Click on a date to explore the Falcon Timeline.
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
Pictorial records and wall hangings show falconers with birds on their wrists in Arabia
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 Carsons 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.