Training of a hawk



Lure-flying a peregrine falcon.

   The training begins with manning, that is getting the hawk used to your presence. You have to be accepted by the hawk, and trusted as a loyal provider of food. This is done with offering food and lots of patience. Once the hawk is manned, and have got used to the new surrounding and the equipment (hood, jesses, etc.), and will feed calmly on your fist, training can begin. The hawk now must learn to come to you for food. With the hawk bound to a line - a creance - and perched on a post or an assistant's hand, you hold a piece of meat in your gloved fist so the hawk can see it. At first it will probably only come for a very short distance, but in a few days you will be able to increase the distance to about 50-100 m. When it comes this far without hesitation, the hawk is ready to be flown free.
   From here training of shortwings/broadwings (true hawks and buzzards) and longwings (falcons) differ. If the hawk is caught in the wild, hunting can begin, but if the hawk is captive bred or taken as a nestling (taking birds from the wild might not be legal in your country!) it is not quite as simple. A shortwing is about ready to be introduced to quarry, but a longwing's training is not yet through. Depending on the quarry you want the hawk to fly at, training continues in either of two ways. Either the hawk must gain condition and agility from chasing the lure, as shown for longwings above and for shortwings below, in order to be able to pursue quarry in long flights from the fist, or if it's game you're after, the falcon must learn to wait-on high above the falconer till game is flushed and the falcon can stoop at it. Some falconers use both methods for their gamehawks, but most don't fly gamehawks to the lure in this manner. They reserve this method of training for falcons that are to be flown at rooks and crows from the fist.


Lure-flying a Harris' hawk. (Photo: Søren Skarby)

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Jakob E. Borch