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A Timeline

Click on a date to explore the Falcon Timeline.

2,000 BC

Records indicate that raptors were being used by humans to hunt in ancient China. Records refer to falcons as royal gifts in the Heian dynasty in China, dating back to 2205 BC.

1700 BC

Pictorial records and wall hangings show falconers with birds on their wrists in Arabia and Persia.

300 BC

Vague references, including those by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, 384-322 BC, place the sport of falconry in Europe.


Falconry reaches great popularity in Medieval Europe (500-1500) and was highly popular up until the time of the French Revolution in the late 18th century. During the reign of Edward VIII, 1327-77, theft of a trained raptor was punishable by death.


In the New World, the Spanish Conquistadors find the Aztecs make use of trained hawks.


Falconry reaches its highest level in England and is governed by strict rules– a king could fly a gyrfalcon; an earl would fly a peregrine; a yeoman could have a goshawk; the sparrowhawk was reserved for priests; and servants would have a kestrel. Poet and playwright William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, was an avid falconer.


Vast societal changes – the French Revolution, the decline of the aristocracy and the growing popularity of firearms – cause the popularity of falconry to plummet.


Falconry crosses the Atlantic to the United States. The sport slowly gains popularity.


The first sizable North American falconry group, The Peregrine Club, is established at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1930s. The club died out during World War II.


The North American Falconer's Association forms. Today it boasts more than 2,000 members. It offers meets and publications.


One person can change the world. Rachel Carson’s classic book, "Silent Spring," energizes the environmental movement by revealing the widespread devastation caused by chemicals. Read more about DDT and its effect on wildlife.


Peregrines are placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List. By this time, the birds were wiped out in the Eastern United States. There were only 39 known pairs in the Western U.S.


DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is banned in the United States. It was banned in Canada in 1970. The potent pesticide accumulated in non-targeted animals as it moved up the food chain, causing ill effects including reproductive problems, especially among birds of prey. The Peregrine Fund is established by Tom Cade of Cornell University.


First peregrines raised in captivity (fewer than two dozen) released by The Peregrine Fund to begin rebuilding the population. The organization used peregrines donated by falconers to begin the breeding program. Since then, the organization, now based in Idaho, has released some 4,000 birds.

Aug. 20, 1999

President Clinton announces peregrines have been removed from the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially enters the change on Aug. 25. See other success stories of the Endangered Species List.


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