Briefly, falconry is the art of hunting with trained birds of prey, and although today in the West it is considered more or less entirely as a sporting activity , this was not its original purpose when it began. Almost certainly, the first person to train a hawk did so because he saw in it an efficient means of catching food for himself.
No one knows when or where falconry first began, and although various theories have been advanced at one time or another to show that it originated in China, Persia, Central Asia and so forth, there is very little concrete evidence to support any of them, and so none can be said to be very convincing.
The earliest documentary evidence of real falconry seems to come from Japan, where it is recorded that trained goshawks were brought there from China in the 47th year of the reign of the Empress Jingu (A.D. 244).
Of course it is very encouraging that people are once more taking an interest in falconry, but the very fact that they are has brought its own problems. It is now very much harder to obtain wild wild birds for falconry than it was formerly. The decline in the wild raptor population has alarmed conservationists and falconers all over the world; indeed, in some parts of the world pressure is being brought to stop any more birds at all being taken from the wild. Deeper thought and understanding on the part of falconers and conservationists is required, and a better spirit of cooperation between them. Captive breeding of birds of prey could very largely solve the problem of supply and demand as far as falconers are concerned, and could also be used to help re-instate species in the wild in places where they have become scarce.
There are those who enjoy simply watching and studying birds of prey in the wild; there are also those who have the satisfaction and thrill of flying hawks that they have trained themselves. Both should work together, so that future generations will also be able to experience the same pleasures.
Louisiana Falconry Rules and Regulations
Glossary of Falconry Terms
The Raptors Nest
North American Falconers Association
American Falconry Magazine
Falconry and Game Hawking
Tarr and Feather Hoods
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