Raptor Force
History of Falconry

It may be impossible to ever know exactly where and when the practice of falconry — the training of raptors to hunt wild prey for humans — arose.

Some experts place its origins between 4,000 and 6,000 BC in the steppes of Mongolia. Other historians believe that the practice could be even older, with its beginnings in Arabia or the Middle East; in Iran, records have been found of a king using birds of prey who may have lived as much as 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Wherever it began, falconry, which was originally used for subsistence and not sport, was well established in both Asia and the Middle East by 2,000 BC, and gradually migrated westward to Greece, Italy, and the rest of Europe.

Peregrine falcon

Beginning in the 6th century and extending through the Middle Ages, the popularity of falconry — or hawking — surged in Europe. It was the sport of royalty for centuries, with the possession of falcons and other birds of prey considered a status symbol. By the 1600s in England, falconry came to be governed by a strict set of customs called the Laws of Ownership, which dictated the birds of prey that were allowed to be flown by citizens of various social ranks. For example, a king could fly a gyrfalcon; a duke, a rock falcon; an earl, a peregrine; a yeoman, a goshawk; and a servant, a kestrel. During the reign of Edward III, 1327-77, stealing a trained raptor was punishable by death.

By the 1800s, however, the sport began to diminish in popularity in Europe, because of the decline of the aristocracy, increased use of firearms to kill animals for food and for sport, and the enclosure and clearing of forest lands for agriculture. In North America, interest in falconry began to rise around the turn of the 20th century, although the first record of falconry dates back to 1622 in New England; farther south, the Spanish Conquistadors noted as early as the 1500s that the Aztecs used trained hawks.

The tradition again surged in popularity in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, during which time the first large falconry association, the Peregrine Club, was established in the United States (it disbanded during World War II). Today, falconry continues to be practiced throughout the world, although it is banned in some countries, such as Australia (where all native raptors are protected by the government and prohibited from being privately owned) and all of the Scandinavian countries, and is tightly regulated in many others. It is estimated that about 10,000 individuals legally practice falconry, with about 5,000 falconers in North America. The North American Falconer’s Association, founded in 1961, currently has more than 2,000 members.

  • Sam Lusareta

    Im suprised this article doesnt mention aaything of the Egyptions, mumified falcons have been found in Pharoah tombs, and the Eygyption God of life, light and sky, Horus; had the head of what looks to be a peregrine falcon.

  • lucy

    i like the site verry interesthing lerned alot abouth the eagles //i like see more pics of them i love draw them

  • joe diaz the bushman

    hello to all, well let me just start out by saying i’ve been around hunting raptors like peregrines goshawks redtails etc. mostly for 42 years i had the blessing of having one of the great master falconers as a teacher i was under his auspicies along with a brotherlike friend my name is joe diaz my buddy’s name is ray pena and we both started out as apprentices of proff. HEINZ MENG a great raptor ornithologist as well as one of the great master falconers and pioneers in the art of falconry back then we also had frank bb bill robinson and many others we were all master falconers back then we made our own hoods and most of the falconry equipment and captured our own raptors for falconry during the migration on flyways also we recovered young branchers that were learning and screaming hungry either for banding or salvage.what im trying to say it is and always was a ART you learned by the bird NOT BY COMPUTER OR BUYING A READY TRAINED FALCON AND EQUIPMENT ok maybe some equipment but from the days of kings a apprentice earned his way to the great honer of master falconer carrying cadges cleaning mews assisting in capture methods keeping raptors in best of health and in yark their best fly weight ready for their hunt and learned of methods in medications just in case,mabe a infected foot or talon from a bite called bumble foot or imping back a flight feather etc. its a all day every day affair the need your attention more than a WIFE its truly an art and a honer to have a hunting raptor except you into their lives as it can just fly away when it chooses best teacher is nature not a comp although in these times its allowed this is just my believe of falconry as a true art well i said my peace and yes im still involved just remember ray pena and myself joseph a diaz started out as 11 yr. old boys with a gift and a dream come true and we live to enjoy the flight the hunt the raptors we spend some of our greatest memories with in falconry and as true falconers ty for being interested

  • Julia Huertas

    This was a great peice

  • sean dowling

    i love raptors and i want to get some dose anyone no what whereabouts would you see them in the wild.
    if nobody noes where you can see them in the wild could you please tell me were you can see them in captivity.
    thank you

  • sean dowling

    i mean not keep them look at them in the wild

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