Sport of employing falcons or other hawks in hunting game. Falconry has been practiced in the Middle East at least since the 8th century BC. It flourished among the privileged classes in Europe in the Middle Ages. It began to die out after the advent of the shotgun and the enclosure of open lands in the 17th century, but there was a renewed interest in the sport beginning in the 1970s; there are many hawking clubs and falconry associations. The bird most commonly used is the peregrine falcon, though the goshawk and sparrow hawk have also been used. Birds are caught wild or raised from birth. Training involves selective use of a leather hood (called a rufter) and leg thongs (jesses) to keep the animal under control while familiarizing it with its new environment. During the hunt the trained bird is released to bring down its prey; it then returns to the hawker or is collected at the kill site.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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