Traditionally falconry is the art of rearing, training and flying birds of prey, such as falcons, hawks and eagles with the attempt to catch wild quarry. Falconry has been a sport and rural pastime for thousands of years and several species have been trained by humans to utilise their innate skills of agility, speed and reaction, to pursue their natural quarry for sport and food for the table.
Falconry is detailed as being one of the oldest recorded sports dating back to the 1st century BC. Historically, falconry was a popular rural sport, and status symbol, among the nobles of medieval Europe. Eggs and chicks of Birds of Prey were rare and expensive, and since the process of raising and training a hawk or falcon takes time, money and space, it was more or less restricted to the noble classes.
Royalty practised falconry it in their spare time alongside other forms of hunting. Henry the 8th was an avid falconer and it is said that his falconry mews were larger than his stables. Mary Queen Of Scots had a passion for falconry, and delighted in flying Merlins.
Raptors were often given as extravagant gifts between dignitaries and royalty and there are many records of exactly this happening. King John and Edward II reputedly received valuable gifts from the King of Norway in the form of a Cast of Gyrfalcons.
In art, and other aspects of culture, such as literature, falconry remained a status symbol long after the sport was no longer popularly practiced. Another prolific falconer was the well known playwright William Shakespeare who managed to fit falconry into his plays on many an occasion.
Birds of prey traditionally used in the art of falconry include the Peregrine falcon, the Goshawk, the Golden eagle and Gyrfalcon. Cheshire Falconry fly peregrines and many other species of bird of prey all trained using much the same techniques as were first employed over three and a half millennia ago. Although it is possible to provide experiences with birds of prey that are trained to hunt, we aim to show the types of birds that can be trained using traditional techniques, and these include a much greater diversity of species. Certain species, for example the Harris hawk, is both amiable enough to be suitable for everyday hands-on work with guests at Cheshire Falconry; but also able to show-off its hunting prowess in the field too.
Falconry equipment is a mixture of the traditional and state of the art. The leatherwork jesses and anklets (aylmeri's) have remained essentially unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Today people skilled in the Art of Falconry enjoy training birds of prey and experiencing the remarkable teamwork of falconer and bird. The excitement comes as you witness the natural hunting prowess of these birds as they demonstrate their speed and agility. If you would like the opportunity to get hands-on and fly birds of prey in Cheshire, we offer a range of dedicated flying experiences. "Walk on the Wildside" is an exciting experience where you really do get back to nature, accompanied by a team of Harris Hawks. The Harris Hawk is a beautiful chestnut and chocolate brown species of raptor, medium sized that hails from the Americas and is extremely versatile. The Harris Hawk has the added advantage in that it is one of the few bird of prey species that can be flown with other members of the same species. So what are you waiting for? It's time you took a Walk on the Wildside!