August 17th, 2009

Glossary of Falconry Terms and Definitions


Glossary Introduction

In my studies and research for becoming a falconer, I found many different glossaries for terms used in falconry. Various folks and groups have put together their own list of falconry terms, usually for the purpose of an introduction to falconry for someone new to the sport, or for use as a study guide. I have compiled the list below from several sources, noted below. I believe this to be a very comprehensive falconry term list, compiled from several sources that I ran across during my research.

Accipiter – The Latin name for a genus of raptors with short, broad wings and narrow tails.

Alula – The feathered thumb at the carpal joint on a hawk or falcon’s wing

Alymeri – A two piece jess that consists of an anklet with a grommet and a separate strap

Arms – The legs of a hawk from the thigh to the foot.

Aspergillosis – An often fatal, mold spore borne lung disease occuring in hawks and falcons; A fungus disease of the respiratory system in falcons, generally fatal.

Austringer – A falconer who hunts using a bird of prey to catch quarry, typically an accipiter; A falconer who trains and flies hawks rather than falcons.

Ayre – A Raptor’s nesting place. See EYRIE.

Bal-Chatri – Commonly called a “BC,” it is a trap for raptors that consists of a cage with a bait animal inside, the cage covered with small nooses to snag the leg and toes of the hawk. Most widely used trap. A cage like trap with live bait and monofilament nooses that catch the raptor by the feet.

Bate, Bating – A hawk is said to “bate” when she flutters off from the fist, perch or block, whether from wildness, or for exercise, or in the attempt to chase; An abortive attempt to fly off the ; Fluttering or flying off the fist, which an untrained hawk commonly does at the sight of the approaching hood. Literally, to beat the air with the wings, from the French battre.

Beam-Feathers – The primaries or phalangeal feathers of the wing. See FLAGS.

Bechins – Morsels, mouthfuls.

Bewits – Short, thin straps of leather by which the bells are fastened to a hawk’s legs.

Bind – To seize quarry with the feet and hold it, either on the ground or in the air.; to fasten on the quarry in the air.

Block – A truncated cone or cylindrical piece of wood having a ring in it for the attachment of the leash, and placed out of doors, whereon the hawk is set to “weather” (q.v.) ; A block of wood, usually inverted, used as a perch for falcons.

Bolt, To Fly At – Said of a short-winged hawk; to fly straight from the fist at the quarry.

Bow Perch – Most common perch used for hawks, not falcons.

Bowiser – A young hawk able to fly from bough to bough.

Bowse, Bowsing – To drink; Drinking; variously spelt “bouse,” “boose,” “boule,” and “booze.”

Braces – The leather straps used to open or close a hood.

Brail – A narrow slip of thin soft leather, with a long slit in it, used for tying one wing of a restless hawk that bates often; A thong of soft leather used to secure, when desirable, the wing of a hawk. It has a slit to admit the pinion joint, and the ends are tied together.

Brancher – A young hawk that is mostly feathered but not yet fully capable of flight; a young hawk that has lately left the nest. Called also a “ramage-hawk.”

Broadwing – A reference sometimes made to a raptor of the genus Buteo or Parabuteo.

Broadwing Hawk – A small buteo hawk, Buteo platypterus, seldom used in falconry. When migrating, soars in enormous flocks called “kettles.”

Bumblefoot – A bacterial infection of the foot peculiar to falcons.

Buteo – The Latin name for a genus of raptors with broad wings and tails, the true buzzard of the raptor world.

Cadge – The wooden oblong square frame on which hawks are carried hooded to the field; A portable hawk perch capable of holding several birds; A rectangular portable perch carried to the field with several birds aboard. Traditionally carried by an older gentleman. The origin of the word “codger.”

Cadger – The person who carries the hawk; hence the abbreviated form “cad,” a person fit for no other occupation.

Calling off – Luring a hawk (see Lure) from the hand of an assistant.

Canceleer – To make two or three sharp turns in the descent when stooping.

Carry – The bird’s flying off with prey, a very common situation with small hawks with small quarry. A hawk is said to “carry “ when she flies away with the quarry on the approach of the falconer.

Cast – (noun) A “cast of hawks,” i.e. two; not necessarily a pair. Harris Hawks (Parabuteos) are a social raptor, hunting in groups, and are well suited for flying in casts.

Cast – (verb) When a hawk will not stand to the hood for examination or coping, she has to be “cast” or held for the purpose; bound and incapacitated for physical maintenance.

Cast – (also) The regurgitation of indigestible fur and bones and/or feathers, a normal daily act.

Cast Gorge – to throw up the meat that is in her crop.

Casting – The indigestible portions of the last meal of a raptorial bird, usually bones and feathers that are formed into a compact pellet and disgorged through the mouth; fur or feathers given to a hawk with her meat to cleanse the pannel (q.v.), and afterwards cast up in the shape of oblong pellets enveloping the indigestible portions of the food which are thus rejected.

Cere – The bare wax-like skin above the beak; Soft fleshy tissue on the highest part of a raptor’s beak.

Check – A hawk is said to fly at “check” when she flies at a bird other than the intended object of pursuit.

Clutching – Taking the quarry in the feet as the short-winged hawks do. Falcons occasionally “clutch” their prey.

Coccidiosis – A bacteria infection causing inflamed intestines and specks of blood in the mutes, thought caused by dietary deficiency; a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract caused by microscopic organisms called coccidia. The disease spreads from one bird to another by contact with infected feces.

Come to – A hawk is said to “come to” when she begins to get tame. To begin obeying the falconer.

Cope – Cutting, sharpening, or filing the beak or talons of a hawk.

Cowering – Quivering or shaking the wings, observed in young hawks.

Crab, Crabbing – To Fight, i.e. grabbing, said of hawks when two are flown together and one seizes the other on the quarry by mistake.

Cramp – Dietary deficiency caused muscular spasms in “downy” birds that are often severe enough to break bones.

Cray – A disease in hawks, namely a stoppage of the tewell, so that the bird cannot mute.

Creance – A long line attached to the swivel, and used when “calling-off”, flying a hawk as it were on credit; A long strong cord or line used to secure a hawk during its first training flights; Essentially a long leash attached to the jesses for training the bird to fly to lure or fist outdoors. Reduces the risk of losing the bird while training.

Crines – The short hair-like feathers about the cere.

Croaks, or Kecks – A disease of the air-passages, analogous to a cough, and so called from the sound the bird makes during any exertion, such as bating, or flying. See PIN.

Crop – The dilatation of the gullet which serves as the first receptacle for the food taken by a hawk; Vascular sac were food is first digested; A hawk is said to “put away her crop” when the food passes out of the crop into the stomach.

Crossing Flight – When another bird flies between the hawk and her quarry.

Deck – The middle feathers in a raptor’s tail plumage.

Deck feathers – The two center feathers of the tail.

Disclosed – Said of hawks that are just hatched (depricated).

Draw The Hood – To draw the braces which open and close the hood behind.

Drawing From The Mew – Withdrawing a hawk after she has moulted.

Endew – Whence endewing and endewed, to digest the food. (depricated,See PUT OVER).

Enew, or Inew – The same as PUT IN.

Enseam – To purge a hawk, and rid her of superfluous fat.

Enter – To fly a hawk at quarry for the first time; When a trained raptor first captures a type of quarry.

Eyass, Eyess or Eyas – A nestling, or young hawk taken from the “eyrie” or nest; The name applied to a young raptor while still in the nest, also, a trained raptor of any age that was obtained as a nestling.

Eyrie or Aerie – The nest or nesting ledge of any of the raptors; A raptor’s nest, originally probably referred to the cliff dwellings of the large falcons. Also, see AYRE.

Falcon – The Latin name for a genus of raptors with long narrow wings and tails, also, referred to as the female of the species.

Falconry – A mental disorder disguised as an engrossing hobby or sport (sic).

Fall at Mark – To alight upon the ground and there await the owner.

Feak – To clean the bill on the perch after a meal; When the bird cleans his beak.

Filanders – A disease in raptors caused by intestinal worms.

Flack – The state of partial liberty in which young hawks must always at first be kept.

Flags – The secondary, or cubital feathers of the wing. See BEAM-FEATHERS.

Fly On Head – To mess the quarry and check.

Foot – A hawk is said to “foot “ well or to be a “good footer” when she is successful in killing. Many hawks are very fine fliers without being good footers; To grab with a (raptor’s) foot, a falconer’s extremity. A painful condition, to be avoided if possible.

Free-Lofting – A state of keeping hawks contained in their mews without being tethered to a perch, free to fly and perch where they desire.

Frounce – (Trichomoniasis) A cheesy, yellowish growth in the mouth and throat caused by a protozoan parasite; A falconry term for the disease trichomoniasis. Sometimes birds are infected by the eating of pigeons. These days it is quite treatable; peregrines seem to have a natural immunity.

Full-Summed – When a hawk has got all her new feathers after moulting. See SUMMED.

Galbanum – A gum resin derived from an umbelliferous plant, Ferula galbaniflua; It is regarded as an internal remedy in chronic mucous catarrh and rheumatism, and is applied externally in the form of galbanum plaister as a mild stimulant to relieve tumors and chronic pulmonary afflictions.

Get In – To reach the hawk as soon as she has killed.

Gleam – The substance thrown up after casting gorge.

Gorge – The crop; GORGED, adj., full fed.

Gurgiting – Choking with too large a mouthful.

Hace – The place where the hawk’s meat is laid.

Hack – Flying at; the state of liberty in which eyess falcons are kept for a few weeks before being trained; coming in daily to feed on the hack board where their meat is cut up for them; A state of complete liberty as in returning a bird to the wild.

Hack-Bells – Large heavy bells put on hawks to hinder them from preying for themselves whilst “flying at hack.”

Haggard – A hawk that has been caught after assuming its adult plumage, that is after having moulted in a wild state; A raptor that was over 1 year old when it was taken from the wild, or a wild raptor that is over one year old.

Halsband – Literally, neck-band; a contrivance of soft twisted silk placed like a collar round the hawk’s neck and the end held in the hand; used by Indian falconers, when flying the Sparrowhawk, to steady the bird then cast off.

Hard-Penned – When all of a hawks feather’s have grown in. After the moult for an adult and after the downy stage for eyass.

Havock – To cry. See HOO-HA-HA.

Hawking – Another name for falconry.

Hen – A female hawk, a term sometimes used when referring to female hawks.

Hey and Heye – In old authors, high, in good condition, ready to go out to the field.

Hood – The leathern cap used for blindfolding hawks to tame them; A cap, usually leather, covering eyes and head that is placed on a bird’s head to keep it calm.

Hood-Off – To pull off the hood and slip a hawk at the quarry.

Hood-Shy – A hawk is said to be hoodshy when she is afraid of, or resists, having her hood put on.; Said of a hawk that has been spoilt by clumsy hooding.

Hoo-Ha-Ha – The modern version of an old cry raised by falconers when the quarry is sighted and the hawk is encouraged to pursue. (also HO-HO-HO).

Hunger trace – A mark, and a defect, in the tail feathers, denoting a weak point; generally due to temporary starvation as a nestling (also see SHOCK MARKS).

Imping – A method of repairing and mending broken flight or tail feathers.

Imprint – The psychological pairing of an infant to it’s perceived parent.

Indue, Induing – See ENDEW.

Inke – Neck of the quarry (depricated).

Intermewed – A raptor that has moulted in captivity. Describes a bird kept under falconry management through the molt; is literally, “between molts.”

Jack – A name for male merlins.

Jerkin, Gyrkin – The male Jerfalcon or Gyrfalcon.

Jesses – The short narrow straps of leather fastened round the hawk’s legs to hold her by; Leather straps permanently attached to the legs of trained raptors; Strips of light hut very tough leather, some 6 to 8 in. long, which always remain on a hawk’s legs; one on each leg.

Jokin – Sleeping (depricated).

Leash – A long narrow thong of leather attached to the jesses with a swivel or varvels and by means of which a hawk is tied to perch or block.

Lines – Loynes, lunes, also lewnes. The jesses were made sufficiently long for the knots (ends) to appear between the middle and the little fingers of the hand that held them, so that the lunes, or small thongs of leather might be fastened to them with tyrrits or rings, and the Ilunes were loosely wound round the little finger. Hence it would appear that the lunes took the place of the modern leash, which is attached to the jesses with a swivel or varvels. Bert terms them “lines”.

Longwing – A common term for a raptor of the genus Falco, a falcon.

Lure – A bait. Technically, a bunch of feathers, or couple of wings tied together on piece of leather, and weighted. Being garnished with raw meat, the hawk is always fed upon it. Hence, when swung aloft, it serves to lure the hawk back to the falconer; An artificial quarry used to train, control, or retrieve raptors.

Mail – The breast feathers of a hawk; To mail a hawk, i.e. to wrap her up in a sock, or handkerchief, or either to tame her, or to keep her quiet during an operation, as “coping” or “imping”.

Make hawk – A hawk is called a make hawk when as a thoroughly trained and steady hawk, she is flown with young ones to teach them their work.

Making In – The falconer’s approach to a bird on the ground on a kill, a critical time especially with a bird that carries.

Malar Stripe – Characteristic black mark under the eye of a falcon (lacking in gyrfalcons)

Man a hawk – To tame a hawk and accustom her to strangers.

Manning – The process of taming the bird and getting it used to the falconer and all of the disturbances encountered in captivity. Often involves carrying the bird on the fist. (also, See RECLAIM).

Mantle – A hawk is said to “ mantle “ when she stretches out a leg and a wing simultaneously, a common action of hawks when at ease; also when she spreads out her wings and feathers to hide any quarry or food she may have seized from another hawk, or from man. In the fast case it is a fault.

Mar-Hawk – One who spoils a hawk by clumsy handling.

Mark – To fly at; generally said of a Goshawk when, having “put in” a covey of partridges, she takes stand, marking the spot where they disappeared from view until the falconer arrives to put them out to her.

Marrow – With old authors ‘mary’, mary of beefe, mary of goose; given as a remedy, or to envelope medicine.

Mew – A hawk is said to “mew” when she molts. The place where a hawk was kept to molt was in olden times called her “mew.” Buildings where establishments of hawks were kept were called mews.

Mews – Housing for a trained hawk or falcon

Mites – The parasites that infest the head and nares of a hawk.

Momery – With old authors, sc. mummy, Fr. momie; formerly, when reduced to powder, used as medicine for hawks.

Muer Des Champs, or Muer De Haye – See MEW.

Musket – Male of the sparrowhawk.(European).

Mutes – The droppings or excrement of hawks.

N.A.F.A. – North American Falconers’ Association, established in 1961.

Nares – The nostrils of a hawk.

Nyas – A nestling hawk taken from the eyrie or nest.

Ostringer – Generally restricted to one who keeps short-winged hawks, especially the Goshawk. (See also, AUSTRINGER).

Pannel – The stomach or lower bowel of a hawk.

Pantas – A disease in hawks akin to asthma.

Passage – The line herons take over a tract of country on their way to and from the heronry when procuring food in the breeding season.

Passage Hawk(s) – Hawks captured when on their passage or migration.

Passager – A raptor that was taken from the wild in the fall of its first year, or a wild raptor that has not yet molted into its adult plumage; A flighted raptor in its first year either trapped or wild, hence an immature which is commonly referred to as a passage bird.

Paster – Plaister; used medicinally (depricated).

Pelt – The dead body of any quarry the hawk has killed.

Pendant Feathers – The feathers behind the thighs of a hawk.

Perch – A place where a hawk or falcon roosts, sits; The perch is used in the house; the block, out of doors. See BLOCK.

Pill, or Pelf – That is left of the quarry after the hawk has been fed upon it.

Pin And Web – A disease of the eye in hawks akin to dimness and film.

Pitch – The height of a falcon’s flight relative to the ground.; The height to which a hawk, when waiting for game to be flushed, rises in the air; Height a falcon takes overhead usually expressed in feet.

Plumage – Given for “casting”.

Plume – To pluck the feathers off the quarry.

Point – A hawk “makes her point” when she rises in the air over the spot where quarry has saved itself from capture by dashing into a hedge, or has otherwise secreted itself.

Pounces – The claws or talons of a hawk.

Preen – To dress or straighten the feathers with the beak.

Pretty Singles – The toes of a hawk.

Primaries – The outboard feathers on the trailing edge of a birds wing.

Principals – The two longest feathers in the wing of a hawk.

Pull through the hood – A hawk is said to pull through the hood when she eats with it on.

Put in – Prey hiding in cover; to drive the quarry into a covert or other place of security.

Put Over – Moving food from the crop to the stomach; the process of digesting meat.

Quarry – The game flown at; Any bird or other animal a trained raptor may pursue.

Quick – Alive; The central nerve core found in the talons or claws of a hawk.

Rake Away – To take off, instead of pursuing the quarry flown at, or to fly wide of it.

Rake out – A hawk is said to rake out when she flies, while waiting on (see Wait on), too far and wide from her master.

Ramage – A wild raptor.

Rangle – Small stones given to hawks to aid digestion.

Reclaim – To make a hawk tame, gentle, and familiar.

Red hawk – Hawks of the first year, in the young plumage, are called “red hawks.”

Red-Hawk – The modern term for a “sore-hawk.”

Ringing – A bird is said to ring when it rises spirally in the air.

Ring-Up – To rise spirally to a height.

Robin – The male Hobby Falcon (European).

Rouse – Is when a hawk lifteth herself up and shaketh herself; When a bird erects all the body feathers and then shakes itself.

Rousing – With old authors.(depricated, See ROUSE.)

Rufter-Hood – A plain, easy leather hood, through which the hawk can feed, and opening wide behind; used when a hawk is being tamed, and superseded by the hood proper when she is trained. The absence of a plume prevents her from pulling it off.

Russ – To hit the quarry and make the feathers fly, without trussing it. See TRUSS.

Rye – A disease in hawks which shows itself by a swelling in the head.

Sails – The wings of a hawk.

Scouring – Purging.

Screen-Perch – A form of perch used for hawks when kept in a room. See PERCH and BLOCK.

Seare, And Sere – The wax-like skin above the beak. See CERE.

Secondaries – Feathers along the trailing edge of a bird’s wing, inboard of the primaries.

Sedge – A corruption of “at siege;” said of a heron when at the waterside, in contradistinction to being “on passage.”

Seeling – An old method of obscuring the sight of a hawk by passing threads through the lower eyelids and tying them behind the head, a practice long superseded in this country by the more humane use of the hood, though still adopted by native falconers in India.

Seeling – Closing the eyes by a fine thread drawn through the lid of each eye, the threads being then twisted together above the head; a practice long disused in England.

Serving – Driving out quarry which has taken refuge, or has put in; helping to put out the quarry from covert.

Set Down – To moult, put into the mew (also Put Up).

Sharp Set – A very hungry raptor.

Shock Marks – Weak lines on feathers caused by no food or other stress which permits feathers to break rather easily.

Shortwing – A general term used for raptors of the genus Accipiter, a true hawk.

Slip – To release the raptor after quarry.

Sloose – With old authors, for sloed, used medicinally (depricated).

Sock – see MAIL.

Sore-Hawk – A hawk of the first year.

Spring – To flush the partridge, pheasant, or other bird to be flown at.

Stalke – The leg of the raptor.

Stavesaker – A plant formerly in request for destroying lice in a hawk.

Stoop – The swift descent of a falcon on the quarry from a height; synonymous with swoop.; Head-first dive of a raptor from above; Rapid decent from altitude, usually in pursuit of quarry.

Strike The Hood – To half open it, so as to be in readiness to hood off the the moment the hawk is to be flown.

Summed – A hawk is said to be “summed” or “full summed” when, after moulting, she has got all her new feathers, and is fit to be taken out of the mew.

Swivel – Equipment used to prevent the jesses and leash from getting twisted when the hawk is tied upon the perch. see LEASH, TYRRIT, AND VARVELS.

Take the air – A bird is said to take the air when it seeks to escape by trying to rise higher than the falcon.

Talon – A raptor’s claw

Tarsus – Lower leg

Telemetry – An electronic transmitter/receiver system for tracking the bird.

Tewell – The lower bowel affected by the disease termed cray.

Tidbit – Morsel, small bit of food; usually referring to a food reward for displaying the correct behavior.

Tiercel – The male of various falcons, particularly of the peregrine; the term is also applied to the male of the goshawk; the male of any species of hawk / raptor, the female being termed a falcon.

Tire – To pull at a tough piece of meat or food.

Tiring – Any tough piece given to a hawk when in training to pull at, in order to prolong the meal, and exercise the muscles of the back and neck.

Tower – See RING UP

Train – The tail of a hawk. Also the live bird that is given on a line to the hawk when first entered.

Truss, Trussing – A hawk is said to truss a bird when she catches it in the air, and comes to the ground with it in her talons.

Tyrrit – A swivel, or turning-ring.

Urines – Nets to catch hawks.

Varvels – Small flat rings of silver on which the owner’s name was engraved, fastened to the ends of the jesses, and used instead of a swivel, the leash being passed through them.

Wait On – A hawk is said to “wait on” when she soars in circles over the head of the falconer, waiting for the game to be flushed.

Waiting On – The bird’s flying above the falconer’s head waiting for quarry to flush

Warbile, Warbel, and Warble – A hawk warbles when after “rousing” and “mantling”, she crosses her wings together over her back and streches.

Watching – Part of the old method of taming hawks was to watch them for the first night or two after their capture, to prevent them from sleeping.

Weather – To put a bird outside to enjoy the weather, secured.

Weathering – Hawks are weathered by being placed tethered and unhooded in the open air for sunning or bathing. Passage hawks which are not sufficiently reclaimed to be left out by themselves unhooded on blocks are weathered by being put out for an hour or two under the falconer’s eye.

Wing-over – An airial manuver made by hawks and falcons in the pursuit of prey.

Yarak – 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.


Bibliography, References, Credits:


Print Sources:

1. North American Falconry & Hunting Hawks; 8th Edition, 2000 by Frank Lyman Beebe & Harold Melvin Webster
2. A Manual of FALCONRY M.H. Woodford. 2nd Ed., 1967. M. and C. Black, Pub., London.
3. The Red-Tailed Hawk – A complete guide to training and hunting North America’s most versatile game hawk by Liam McGranaghan.


Web Sources:

1. The Modern Apprentice
2. Eddies Falconry Pages
3. American Falconry Magazine: Glossary of Falconry Terms

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