However with technology evolving at the rate it is, it wont be long before this product is available.

Transmitter and Receiver: In modern day falconry any sensible falconer attaches a small, lightweight tracking transmitter to the bird before it is flown free; this means on the rare occasion a bird decides to take a sightseeing trip of its own we are able to track where the bird goes and recover it. The receiver picks up the signal from the transmitter on the bird which, in turn, tells the falconer the direction and distance of his bird. Also in recent years we also use GPS tracking equipment, we can bring the birds location, speed, height all up on an ipad.

Micro chipping: Hundreds of years ago in falconry if you lost your bird there was no way of tracking it and no way of anyone knowing it was yours if they recovered it, In falconry today there is the option to micro-chip your bird. This means that should you lose your bird and someone finds it they can take it to the vet and have the chip scanned to get your details, just like with cats and dogs.

Falconry Terminology:

Block - A wooden or resin perch with a soft top (nowadays rubber or astroturf is used) the block has a spike at the bottom which is driven into the ground to secure it.

Bowse - To drink

Cadge - A portable perch used for carrying hawks in the field.

A Cast - Two or more raptors flown together at a difficult quarry.

Crop - The sack above the breast bone where food is first stored as soon as swallowed. It allows quick ingestion of a large amount of food which is later digested slowly.

Fist - A general term for the falconer's gloved and protected hand.

Flying weight - The weight at which the hawk is healthy enough to fly and hunt, yet sufficiently hungry to respond to the falconer's control.

Casting - Bringing up the indigestible material that has been eaten (e.g. fur, bones & feathers), in pellet form. This is normally done once or twice a day.

Imprinting - This is the term used for describing what happens when very young birds are raised in the company of humans. They come to accept humans as their parents & source of food.

Mantle - The action of a bird spreading her wings, fanning its tail and arching over its prey, so hiding it from other predators, including other birds.

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