The history of falconry
Falconry is the art of training a bird of prey, like a hawk or a falcon, to hunt game. Falconry is more than a sport or a hunting technique; it is a way of life.
The capture, breeding, keeping and training of raptors have been practiced for millennia. Falconry dates back 4,000 years, and is probably the oldest sport known to man.
Falconry originated in Asia and became well established in China, India and Arabia. It slowly made its way West, reaching Europe and England in the year 700AD. It attained the height of its popularity during the Middle Ages, in the 12th century.
During these times, falconry was the favorite hobby of the noble classes and of royalty. It was also popular with the working class; merchants also had raptors with which they hunted. However, the most spectacular birds, like Peregrine falcons and Gyrfalcons, were reserved for the upper class.
Since the invention of firearms, falconry has become less widespread, but it remains popular in many cultures.
Though falconry is now mainly a recreational sport, its techniques are pertinent to training raptors that have been injured to fly and hunt, and also to train birds for educational programs. The knowledge possessed by falconers has been indispensable in breeding certain species for re-release for recovery programs of endangered species like the Peregrine falcon.
Falconry is also often used for wildlife control on airport sites. The land surrounding the landing strips can be very welcoming to animals and birds, but these visitors can pose a threat to the safety of the planes and passsengers during take-off and landing. To avoid impacts between planes and wildlife, trained raptors can be flown by falconers on the airport site to scare the nuisance birds away. Ducks, geese, sparrows, gulls, pigeons all have an instinctual fear of raptors and flee or hide when they see them. By taking advantage of this fear, falconers and their birds can keep airports safe.
Are you interested in the art of falconry? Do you have a fascination with birds of prey? Imagine being witness to a raptor hunting on the wing, or simply living the experience of holding a hawk or falcon on your gloved hand. No matter what the reason for your interest in these incredible animals, our falconry courses are for you.
Since 1989, Falcon Environmental Inc. (FALCON) is a leader in the training of birds of prey and of falconry in Quebec. We have offered falconry training courses since 2002.
FALCON promotes the practice of responsible and ethical falconry. For this reason our courses are designed for people who share this same vision. The quality of our service, as well as the security, respect and care of our birds are our top priorities.
Falconry, by definition, is a traditional activity that consists in caring for and training falcons and other raptor species to catch game in the natural environment. At Falcon Environmental Inc., we believe that it is one of the most exceptional forms of hunting and that it leads the falconer-hunter to a profound connection between the predator and its game. Practiced in more than 60 countries, falconry was recognized by UNESCO in 2011 as a representative of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The nomination was presented by 11 countries; a record.
Falconry techniques are used in many domains, such as the rehabilitation of injured birds, scaring of nuisance birds, artistic and commercial productions, and educational outreach. These applications of falconry are derivatives of “hunting” falconry. The training methods, equipment, and approach are essentially the same, but the aspect of game-hunting is eliminated. Strengthened by its experience, FALCON has developed an expertise in each of these applications, and it is within this context that a training program was created.
Since 2002, the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (MRNF) allows, within the context of the Règlement sur la garde en captivité, the keeping of a bird of prey for falconry (falcons, Buteo and Accipiter hawks, kestrels). To do so, it is possible and mandatory to obtain an Apprentice–Falconer or a Falconer permit for the acquisition of a bird. FALCON believes that the objective of this regulation is to authorize the possession for the purposes of recreational hunting, without remuneration.
The regulation in its present form refers to the amount of experience earned with the help of a mentor or course to earn a permit. The permit is to keep a bird of prey in captivity. An impression of the past 10 years leads us to believe that the assessment of the knowledge acquired by referring to the number of training hours is insufficient. The husbandry and care of a bird of prey for falconry demands a certain level of knowledge and skills to ensure the security of the animal and the falconer so that they may both enjoy the best of what the falconry experience has to offer.
For this reason, the hours obtained during our courses, workshops, activities and classes are no longer validated by FALCON to be used for the acquisition or renewal of an Apprentice–Falconer or a Falconer permit as their aim is to provide basic knowledge and a first contact with the sport.
There are associations in Quebec and Ontario that bring together falconers and supporters of this type of hunting. In Quebec, it is the Association Québécoise des Fauconniers et Autoursiers (AQFA), and in Ontario, the Ontario Hawking Club (OHC). Most Canadian provinces do have falconry associations or clubs for falconers and supporters. If this adventure interests you, these associations offer activities each year, which will allow you to familiarize yourself with the art of falconry, and offer a network of individuals that may be able to take you under their wing.
Introductory courses for the public
FALCON offers two courses that will help you discover wild birds of prey and the life of those in captivity, as well as the practice of falconry, its equipment, training methods and philosophy.
Course “Birds of prey”
For amateur ornithologists or those keen on animal-encounter experiences, come discover what makes these unique birds so fascinating!
Course content: Birds of prey, fact and fiction – Birds of Prey of Québec – Bird Biology – Captive Care – Training techniques – Handling and raptor flight demonstrations : Owls and more!
Dates: To be determined. 7-hour course from 9am to 4pm. Cost is 150.00$ plus tax ($172.46). Course offered in French. Please return the filled form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Course “Introduction to falconry”
You may be unsure about where your interests lie when it comes to practicing falconry, come learn what this ancient art is truly about, and experience the thrill of holding and flying a bird of prey, a Harris Hawk.
Content: History and Tradition – Understanding Falconry birds – Equipment – Regulations – Ethics and Falconry – Training Techniques – Handling and free-flight of a bird of prey.
Dates: To be determined. 8-hour course, from 9am to 5pm. Cost is 175.00$ plus tax ($201.21). Course offered in French.
All courses are held at our headquarters in St-Lazare, Québec.