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The Modern Apprentice



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General equipment link Hoods link Mews link Perches link Traps and trapping link Bookshelf link
Equipment (referred to as "furniture") is critical to proper falconry and raptor maintenance. Good equipment need not be expensive or fancy, but properly working equipment is a necessity. There are many designs and opinions. Some falconers find certain equipment works better for them; some species have slightly different equipment needs, and some individuals have particular equipment needs.
Note: If video clips do not launch automatically on your machine, right-click the link and select Save Link As... to save the video clip locally. The clip can be saved to your desktop, double-clicked, and played from there.

Aba A cloth wrap that immobilizes a bird to calm her or hold her for examination.

Anklets The leather strap which goes around the bird's leg. The jesses are attached to this. Sometimes also called a bracelet.

Aylmeri Leather anklets and jesses designed by the late Guy Aylmeri; replacement for traditional jesses.

Bal Chatri A traditional trap used by many raptor banders, rehabilitators, and falconers commonly called a BC. This is one of the safest and simplest traps available. It is a small cage for bait keeping them separate from an attacking bird, then small monofilament nooses over the top that will ensnare the toes.

Band A plastic or metal identification ring that goes around the bird's leg. Some states require certain wild taken species to be banded, other states require all wild taken birds to be banded, and other states have no such requirements, however most states require captive bred birds to be banded.

Bells Exactly that: small bells attached to the bird's tarsus, tail, or around the neck. The benefit of this is to be able to hear the bird when she is in trees hidden by leaves or on the ground on quarry hidden by brush.

Bewit Small strips of leather which attach the bells or other hardware to the bird's leg. If a different material is used as a bewit, it should not be attached directly to the leg, but rather to the anklet. A cable tie is a great convenience, but must never be attached around the bird's leg.

Block perch The traditional perch for a falcon.

Bow net A trap that, when set, looks like a circle laying on the ground. When the bird comes in to investigate the bait, the trap is sprung causing the circle to release over the bird creating a semi-circle and a bag of net over the now trapped bird.

Bow perch The traditional perch for a hawk.

Braces Straps on the hood which open and close it.

Brail A leather thong used to restrain one wing on a bird to prevent it from bating, especially during manning.

Button The folded section of leather that acts as a stopper for the jesses against the anklet, or the braided end of a leash. This may also be called a knurl.

Cadge A frame used to carry several birds at once.

Chaps Chaps are leg protectors for a bird, primarily used when hunting squirrels as the squirrel teeth can severely damage a bird's leg or toe.

Creance A long line or cord attached to the bird while training. Ten yards is going to work for most situations, but for free flights to verify that your bird is ready to be taken from the creance, many recommend 50 yards in length.

Dho-gazza A trap consisting of a net suspended between a bird and bait. The bird flies into the net and the net collapses around the bird entangling her. This can be more stressful than some other traps as the bird must be sorted out from the netting.

Draw the braces To pull the braces of a hood such that they tighten and close.

Gauntlet The glove worn by the falconer, traditionally on the left hand.

Halsband The German term for a strap of leather looped around the bird's neck and then hung down to help propel the bird (mainly Accipiters). Also called a jangoli. Here it is pictured with an accompanying neck bell. Photo courtesy of Kory Koch.

Hawk Box The box used to contain a bird for travel; also called a giant hood. Red-Tailed Hawk loading into a hawkbox video clip: 2.5 meg

Hood The leather head covering used on hawks and falcons. The purpose of the hood is to hide the stimulus of the world from the bird to calm her or prevent her from reacting to things.
       Hooding video clip: 803 Kb A bird should hood calmly

Jangoli A strap of leather looped around the bird's neck and then hung down to help propel the bird (mainly Accipiters). Also called a halsband. Here it is pictured with an accompanying neck bell. Photo courtesy of Kory Koch.

Jess Traditionally, these are leather strips which go through the anklets so the falconer can hold the bird or attach the leash. Modern jesses are of many types of material including parachute cord and various braids.

Jess Extender This piece of furniture has two functions. First, it requires dexterity to slide the swivel up the jesses and then back through. The jess extender can make this easier, especially for those less deft. Second, the jess extender extends the swivel away from the bird. With a perch such as the Meng perch, a bate will cause the swivel to pass through the tail and damage it. However, if there is a jess extender long enough that the swivel is not allowed to pass through the tail, then the tail will be saved. Extending the swivel beyond the tail tip by 1" or 1.5" is far enough.

Leash Traditionally leather, this is what attaches the bird to the perch or falconer's glove. Modern leashes have taken many forms and many materials are used.

Lure A fake quarry used to train a bird. For training birds to feathered quarry, a feathered lure which looks like a bird is used, sometimes even mimicking the wing beats. For training to rabbits, birds such as Red-Tails are not terribly picky and will respond to almost anything they are trained to.

Mangalah A cuff used instead of a gauntlet in the Middle East. Sometimes also called a mankalah.

Mew The bird's secure enclosure where she lives; the hawk house.

Ring perch A perch made out of a circular piece of metal where the hawk stands on top.

Scale A modern addition to falconry, but used by most modern falconers to ensure their bird's health. Much like an athlete knows his nutritional intake and his varying weights, so the falconer carefully watches his bird's condition. Large birds such as eagles do not need a finely graduated scale. Smaller birds such as a Kestrel need a scale which can weigh out to the tenth of a gram, and smaller birds need to be weighed several times a day. Some falconers prefer manual balances and others prefer digital scales. A kitchen quality scale will not be precise enough for this task, though, but digital scales have increasingly become more accurate and stable, although they can still be less accurate at low ambient temperatures or high humidity. A spring-loaded scale (like a food scale or a cheap postal scale) will vary with temperature and age. Most falconers will apply Astroturf, cork, or another comfortable surface to the balance pan for the bird to stand on. Others place a short T-perch onto the pan for the bird. Almost every species of bird should be weighed in grams (not ounces or pounds) so that you get the most granular measurement of your bird's weight.

Screen perch A perch made of a vertical wall or screen topped by a bar for the bird to stand on.

Swivel Small metal joint used in between the leash and the jesses. When these birds are on the perch, they make many small movements turning around and such. Without the swivel they would very quickly become entangled and endanger themselves.

Tail guard The feathers of an Accipiter are notoriously brittle. To prevent unnecessary tail breakage, a cover is placed over the tail or many of these birds. For Goshawks this is frequently made of X-ray film paper and for smaller birds like a Sharp Shin, this is made of overhead projector film, or another stiff, but light-weight film. These are attached to the tail by a tail mounted bell/transmitter and are removed for hunting and much of the weathering. Birds who are not allowed to weather without the guard on will develop even more brittle tails as they are prevented from properly preening their tail feathers. Tail guards can also hold moisture and allow feathers to rot if left on for extended amounts of time.

Telemetry Modern evolution of bells. A small transmitter is attached to the bird and the falconer has a receiver tuned to the bird's frequency. If the bird is unable to be found, the telemetry is used to locate her. This is one of the most revolutionary changes for modern falconry allowing falconers to fly the same bird for a longer period of time without her being lost, allows other falconers with receivers to assist in finding a lost bird, and allows the falcon to be flown at higher weights then ever before.

Varvel A less used piece of equipment. This flat silver or brass ring served several purposes. It was attached at the end of a leather strip as the attachment for the leash, but also served as the quick release mechanism when hunting. (A single strip of leather or rope could be attached to the glove, passed through the rings, and held by the falconer. When the falconer cast the bird from the fist the strip would be released allowing it to pass through the varvels and the hawk to be released.) It was usually engraved with the owner's coat of arms as a way to identify the bird. These have almost all been abandoned as they tend to tangle in brush and grasses.

Yagi The hand-held antenna receiver portion of telemetry.

Although not required, a very good idea is to place a small ID tag on your bird with your name, phone number, and REWARD. These are able to be purchased through many falconry suppliers, but one falconer I know creates his own out of Shrinky-Dinks. He is able to make them small and lightweight, but legible. As always, any additional equipment carries a risk. A small tag may have an attachment ring or a hole which a bird could catch a beak tip or a talon in. Falconers concerned about additional equipment often write the information onto the anklet with a leather marking pen.

Many falconers also create business cards for themselves listing their name, that they are a falconer, their phone number, and email address so that they can hand it out to falconers or others whom they meet in the field. Getting access to land to hunt on can be easy or difficult depending on the local culture and relationships. Some states require a signed document stating that the falconer has permission to hunt on the property carried on them in the field while others do not. Some falconers have created a Landowner Permission form to help explain to the landowner what they are asking permission for, and to keep everything legal. These can be kept in a binder, and even with a map of the area showing where the falconer has permission. Many remember their landowners with cards or Christmas gifts to ensure they know how much they are appreciated. Permission to access land for falconry A template for conveying what falconry is to landowners and gaining written permission from them. You will need to edit this inserting your own name, and editing it for your purposes.
NOTE: This is not a document carrying any legal weight and is not intended to convey legal information to the possessor or to agents. It is for assistance in your creation of your own document based on your state's laws on your understanding of the laws. This has been based on many different falconers' forms and has some good notes for any falconer.

All images and text Copyright © 2004 - 2020 - Lydia Ash