Falconry on horseback

Falconry is the art of hunting wild quarry in its natural habitat using a trained bird.

Specialists locate its historical origin on the vast plains of Central Asia, where many species of raptors, peregrine and saker falcons, lanner falcons, gyrfalcons and golden eagles travel or reproduce. Palaeontologists also credit this region with the domestication of the horse, starting in the Neolithic Period.

In the language specific to falconry , the French verb "falconner” -meaning "to hawk"- means to mount on the off side. The French expression "monter en fauconnier" or "fauconner/falconner" has become part of the ordinary equestrian language, as many other terms specific to falconry.

Hubert Beaufrère, Lexique de la chasse au vol : terminologie française du XVIe au XXe siècle, Nogent-le-Roi, Jacques Laget, 2004

There are two types of flight in falconry:

Low flight, for which one uses hand birds, eagles, Northern Goshawks or Eurasian Sparrowhawks. The bird, whose head is uncovered, launches from the wrist when the game leaves, in pursuit of its prey, which may be either on the ground (rabbit, hare, fox, etc.) or in flight (partridge, duck ...).

High flight, the now "unhooded" hunting bird flies off when the dog stops or when it senses the game's presence; it then rises vertically above the falconer as high as possible: when the game leaves, the bird goes into a dive, grabs the game (it is then said that the bird "binds" to the quarry) or hits it violently with its claws (it is said that the bird "strikes" it) and then grabs the dazed game from the ground.

< >

Hubert Beaufrère, Lexique de la chasse au vol : terminologie française du XVIe au XXe siècle, Nogent-le-Roi, Jacques Laget, 2004, XXIII-419p.
Les références terminologiques de cet article sont toutes tirées de cet ouvrage, tout à fait unique, qui comprend près de 800 entrées. Le vocabulaire français de la fauconnerie est l’un des plus riches du monde. À noter que le français étant en Europe et jusqu’au début du XXe siècle le langage de cour, et la fauconnerie un plaisir aristocratique, de très nombreux mots de fauconnerie sont utilisés encore à l’étranger, outre ceux qui sont entrés en France dans le langage courant.

Christian Antoine de Chamerlat, La fauconnerie et l’art, Paris, ACR Vilo, 1986, 256 p.