Archaeologists (University of Barcelona) found in a cave near the Catalan town of Calafell a prehistoric pendant ornament from the Neanderthals, a 39,000-year-old claw of a Spanish Imperial eagle. Eagle claws may have had a symbolic function. Neanderthals started making ornaments around 120,000 years ago, and researchers speculate that they took up Neanderthal culture.

Because people are such poor hunters, we have tried to call for help of better hunters a very long time ago. Chinese are fishing still with cormorants. Spaniards and Arabs are hare hunting with hounds. In Asia, was hunting with cheetahs popular. We have otters trained to capture fish, ferrets to rob rabbits from their tunnels, to wild dogs to detect and capture and to tackle prey for us. This hunting method (sport?) originated hundreds of years BC by nomadic people in Asia.

Around 400 AD falconry reached the Mediterranean. Germanic tribes practiced it in the 6th century, and from 875 one knows it all over Western Europe and England.
Falcons (Falconidae) were so precious that they were sometimes used as a means of payment. The value of a falcon often increased its weight in gold. It was for the nobility then a real status symbol.
The goshawk and the sparrowhawk were previously on the countryside ' kitchen birds' that brought meat to the table.
Valkenswaard was the main center. From the 17th to the 19th century Valkenswaard falconers were employed in almost all European royal courts. The museum near the Market of Valkenswaard has extensive information about falconry.

Catching falcons

The moorland of Valkenswaard and Leenderstrijp is on the migration route of birds of prey from Scandinavia to the south.

50 meters from the tob hut (shelter of sods) three poles stood: the tob rods.
On the first rod, a wood falcon was mounted (the deaf) that could be moved with a line. The second rod wore a tame falcon (victory) and a bunch of feathers that should appeare a prey.
On the third rod was a tame decoy dove.

90 meters from the tob hut were safety nets and a box with a dove. And there was a hut containing a tame gray shrike (Lanius excubitor or red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio)) on a leash. She got her (Dutch, gossip) )name because she immediately reveals whether a bird (and what kind!) is nearby. An alarm for the catcher so.

If there came a falcon the shrike hit alarm and fled in his hut. The falcon catcher pulled the line and worried (moved) the deaf to attire the wild falcon. Then the tame falcon with feather bob was pulled up. It seemed to the wild falcon as if he had beaten a prey.
If the wild falcon came closer the catcher dropped the tame falcon back to sink into the heath, and pulled on the line which was on the dove. The flutter lures the falcon. Then the catcher pulled the tame dove out of the hut. The falcon threw himself into the pigeon and was, along with the pigeon he clings, drawn to the clapnet and imprisoned.

After the French Revolution, the popularity of falconry took off. It was different hunting by the use of gunpowder, large areas were parceled and nobility were too poor for this expensive sport. And for centuries people have seen raptors as competitors and a threat to their hens and they fired and eradicated (nests).

jachtvogels681x206Nowadays raptors are also used to control vermin and birds at airports, landfills, and in the fruit.

Most raptors are meat eaters with a hooked beak with sharp edges.
Falcons have a tooth -shaped bulge at the lower edge of the upper beak with which they break the neck of the prey.
The peregrine takes his prey in the air fixed or picks them off the ground. It is the fastest bird of prey. In free fall, he can reach speeds up to 300 km per hour.
A hawk has powerful legs. The long nails penetrate deep and deadly in the victem.
A buzzard beats his toes around the prey, he squeezes and caught them.
The kestrel can this also, but also uses a firm bite in the head of e.g. the mouse.

Breeding, keeping and use of birds (of prey) in Europe is strictly limited and controlled by many laws (and exams). Birds of prey are not pets.

The birds are kept in a large aviary, and sometimes aired out on a long lace or chain. Birds that hunt are allowed to fly out every day.

The falconer must first win the trust so that the bird would sit on his fist and eat. Then the bird is trained, so he gets a good condition and learns to chase a prey. Falconer allow the bird to fly on a long line before being allowed to fly loose.

The equipment of a falconer are straps, caps and bait.

The canopy is a (custom) hood to keep the falcon quietly.
Bells on one of the legs (or at the hawks tail) serve to locate free-flying birds.
The falconer glove protects the hand. Raptors can squeeze hard and their nails pin in an unprotected hand.
Raptors should not be too heavy when flying free, because they are dull and lifeless. They may not be too light because then they are too weak to fly. A well -balanced weight is crucial. Therefore also scales are associated with the equipment. (Not for the boss.)
Anklets are two straps that are attached to a leg of the bird of prey. To this a long lace can be tied or hooked.

First, it is amazing that people suceeded to orient them to obey and serve and stroke animals. On the other hand, it is sad to see that so many animals that need space are bound and caged.

With both feet on the ground, you do not step forward.