THE LANGUAGE OF FALCONRY

      The following list is not meant to be all-inclusive. The entries defined here represent the vocabulary
words we are most likely to be asked about at WINGMASTERS programs.

      Like other sports such as baseball, basketball and football, falconry uses a wide variety of
specialized terminology. Unlike those other sports, all of which were invented fairly recently, falconry
uses an archaic-sounding vocabulary, employing words like bewit, creance and tiercel that sound
downright Shakespearean. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare frequently wove falconry terms into his
plays. However, many of the words still used by modern-day falconers are even older than Shakespeare,
and they are French-based. In 1066 the Normans invaded England. They imposed their native French
on the subjected English, as well as their laws and their ruling class. For the next four hundred years
the language of the English nobility was French, and since falconry was a favorite pastime of the Norman
aristocrats and their descendants, it is French that has most heavily influenced the sport's vocabulary.
One word contained here, yarak, is Persian in origin and reflects Middle Eastern influences brought back
by Crusaders.

      Classical European falconry was a court sport in England from the time of the Norman Conquest in
the 11th century right up to the reign of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. In his youth Henry had been
an avid falconer, on one occasion pursuing his falcon so enthusiastically he ended up headfirst in a ditch.
But as he grew older and fatter, Henry seems to have switched his interest to racehorses. Falconry from
that time on faltered and fell from favor. In present-day America, however, it has become a sport
passionately followed by the few willing to give it the single-minded dedication it requires.


ACCIPITER /ak SIP pi tur/ noun
1: A genus of hawks having long legs, a long tail and relatively short, rounded wings. This group of forest hawks is adapted for quick acceleration
and maneuverability through;wooded areas. In North America the genus is
represented, from smallest to largest, by the sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter
  striatus), the Cooper's hawk (A. cooperii) and by the North;American
subspecies of the Northern goshawk (A. gentilis atricapillus). All three are
used by modern-day falconers. Two hawks in this genus comprised the short-winged 
hawks of classical European falconry: the Eurasian subspecies of the Northern
goshawk (A. gentilis) and the European sparrowhawk (A. nisus).
2: A hawk of the genus Accipiter.


AUSTRINGER or OSTRINGER /AHS tin jur/ noun : A person who trains and hunts with hawks or eagles but not falcons.

BATE /BATE/ verb : (used of a raptor) To fly off the falconer's glove or a perch while restrained.


BELL
/BEL/ noun
: A small, round bell of lightweight metal attached to a raptor's legs, neck or tail.
The bell's ring indicates the bird's whereabouts to the falconer. When a pair of bells
is used on a bird's legs, the bells are designed to ring at two different pitches.


BEWIT
/BYEW et/ noun
: A small strap with which a bell is fastened to a raptor's leg.


BLOCK
/BLAHK/ noun
: A flat-topped perch used for falcons. The perch tapers from top to bottom and ends in
a spike which can be driven into the ground. The padded top provides a comfortable surface
for the long-toed falcons.


BRACE
/BRACE/ noun
: One of four small leather straps at the back of a hood that operate in pairs to tighten or loosen
the hood.


BRANCHER
/BRAN chur/ noun : A young raptor that is old enough to climb out of its nest but too young to fly.
A brancher's feathers are not quite developed enough for flight, so the bird gets about by climbing.


BUTEO
/BOO tee oh/ or /BYOO tee oh/ noun 1: A genus of hawks having chunky bodies and broad, rounded wings that are adapted for soaring
flight. In Europe these hawks are called buzzards. North American examples include the red-tailed
hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and the ferruginous hawk (B. regalis). Both species are used by
modern-day falconers.
2: A hawk of the genus Buteo.


BUZZARD
/BUH zurd/ noun
: Any of the European species of Buteo, especially the common buzzard (Buteo  buteo). In the
days of classical European falconry buzzards were looked upon with contempt for their lack of dash.
However, two North American species, the red-tailed hawk (B. jamaicensis) and the ferruginous hawk (B. regalis), have been used by modern-day falconers with a great deal of success.


CAST
/KAST/ noun
: Two trained raptors that hunt as a team.


CAST
/KAST/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To regurgitate a pellet.


COPE
/KOPE/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To trim the beak or talons of a raptor by cutting or filing.


CREANCE
/KREE ahnse/ noun
: A long line attached by a swivel to the jesses of a partly trained raptor before it is flown.


EYASS
or EYAS or EYESS /EYE us/ noun
: A young raptor taken for falconry training while still in the nest or as a brancher.
Falconers apply the term to a trained raptor of any age or species that was originally
acquired at this age.


FALCON
/FAL kun/ or /FALL kun/ noun
1: A bird of the genus Falco having dark brown eyes, long slender toes, an upper beak with a projecting point on each side that fits into a corresponding notch in the lower beak and long,
pointed wings adapted for swift flight in open country. Falcons are the long-winged hawks of
classical European falconry. Five species of North American falcons are used by modern-day
falconers: the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus), the peregrine falcon (F. peregrinus), the prairie falcon
(F.mexicanus), the merlin (F. columbarius) and the American kestrel (F. sparverius). Four falcons
used in classical falconry in Europe (the gyrfalcon, the peregrine falcon, the merlin and the common
kestrel) were either subspecies of the North American falcons of the same name, or closely related
species.
2: A female of a bird of the genus Falco.
3: In classical European falconry, the female peregrine falcon.


FALCONER
/FAL kun ur/ or /FALL kun ur/ noun
: A man or woman who practices falconry.


FALCONRY
/FAL kun ree/ or /FALL kun ree/ noun
1: The art of training a raptor to hunt in cooperation with a person and to return to the falconer
on signal.
2: The sport of hunting with a trained raptor of any species. The sport is also preferred to as hawking.


FEAK
/FEEK/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To clean the beak after feeding by wiping it on the glove or perch.


FEED
UP /feed UP/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To give a raptor its full day's supply of food.

FIST /FIST/ noun
: The falconer's gloved hand (traditionally, the left) with the thumb positioned on top and the
fingers curved toward the hand.


FLY
/FLEYE/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To hunt with a trained raptor.


FURNITURE
/FUR nuh chur/ noun
: The equipment (such as jesses, leash, bells, bewits and perch) needed for the practice of
falconry or to maintain the health of the raptor being used.

GAUNTLET
/GAWNT let/ noun
: A long, heavy leather glove that enables a falconer to hold or carry a raptor while protected
from its talons. Modern-day falconers more commonly use the word glove.


GLOVE
- synonymous with GAUNTLET


HACK
/HAK/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To give a young raptor complete freedom for some weeks until it begins
to hunt for itself, which signals the start of its training. Hacking a young bird helps to develop
its strength and coordination.


HACK
BACK /hak BAK/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To gradually accustom a captive raptor to freedom and to hunting for itself so that it can eventually live on its own in the wild.


HAGGARD
/HAG urd/ noun
1: A raptor captured for falconry training as an adult.
2: Any wild adult raptor.


HAWK
/HAWK/ noun
1: A raptor of the Accipiter, Buteo or Parabuteo genera having rounded wings, as opposed to the
pointed-winged falcons.
2: A general term used by falconers for a trained raptor, whether the bird is an accipiter, buteo or
falcon.


HAWKING
- synonymous with FALCONRY 2


HOOD
/HUHD/ noun
: A close-fitting cap of soft leather that is placed over a raptor's head. The hood has an opening
for the beak and nostrils but covers the bird's eyes. Raptors are so dependent on their eyesight
that covering the eyes will keep them calm and quiet. The high-strung falcons are most often trained
to the hood. Accipiters occasionally are, but the relatively calm buteos seldom seem to require one.


IMP
/IMP/ verb : (used of a falconer)To rebuild a broken flight feather on a raptor by splicing on an undamaged
section from a previously molted feather.


IMPRINT
/IM print/ noun
: An animal that identifies itself with humans as a result of being taken from its parents at a very early
age and brought up by people.


IMPRINTING
/im PRINT ing/ noun
: An often irreversible behavioral pattern established usually in the first few weeks of life in many
different types of animals. During this critical early period the young animal, by associating with
its parents and/or siblings, learns to recognize and respond to the characteristics of its particular species.


JESS
/JEHS/ noun
: Either of two leather straps attached to the legs of a trained raptor that enable the falconer to
control the bird.

LEASH
/LEESH/ noun : A long line attached to a raptor's jesses by a swivel so the bird can be tethered to a perch.


LONGWING
or LONG-WINGED HAWK - synonymous with FALCON 1


LURE
/LOOR/ noun
: An object swung on a long line to exercise or call down a raptor that has been conditioned to
expect to find meat tied to it. Some lures are elaborately made to resemble a bird or a mammal,
but the basic shape is that of a stuffed bag.


LURE
/LOOR/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To call down or exercise a trained raptor by swinging a lure.


MAN
/MAN/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To tame a wild raptor by accustoming it to the glove and to the presence of people.


MANTLE
/MAN tul/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To spread the wings and tail possessively over food or prey, behavior that begins
while young raptors are still in the nest.


MEWS
/MEWZ/ noun
: A building or room in which one or more raptors are housed.


MOLT
/MOHLT/ verb
: To shed old feathers and grow new ones.


PARABUTEO
/para BOO tee oh/ or /para BYOO tee oh/ noun
: A genus containing only one North American hawk species. The Harris' hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
is a long-legged hawk of the desert Southwest that is widely used by modern-day falconers.


PASSAGE
HAWK /PASS ij hawk/ or PASSAGER /PASS ij ur/ noun
: A raptor of any age that was originally taken for falconry training while in juvenile plumage,
usually on its first migration.


PELLET
/PEL ut/ noun
: A rounded mass of tightly packed, indigestible material (such as fur, feathers and bone)
formed in the stomach of many predatory birds and regurgitated several hours after eating.


PITCH
/PICH/ noun : The height to which a falcon rises while waiting on.


QUARRY
/KWOR ee/ or /KWARE ee/ noun
: A bird or mammal hunted by a trained raptor.


RING
UP /ring UP/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To fly up in a spiral - characteristic of falcons.


ROUSE
/ROWZ/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To perform a series of actions during which the feathers are slowly raised,
the whole body given a shake and the feathers then settled back into place.


SHARP
-SET /sharp SET/ adjective
: (used of a raptor) Very eager to hunt.


SHORTWING
or SHORT-WINGED HAWK - synonymous with ACCIPITER 2


SOAR
/SORE/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To ride on a column of air by coasting on motionless, outstretched wings.


STOOP
/STOOP/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To dive from a height headfirst and with the wings closed, often at great speed
- characteristic of falcons.


STRIKE
/STRIKE/ verb
: (used of a falconer) To loosen the braces of a hood preparatory to removing it from the raptor's head.

SWIVEL
/SWIV ul/ noun
: A small metal device that attaches a raptor's jesses to a leash or creance and that allows movement
in every direction without tangling of jesses or leash.


TIERCEL
or TERCEL /TEAR sul/ noun
1: The male of any bird used in falconry. The term is based on the Latin word for "third," and is
derived from the fact that male eagles, hawks and falcons are almost always smaller that the females,
sometimes by roughly one-third.
2: In classical European falconry, the male peregrine falcon.


WAIT
ON /wate AHN/ verb
: (used of a raptor) To circle high above a falconer, waiting for quarry to be flushed out or the lure to
be produced - characteristic of falcons.


YARAK
/YAIR ak/ noun : An aggressive psychological state especially characteristic of accipiters. It may be brought on by
a range of factors from eagerness to hunt to the onset of disease. Yarak manifests itself in an
exaggerated vertical posture and erected plumage.


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