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LOXDOX 

PK1NTKD BT BPOTTI8WOODE AND CO. 

NEW-STKF.KT SQUARE 



FALCONRY 



ITS CLAIMS, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 



BT 



GAGE EAELE EEEEMAN, M.A. 

AND 

FEANCIS HENET SALVIN 

CA.PIA.IK WEST TOEK BITLBS 



To which are added 

REMARKS ON TRAINING THE OTTER AND CORMORANT 

BY CAPTAIN SALVIN 



Dominiqp over the Fowl* of the Air 



LONDON 
LONGMAN, GREEN, LONGMAN, AND 110BEETS 

1859 



The right of tratukUion i$ retorted 



£J£bU8tX0tt 



TO THE MEMORY 
Of what Falconry Was 

avd 

TO THE HOPE 
Op wiiat it Mat Bb 

these pages are dedicated bt 
THE AUTHORS 



PREFACE. 



The history of this work may be very concisely told 
in the words of an extract from Messrs, Longman's 
"Notes on Books" for last May: — "The papers of 
which it consists were originally written by * Pere- 
grine ' for the Field, with the view of making British 
gentlemen familiar with all the details of a sport 
once so general, though now neglected and nearly 
forgotten. The papers have been carefully revised ; 
and, in preparing them for the press, the author had 
access to occasional Notes drawn up by Captain 
Salvin, and was also indebted for many valuable 
hints to the experience of that keen falconer, who 
now shares with ' Peregrine ' the responsibility of this 
publication. ... To the ' Falconry ' are added 
some remarks on the training of the Otter and 
Cormorant, from the pen of Captain Salvin, who 
writes from his own practice." 

To my old and kind friend, Mr. Brodrick, to 
whom I was indebted, many years ago, for a know- 
ledge of the rudiments of the art of Falconry, this 
book owes something; and I take this opportunity 
of thanking, in the name of Captain Salvin and in 

A 4 



viii PREFACE. 

my own, Sir Molyneux Nepean, Bart., Mr. Newcome, 
and others, for the kind interest which, at the cost 
of some trouble to themselves, they have shown in 
our undertaking. 

The long letter from an officer serving in India 
has been gratefully received, and I am sure will be 
found most interesting. 

" Falconry in the British Isles," with its numerous 
and masterly drawings, is out of print; but the 
present work, although it does not follow its pre- 
decessor in giving a figure of each species of hawk 
used in Falconry, contains several plates from the 
excellent and well-known- pencil of Mr. Wolf, some 
of which illustrate the implements necessary for the 
practice of the sport. 

The very great kindness which I have received 
from a considerable number of readers during the last 
few years emboldens me to unmask ; but I still hope 
to be recognised in the Field under the old nom de 
plume of "Peregrine." 

In saying one word on the character of this book, 
it may not be unwise to remind some of those who 
may care to observe in what manner our subject has 
been treated, that I wish " Falconry " to come before 
them, not only as a spor£ which is slowly making 
its way among the gentlemen of these islands, but 
as a gallant venerable friend, whom our forefathers 
loved with all their hearts, — who, like all his kith 
and kin, left his impress upon the character of our 



PREFACE. ix 

race, — and whom, in the last stage of his destitution, 
we have just agreed not utterly to forget or ignore. 

I may add to this, that the following pages have 
been written with reference to the Natural Histoi^y 
of the birds of which they treat, as well as with the 
intention of showing the process of their training, 
and the method of using them in the field. 

It will readily be granted, I think, that a falconer 
has more opportunity than any other man of ob- 
serving, not only the " manners and customs," but 
the characters of hawks ; and few will disagree with 
the Eev. J. Gr. Wood when he remarks, in that ex- 
cellent little work of his, « My Feathered Friends," 
that the true object of Natural History is " to bring 
forward the character or life of the creature, which 
is, in fact, its essential being." 

This opinion, indeed, recommends itself at once ; 
and I hope it will be found in this treatise that, not 
only have I given the character of each species by 
writing directly upon it, but that I have also inci- 
dentally illustrated and exemplified it whilst my pen 
has been more pointedly employed upon the leading 
object of these chapters, — viz. the training and 
management of hawks, — or, in other words, the 
" practice " of Falconry. In giving the character of 
any kind of hawk, one is, of course, obliged to treat 
it as it appears when the bird is in a semi-captivity, 
and as it is developed by training. Indeed, there 
can hardly be any other circumstances than those 



x PREFACE. 

belonging to the domestic state, under which the 
dispositions and tempers of these, or any birds, can 
be exhibited. We understand them better in friend- 
ship than in enmity,— near than at a distance; for 
it must not be for a moment imagined that hawks 
lose their specific or individual characters when they 
become our friends and servants; these are surely 
retained, and no falconer wishes to destroy them ; he 
only takes care that they are kept under command ; 
and, generally, that they are rendered subservient. 
It is true that when, for instance, we say a species or 
an individual is " docile," we speak of a part of its 
character which is, in a certain sense, artificial and 
acquired ; but we must remember that there was a 
foundation on which alone the superstructure of 
"docility" could have been built; and, therefore, 
from the ease with which we tamed or trained the 
birds in our possession, we argue correctly concern- 
ing a certain, though a latent, character which is 
resident in their unreclaimed brethren. There can, 
therefore, be hardly a Naturalist in the world who, 
whatever he may think of the sport in the abstract, 
will not allow that Falconry is at least a devoted and 
faithful servant to one branch of ornithology, — the 
great family of the Accipitres. 

G. E. F. 

(" Peregrine.") 
Wild Boar Clough Parsonage, 

Cheshire : August, 1859. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER L 

Page 

Falconry. — Its Claims ..... 1 



CHAPTER II. 
Its History ....... 19 



CHAPTER HI. 

Little generally known about Hawks. — The " blue" Hawk. — 
Peter Bell. — Long-winged and Short-winged Hawks. — 
Hard Names not much affected by modern Falconers. — 
Terms used in Falconry. — The young Falconer to begin 
with few Hawks. — One Tiercel. — An only Hawk. — An only 
Parrot which "talks like a Christian." — An out-of-doors 
Companion. — A Brace of Partridges. — "Little Meets." — 
Hawking Clubs. ..... 34 



CHAPTER IV. 

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco Peregrinus). — Natural History 
of the Bird. — Mode of taking the Nest. — Rearing of Ey esses. 
— Bells and Jesses. — The Lure. — Falconers' Cries. — 
"Carrying" prevented. — Flying at Hack. — Taking up the 
Hawks. — Glove. — Hoods. — Swivels. — Leash.— Block . 50 



xii CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER V. 



Page 



The Peregrine (continued). — Presence of Strangers, Dogs, &c. 
— Wonders accomplished in a few Weeks. — Hawks taken 
up from Hack, and broken to the Hood. — Not to be teased. — 
Lesson in " Waiting on." — Entering to Pigeons. — "Carrying" 
again. — u Waiting on" again — What the Tyro may expect 
from his Birds. — Glimpse of Chapters VI. and VIL . 68 



CHAPTER VL 

Daily Management of trained Peregrines when at Home, as 
shown in the Practice of Falconers ; and a Plan for it 
recommended. — Fine and stormy Weather. — The Perch or 
Screen. — " Gorge Night." — Castings. — Feeding. — Bathing. 
— Imping. — Wire Fences. — Spurious and true Sportsmen. — 
A lost Hawk. — The Voices of the Past . . .80 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Haggard Peregrine. — Mrs. Glasse. — Hawkr-catching in 
Holland. — The Bow- net. — How to cook the Hare. — The 
Brail — Training (properly so called) of Peregrines concluded 96 



CHAPTER VIIL 

The 2?irst of September. — Breakfast — Flasks. — Mr. Brown 
and "Peregrine" shoot till Luncheon. — Hawks go to the 
Field. — Cadge. — A Grouse is killed. — Brown and Robinson 
disport themselves in a manner worthy of Makololo. — More 
Captures. — A false Point — The Ladies. — Our Bag. — 
Lecture. — The Toys . . . . . 10< 

CHAPTER IX. 

An Essay on " Sport" — Magpie-hawking. — No Dogs. — Hunt- 
ing Whips. — Eycss Tiercels to be used. — The sort of Country 
necessary. — A fair sprinkling of Magpies better than a great 



CONTENTS, xiii 

Page 

quantity.— The sort of Weather. — The Falconer and his 

" Field."— The Magpie.— The Flight. — The "Tail."— 
Magpie-hawking in Ireland. — Book-hawking. — Bagged 
Birds • • • • . • .123 

CHAPTER X. 

The "Chivalry" of Falconry has, in a measure, spoiled its 
Practice. — Heron-hawking (a Lesson). — Heron-hawking V 
(a Narrative) ...... 138 

CHAPTER XL 

The Peregrine (concluded). — Recapitulation. — Desultory 
Matter. — Incidental Flights . . . .153 

CHAPTER XII. 

The Merlin ( Faleo cesalon). — Classification. — Breeding. — 
Plumage, general Appearance, Size, &c — Disposition. — 
Reference to Chapter IV. — " Ruby's" Desertion and singular 
Capture. — A good Snare. — Hoods. — Bells and Jesses. — 
Housing the Birds. — Famine and Damp. — "Pearl" and 
"Emerald" . . . . . .161 

CHAPTER XTTI. 
Is entirely on Lark-hawking with Merlins . • .178 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Merlin (concluded). — Kept to a particular Quarry. — How to 
choose a Hen Merlin which is intended for large Quarry. — 
Entering to Pigeons and Partridges. — Merlin and Magpie. 
— Ring-ouzel — Blackbirds and Thrushes. — Snipe. — Plover. 
Landrail. — Quail. — Merlin on the Wing. — Recapitulation 
of the Character of the Merlin. 

The Hobby. — Nest. — Description of the Bird. — Bad and good 
Qualities, and (possibly) great Efficiency, with a fair Trial 192 



xiv CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XV. 



Page 



The Goshawk (Astw palumbarius). — Description, as to Colour, 
of the Bird. — Generic Appellations. — Farther Description. 
— Where found. — A "True Hawk," with Explanations. — 
Flown from the Hand. — Large Quarry. — Flown " to the 
River," &c. — Temper. — Where procured. — Cost. — Advan- 
tages. — Disadvantages. — Training. — Not Hooded in modern 
Practice. — The Bow- perch. — Yarak. . . • .210 

CHAPTER XVI. 

The Goshawk (concluded). — " Yarak." — What Quarry flown 
at in Britain. — Entering. — Belled on the Tail. — Flown at 
Liberty to bagged Quarry. — To wild Quarry. — Lure good 
on occasion. — With Ferrets. — Hare-hawking. — " Vampire" 
and Hare. — What has been done. — Pheasant-hawking. — 
Partridge-hawking. — Summary. — Moulting . . 223 

CHAPTER XVH. 

The Sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus). — Its Natural History. — 
Character, with Illustrations, &c. — Sir John Sebright^ 
Sparrow-hawk. — Haggard . — The Eyess. — Training. — Hints 
on "Carriage." — Feeding occasionally at the Bow-perch 
and Screen. — The next Chapter . . • 237 

CHAPTER XVIIL 

The Sparrow-hawk (concluded). — Leters. — More Facts. — 
Gale's Management of the Sparrow-hawk. — Blackbird, 
Partridge, and other Flights. — Merlin and Water-hen. — 
Quail. — The Sparrow-hawk has accomplished Admirers. — 
The Dead Hawker (a true Tale) .... 256 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Jer-falcons. — The Norway Falcon. — The Iceland and Green- 
land Falcons. — Lord Angus's " White Hawk." — Flying the 

Icelander Sacre. — Lanner. — Barbary Falcon. — Kestrel. — 

The Future . . . . . . .271 



CONTEXTS. xv 

CHAPTER XX. 

Page 
The ugliest and the last. — Inquiries. — Cats, &c. — Moulting. — 

Mews. — After the Moult. — Pharmacopoeia. — Cramp. — Apo- 
plexy. — Epilepsy. — The Kecks. — The Frounce. — Small 
Tumours on the Feet — Inflammation of the Crop. — Worms. 
— Bangle. — The Blain. — Fractures. — Parasites. — A Purge, 
and Castings. — A Friend's Answer on a subject of Antiquity. 
— Indian Hawks and Hawking. — Management of Hawks at 
the Camps. — Farewell . . . . ' . 286 



PISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

CHAPTER I. 

Introduction — Its Connexion with China — Master of the 
Royal Cormorants in England. — The Dutch appear to have 
preserved a Knowledge of this mode of Fishing. — Isaac 
Walton ....... 327 

CHAPTER IL 

Where to obtain the Young Ones* — Rearing them. — The Shed, 
Yard, Tank, or Pond. — Daily Management . . 330 

CHAPTER in. 

Training Cormorants. — Apparatus used in Cormorant-fishing. 
Daily Management . . • . . .333 

CHAPTER IV. 

Field Management. — Concluding Remarks upon the Otter . 343 



LIST OF ENGRAVINGS. 



Magpie- hawking 

Hawk Furniture 

Female Goshawk and Hare 

Hawk's Hood 

A new Swivel 

Cormorant Fishing • 

Cormorant Palanquin 



frontispiece 
to face page 50 
223 
317 
320 
to face page 327 
339 



' -p 



FALCONET 



ITS CLAIMS, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE. 



CHAPTER I. 

ITS CLAIMS. 

I AM conscious of using an expression which is not, 
perhaps, very definite, when I speak of the claims of 
Falconry. The claims which field sports generally, 
and in the aggregate, have upon country gentlemen, 
are frequently discussed ; their importance is gathered 
easily and at once, and few people indeed are found 
to gainsay them. Thus, " national character," " resi- 
dent landlords," « health," " good spirits," with an 
infinite number of small sprites attending upon these 
great genii, are perfectly familiar to us all. We, 
very properly, take them for granted, receive them 
in right of their privileges, vaunt them to our neigh- 
bours, and then, excellent as they are, we hunt, and 
shoot, and fish, without any immediate reference to 
them at all, but simply because we like hunting, 
shooting, and fishing. 



2 FALCONRY. 

The claims of any individual sport might pro- 
bably be made to appear distinctly and with effect by 
comparing them with the claims or characteristics of 
some sister amusement, especially with those which 
should seem weak or objectionable. To do this, 
however, in any other way than by an incidental 
comparison would be ill-natured ; and, as the choice 
of a favourite sport is, after all, very much a matter 
of taste, it would be absurd. Therefore I shall simply 
make this chapter a vehicle for placing Falconry 
before the public in a light which I know its friends 
will approve, a light reflected entirely from its own 
history and its own merits. — Not that I trust to an 
introductory chapter in any great degree as a means 
of making proselytes ; that office I assign to detail ; 
I assign it to the incidents of the sport, which will 
be found in their proper places in this book; but, 
above all, I assign it to those gentlemen who have 
land and hawks, and means to boot, and who can 
excite more enthusiasm, in a couple of hours, by an 
exhibition of falconry in the field, than I can hope 
to create by a whole work on " Its Claims, History, 
and Practice." 

Antiquity ! — I can scarcely hope that all who may 
read these pages will care for it, or perhaps, to speak 
more correctly, I can scarcely think they will confess 
that they esteem it of consequence. I am sorry for 
those who despise antiquity, because I think they 
lose half a life by living so utterly away from the 



ITS CLAIMS. 3 

past. It is no business of mine to defend the middle 
ages here — I have no inclination to defend them 
entirely ; but perhaps we all know where we shall 
most readily find " that generous loyalty to rank and 
sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, 
that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, 
even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted free- 
dom." The natural mood of a mind wandering back 
to old times is certainly sober and respectful ; some- 
times indeed there is the light and warmth of a 
genial and generous enthusiasm, and the conscious- 
ness of a charm which it is difficult to explain or 
even to understand. Look at the pride — the honest 
noble pride — of ancestry ! I will engage to say that 
there are few men of cultivation who, in reality, 
despise the circumstance of a long and honour- 
able descent. The true affectation is to disparage, 
not to confess, its value. Gibbon says that the 
family of Confucius is the most illustrious in the 
world, — not only as they are "the lively image 
of the wisest of mankind," but because they " have 
maintained above two thousand two hundred years 
their peaceful honours and perpetual succession." 
What a wonderful chain ! And yet fancy each link 
with its bobbing pig-tail, or flat nose, or pinched 
limping horse-shoe foot! Only conceive the long 
line of tea-pots ! Think of the oceans of nectar 
which so many Celestials must have consumed ! 
Make the matter, in short, as absurd as you may; 

B 2 



4 FALCONRY. 

and then confess, after all, that the reverence paid to 
the representative of that mighty house is scarcely to 
be numbered among the follies of the Chinese people. 

So much for antiquity, and its value ! My own 
opinion is, that few men exist who do not, so to 
speak, take off their hats mentally to so respectable an 
acquaintance. A friend of mine, it is true, once told 
me that his love for the sport of Falconry was per- 
fectly independent of any feeling for antiquity and 
the middle ages, for which he cared nothing ; but I 
believe he was mistaken. If I could have twisted 
the yvdbdi asavrbv into a wand, and touched him with 
it on the heart, he would probably have discovered a 
light leash that bound him to the bells and jesses of 
another age. 

Falconry is certainly of high descent, if that be 
considered a recommendation. It boasts a long line 
of ancestors, and has claimed and received homage 
from the chivalry and beauty of many centuries. To 
what date it can be traced we shall consider in the 
proper place. I can only here express my strong 
desire that some ultra game-preserving nobleman, 
who orders every hawk on his property to be slaugh- 
tered, could have a few minutes' conversation with 
that great grandsire of his of whom he boasts so 
much. Perhaps the dialogue would run somewhat 
after this manner : — 

Ancestor. — A set of arrant rascals, coward knaves ! 
Robert, my son, art quick, and dost thou heed ? 



ITS CLAIMS. 5 

• 

Art in the flesh ? — E'en as I pass'd the gate, 

Nigh the portcullis, by the bastion-wall, 

I spied, with rotten fitchews, pies, and crows, 

All daub'd with filth, the falcon-gentle tied, 

Pierced with a nail, — a rusty villain nail. — 

Wert blind ? — Or didst thou from our turret hang 

The knave that slew the bird ? — 

Descendant — Really now, my dear Sir, — aw 1 — You are. so 
dreadfully severe. You allude possibly to a " flying vermin : " they 
infest the manor, and we trap them: caught alive, — hung by the 
leg a few days, — serve him right, — kills grouse, — wrung his 
neck, — aw! — 

Ancestor. — A hawk, and hang !— Out, recreant, dotard, out !— 

But hold ! — I do thee wrong, it cannot be ! 

SS. Nisus ! — Palumbarius ! — Peregrine ! 

All to my aid ! — How oft, with loving hand, 

Have I the Pelt* for Falcon-gentle held ! — 

Then, fed, she rouzed\ and mantled ;% and anon 

Feaked% on my glove, while I did smoothe her mailes, || 

Her petty-single^ with a soft plume touched ; 

Meanwhile, with right good will, she pruned** herself. — 

Full oft I told her of a Hern at seidge ;ff 

Then were we friends ; and when the drowsy night 

Talk'd to the world of stars in its bright dreams, 

I loved to deem s\\z jouketh%% well in it. 

Descendant — My dear Sir : What singular gibber I mean — 

beg pardon, — aw ! 

* Pelt is the dead body of any fowl the hawk hath killed, 
f Bouze is when a hawk lifteth herself up and shaketh herself. 
X Mantleth is when a hawk stretcheth one of her wings after her 
legs, and so the other. 

§ Feaking is when the hawk wipeth her beak after feeding. 
|| Mailes are the breast feathers. 
4f Petty-tingles are the toes of the hawk. 
** Pruneth is when the hawk picketh herself, 
ft Hern at seidge is when you find a hern standing by the water- 
side, watching for prey, or the like. 
{J Jouketh is when she sleepeth. 

The Gentleman's Bbcbbatiok, 1677. 

B 3 



6 FALCOXBY. 

Here I am quite sure the old gentleman would get 
so outrageous that I dare not proceed — especially as 
he speaks in such dreary blank verse. 

I have a word to say presently on the extermina- 
tion of the nobler falcons ; but before that point is 
touched, we will glance at claims apart from those of 
antiquity. 

I really do not think it too much to assert that 
many hundreds of people, and not all of them sports- 
men, have lately become interested in the art of 
falconry. This conclusion is arrived at in many 
ways, and in no trifling degree from the numberless 
letters which I receive from strangers for advice and 
assistance. And, as public opinion just now cares 
for the sanction of antiquity least of all earthly things, 
I conclude that the excellence of the sport itself has 
not been without its influence in the revival. Falconry 
came to me accompanied by a charm and a ro- 
mance which I could not resist ; but I like it for 
itself, and am quite willing to give the second place 
only to pedigree and a name. 

It has been too much the habit to assume that a 
falconer is a falconer, and nothing else, — that he 
never shoots, and never throws a fly. It is no such 
thing. A falconer, to my knowledge, may be as good 
a shot and as fond of shooting as the man whose 
whole mind has been forced down the barrels of his 
gun. I wonder what they would say in Norfolk, for 
instance, in answer to the charge that a falconer is 
only & falconer ! 



ITS CLAIMS. 7 

As for exercise, and intense though healthy excite- 
ment, if they are not found in falconry they are not 
found in anything. This is the coursing of the air ; 
— it has the ethereal properties in itself; it is the 
very fairy-work of sport. And yet it is practical 
enough : one does not come empty-handed from the 
field in game hawking ; a single goshawk will cer- 
tainly keep a family. A flight with falcons may last 
for fbrty minutes, or it may last for four ; all depends 
upon the quarry flown at. But there is riding or 
running, and the absolute essence or concentration of 
excitement in all. The quarry is viewed ; and a la 
voUe! or hooha, ha, ha, ha! is shouted, and taken 
up by the field. All are at full speed in an instant : 
they cheer to encourage this hawk or to honour that 
stoop ; — " Was there ever such a stroke ! " they say ; 
— "Money should not buy * Nemesis;' she is the best 
falcon of the year ! " The quarry is put in, but the 
good hawks wait above: down they come as it is 
flushed ; " Who takes it now?" — and so on to the end. 
One very great " claim " will, I am sure, be ad- 
mitted at once : ladies may, and do now as of old, join 
in the sport. I am half jealous of the bow and the 
target nevertheless; why should they take so many ? 
Archery is a nice quiet elegant amusement ; and to 
shoot as Eobin Hood did in ancient, or as Mr. Ford 
does in modern, times, must require consummate skill 
and practice. But I shrewdly suspect that a becom- 
ing dress and attitude, close companionship, the 

B 4 



8 FALCONRY. 

opportunity of instilling axioms without which fair 
fingers could do little, run a race, and win it too, 
with the greatest score and the best gold. There 
is at least often a very little bow that strikes some- 
thing better and warmer than the bull's eye, and 
does not count for nothing. I honour archery for its 
antiquity, and admire it for itself — but look at a 
picture, seldom seen, which I think to be better still. 
The canter of two or three horses; the scamper 
behind them of as many spaniels; the gleam of a 
green habit; the sombre of a grey; a hat clasped 
with a buckle and heron's plume ; the red and white 
of a hood ; the quiet hawks as they swing by to the 
easy motion of the horses ; the silver bells and silver 
voices; the freshening colour; the hopeful eye: — 
Fly " Black-jesse ! " Good hawk ! Fly well this day, 
if you ever flew ! For the picture will take deeper 
colours still when these are flying across the plain. 

In alluding to the rapid extermination of the 
nobler falcons, I must urge the " claims " which the 
sport professes to possess, rather on the forbearance 
of country gentlemen, than on the time which they 
devote to amusements. It is said that the peregrine 
and the merlin are destructive to game on the grouse 
moors. "With regard to the latter hawk, I pledge 
my long practical knowledge of its habits, that it is 
utterly unable to kill an old uninjured grouse ; but 
the strongest females may occasionally take wounded 
or diseased birds, and, I fear, possibly a few back- 



ITS CLAIMS. 9 

ward young ones. The peregrine, however, is con- 
sidered the more serious culprit of the two, and is 
persecuted accordingly. If we are to believe some 
accounts, he takes a grouse a day : and calculations, 
remarkable chiefly for their ingenuity, have been 
made to prove, on the plan, I think, of compound 
interest, how many head one pair would cause to be 
destroyed in the course of a year. I am not denying 
that a cast of peregrines on a moor, or moors, of 
many thousand acres, will kill many grouse ; but I 
object altogether to the doctrine that they will per- 
ceptibly lessen the bag of the sportsman. I will go 
farther : I am not sure that, in the end, they will not 
increase it. 

Of course an assertion of this kind, so contrary to 
received opinions, requires explanation. Let us in- 
vestigate the matter. And first, as to the probable 
havoc made by the falcon : the amount of it must 
depend upon his opportunities. This bird takes his 
prey on the wing, not on the ground. Now, it has 
been remarked, not only by falconers, but it is 
notorious, that game take wing with very great 
reluctance when a peregrine is above them. In such 
a case it is sometimes necessary to hunt or beat them 
up: they dread ta trust themselves in the same 
element with their enemy. It was owing to the 
knowledge of this that the artificial hawk was in- 
vented. Neither, as every one knows, is it the habit 
of game-birds to fly much ; their time is spent chiefly 



10 FALCONRY, 

on the ground, either basking or feeding. Man, 
dog, or sheep may frighten them, and they rise : the 
sun on a hill side, the absence of wind there, the 
abundance of food, with other causes, will induce 
them to move, even if they are not disturbed; but, 
in comparison with almost all other birds, how very 
seldom are they on the wing ! So long as pigeons, 
rooks, magpies, crows, &c, pass over the moor, the 
grouse are in comparative safety. I admit that in 
the utter absence of such birds as pigeons, and also the 
egg-stealing birds I have mentioned, some game must 
be taken by hawks; but, if an old building could 
be found in the centre of the moors which could 
be turned into a large dovecote, — or if a rough sub- 
stantial place, ornamental or otherwise, were set up for 
the purpose, — the pigeons, which would remain faith- 
ful to their home even when a few years had rendered 
them wild, would, in my opinion, save every healthy 
grouse from the peregrine falcon. But this perhaps 
could only be done in the neighbourhood of grain. 

But there is yet another and a very important light 
in which this subject must be viewed. All hawks, 
when they have a choice, invariably choose the easiest 
flight. This fact is of the last importance in the 
matter before us : I confess at once that I give it the 
chief place in this argument. Who has not heard of 
the grouse disease? It has been attributed, some- 
times respectively and sometimes collectively, to 
burnt heather ; to heather poisoned from the dress- 



ITS CLAIMS. 11 

ings put on sheep ; to the sheep themselves cropping 
the tender shoots and leaves of the plant, and thus 
destroying the grouse's food ; to the tape-worm ; to 
shot which has wounded but not killed ; and perhaps 
ta other things beside. It may be, I doubt not, cor- 
rectly referred to any or to all of these. Of this, 
however, there appears no question, that, from what- 
ever cause it spring, it is propagated. A diseased 
parent produces a diseased child. Now I say that 
when every hawk is killed upon a large manor 
the balance of nature is forgotten, or ignored ; 
and that Nature will not overlook an insult. She 
would have kept her wilds healthy ; destroy her ap- 
pointed instruments, and beware of her revenge ! 

Leave the peregrine unmolested amongst diseased 
grouse, and he will kill them nearly all before he 
touches a healthy bird, — simply because he can catch 
them better. 

I do not at all intend to recommend "leather" 
alone for your fortifications ; I do not affect to an- 
nounce a panacea for the grouse disease. What I say 
with regard to it is simply suggestive. For having 
given a correct description of the habits of hawks I 
will be answerable ; and my readers can judge of the 
probable effect of those habits as well as I can. 

I fear egg-collectors will scarcely hear me. Should 
any of them purchase this book in the hope of dis- 
covering the positions of the eyries, or the range of 
hills that hold the eggs, of the peregrine falcon, I 



12 FALCONRY. 

imagine that they will be slightly disappointed. My 
coadjutor and myself beg to bow over this page, — 
respectfully indeed, but in silence. We beg to assure 
them, in the language of young ladies, that we shall 
ever esteem them as brothers, but we decline a 
nearer intimacy. 

Surely all the purposes of natural history can be 
served, and a cabinet made perfect, by the purchase 
of eggs from a dealer. These are frequently foreign, 
though there is no variety in shape, colour, size, or in 
any other particular ; they are absolutely the eggs of 
the peregrine falcon. They may not be taken from 
our cliffs ; their abstraction may not have tended to 
make the noblest British bird more scarce in Britain ; 
it may not have left an anxious scientific sportsman 
for a whole year without the materials to work upon 
which are essential to his craft; but possibly the 
broad elegant drawer, with its neat partitions, may 
look none the worse for that; and I am sure, to some 
people at least, there will be a satisfaction in knowing 
that they are not, in these islands, taking the fruit, — 
for ages national as the acorn, — while it is yet un- 
ripe ; not quenching life while its spark is just kind- 
ling under the Great Hand of all; not attacking 
Nature in the sacred hour of her privacy, when 
alone she is suppliant and defenceless. 

Applied to taking the eggs of any bird, I am quite 
ready to allow that this is all a rhapsody. With a 
certain innate horror, I confess, of slaying the fcetus 



ITS CLAIMS. 13 

under any circumstances, I do not grudge the school- 
boy his string of trophies ; nor do I at all dread one 
of the ingredients of to-morrow's pudding. I am 
writing against extermination, and especially against 
extermination in a form which a peculiar instinct of 
our nature teaches us has some latent elements of 
cowardice and cruelty. 

Were I permitted to address the landed proprie- 
tors, and those holding extensive manors, in some 
parts of England, in Scotland, and in Ireland, on the 
subject of not warring against the peregrine to exter- 
mination, I might perhaps speak to them as follows ; 
and in so doing, I should give something like a sum- 
mary of that portion of the present chapter which I 
think is the more important : — 

Gentlemen, — It is said that the peregrine falcon 
destroys so many grouse that an owner or occupier of 
moors has no option but to kill him. This subject 
(of the mischief done by the peregrine) has long 
been one to which I have given much thought, and 
applied considerable investigation ; and without at 
all laying claim to infallibility in the matter, — but at 
the same time pledging my honour that I speak, not 
only as an advocate, but upon sincere conviction, — I 
assert my firm belief that the peregrine falcon is often 
wantonly, and frequently excessively, slandered when 
he is attacked as a game-destroyer. The accusations 
which reach you are generally indefinite, or palpably 
exaggerated* Thus you hear of grouse being picked 



14 FALCONRY. 

up 9 which axe said to have been killed by the pere- 
grine ; as if a hawk might be convicted on evidence 
which is not even circumstantial. Or you are told, 
as the result of a calculation, that such and such a 
number of grouse must have been taken by this 
hawk in such and such a number of days. Who are 
your informants? If you knew how anxious I am 
for the proper preservation of game, you would not 
accuse me of wishing to do an injury or injustice to 
gamekeepers; but I am bound to remind you that 
they have every possible motive for exaggerating the 
injury (if there be an injury) done by any hawk. 
The more destructive a bird of prey is, the more kvBos 
they will deserve for killing it ; and the master who 
sees half a dozen hawks nailed against a wall, while 
he is addressed by his servant upon the extent and 
enormity of their depredations, and assured that they 
represent hundreds of rescued game, naturally per- 
ceives his hand going down into his pocket, while the 
keeper rises up in his estimation ; and finally he 
goes home to tell his friends that Joseph Trapper is a 
very angel, while the peregrine falcon is the absolute 
reverse. Even the honest keeper has a temptation to 
exaggerate in this particular; and for the dishonest 
keeper, what can possibly be more convenient to him 
than to explain the absence of game which he ought 
to have protected by the passing presence of ts flying 
vermin" which he cannot always destroy ? 

Again, are those who attribute so much destruc- 



ITS CLAIMS. 15 

tion of game to the peregrine, naturalists ? Do they 
know the falcon from the hen-harrier? Are they 
sure that they catch the real culprit ? 

Well, gentlemen, there are some of you who still 
disbelieve me ; you think I am an enthusiast, and in 
error. Then to you I would say this: — The pere- 
grine falcon is pre-eminently a type of speed, strength, 
and courage; he has, as long as these islands have 
stood out of the ocean, made his home on their crags ; 
from time immemorial no link has been broken in 
the chain of his existence here; your ancestors, for 
the very purposes of " sport " (in whose name he is 
now destroyed), protected and defended him ; " auld 
lang syne," and the traditions of other days, have no 
influence with you, who yet boast a good race and 
ancient blood : you coldly calculate how many grouse 
you may save for your bag by the extermination of 
the noble fellows who claim from you the hospitality 
which your fathers were honoured in according them : 
you are wrong even in your arithmetic : you are at 
fault in adding up your gains: this destroyer of a 
few head of sound game kills the diseased birds, and 
saves your moors from an unhealthy progeny: he, 
too, destroys the destroyer, for he strikes down mag- 
pies and hooded crows : — for all this, I know you will 
banish him, but I entreat you to do so mercifully ; 
save his life and his limbs ! There are now hundreds 
of your brother sportsmen who would accept an un- 
injured peregrine as a very handsome present. Your 



16 FALCONKY. 

object cannot be revenge on a dumb creature — I am 
sure it is not cruelty : let me ask whether it cannot 
be changed altogether, and turned into a kindness. 

Or, look at the matter in another light : — was not 
this bird evidently intended for the service of man ? 
Is not the fact that it is trained to be his servant, 
. easily and effectively, some evidence? Point out 
any other " vermin" — to use your own expression — 
with such a " claim " as this ! The admission of all 
time is, that an animal trained to field sports — I don't 
speak of an individual, but of a race — ceases to be ver- 
min. Again : — You encourage the fox in your own 
woods and in the coverts of your neighbours ; you pro- 
scribe, as heartless, and worthless, and vulgar, any who 
dare to destroy him save in one way, which some of 
you have made orthodox. For his food you provide ; 
rabbits — which (in order that, satiated with these, he 
may not seek a more dainty dish) you preserve, 
possibly to the injury of -some of your tenants. He 
does, however, seek this more dainty dish after all : 
you know he takes your pheasants — your sitting 
pheasants — and those of your neighbours: he is the 
most cunning, treacherous, destructive running ver- 
min that infests these kingdoms. Well — you pre- 
serve him ; you kill him, it is true — but you love 
him in life and in death. You do well ; and if the 
pen of " Peregrine" were worth the weight of its. own 
feather in your estimation, or if I thought it were, I 
would tell you that I believe there is not a single 



ITS CLAIMS. 17 

argument set up against fox-hunting, nor a single 
injury that the preservation of foxes produces, which 
are not outweighed or compensated for a hundred 
times by the impress which that brave sport leaves 
on our national character. I grant — I assert — this 
with all my heart. Far distant be that bad, ill- 
starred day for England, when all shall be left to 
iigures and the plodding brain ; when nothing shall 
be left to the strong right hand — nothing to the 
heart ; when the nerve shall be no more strung, the 
intellect no more braced, by the 'practice of daring 
courage — by the many incidents of " flood and field " 
which challenge the judgment, which compel rapid 
decision, which teach men, in the very glory and 
school of their sport, how they shall deport them- 
selves, when there is something more glorious in- 
deed, but no more tuition, and no more play ! 

Falconry, unlike fox-hunting, is not a national 
sport here at this time ; but it was a national sport, 
as I have already reminded you, when those lived 
who have sent you down, through generations, your 
horses and hounds. The peregrine is part and parcel 
of a sport practised by your fathers, — and now sought 
to be revived by some of their children. Without it. 
the play has no Hamlet. But your keepers, who 
rightly preserve the fox of a well-established sport, 
which is more than powerful enough to shift for 
itself, have your orders to search out and destroy the 
creature which, par excellence, is necessary to the 



18 FALCONRY. 

revival and spread of falconry. I only ask for the gal- 
lantry and self-denial which one body of sportsmen 
are ever wont to show another. Notwithstanding 
the very considerable devastation which follows the 
existence of the fox, the loss of game through him 
is accounted as nothing, because the result more than 
justifies it. I know what would more than justify 
the moderate (only moderate) preservation of the 
peregrine falcon. I know what would justify the 
toleration (if you will) of these "flying vermin " — 
the pleasure of pleasing others who love the chase as 
well as you do ; the satisfaction of giving a helping 
hand to a cause which needs help; the pride of 
restoring to its place and position in this country a 
sport so thoroughly national ; the knowledge one day 
may be even amongst yourselves — who have already 
in such entire subjection the "beasts of the field " — 
how glorious a thing it is also to have " dominion 
over the fowls of the air." 



ITS HISTOBY. 19 



CHAP. II. 



ITS HISTOBT. 



Of course this chapter lays me open to a charge of 
plagiarism. I may regret the inconvenience, but 
cannot avoid it Nay, I have a great mind to turn 
testy, and ask how people dared to anticipate me in 
attempting to collect and arrange materials for an 
account of the progress of falconry. I would rather 
have done it myself. Still I beg to say that I have 
added some new chattels to the store ; perhaps that 
circumstance may help me with the critics. 

In writing such a history as that contained in the 
present chapter — - or indeed, perhaps, in writing any 
history at all — a man must derive most of his infor- 
mation from books of some sort. I cannot possibly 
tell what was done a matter of 3000 years ago, unless 
I read up the subject ; for it can scarcely be supposed, 
even by the most virulent critic, that I was there 
and saw it. " True," it is said, '< but you must read 
it up in a particular way ; it will never do for you to 
look into some modern author, and simply reproduce 
all that he has accumulated by painful and diligent 

c 2 



20 FALCONRY. 

labour : that will be unscrupulous and foolish in the 
last degree." I allow this ; but it is rather hard, too, 
in my peculiar case. For of all the subjects I have 
had to " get up " for any purpose, I think the " His- 
tory of Falconry" is the most tiresome. Let me 
explain — I look into every likely and ancient work 
I can lay my hand on ; I write to some of the best 
scholars of the day, some strangers, some my inti- 
mate friends; I amass what I humbly conceive to 
be a very respectable amount of information; I 
begin to turn it about a little, and put it into shape, 
when lo ! I discover that some learned but in- 
fatuated individual has beaten most of the ground 
before me, and that if I produce my treasure at all, 
all the world will declare I stole it. This is distress- 
ing and discouraging. It is what one ought to ex- 
pect, perhaps, in such a clever world. I had to do 
my work, and have done it — badly, but not without 
labour. I have done my best. 

It is, of course, impossible to give anything like a 
positive date to the invention of the art of falconry 
— I mean to its rise in the world; but still some 
little investigation of its antiquity may not be un- 
interesting. An important reference is made, in 
" Falconry in the British Isles," to the second volume 
of Mr.Layard's " Nineveh :" that gentleman, it seems, 
found in the ruins of Khorsabad a bas-relief, " in 
which there appeared to be a falconer bearing a hawk 
on his wrist ;" and the judicious comment upon this 



ITS HISTORY. 21 

is that, " although the hand of time had weighed 
heavily upon this record of the past, in all probability 
so accurate an observer was not mistaken in his sur- 
mise.'' I quite think that the great probability lies 
with the correctness of Mr. Layard's notion; it would 
be presumption indeed, especially for one who has 
not seen the relic, to say anything less ; but it may 
be worth while to remind my readers how frequently, 
as Mr. Layard has shown us, the hawk's head occurs 
in Assyrian sculpture. He quotes a fragment of the 
Zoroastrian oracles, preserved by Eusebius, in which 
it is said " God is he that hath the head of a hawk;" 
and it is now more than conjectured — asserted, in- 
deed, upon almost oertain evidence — that Nisroch, 
worshipping before whom Sennacherib was killed by 
his sons, was an eagle-headed idol. " Thus," says 
Mr. Vaux (Assistant in the Department of Antiquities, 
British Museum), " in Hebrew, Syriac, Ethiopic, and 
Arabic, the word nisr means either an eagle or a 
hawk, and appears to be derived from an unused 
root, meaning ' to tear in pieces with the teeth.' " 
Again, " in the earliest sculptures from Nimroud, 
the king only is seen in adoration before one symbol 
of the deity" (not Nisroch this time), ts the figure 
with the wings and tail of a bird," &c. Such seem 
to have been very frequent. In fact, it is not> per- 
haps, a very great exaggeration to say of Assyrian 
sculpture, that it was half made up of wings, with a 
very fair sprinkling of hawks' or eagles' heads. 

c 3 



22 FALCONRY. 

Figures also have been found, not only bearing the 
fir-cone and basket, &c, but also (in the hand) living 
animals, such as the fallow deer or the gazelle. I 
run through these matters only to show that, unless 
the bas-relief has a tolerable distinctness, we must 
not assert absolutely that it represents the figure of 
a falconer. The immense weight of Mr. Layard's 
opinion, however, should make our conviction little 
short of certainty ; and I must say> at any rate, that 
the matter is of very great importance to a writer 
struggling to make out the earliest history of fal- 
conry, and to a reader concerned and interested in 
his progress. For, if this bas-relief be really what it 
is thought to be, twenty-five centuries must have 
passed away since the art first took its rise, while the 
fair inference remains that it flourished 3000 years 
ago, among a nation of princes, palaces, and temples 
— a nation perhaps at once the mightiest and most 
luxurious which the world ever saw. 

Articles on the history of falconry, as well as those 
on many subjects of antiquity, often give a seemingly 
imposing list of authorities, whilst they contain few 
dates, and scarcely any valuable minutice. Would 
many people object to own that they know little or 
nothing about Ctesias ? He might have been a sol- 
dier, priest, or statesman ; perhaps a philosopher or 
a fool. At any rate they would, most likely, give 
up his date altogether. And yet I find him men- 
tioned (as a witness to the antiquity of falconry) in a 



ITS HISTORY. 23 

quotation in Blaine's article — as well as in the 
eighth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica — 
without the faintest reference to the century in which 
he was born, the country which claimed him as her 
son, or the class to which he belonged. His testi- 
mony is, that " foxes and hares were hunted in India 
by means of rapacious birds." What it is worth may 
be gathered from the following account of him 
(enough of which may be seen by a glance at Lem- 
pri&re) : — He was a Greek historian, seems to have 
dabbled in medicine, and was descended, in some 
way or other, from -^Esculapius himself, date, b.c. 
401. He wrote on Assyria, Persia, India; but I 
regret, for our sakes as well as for his own, that he 
did not adhere very strictly to the truth in his Indian 
history ; indeed, that production has been said to be 
" full of fables." Cuvier, however, apologises for him, 
and declares that the fantastic animals of which he 
speaks were not imagined by him, but he fell into 
the mistake of ascribing an actual existence to hiero- 
graphic figures, &c. &c. This innocent, perhaps, but 
not very trifling " mistake " induces a sort of shyness 
on our part, at which his shade ought not to be sur- 
prised ; and, although I think his testimony in the 
present matter well worth having, I cannot positively 
press it upon my readers. 

Aristotle (born B.C. 384) is, of course, a well-known 
worthy. He was born at Stagira, was a pupil of 
Plato, and private tutor to Alexander the Great, who 

c 4 



u 



FALCONET. 






seems in after years to have been very kind to him, 
and to have made him a present of rather more birds 
and beasts than would stock the EegentVpark gar- 
dens. We may rely, I think, both on Aristotle's 
veracity and acquirements. He was such a clever 
lad at school, that Plato had a knack of saying in 
his absence — may-be, when he played truant — " In- 
tellect is not here;" a remark, by the way, which, 
as an expression of honest conviction, was no doubt 
creditable to the elder philosopher, but not flattering 
to the other students. However, it is a great pity 
that so small a portion only of Aristotle's fifty vo- 
lumes " on the history of animated nature " are 
extant ; for it is difficult to suppose any ancient tes- 
timony to our subject more valuable than his. We 
know that he does say, however, " When the hawks 
seized a bird they dropped it among the hunters." 
This quotation will be found in Blaine's article. I 
confess I have not yet had the opportunity of veri- 
fying it ; but there is no reason to doubt its correct- 
ness. Again, we find in a work ascribed to Aristotle, 
and evidently written about his time, something like 
this expression : " Hawks appear when culled." 

Let us consider, then, for an instant to what point 
we have arrived. I think it may be fairly said that 
the great sport existed, at least in Asia, several cen- 
turies before the Christian era. The philosopher, the 
historian, the bas-relief, have each their separate 
testimony, strong, though perhaps not certain when 



ITS HISTORY. 25 

it stands alone ; but their cumulative evidence appears 
to me irresistible ; and I might, without much diffi- 
culty, give it even further support. 

We shall take up the next link of our chain in the 
first century ; and I only wish that something could 
be clearly made out as to the practice of falconry by 
the Eomans at this period. The late lamented Pro- 
fessor Blunt, with a courtesy which is not always the 
companion of great learning, took the trouble to write 
a letter to me on the antiquity of falconry, reminding 
me, amongst other things, of a passage in Pliny 
(lib. x. c. 8), which, however, as he hinted, is gene- 
rally known, to the effect that in a particular part of 
Thrace men and hawks prey together, — the men 
beating the woods, the hawks pouncing on the birds 
they disturbed. This testimony, even if it can be 
relied upon at all, as proving the existence of the art 
of falconry, and the use of trained hawks (which I 
doubt), is valuable in our present immediate consi- 
deration, rather as fixing a period than directing us 
to the customs of a people. Indeed, it is an uncer- 
tain witness altogether; and the Professor, in his 
letter to me, speaks of it only as showing an " ap- 
proach " to the art. He goes on to say, that " it is 
impossible to believe that the art itself was then 
known, and yet Pliny not take notice of it on this 
occasion." 

All this, then, is unsatisfactory ; but I once thought 
we might collect a ray or two of light from the epir 



26 FALCONRY. 

grammatic poet Martial, born A.D. 40., about thirty 
years later than the Pliny of whom we have spoken. 
I borrow the following lines of his, which have already 
been quoted in an Essay on our subject : — 

" Prsedo fait volucrum, famulus nunc ancupia idem, 
Decipit, et captas doh sibi moeret aves:" 

and which I take the liberty of translating thus : — 
" Once a plunderer of birds, now the servant of a 
bird-catcher, he snares birds, and grieves that they are 
not caught for his own benefit." Decipit, however, 
looks sadly like decoying birds; and my coadjutor 
has suggested, correctly I am convinced, that the 
little owl (jBtrix passerina of Linnaeus) is here in- 
tended. It has been for ages used on the continent 
to lure up small birds for the nets, &c. 

We are told that the ancient Britons had a taste 
for hawking ; but of course no proof is given of this 
assertion. "The short Eoman sword," however, of 
which they decidedly had a taste, must have turned 
their attention to other matters ; but, if it could be 
proved that they practised the sport before the 
Roman conquest, we might suspect that their masters 
learned it from them. 

That trained hawks were flown in Britain before 
the Heptarchy is very clear. I copy the following 
from Turners " History of the Anglo-Saxons," voL iii. 
c. vii. p. 65 ; and just remark, by way of introduc- 
tion, that this was the time of the famous King Pepin 



ITS HISTORY. 27 

of France, whom indeed Boniface crowned; and 
therefore Ethelbert, who is probably the u King of 
Kent " alluded to, must not be confounded with the 
Ethelbert of 860, king after the union of the Hep- 
tarchy, and with whom we are more familiar: — 
" Hawks and falcons were also favourite subjects of 
amusement, and valuable presents in those days, 
when, the country being much overrun with wood, 
every species of the feathered race abounded in all 
parts. A king of Kent begged of a friend abroad 
two falcons, of such skill and courage as to attack 
cranes willingly, and seizing them to throw them on 
the ground. He says he makes this request, because 
there were few hawks of that kind in Kent who pro- 
duced good offspring, and who could be made agile 
and courageous enough in this art of warfare. Our 
Boniface sent, among some other presents, a hawk 
and two falcons to a friend ; and we may infer the 
common use of the diversion from his forbidding his 
monks to hunt in the woods with dogs, and from 
having hawks and falcons." And then, speaking of a 
somewhat later period, he says: "An Anglo-Saxon 
by his will gives two hawks and all his staghounds to 
his natural lord. The sportsmen in the train of the 
great were so onerous on lands as to make the 
exemption of their visit a valuable privilege. Hence 
a king liberates some lands from those who carry 
with them hawks or falcons, horses or dogs. The 
Saxon Calendar, in its drawings, represents hawking 



28 FALCONRY. 

in the month of October. Hunting and hawking 
were for many years favourite diversions in this 
island. In the tapestry of Bayeux, Harold appears 
with his hawk upon his hand." 

Passing for a moment from England to the conti- 
nent of Europe, we may gather something from 
Spelman's " Grlossarium Archseologicum " — a work 
written in Latin, with occasional English equivalents. 
He (writing in 1629) says, " that the art was invented 
more than a thousand years before," and quotes " Lex 
Salica," tit. 7. § 1 : €S Qui acceptorem de arbore 
furaverint," &c, i. e. from the nest, or (more pro- 
perly perhaps), as we say in English, a brancher. 
Ibid. § 2 : " Acceptorem de pertica," i. e. a hawk of 
the perch. § 3: "Acceptorem intra clavem repositum," 
probably a hawk in the mew. In Leg. Ripuarior., 
tit. 36. § 11 : " Acceptorem domitum," a reclaimed 
hawk; "- Acceptorem mutaetum," a mewed hawk. In 
Leg. Frisonwm: "Qui canem acceptoricium Occi- 
dent," &c, a spaniel (or a dog used for assisting the 
hawks). A still greater antiquity seems to be indi- 
cated by a statement in the " Notitia dignitatum 
Imperii Occidentalis," that a rank of soldiers, called 
Sagittarii Venatores, carried on their shield the re- 
presentation of a hawk. 

It may be asked, however,, who some of these 
people were — the Eiparii and the Frisians for in- 
stance — and when they lived. In a note of Gibbon 
to chapter xxxv. of his History, he says: "The 



ITS HISTORY. . 29 

Kiparii, or Kipuarii, derived their name from their 
posts on the three rivers, the Khine, the Meuse, 
and the Moselle ;" and in chap, xxxviii. he seems to 
give the period between Clovis and Dagobert's reign 
over France, i.e. about 480 — 620, as the period in 
which the Eipuarian code was i( transcribed and pub- 
lished." I do not know when it was drawn up; but 
we have seen enough of it to be sure that falconry 
was known on the Continent at a very early date, and 
probably before it was much practised in England. 
As for the Frisians, they dwelt along the coast of 
north-western Germany, from the Scheldt to the 
Elbe, in the fourth and fifth centuries, and their laws 
must have been written somewhere about this time. 
The " Notitia dignitatum Imperii Occidentalis" is a 
mere summary statement of the names of the different 
officers, magistrates, &c, in the Western Empire." 
Its date is somewhere about a.d. 400, but is not pre- 
cisely known. I do not think, however, that any 
great weight can be given to Spelman's inference 
from the name and bearings of the soldiers whom the 
" Notitia" calls " Sagittarii Venatores." 

We may gather from all this that falconry was 
tolerably well established as a leading sport in 
Europe, and possibly in these islands, at a very early 
period of our own history, — between the fourth and 
sixth centuries perhaps ; England probably, however, 
being later than Germany in adopting it. I have 
now simply to point to its rapid increase among all 



30 FALCONET. 

civilised nations — a fact fortunately so well known, 
that the hard necessity no longer remains of bringing 
the reader to book, and insisting upon his close at- 
tention to various uncouth names and early dates, as 
proofs of the general correctness of my statements. 
It increased gradually from the Conquest, — esta- 
blished, as we have seen, long before it ; but Edward 
III. is perhaps peculiarly conspicuous for having made 
stringent laws on the subject of falconry* The love of 
this sport had now become a perfect passion — nay, a 
mania. Europe was inflamed with it. Monarchs, 
nobles, and knights, disdaining the moderate draughts 
of its pleasures, drained them to intoxication, and 
lived for them, as for their fame. If a gallant were 
in prison he would carve falcons upon the walls ; if in a 
court or in a church he would bear them on his glove ; 
if in the grave, they would be figured on his tomb- 
stone ; nay, his bride took a merlin to the altar on 
her wedding-day, and conversed with her lord in 
terms which became positively figurative, as she 
pointed every other sentiment, and hope, and (who 
knows ?) command, with an allusion to some favou- 
rite twist of the head, or movement of the wing, or 
stretching out of the foot, proper to the birds which 
she had caressed twenty times daily since she was 
tall enough to reach their perches. Not to love 
hawking was a proof of the grossest vulgarity of dis- 
position, and of many drops of churlish blood. In- 
deed, so exclusive were the well-born in this matter 



ITS HISTORY. 31 

that, as is commonly known, particular hawks could 
be carried only by persons of particular ranks or con- 
ditions, or not below them, to which those birds were 
allotted — as, for example, the peregrine to an earl, 
&c. &c. These permissions and prohibitions passed 
away not very long before hawking itself was fast 
losing ground — though even as early as King John's 
time some modification was made in them. The 
sport was still in its palmy days after the Tudors' 
accession, Elizabeth herself patronising it. James 
Stuart, however, did not care for it, though his 
mother loved it dearly, and flew hawks while she was 
a prisoner. Towards the middle * of the seventeenth 
century the sport seems to have languished, probably 
abroad, but certainly in England. It could scarcely 
have flourished under the shadow of the " Protector." 
Towards the latter half of the eighteenth century there 
was a partial revival. It took more than a hundred 
years to raise into health even the sport of ohivalry 
after the eleven years' infliction. Sixty years ago, or 
more, Lord Orford and Colonel Thornton did their 



* Considerably later than this, about 1730, lived William M'Ar- 
thur, gardener and falconer to the Duke of Perth. He, with his 
master, joirfed the standard of Prince Charles Edward, and fought 
at Preston Pans, Falkirk, and Culloden. In the last of these battles 
he was wounded in' the shoulder ; but a disguise and the hills saved 
him, as they did many others. He ultimately became gardener at 
Danby in Wensleydale, and died there in 1808, at the great age of 
92. This note is valuable, as it helps to supply the most doubtful 
link in our chain. 



32 FALCONRY. 

best to revive falconry in England, and succeeded in 
a measure. They flew "passage hawks," after the 
Dutch fashion ; but this part of their system does not 
seem to have reached Scotland, where (t eyesses " have 
almost always been used. They used eyesses also. 
But when, more recently, fowling-pieces were brought 
nearly to perfection, and the art of shooting flying 
became thoroughly understood, falconry received 
another blow. Sportsmen, I suppose, persuaded 
themselves that the end or aim of field sports is. 
simply and only to kill game, and that no instrument 
is so much to be admired as that by which the 
greatest bag can be made in the shortest time. Hence 
the gun soon took the place of the hawk. Had they 
thought twice upon the matter, it would have oc- 
curred to them that fresh air, exercise, pleasurable 
and therefore healthy excitement, are of infinitely 
more importance than any amount of destruction; 
and falconry might, in that case, have gone hand in 
hand with the great and honoured sport of shooting. 
The present inclosed state of this country is, of 
course, inimical to the general spread of falconry; 
but I beg most courteously to inform the Eev. J. Gr. 
Wood, author of " My Feathered Friends," and other 
interesting works, that his assertion that "falconry 
in this country is just an impossibility" is being 
more strongly contradicted, and that practically, every 
day. There is a lingering vitality about the sport 
which, considering the many obstacles to its revival, 



ITS HISTORY. 33 

appears to me wonderful. No dethroned queen — not 
Margaret of Anjou herself — ever, surely, strove with 
more determination to assert her rights, or to regain 
a lost inheritance. That falconry will always exist in 
the world — for its stronghold is still the east — I 
firmly believe ; but I, hoping against hope perhaps, 
still look for the time when the sportsmen of these 
islands shall write, not with their pens but in their 
practice, another page of its history. At least, there 
is no violent improbability. We change the fashion 
of our sports almost as rapidly as that of our dress. I 
don't know whether we shall ever return to the long 
waistcoats and the powdered hair ; but I am sure that 
a reaction of feeling has commenced, which is in 
favour of the leash and the hood. 



34 FALCONRY. 



CHAP. III. 



LITTLE GENERALLY KNOWN ABOUT nAWKS. — THE "BLUE" HAWK. 
— PETER BELL. — LONG-WINGED AND SHOBT-WINGED HAWKS. — 

HARD NAMES NOT MUCH AFFECTED BT MODERN FALCONERS. 

TERMS USED IN FALCONRY. — THE YOUNG FALCONER TO BEGIN 

WITH FEW HAWKS. — ONE TIERCEL. — AN ONLY HAWK AN 

ONLY PARROT WHICH "TALKS LIKE A CHRISTIAN." — AN OUT- 
OF-DOORS COMPANION. — A BRACE OF PARTRIDGES. — " LITTLE 
MEETS." — HAWKING CLUBS. 



Very little is known about hawks by the generality 
of sportsmen ; and not very much, I think, even by 
those among them who profess some passable know- 
ledge of natural history. The thorough-going na- 
turalist, of course, is a different man from these. 
He making it his business to inform himself of all 
animated nature's secrets, and probably placing the 
Accipitres at the head of his ornithological studies, 
arrives — after reading and personal observation — at 
sound and just conclusions respecting the history and 
habits of birds of prey. The falconer, too, if only 
from sheer necessity, possesses an intimate acquaint- 
ance with birds which he has examined in the nest, 
or observed close round it — which he has seen, as 
wild savage things, dashing after their dinner with 



THE "BLUE" HAWK. 35 

even more than American haste and anxiety for that 
meal; whose nature he has made suhservient — and 
whose singular alteration of plumage after the first 
moult (that stumbling-block to some ornithologists) he 
has noted, in its every stage, for hours, that would 
make up a sum of months or years, at the distance of 
his own eyes from his gloved hand. 

Accomplished naturalists, and falconers of any 
kind, are, however, unfortunately few and far between. 
I think gamekeepers generally " know a hawk from 
a hernshaw ; " but it is the exception, and not the 
rule, if they know a sparrow-hawk from a kestrel. 
Perhaps this is scarcely to be wondered at ; for, with 
a few exceptions, they are plain hard-working men, 
well adapted to their station, and with too much on 
their hands to be able to spare a great deal for their 
minds. Still, however, a little more information and 
discrimination on the subject of " vermin " might be 
useful to them. As it is, I find that, in describing 
hawks, their favourite colour is blue ; beyond this 
they commonly make no distinction, save perhaps 
that of size. " Oh yes, sir, I know which you mean. 
It is the blue hawk." How many gamekeepers have 
indulged me with this scientific definition, which 
seems indeed to be a pet and patent phrase with the 
fraternity, I forget — but they have not been few. 
As one might, without doing very great violence to 
the general idea of colour, consider as " blue " the 
adult males of the peregrine, merlin, hen-harrier, 

D 2 



36 FALCONRY. 

hobby and sparrow-hawk, &c., I have not always 
obtained any great amount of information in the con- 
versations referred to. 

Mr. Peter Bell, the potter, was not an amiable 
individual ; neither was he intellectual ; neither was 
he, as Wordsworth expressly informs us, a very 
close or enthusiastic observer of Nature, though she, 
for her part, seems to have taken some pains about 
him : — 

" In vain through every changeful year 
Did Nature lead him as before ; 
A primrose by a river's brim 
A yellow primrose was to him, 
And it was nothing more." 

I have no doubt that, before the discovery of the 
donkey and her poor drowned master, he was a very 
stupid fellow indeed; but, respecting the matter of 
the "yellow primrose," I really do not see that he 
was much worse than his neighbours. However, we 
will try to make our ornithological information go a 
little further than his botanical, and prove, at any 
rate, that a " blue " hawk is known to us by some- 
thing more certain and definite than its colour. In 
order that we may take the first step in the direction 
of this desirable end, I will just remind my readers 
that hawks are divided into two great classes — viz. 
the long-winged and short-winged hawks. The long- 
winged are called falcons, the short-winged simply 
hawks (but the female goshawk seems to be allowed 



LONG-WINGED AND SHORT-WINGED HAWKS. 37 

by courtesy to assume the more noble title). Thus 
the hobby, for example, is really a true falcon, though 
she is not generally spoken of by' that name. It be- 
longs, in general parlance perhaps, par excellence to 
the peregrine — shared with her by the larger birds, 
shortly known as " Jer-falcons" and also by the 
Barbary falcon. Indeed, we may paraphrase rather 
freely the old distinction drawn between the mare 
and horse by saying that, whilst every falcon is a 
hawk, every hawk is not a falcon. 

The only short-winged hawks used by falconers (at 
• any rate in Europe) are the goshawk, and the spar- 
row-hawk — both the male and female of the former 
— the female only in these islands, as a general rule, 
of the latter. These birds are termed " hawks of the 
fist? because they fly from it at their quarry, not 
stooping from a height, as the falcons do, and as they 
are trained to expect food from the hand, to which 
they should come readily — an arrangement some- 
times departed from, perhaps, in favour of an extem- 
pore lure, as occasion may serve, but of considerable 
use, as I shall hereafter point out. Long-winged 
hawks are called "hawks of the lure? because 
they are taught to fly to it when necessary. It is 
a simple instrument, and will be explained in the 
proper place. 

In temper and disposition, as well as in power of 
flight, the falcons have an immense advantage over 
their less noble kinsmen. I need scarcely say, there- 

D 3 



38 * FALCONRY. 

fore, that they are trained with much greater ease, 
and are flown with more pleasure, and generally with 
more effect, than the short-winged hawks. The fol- 
lowing concise notice of the " three never-failing 
characteristics " by which falcons are distinguished 
from the true hawks is from " Falconry in the British 
Isles : " — " By the tooth on the upper mandible (this 
in some of the foreign species is doubled) ; by the 
second feather of the wing being either the longest 
or equal in length to the third ; and by the nature 
of the stoop made in pursuit of their prey."* The 
peculiar size, colour, plumage, and disposition of each 
hawk will be given in the chapter or passage appro- 
priated to it. 

In olden times the terms used in falconry were 
very numerous, and there seems to have been a kind 
of freemasonry in the matter — a part, probably, of 
the exclusiveness which was claimed for the sport. 
Mystery is now, of course, entirely done away with, 
and the art open to all who think it worth their 
while to learn it. Indeed, we do not affect very 
many hard names ; and I should be almost as likely 
to speak to a man about the petty-single of his falcon, 
as I should to ask him, supposing he had hurt his 
knee, bow his patella was on any given morning. 
Nevertheless, there are some terms which it is desir- 
able to learn, and which I will set down here. I may 

* Some further remarks on this head will be found in Chap. XV. 



TERMS USED EST FALCONRY. 39 

mention one or two not generally employed, but 
shall not omit any without the knowledge of which 
the young falconer would be considered ignorant. 
But, even in looking through these, he may remem- 
ber that they can, in ordinary conversation, be occa- 
sionally exchanged for simple names. For instance, he 
may venture to call a hawk's tail its tail, and need 
not invariably task himself with the more craft-like 
expression train, when he wishes to signify a refer- 
ence to that useful appendage. These are days, Sir 
Falconer, of very singular enlightenment ; and a wise 
man will certainly be set down as a fool if he does 
not make his best bow to the nineteenth century. 
In this instance let him make it. 

The following is a list of terms used in hawking, 
together with their explanations, which will, of course, 
be found in most books upon the subject, though I 
have taken chiefly as my guide in selecting them 
" Falconry in the British Isles : " 

Arms. The legs of a hawk from the thigh to the 
foot. 

Bate. To struggle from the fist, block, or perch, 
either through fright, or for liberty, &c. 

Beam-feathers. The long feathers of the wings of 
hawks. 

Bewits. Strips of leather by which the bells are 
fastened to the legs. 

Bind, To cling to the quarry in the air. 

D 4 



40 FALCONRY. 

Block. The conical piece of wood to which falcons 
are fastened when at rest, and on which they sit. 

Brail. A thong of leather for securing the wings 
of hawks, to prevent them bating. 

Brancher. A young hawk that has lately left the 
nest, thus distinguished from an eyess — one taken 
before it can fly. 

Cadge. The frame on which several hawks are 
placed when they are carried to the field. In former 
days they were exposed for sale on the cadge. Hence, 
perhaps, the use of the slang term " cadger " for a 
person always asking favours. 

Cadger, in hawking language, is the man who 
carries the cadge. 

Calling off. Luring a hawk, from an assistant at a 
distance, for exercise. 

Carry. A hawk is said to "carry" when it moves 
away with the captured quarry. This is done by 
some hawks on the near approach of the falconer, but 
is not always a proof of the bird being wild. A hawk 
that has no fear whatever of its master may yet dread 
the loss of its 'prize just taken. Such birds, generally 
speaking, have been badly trained, though some 
possess such a disposition for the fault that with .them 
the best falconers have been unable entirely to pre- 
vent it. To correct it in any hawk is very difficult. 

Cast, is a pair of hawks. 

Castmgs. Fur, feathers, &c, given to the hawk 
with its food. They are afterwards ejected from the 



TERMS USED IN FALCONRY. 41 

mouth, in somewhat of an egg-shape, and cleanse the 
gorge. 

Cere. The wax-like skin above the beak. 

Cliech To fly at ; to change the bird in pursuit. 

Clutching. Taking the quarry in the feet, instead 
of striking it down; 

Come-to. To begin obeying the falconer. 

Coping. Shortening the bill and talons of a hawk. 

Crabbing. Hawks fighting with one another. 

Creance. A long string to which hawks (generally 
haggards) are fastened during their first lessons. A 
live pigeon is sometimes thrown up in a creance on 
occasions which will be mentioned. 

Crines (or crinets). Hairs, or hair-like feathers, 
about the cere. 

Deck-feathers. The two centre feathers of the tail. 

Disclosed, is when the young just peep through the 
shell. 

EndeWy is when the hawk digests her food. 

Enter. To fly the hawk at quarry (or a particular 
quarry) for the first time. 

En8eame. An old term, signifying to purge a 
hawk* 

Eyess. A nestling hawk. 

Eyrie. The breeding place. 

Feaking, is when the hawk wipes her beak after 
feeding — a custom scarcely ever omitted. 

Flags. The feathers next the "principals" in a 
hawk's wing* 



42 FALCONRY. 

Frounce. A disease in the mouth and throat of a 
hawk. 

Get in. To hasten to the hawk after it has killed. 

Gorge. The crop, craw, or first stomach. 

Hack. (I am not sure at present of the derivation 
of this word). Once used to describe "the place 
where the hawk's meat is laid." Hack is the state 
of liberty in which hawks taken from the nest are 
kept for some weeks after they can fly. Older birds 
are occasionally flown at hack, and sometimes 
weighted to prevent them preying for themselves. 
A term constantly in the mouths of falconers. 

Haggard. A wild-caught mature hawk. 

Hood. The cap used for blindfolding or " hood- 
winking" hawks. 

Imp. To mend a broken feather. 

Inke. The neck, from the head to the body of the 
quarry. 

Interviewed. A hawk moulted in confinement is so 
called. 

Jack. The male merlin. 

Jerkin. The male of jer-falcons. 

Jesses. The leathern straps fastened to the legs of 
a hawk, and which are not removed when the bird 
flies. 

Leash. The leather thong fastened by a swivel to 
the jesses, when the hawk is confined to block or 
fist, &c. 

Mail, or Mailes. The breast-feathers of a hawk. 



TERMS USED IX FALCONRY. . 43 

Afahe-Hawks. Old staunch hawks, sometimes em- 
ployed in teaching young ones. 
\ Manning a hawk. Making him endure the com- 

pany of strangers. 

Mew. To moult : also the place in which hawks 
are kept. 

Musket. The male sparrow-hawk. 

Mutes. The droppings of a hawk; and also 
(anciently) of a heron. 

Naves. The nostrils of a hawk. 

Pannel. The lower bowel of a hawk. 

Passage. The flight of herons to and from the 
heronry during the breeding season. 

Passage Hawks. Another term for haggards and 
red hawks, taken as they migrate. 

Pelt. The dead body of the quarry. 

Perch. The resting-place for short-winged hawks. 

Petty-single. The small toe of a hawk. 

Pitch. The extreme height to which a long-winged 
hawk rises before the game is sprung. 

Plumage. Feathers given the hawk for a cast 

Point. The way in which a hawk rises (and thus 
" makes its point ") over the exact spot where the 
quarry has taken refuge, i. e. been " put in." 

Pounces. The claws of a hawk. 

Principal feathers, or Principals. The two 
longest feathers in a hawk's wing. 

Prunes, is when a hawk arranges its feathers, or 
plumes itself. 



44 FALCONRY. 

Pull through the hood. To eat through it. 

Put over. A sort of squeezing the food from the 
gorge to the stomach, a process which hawks fre- 
quently go through after a full meal, moving their 
necks in a strange manner. 

Put in, is when the quarry is driven into cover. 

Quarry. The game flown at. 

Rake. To fly too wide. 

Raking. Striking the game in the air. 

Ramage. Said of a wild hawk. 

Rangle. Small stones formerly given to hawks. 
The custom is obsolete ; but it is as well to have such 
stones within reach of peregrines, as it has been re- 
cently proved that they occasionally eat them. 

Reclaim. To tame a hawk, and make him familiar. 

Red hawk. A peregrine of the first year. 

Ring. To rise spirally — said of either long-winged 
hawk or quarry* 

Rohm. The male hobby. 

Rufter-hood. An easy fitting hood, through which 
the hawk can eat, capable, however, of being well 
secured, used in training haggards, &c. 

Ruff. To strike the game without " trussing " or 
seizing it. 

Sails. The wings of a hawk. 

Seeling. Eunning a thread through the eyelids of 
a newly-caught hawk, to obscure the sight for a time 
— a cruel practice, now quite obsolete in this country. 



TERMS USED IX FALCONRY. 45 

Serving a hawk. Helping to put out the quarry 
from cover when it has been " put in," &c. 

Shaip set Very hungry. 

Suiting, "is when a hawk, as it were, sneezeth." 
I insert this old term in joke rather than earnest, 
though it is perfectly orthodox. It may serve to 
show how the most trifling motion of a hawk was 
once noticed, and named. I am not quite sure, how- 
ever, whether it is not used even now among the 
poor in some counties for the act of sneezing. 

Soar Hawk. Any hawk of the first year. 

Standing. Eemaining in idleness at the block, &c. 

Stoop, sometimes swoop ("At one fell swoop." — 
Macbeth). The rapid descent of a falcon from a 
height on the flying quarry. 

Summed. Said of a hawk when the plumage is 
full grown. 

Swivel. Used to prevent jesses and leash becoming 
twisted. 

" Take the air." To soar aloft ; said of the quarry. 
Much the same as to " ring." 

Tiercel (Tassel. — Romeo and Juliet, &c). Male 
of the peregrine or goshawk ; probably because these 
are a third smaller than the falcons. 

Tiring. Any bony or tough bit (such as the leg of 
a fowl, with most of the flesh gone) at which hawks, 
when being trained, may pull, so that the meal is 
prolonged, &c. 



46 FALCONRY. 

Train. The tail of a hawk. Also, a live bird 
given to hawks for the purpose of " entering." 

Truss. To clutch the quarry in the air. 

Varvels. Little rings "of silver, at the ends of the 
jesses, on which the owner's name is engraved. Not 
in present use in this country. 

Wait on. A hawk is said to " wait on " when it 
soars in circles above the head of the falconer, or 
over a dog which is pointing game. It is thus pre- 
pared to stoop at the quarry when sprung, or to 
descend on the lure, as the case may be. 

Yarak. An eastern term, signifying the happy time 
when short-winged hawks are in a good humour, and 
ready to fly eagerly at a quarry. 

I am specially thankful that this list is concluded ; 
and if the reader has been bored with it, so have I — 
excessively. His revenge may be in that consideration. 

A few more words, and this chapter must be sent 
after its two elder brothers, and room made for the 
peregrine. 

This is perhaps the proper place to warn those 
who may intend to commence the practice of fal- 
conry next summer, that they should by no means 
begin with many hawks. If they choose to make 
their first essay with merlins, let them procure three 
at most, two of which may be hen birds. But if the 
peregrine be used by a novice, a cast is the utmost, 
and one is the best. I unhesitatingly recommend 



TO BEGIN WITH FEW HAWKS. 47 

but one in the case of a man who feels sure that the 
bird is safe from powder and traps within a circle of 
from six to eight miles. And after all, if he do lose 
that one, he may be able to purchase another, and so 
not be utterly hawkless. Let this bird be a tiercel. 
It will soon take partridges beautifully, and may be 
flown even in a country that is moderately inclosed ; 
though of course "the most open patches should be 
selected. An only hawk, unlike an only child, is 
seldom spoilt by notice. The master of such a bird 
will carry and fly him often ; bring him, perhaps, 
frequently into the company of strangers ; and, really 
with nothing that can be called trouble, make him 
as docile as a dog. I should like to see that man 
next year, supposing he take my advice — advice 
which, I may observe, is not mine only, but that 
of one of the greatest falconers of the day. I should 
like to see that man, I repeat, next year; he will 
have a cast and a half of peregrines, I warrant him ; 
ay ! and they will be good ones, and well-managed 
too. But I have not quite done with this one bird 
yet. Speak ! Who has an only parrot, an only 
cockatoo, an only monkey, or what you will ? My 
dear sir, why have you these ? Why a parrot, for 
instance? Because you choose to have it. Truly. 
And because, besides, as the old women say, it talks 
like a Christian. Well put ; though with respect to 
Christianity, if it spent much of its valuable time on 
deck in its passage to you, I rather fear it may not 



48 FALCONET. 

be quite so conspicuous a character in that way as 
report would seem to imply. Now, I wish to put 
it to you feelingly, whether you would not prefer to 
this parrot a right true honest British bird, hand- 
somer, I think, than the gaudy foreigner (though 
tastes differ), and which will be your companion out 
of doors. He will astonish your friends, if that be 
any object, twenty times more than the parrot did 
when he asked the company in general to give him 
some more gravy. He will come thrpugh the air to 
you as you raise your voice or hand. He will delight 
you and others with the grace of his motion, the 
rapidity of .his wing, and the wonderful courage 
which belongs, almost pre-eminently, to his species. 
And if you will forgive me, my dear reader, whom 
I am addressing all this time, for a terrible anti- 
climax, I will just hint that an excellent brace of 
partridges, though done to a turn by your unexcep- 
tionable cook, would have an additional zest in the 
recollection of the bright hour you and that tiercel 
spent together in the great field which is wheat- 
stubble this year. 

I have often thought that two or three neighbours, 
each possessing a good tiercel*, might have capital 
sport at little "meets," which they might plan 

* A "good" tiercel. — The price of a good (the best) trained pere- 
grine ought not to be more than 5/. 5s. Dealers should remember the 
risk from powder and shot, &c. When the sport is well known, and 
trained hawks are consequently safer, perhaps a somewhat higher 
price might be asked for a first-rate bird. 



KITTLE "MEETS." 49 

among themselves. Each hawk. would fly twice or 
three times; and six or eight flights would be a 
pretty morning's work. On a fine dry September 
day you may persuade ladies into stubble, even when 
they are not mounted, as I know by having tried 
the experiment. In short, this notion of hawking 
clubs, in a small way (which might develope into an 
extensive subscription affair or not, just as happened 
to be thought best), appears to me, though I say it, 
a very respectable one indeed.* 

* Since this was written a Hawking Club has actually been esta- 
blished, under the able management of C. E. Holford, Esq., Round 
House, Ware. 






E 



50 FALCONRY. 



CHAP. IV. 

THE PEREGRINE FALCON (PJLCO PERBGRIXUS). — NATURAL HISTORY 
OF THE BIRD. — MODE OF TAKING THE NEST. — REARING OF 
ETESSES. — BELLS AND JESSES.— THE LURE. — FALCONERS* CRIES. 
— " CARRYING " PREVENTED. — FLYING AT HACK. — TAKING UP THE 
HAWKS. — GLOVE. — HOODS. — SWIVELS. — LEASH. — BLOCK. 

Falco Peregrinus is the only name given by modern 
science to this bird, which seems at last to have 
escaped from a whole string of synonymes with which 
different men, and different languages, had over- 
weighted it. Haggard, falcon-genteel, pilgrim or 
peregrine falcon, red falcon, &c, were names 
given to signify different species indeed, but such as 
existed only in the imagination of the nomenclators. 
The older naturalists called almost every bird of 
prey "falco ; " it was enough for them that the 
word means " to cut with a bill or hook." I need 
scarcely say that the indiscriminate use of the term 
is now discontinued. Linnaeus includes twenty-six 
species under the generic appellation of "falcon." 
This was, of course, simply the carrying out of his 
system. But for my own part, I half suspect that 
the old falconers were not very clear in the natural 
history of the peregrine.* They lay themselves open 

* The old falconers certainly seem to be guilty of blander in this 



THE PEREGRINE FALCON. 51 

to the suspicion, for instance, that they supposed a 
specific difference between the haggard and falcon- 
gentle (or genteel), whereas the former is simply the 
mature, wild-caught bird; the latter is the eyess. 
The young naturalist or young falconer may, no 
doubt, be easily led into error by the change of 
plumage at the first moult; but a peregrine, kept 
till he is a year and a half old, is the best and most 
practical instructor. 

Out of this confusion, however, rises the peregrine; 
perhaps the handsomest and most courageous of all 
birds of prey, certainly the pet and favourite of 
falconers. No other bird in the world is more 
widely distributed. From North America to China 
and New Holland, that peculiar and brilliant stoop, 
known and loved by sportsmen for ages, is a terror 
not only to the weak, but often to the strong, among 
countless varieties of shape, size, and plumage. In 
our own country it is, alas ! rarely seen. A strange 
and anomalous civilisation is fast blotting out the most 
complete type of speed, strength, and courage which 
belongs of right to these islands, and which the Migh- 
tiest Hand placed upon all their cliffs, as an index 
to the hearts and prowess that should protect them. 

This glorious falcon almost invariably seizes his 
prey on the wing; or perhaps, to speak more cor- 
rectly, strikes it on the wing. Individuals, however, 

particular; and yet, as they moulted their hawks, it is difficult to 
believe that they were puzzled by a change of plumage. 

E 2 



52 FALCONRY. 

differ as to their mode of taking quarry. The high, 
long, rapid stoop, with a passing cut* of the hind 
talons at the end of it, is the more brilliant, but 
perhaps the clutch is the more effective manner. To 
speak as a falconer, these birds differ in quality. I 
have seen a tiercel driven into the middle of a thick 
tree by a pair of kestrels ; while, on the other hand, 
last year, an eyess tiercel repeatedly flew herons, 
though, of course, without the least chance of holding. 
The excess of courage, I am glad to say, is far more 
common than the excess of cowardice ; and the pere- 
grine is bold enough, as well as strong enough, for 
the game of this country. 

On the coast the prey of this bird is usually water- 
fowl and wild pigeons, which inhabit the rocks ; also 
jackdaws, where these are found. For his prey in- 
land, reference can be made to the first chapter of 
this work. I think I need only add an occasional 
small rabbit or leveret. 

The nest is made in the ridge or hollow of a rock ; 
it is of rough construction and of coarse material. 
The eggs are three or four in number ; colour, rufous 
brown, with darker patches. 

The following is from " Falconry in the British 
Isles : " — " In colour the young peregrine differs con- 

* If you bold out a piece of meat to hawks at back you will 
see the nature of the stoop. They seem to fly downwards for a short 
distance to get impetus ; they then 'close their wings and, coming 
wedge-like through the air, appear to rake their hind talons through 
the object stooped at, their legs being kept quite stiff and still. 



NATURAL HISTORY. 53 

siderably from the adult bird. During the first year 
the plumage is brown, the feathers of the back and 
wings being edged with a lighter tint ; the breast and 
the thighs are more or less rufous, with dark brown 
longitudinal streaks. Whilst in the nest, and for 
some time after leaving it, the young birds have a 
blueish slate-coloured bloom over the darker parts of 
the body, which gives them some resemblance in 
colour to their parents ; as soon, however, as they 
begin to bathe, this bloom disappears and they be- 
come quite brown. Like all other birds, they differ 
much in intensity of colour, being found both of 
light and dark varieties, with the intermediate shades. 
The colour of the cere and eyelids is at first blue, 
which generally changes by degrees to a yellow tint 
(we knew an instance of it changing to yellow in 
one night), and, by the end of the first year, becomes 
bright yellow, provided the bird be in health; the 
tarsi and feet from the first are light yellow, ac- 
quiring depth of colour by age. At the first moult 
the brown plumage is replaced by one of a blue 
slate-colour, approaching to black on the head, wings, 
and tail, while the longitudinal streaks on the breast 
and thighs give place to transverse bars." 
-The different sexes differ very materially in size 
and weight ; a full-grown female weighing about 
two and a half pounds ; a full-grown male one and 
three quarter pound. 

If we would take the eyrie of the peregrine, we 

E 3 



54 FALCONRY. 

must leave trees behind, pass over all flat land, and 
search among something strong, bold, and dangerous, 
having a character like that for which we seek. High 
cliffs, and the rocky and perpendicular parts of in- 
land mountains, hold the nest, and a hazardous thing 
it is sometimes to reach it. Plenty of men, however, 
and even boys, may be found willing to get them- 
selves fastened to a rope, and so let down by their 
companions in search of nestlings, which ought to 
bring them a guinea a head. I believe the nests 
may be taken with perfect safety if pains be taken 
also. The strength and roundness of the cord should 
be well looked to; the person descending should 
have plenty of courage ; and those who hold the rope 
must remember that a human life is hanging at the 
other end of it, which it is a sin to trifle with by any 
jest or inattention. The person descending should 
carefully dislodge any loose stones with his feet. If, 
when the nest is reached, it be found that the 
feathers of the young birds are only a little way 
through the down, the adventurer should signify this 
circumstance to his friends above, or at least let them 
understand that, for some good reason or other, he 
requires to be wound up. A day or two later the 
descent may be again made. If the young birds 
appear to be within a few days or a week of flying, 
let them be taken. They should be carefully placed 
on hay or straw in a covered basket, to which may be 
attached a string communicating with the top of the 



MODE OF TAKING THE NEST. 55 

cliff, so that the young hawks may be drawn up before 
their captor reaches his friends. If they have to be 
sent to a distance, they must go, of course, by a pas- 
senger-train, having been previously well fed with 
fresh beefsteak, cut into small pieces, — each bird 
being allowed as much as he will take. Should the 
young birds be very forward, the hamper in which 
they are sent must not only be lined so as to present 
a soft surface to the young feathers, but so thoroughly 
as tbat light shall be all but excluded. Darkness 
keeps the birds quiet, and prevents much mischief. 
I have lined both hamper and lid with old carpet 
when I have sent hawks to a distance, and never 
found that the birds suffered in the least from want 
of air. Doubled matting or thin drugget is good. 

I will now suppose the young hawks arrived 
at their destination. They have been expected, and 
some preparations made for their reception. These 
are not always precisely the same in every falconer's 
establishment; but I will mention first what I con- 
sider the best. Let a good-sized wine-hamper be 
fastened against a wall *, at about the height of a 
man's breast, in such manner that the opening shall 
be presented to your face, with the lid at the bottom, 
protruding like a platform, and fixed horizontally, 

* A small, unused outhouse, having a large deorway, is an ex- 
cellent place for the hamper. The young birds have in this way no 
rain, little wind, and get plenty of air. They must not, however, be 
out of the reach of the morning sun. 

E 4 



56 FALCONEY. 

with only this deviation, that there be the slightest 
inclination upwards. Into this hamper, which must 
be protected from rain and wind, put first plenty 
of clean straw, and then the young birds, with a bell 
and jesses * to each. 

In these chapters I intend to take no knowledge, 
however slight, on the subject of falconry for granted, 
and to associate myself for the nonce with those who 
speak, .in their cant phrase, of "the mind being at 
first a blank sheet of paper, which requires to be 
written on," and so forth. Therefore I think it ne- 
cessary in this place to say what hawk-bells and jesses 
are. Now, Messrs. Benhams and Froud, of Chandos 
Street, Charing Cross, have sent me capital bells ; and, 
with regard to jesses, any one may make them for 
himself. They are made of leather ; and perhaps the 
best kind for the purpose is dog-skin, well tanned. 
Hounds' skin, generally to be procured in the neigh- 
bourhood of kennels, is strongly recommended. 
White, or whit, leather is also good ; but it requires 
constant greasing, especially in wet weather ; if this 
is not attended to it gets hard and stiff. I invariably 
soak the strips in cold water and stretch them before 
making them into shape. Each hawk requires two 
jesses, one on each leg. To make these, take a piece 

* Some excellent falconers omit the jesses till the hawks are taken 
up, fearing that the young birds should be entangled by them. 
When used during hack they should be short and of stiff leather, 
with a very small slit at the swivel end. I have never had an acci- 
dent with these,— nor indeed with any. 



BELLS AND JESSES. 57 

of the leather, of either kind mentioned above, and 
cut it into strips of seven or eight inches in length, 
and more than half an inch in width ; now, with a 
sharp knife laid on a corner of one of the ends of a 
strip, which itself is placed flat on a board, boldly 
take off the other corner with a long oblique stroke, 
which should not reach the side of your strip till it 
has, lengthways, cleanly cut at least an inch. As it 
touches the side at this point, or almost before it 
touches it, incline the knife inwards, and, with an- 
other long oblique stroke, cut till the leather is nar- 
rowed to less than the third of an inch. Continue 
that breadth, as you still cut on towards the opposite 
end of the strip, until the knife is within an inch and 
a half of the end ; then turn the blade a little out- 
wards, so as to make a bulge here, tapering off, how- 
ever, to a point. Half an inch from this point stamp 
a small hole, and cut a slit from it, two-thirds or 
more of an inch in length, in the direction of the end 
at which you commenced your operations. This is 
for the swivel. Make a smaller slit at that end, 
about half an inch or moore from its point ; also an- 
other, about an inch and a quarter further down the 
strip. There are now three slits, — two at the broader 
end, where you commenced cutting, and one at the 
narrower or swivel end, where you left off. Having 
made two such jesses, write your name on one and 
your address on the other ; the ink will last a few 
weeks at any ratek Now get some one to hold one of 



58 FALCONRY. 

the young birds, — a hood being on the head of the 
hawk if you like — gloves certainly on the hands of 
your friend. Take one of the jesses, holding it at the 
end where there are two slits. I will call the slit 
nearest the point or end, No. 1 ; the slit " an inch 
and a quarter further down the strip," No. 2. Take 
the point of the jesse and pass it through No. 2 till 
No. 1 appears through the opening, inclosing the 
bird's leg as you do so ; now take the swivel end of 
the jesse, draw it through No. 1, the whole jesse, 
excepting the portion already disposed of, following. 
This makes all secure. When both jesses are on, 
they are fastened to the ring or ordinary swivel as 
follows : — Pass the swivel end of the jesse through one 
of the rings ; pass the second ring through the loop of 
the jesse ; press the loop onwards (opening it) to the 
extremity of the first ring. This, I hope, will not 
seem very complicated when the jesse and swivel are 
in your hand : the process is very simple in reality, 
though on paper it does not appear so. The manner 
of using the spring swivel is evident, and requires no 
explanation. 

The bell is attached above one of the jesses by a 
beivit, having the same kind of fastening as the jesses 
themselves. 

Let us now return to the hamper in which are snugly 
deposited two or three young peregrines (a nest holds 
from one to three, seldom four), properly equipped. 
They have come perhaps from a distance, and it is 



THE LURE. 59 

necessary that they should be well fed at once, Take 
therefore a fresh juicy steak, raw of course, and, hav- 
ing cut it into small oblong pieces, present a morsel 
on your finger, or on a short stick which has no sharp 
point, to the boldest bird. From him proceed to an- 
other, and continue your rounds, occasionally pausing, 
but often (especially as you administer a dainty piece) 
shrieking on the whistle you intend to use afterwards 
in the field. A guard's railway-whistle is not bad for 
this purpose. Feed in this manner as long as the 
birds can be induced to eat, three times a day, and 
this at stated hours, say, six or seven — rone at noon — 
six or seven ; but whatever the hours may be, keep 
to them. It will not be amiss if the midday meal 
consist of the chopped flesh of rabbits, pigeons, or 
rooks. Beef is somewhat heating and feverish food, 
if not relieved by a less stimulating diet. 

In a day or two you will find the birds on the 
ridge of the hamper's lid, expecting your approach. 
It is not absolutely necessary at this period to show 
them the lure, but I would advise you to do so. And 
here I must make a slight digression in order to 
describe this instrument.* 

* The Indian lure consists of fonr jackdaw's wings made (so to 
speak) into two, by fastening each couple face to face, and tying the 
pair so formed at the joints. This lure is tossed to the approaching 
falcon, who catches it in the air. A long string prevents "car- 
rying : * there is no meat attached to it, the falconer taking the 
hawk from it with food in his hand. In breaking hawks to this, 
however, meat may be addefl. 



60 FALCONEY. 

The lure may be made in several ways, any of 
which will answer the purpose. For instance, take a 
heavy piece of wood, and cut it into somewhat the 
form of a horseshoe, which may weigh about l^lb. 
At the two ends fasten the wings of a pigeon, as that 
will probably be the bird to which you will first 
" enter " your young hawks. Through the sides bore 
holes, and pass strings through them, by which, when 
the lure is in use, food can be attached. Eed cloth 
may or may not, as you please, be nailed on a portion 
of the sides. In the centre of the curve, at the out- 
side, fix a ring ; and to this ring fasten the strap of a 
shot-belt by its swivel. Here is a lure. It is suffi- 
cient for your present purpose, though hereafter you 
will probably use both live and dead pigeons, &c. 

The nestlings standing on the lid, eagerly attentive 
to your whistle (which I recommend you now to 
sound for a minute or two before you present yourself 
to them)', gently place the lure, well covered with 
beef, in the midst of the hungry creatures. Encourage 
them to peck at it — constantly, however, supplying 
them with the choicest pieces from the hand. On 
the next occasion swing the lure round your head as 
you approach, taking care, however, not to alarm 
them ; they will soon place this movement in their list 
of signs which denote a full meal. In a day or two 
the hawks will have left the hamper, or be found 
perched on the top of it. It is now that the falconer 
may add a peculiar shout or cry to the whistle and 



FALCONERS' CRIES. 61 

swung lure. This sound is designed to induce the 
birds to approach him, and therefore must be distinct 
from that which he intends to employ when he would 
cheer them on the flying quarry. It may be " Yo- 
ho-hup, yohup, yohup;" or "Hi-away! (boy or lass) 
hi-away ! " a call which I use, and learnt I know not 
where. If the birds understood English, I confess 
there would be perfect insanity in employing that 
which bids departure while it requires approach. 

I may as well mention here, in a sort of paren- 
thesis, that " Hooha, ha, ha, ha ! " is a good cry for 
inciting hawks to make every effort when the quarry 
is viewed, and also for calling their attention to it. 
These syllables, when shrieked out on a high note, 
have a wild, dashing, blood-stirring spirit in them 
that suits the occasion well. " Who-whoop " is the 
death-cry; and " a la volee !"or" au vol !" is common 
as a warning cry in heron-hawking when the quarry 
passes sufficiently near to justify the falconers in 
unhooding and dismissing their winged warriors to 
the encounter. 

However, you and I, reader, are concerned at 
present only with the first sound, which signifies to 
the hawk that he must approach you ; and your 
great care of course will be to associate this invitation 
with something exceedingly agreeable. Now, we all 
differ in tastes; but I imagine that you can offer 
nothing to a nestling peregrine which he will esteem 
a greater or more exquisite delicacy than raw beef- 



62 FALCONRY. 

steak. Offer it, therefore, when you make this cry, 
having now (as the hawks begin to take wing a little 
and leave the hamper) a lure for each bird, on which 
the meat is carefully fastened. During the first few 
times that these lures are thrown down before the 
birds, let the meat upon them be juicy and tender ; 
but as soon as the hawks fly to them eagerly, change 
your policy, and garnish the lures with tough though 
fresh pieces. As the birds are tugging and straining 
to get their meal, quietly lie down on the grass 
amongst them, and as you turn yourself from one 
side to the other, place, with a shrill sound on the 
whistle to give a point to the circumstance, a pe- 
culiarly juicy mouthful into each beak. Allow the 
hungry hawks to pull again, and still continue to 
produce your choice bits ; now coaxing the birds with 
words, and now whistling softly. Prolong the meals 
as much as possible, always showing that your hand 
contains something better than is to be found on the 
lures. The object of all this is to nip in the bud that 
dreadful fault of " carrying," the seeds of which are 
in all hawks, and which, if encouraged, through your 
own carelessness, or, indeed, if not checked by your 
forethought, will grow into a habit so distressing to 
the falconer, that I know of no other equally villanous. 
It is evident that a bird taught to understand that 
you feed him easily, and with more palatable food 
than any which he himself can procure by the greatest 
amount of pulling, will not, in the first few instances 



"PLYING AT HACK." 63 

at any rate, be anxious to move away at your ap- 
proach, on his capture of a pigeon or partridge. It 
is only honest, however, to say that a very little mis- 
management, when the time arrives, may induce him 
to move with the third or fourth quarry which he 
may take ; but I will anticipate no directions when I 
can avoid doing so, and full advice and warnings will 
be given in their places. 

Day after day the hawks will fly further and further 
from home, but will return at feeding times (which 
may now be twice a day), and that quickly when they 
hear the shout or whistle, and see the swinging lure. 
They are now " flying at hack." 

They will become, however, I am sorry to say, 
somewhat wilder as they gain strength ; but if the 
lures are so heavy that they cannot easily be moved 
by the birds, and if the meals are carefully prolonged, 
in the manner before described, you may continue to 
feed the hawks from the hand for two or three weeks. 
Probably one will be wilder than the rest, and you 
may possibly have ultimately to take him up in the 
bow-net, an instrument which I shall presently de- 
scribe. If you prefer it, however, take him up by 
hand as soon as it becomes difficulty and before it 
becomes impossible, to touch the jesses ; it is by these 
that you must secure him, not of course attempting 
to lay your grasp on the bird himself. It used to be 
considered absolutely necessary to fly hawks at hack 
if they were to turn out swift and good birds ; but 



64 FALCONRY. 

recent experience has shown that it is possible to have 
first-rate high-flying eyesses which have never been 
flown at hack at all. Hack, however, must be very 
desirable, as it tends to stretch and strengthen the 
growing muscles of the wings, and also as it affords 
a fine opportunity for making birds to the lure; 
teaching them, moreover, at little cost of time and 
trouble, to return to the spot from which they started. 
Still, for my own part, I should take up a bird that 
had been at liberty for a fortnight, if his conduct 
seemed to threaten the use of the bow-net. But this 
is a matter of choice, and I am far from insisting 
upon it. The usual period for hack is about a month 
or five weeks ; sometimes longer. If it be protracted 
after birds are forward enough to prey for themselves, 
leaden weights, covered with soft leather, must be 
fastened to their legs to prevent them doing so. 

There is another method, adopted by some fal- 
coners, of rearing nestlings at hack ; but it has this 
very grave objection, that it forbids, in a great mea- 
sure at any rate, making hawks to the lure as long 
as it lasts. The young birds are placed in a large 
outhouse, on clean straw; and, as soon as they can 
move about easily, and tear the food, it is fastened 
on blocks at stated feeding-times, when they are 
called to it by the whistle, &c. The door of the out- 
house is left open, so that they may fly out when 
strong enough to do so. It is said that for weeks 
they will come to the blocks ; and when it is required 



GLOVES. — HOODS. 65 

to take them up, they may be captured by a long 
string attached to the door, and pulled from a dis- 
tance to close it at feeding-time. 

Let us suppose, however, that the former plan of 
hamper and lure has been adopted, and, after a few 
weeks' hack, one of the hawks " taken up;" the de- 
tails of which process will appear in the next chapter. 
It will be necessary now to look well to the jesses, 
changing them if they are injured; a hood also must 
be provided that will fit the bird comfortably. You 
will require, too, glove, swivel, leash, and block. I 
must content myself now with a short notice of these 
implements, and leave to another chapter the par- 
ticulars which belong to their use. 

A falconer's glove should be made of the thickest 
and best buckskin : a good saddler can make it. To 
colour it, use a mixture of yellow ochre, burnt um- 
ber powdered, and water ; the whole to be the thick- 
ness of cream. It is to be laid on with a brush, and 
beaten out when dry. If the glove is very dirty, it 
should be first washed with a brush with soda and 
warm water. 

With regard to the Tnakmg of hoods, I feel it to be 
in vain, without a considerable assistance from wood- 
cuts, to offer any directions which would be useful 
or even intelligible to my readers, and satisfactory to 
myself. I may mention, however, that hoods are made 
of calf-leather for a peregrine, which, when wet, is 
stretched on a wooden block (not to be confused with 

F 



66 FALCONET. 

the " block '* on which hawks sit), cut somewhat into 
the shape and size of a hawk's head, without the beak ; 
great care being taken that the wood bulges out in 
the region of the eyes. Three pieces of leather are 
used in making a Dutch hood, though it may be 
fashioned out of one piece. In the Persian or Syrian 
pattern we have the addition of a buckskin curtain 
behind, or more properly speaking, perhaps, this 
curtain supplies the place of a portion of the back of 
the hood, which is cut away to make room for it. 
The side pieces are ornamented with velvet or bright 
cloth; the fastenings are behind; and there is a 
plume at the top, by which the hood is generally 
held when it is placed on the bird's head or removed 
from it. Imperfect as this description necessarily is, 
the imperfection is of little consequence, as excellent 
coloured illustrations are to be found in " Falconry in 
the British Isles," and Mr. W. Pape, gunmaker, West 
Gate, Newcastle-on-Tyne, supplies hoods ready made 
at a moderate price.* 

Swivels are supplied by Messrs. Benham and 
Froud, Chandos Street, Charing Cross. The spring 
swivels answer for use in the field ; for the block they 
are not so safe as the ordinary ring-swivel. However, 
should their simplicity tempt their use on all occa- 
sions, at least guard them by a piece of leather 



* In fact all hawk-fhrniture may be had from Mr. Pape ; also 
from Mr. Fells, Feltwell, Brandon, Norfolk. 



SWIVEL. — LEASH. — BLOCK. 67 

stitched in such a manner that it can be moved over 
the opening. 

The leash is simply a strong strip of leather, full 
two feet in length, one end of which is either fastened 
to the block, or wrapped round the hand of the fal- 
coner, as the case may be ; the other end is attached 
to the swivel, and the swivel to the jesses. Strong 
calf-leather, called by shoemakers " kip," is the best 
for leashes. 

I can give no better description of a peregrine's 
block than the following, taken from " Falconry in 
the British Isles : " — " For a peregrine this block 
should be about a foot in height, six inches in dia- 
meter at the top, and nine at the base, to prevent it 
being overturned. An iron spike may be driven into 
the centre of the bottom of the block, which, running 
into the ground, keeps it firm. For facility in 
moving, a ring may be counter-sunk into the top of 
the block. If a hole is bored quite through the wood 
of the block it will be less liable to split. The blocks 
that are placed under cover should be padded on the 
top, to prevent the hawk's feet from becoming swol- 
len, — a disease they are apt to acquire if kept at all 
times on a hard surface." 

In the next chapter we will take up the hawks 
from hack, break them to the hood, and do various 
other things. 



F 2 



6B FALCONRY. 



CHAP. V. 



THE PEREGRINE (CONTINUED). — PRESENCE OF STRANGERS, DOGS, 
ETC. — WONDERS ACCOMPLISHED IN A FEW WEEKS. — HAWKS 
TAKEN UP FROM HACK, AND BROKEN TO THE HOOD. — NOT TO 
BE TEA8ED. — LESSON IN "WAITING ON." — ENTERING TO PIGEONS. 
— " CARRYING " AGAIN. — u WAITING ON " AGAIN. — WHAT THE TYRO 
MAY EXPECT FROM HIS BIRDS. — GLIMPSE OF CHAPTERS VI. 
AND VII. 



Our young hawks* have been flying at hack a few 
weeks, and have assumed a very different appearance 
from that which they presented when we were first 
introduced to them in the hamper. The white down 
has entirely left them, and they have become fine 
sleek birds. 

I hope that, even before they quite left the edge 
of the hamper, they were accustomed to the presence 
of dogs and horses — at any rate of dogs, which, per- 
haps, were fed near them. I hope also that they 
saw somewhat more of human society than that 
afforded by the visits of their trainer ; nay, the pre- 
sence of children, if they had it, was far from objec- 

* Peregrines are commonly strong on the wing early in July, and 
may, as a role, be taken from the nest in the first week of June. 



BEBAKING TO THE HOOD. 69 

tionable. When the birds became tolerably strong 
on the wing, it was no doubt found that a shyness, 
which at first was only just perceptible, slightly in- 
creased day by day. Notwithstanding this, it is to 
be desired that the presence of dogs and strangers 
was persevered in ; carefully, of course, as the hawks 
were found to bear it: pains also, I will suppose, 
were taken to prevent any sudden fright, such as 
that arising, for instance, from the playfulness of a 
young dog, or the snappishness of an old one. 

Assuming that all this, or something like it, was 
done, taking up the hawks, breaking them to the 
hood, and entering them to quarry, will not be found 
difficult tasks ; and the truth is, that the foundation 
of their training has been laid, and its rudiments 
acquired already. For, observe what has been done! 
Birds, which, had they been reared by their parents 
on their own wild crags, would, at this period of their 
existence, scarcely have permitted you to come within 
shot of them, are not only so domesticated, but so 
dependent upon yourself (as they imagine at least) 
for their daily food, that, instead of dreading your 
approach, they positively look for it with anxiety, 
and welcome it with pleasure. More than this, they 
have been taught to comprehend the meaning of 
sounds and signals. They know that a certain tone 
of your voice, and a particular motion of your hand, 
are intended to inform them that their immediate 
presence is required, and that their obedience will 

F 3 



70 FALCONET. 

be rewarded. Settled round you on the grass, they 
look for your assistance in enabling them to procure 
the choicest morsels, and even exhibit a kind of 
jealousy when they perceive that you indulge one of 
the party more than the rest. You have, in short, 
in the space of two or three weeks, established in the 
hearts of those of the fowls of the air which are pro- 
verbially the most wild, a confidence in your honesty 
and a dependence upon your power and kindness 
which, I will make bold to say, no sportsman, and 
certainly no naturalist, can look upon with feelings 
short of wonder and respect. This is what you have 
done, or rather what you will have done when you 
have in practice followed these directions up to the 
conclusion of the last chapter. It must now be my 
business to inform you what you shall do. 

Hack being over, the hawks must be taken up as 
quietly and gently as circumstances will permit. If 
they have been flown with jesses, and have remained 
tolerably tame, it will not be difficult to secure them 
after a simple fashion. Approach them as usual 
whilst they feed, and insert the hook of the spring- 
swivel into the loops of the jesses ; the swivel being 
of course attached to the leash, and the leash to your 
gloved hand. Lift the bird which you are taking up 
(and I would not take up more than one a day) by 
the lure on which he is feeding — your hold on the 
leash, somewhere near the swivel, being firm ; carry 
him, if he will permit you to do so, slowly to the 



BREAKING TO THE •HOOD. 71 

door of a partly darkened outhouse. As he is finish- 
ing the last few mouthfuls, walk into the room. 
Try, as the last large piece is going down, to slip on a 
hood which has been well cut away about the beak, 
and which, whilst fitting most easily and having no 
unfair pressure upon any one part of the head, is yet 
capable of being well and securely fastened. The 
meal which the bird was discussing when you cap- 
tured him ought to have been a small one — the leg 
of a rook, or part of a leg, for instance ; because it is 
a maxim amongst falconers that " bating on a full 
crop" is bad, and sometimes even dangerous. Ee- 
member that you may not be skilful enough to put 
on the hood at the first, second, or third attempt, 
and that the hawk may make some violent .struggles 
before you succeed — he may even continue them 
afterwards. You have succeeded, however, let us 
suppose. The bird, perhaps, is still rather sharp-set ; 
give him a chance then to " pull through the hood " 
at a small and delicate piece of beef, or a pigeon's 
leg : he will most likely decline. It is of little con- 
sequence : you need not be disappointed. I will 
suppose that you took up this bird a couple of hours 
before dark : carry him till dark. You would like 
to take the hood off to-night, in order to see how he 
bears the replacing it. If you dare make the venture 
and the hawk show the least disposition to " pull 
through the hood," take it off by candle-light. There 
is certainly something in lamp and candle-light 

F 4 



72 FALCONRY 

peculiarly adapted for breaking hawks to the hood ; 
it is better than twilight. There must be, I suppose, 
a sort of dazzle and indistinctness about it to eyes 
opening on it for the first time. Hood and unhood 
two or three times, letting the bird " pull through," 
if he will. When this is over, take him to the out- 
house which you have set apart for hawks — the 
" mews," if you like to call it so ; fasten the leash to, 
and place the hawk upon, the block. Now draw a 
thick curtain over the window, or close the shutter ; 
quietly unhood your pupil, and say " Good night " 
to him. (Or you may, if you please, keep him hooded 
for a night or two — this is Captain Salvin's practice ; 
in this case absolute darkness is not necessary.) The 
floor of the mews must be covered with sand several 
inches deep. A ventilator may be placed in one of 
the walls ; and the window made of glass guarded 
inside by perpendicular, not horizontal, wooden bars. 
I have described the "taking up" and hooding of 
a tame and good-tempered bird ; but I by no means 
answer for it that the majority of peregrines will be 
found like him. On the contrary, it is probable that 
you will not be able to take the first step with 
comfort ; I mean, you will hardly perhaps carry him 
on the lure to the darkened outhouse. Suppose, 
then, he should bate off on the way, and hang by the 
jesses, perhaps, screaming and biting ; or suppose you 
found it necessary to take him up with the bow-net 
— in these cases a hood must be put on as quickly as 



BBEAKING TO THE HOOD. 73 

possible, and in the most gentle manner that circum- 
stances will perjnit; the bird must be carried and 
put in the mew, as before described. In the morn- 
ing you will take the bird (be he wild or tame) from 
the block, not by touching a single feather belonging 
to him, but by carefully placing your hand under his 
feet, and so getting him upon it 1 — a little light hav- 
ing been let into the room. By this light you will 
(if he were left unhooded) hood him — the leash, of 
course, having been disengaged from the block, and 
wound round your gloved hand. Perhaps it need 
scarcely be mentioned that the left hand is invariably 
employed by falconers as a seat for the hawk when 
carried. 

The hood which you are using, it has been said, 
has rather a large opening at the beak ; the bird can 
therefore just get a glimpse of something red on your 
glove : draw the beef over his feet and he is almost 
certain to seize it with his bill, and nearly as certain, 
having once tasted it, to continue his meal. Move 
now (a small bit of meat having been demolished) 
towards the half-darkened outhouse ; open the strings 
of the hood with your teeth and with your right 
hand ; slip it off, and on again, speedily ; take a step 
out into the broad daylight, and offer a morsel 
instantly,, Continue this hooding and unhooding, 
invariably rewarding the hawk, if he will eat, the 
moment the hood is cm. In all probability it will be 
necessary to wet the bird thoroughly with cold water 



74 FALCONBY. 

from a sponge, during the first few lessons; you will 
find liim not nearly so inclined to. bate while the 
feathers are soaked and heavy ; and if the water is 
made to come from a distance, it gives a shock which 
is of service. In a few days he will begin to look for 
the hood, as an introduction to a feast — that is, if 
you have avoided anything approaching to a "fray" 
whilst teaching him to wear it. Hawks are not like 
dogs in disposition ; they distrust you, even if you 
tease them in the purest fun ; and they remember 
for weeks any exhibition of bad temper on the part 
of their trainer. 

The eyess, I will now suppose, is thoroughly 
broken to the hood ; sits, bareheaded, without show- 
ing signs of fear in the presence of strangers, and 
dogs ; and when tolerably sharp set, flies well to the 
lure.* 

As it is absolutely necessary that a peregrine in- 
tended for game or magpie hawking should "wait 
on " properly, a few lessons may be given in the 
following manner before the hawk is introduced to 
quarry: — Let him be taken out, hooded and sharp- 
set, by an assistant, who should stand about 100 
yards from the falconer. The latter is now to swing 
the lure, whistling or shouting for the hawk a 
moment after the former has freed the jesses from 

* Some falconers fly a hawk of uncertain temper once or twice 
with a creance at this period, lest it should rake away. If the bird 
has not been flown at hack it is quite necessary to do so. 



" WAITING-ON." 15 

the swivel and unhooded. On the bird's near ap- 
proach the falconer must conceal the lure for a few 
seconds ; this will cause the peregrine to mount, in 
short circles, the better to look for his suddenly- 
vanished meal, which he must then be allowed to 
enjoy, the lure being thrown on the grass. After a 
good meal, he is of course hooded and taken home, 
the last two or three pieces having been given through 
the hood. 

During the third or fourth lesson the hawk may 
be kept rather longer on the wing; but great care 
must be taken not to go into extremes in this matter, 
or the "pitch" may be lowered — a great misfortune 
indeed, as it cannot be too high. 

These lessons over, and the hawk being more than 
commonly sharp-set, and confined to the block, give 
him a live pigeon from the hand** If a large one, 
its wing might be brailed before offering it to a 
tierce ; but the precaution is seldom necessary. Let 
the hawk kill and " take his pleasure " on the quarry, 
L e. eat as much as he likes. On the following day, 
give a very slight meal in the morning only ; and on 
the third day, an hour after feeding-time, give a live 
pigeon on a long string, or " creance," as you will re- 
member such a string is called. After another inter- 
val of a day, take the hawk into a tolerably open 

* When a pigeon is killed at the block, put an iron-eyed pin in 
the ground near the block : by a string, which passes through the 
eye of the pin, the pigeon can be drawn within the hawk's reach. 



76 FALCONRY. 

place, and fly him at a pigeon that has a couple of 
long feathers taken out of one wing. The peregrine 
is now " entered * to pigeons, being ready to fly strong 
untouched ones ; and I have to make only two lead- 
ing observations before I dismiss your bird to fly at 
this quarry three times a week for a fortnight or 
more. 

In the first place, it is to be most carefully observed 
that the great pains taken when the hawks were at 
hack to prevent them from contracting the habit of 
" carrying," must not be rendered useless by careless- 
ness now. Gro up therefore quietly, but yet with 
confidence, to your eyess when he has killed ; whistle 
gently, as you always do at feeding-times, and, if he 
be on the first pigeon he ever caught in a fair flight, 
put the hook-swivel through the loops in the jesses, 
peg him down, and suffer him to take his pleasure on 
his prize. On a subsequent occasion, allow the hawk 
to commence eating before you lift him on the fist. 
He is raised on it simply by your seizing the quarry, 
which he will not loose ; secure him to the swivel, and 
feed him up from the quarry or from a piece of beef 
placed under the quarry's wing, if you have done with 
him for the day. If, however, you expect him to af- 
ford another flight, hold the neck or " inke " of the 
pigeon between the fingers of your left hand, the body 
being suspended under it : now cut away at the very 
root of the neck till the body or " pelt " drops, or is left 
in your hand. Hide this in your pouch or pocket at 



U rwr a thitxtvi /-vxt » 



WAITING-ON. 77 

once. When the head is finished, hood the hawk, 
giving one small mouthful through the hood. The 
object of all this (and the great secret in preventing 
hawks carrying) is to make them believe, as far as 
possible, that you take nothing from them, while, in 
point of fact, you deprive them of nearly all the wild 
quarry (in game-hawking at any rate, and always 
when you desire a second flight) which they kill. If 
these minute details seem troublesome, pray remem- 
ber that your hawks are scarcely formed yet, and that 
no trouble is thrown away which will tend to insure 
you good birds for the season, and may be for years. 
I am certain that the taking a hawk roughly, or even 
suddenly, from his prey, is sure, in a very short time, 
and at any period of his life, to induce the tiresome 
habit against which I am so anxious to guard. 

The second special matter I wished to mention is, 
that (t waiting on," which has been taught to a certain 
extent with the lure, must be still taught with pigeons. 
You will not long be without an instance of a chased 
pigeon dashing into low cover just in time to save 
himself from a stoop. The peregrine, partly from 
his nature and partly from practice at the lure, will 
wait on " in circles above the place where the quarry 
put in." Now, either get this quarry out in a very 
few minutes, or — after sending in the spaniel and 
making a show of beating the hedge — take a live 
pigeon from your pouch or basket, shorten its flight 
considerably, and release it with head away from the 






78 FALCONRY. 

cover, making it appear that you have just driven the 
real quarry out, and shouting " hooha, ha, ha ! " with 
all your might, running also in the direction of the 
pigeon. The hawk will kill at the first stoop, and 
consequently will be strongly impressed with the opi- 
nion that " waiting on," when beaters are underneath, 
is a most interesting and profitable proceeding. 

Here, then, is a trained peregrine : he is entered 
to one quarry, viz. pigeons, and is ready to be entered 
to others. If a falcon, she may be flown at anything, 
from a snipe to a wild duck, — nay, even perhaps at a 
heron, though passage-hawks are commonly used for 
so large a bird. Eooks and grouse she may, as a 
general rule, be made to take beautifully; but the 
more she is kept to any one quarry the better she 
will fly it. The best tiercels will take grouse and 
rooks ; those of not the highest courage will certainly 
take partridges, and very likely take them well. I 
only glance at these matters now in order that the 
tyro may have an idea of what he may expect from 
his birds : every kind of hawking will presently be 
treated in detail. 

I was exceedingly anxious to bring my readers to 
the point whither I have, in fact, conducted them, 
before this chapter should be closed. But, in em- 
ploying space for this purpose, I have been compelled 
to omit directions for the daily management of hawks. 
These, however, I purpose to supply in the next 
chapter ; for in truth, my good pupils, though I have 



GLIMPSE OP CHAPS. VI. VII. 79 

been with you in the field, I have left you very much 
to your own devices with regard to feeding, bathing, 

-d'ta-h, r- ta* E You Jt* 1 

my promise redeemed with regard to "imping;* 
neither shall the "bow-net" be forgotten, though 
perhaps that may not be explained till we reach 
Chapter VIL, on the catching and training of pas- 
sage-hawks, &c. 

We are now in the midst of rudiments. I know 
that they are dry, and I can conceive them to be 
difficult But wait with a little patience till we are 
out of the wood ; — we will shout then. Yes, I really 
hope to make some of these chapters interesting, 
when I shall show you the heron taken on his 
passage ; the grouse struck down amongst the purple 
heather, as he flies like a black ball over it; the 
cunning magpie falling to "Highland Laddie's"* 
stoop ; an eight-pound hare to " Bushman's " clutch ; 
and the rapid lark driven at last out of the white 
cloud, after a ringing, panting flight, by a bird who 
is quiet enough now, with head under wing, about 
thirty yards from the room in which I am writing. 

* "Highland Laddie." Since the above was written, this ex- 
cellent tiercel, the property of Captain Salvin, lost an eye, daring 
its absence from its master for a day or two. 



80 FALCONET. 



CHAP. VI. 

DAILY MANAGEMENT OF TRAINED PEREGRINE 8 WHEN AT HOME, AS 
SHOWN IN THE PRACTICE OF FALCONERS ; AND A PLAN FOR IT 
RECOMMKNDED. — FINE AND STORMY WEATHER. — THE PERCH OR 
SCREEN. — "GORGE NIGHT." — CASTINGS. — FEEDING. — BATHING. 
— IMPING. — WIRE FENCES. — SPURIOUS AND TRUE SPORTSMEN. — 
A LOST HAWK. — THE YOICES OF THE PAST. 

" The merciful man is merciful to his beast," truly ; 
and so is the practical man. He who can eat his 
dinner, and warm himself by his fire, and criticise the 
flavour of his wine, while he knows that his dumb 
servant is shivering, hungry, and miserable outside, 
is simply himself a brute ; but the man who supposes 
that the faithful creature he has so shamefully treated 
will, however willing, be capable of rendering him in 
future the service he may require, is definitely brutish 
— he is an ass. 

In this chapter we shall consider the daily manage- 
ment and treatment of trained peregrines when they 
are not in the field ; how we may best make them 
comfortable when they rest, and therefore useful 
when they work. And I have only to premise that, in 
writing and in reading this, the wild parentage of our 
hawks must not be forgotten. Domesticated them- 



DOMESTIC MANAGEMENT. 81 

selves, or semi-domesticated, they yet come of a 
family which never felt a chain; for the imprisoned 
hawk, like "the imprisoned eagle, will not pair;" 
and therefore, when it would be cruel to refuse a 
horse a warm stable, or a dog his snug kennel, it 
might be still more unkind to shut up the peregrine 
falcon in her mew. 

Falconers differ among themselves somewhat in the 
daily management of their birds. Some take pere- 
grines into a room or outhouse at night in all se^ons, 
and in all weather, while others allow them to remain 
out of doors almost from one year's end to another. 
In India, hawks are kept hooded all day when they 
are at rest ; and in England, especially in the hands 
of our best falconers, they scarcely ever wear the hood 
(though of course thoroughly " made " to it) : it is 
only worn, as a rule, when they are carried to the 
field. Blocks are solely used by some falconers; 
others adopt almost entirely the screen, or perch, at 
any rate in-doors : in most establishments you will 
see both. The truth is, that hawks may be kept in 
tolerable health under any of these systems ; but I 
believe that, by cutting away the ugly and awkward 
portions of each, the remainders will dovetail into one 
another, and form a tolerably perfect whole. Let us 
see then whether the result is not strong and shapely. 

You have a south wall. . Do you object to have a 
long sloping roof — perhaps a thatched one is best — 
projecting about seven or eight feet, at the height of 

a 



82 FALCONET. 

seven at the highest part, run along this wall for some 
yards ? You may have the thing made to look very 
rustic and sightly, and any one who can knock up a 
rough summer-house can knock up this. Let him 
close in the sides thoroughly, but leave the front 
open. He must be careful too about the position of 
any props which he may place to support the roof: 
if they are used, they must be at equal and proper 
distances ; but I decidedly recommend that the shed 
be cu4 into compartments, and the dividing walls will 
secure the roof. These compartments may be eight 
or even nine feet in length ; and their sides, and also 
the wall, should be hung, or rather perhaps covered, 
with matting. In the centre of each, by driving its 
spike firmly in the ground, fix a peregrine's block. 
That ground may be turf; but the block should be 
just surrounded by a small but deep bed of sand, and 
this sand is to be changed frequently. This year I 
shall try all sand behind the blocks, and all turf in 
front. If it happen that some low evergreens are not 
far from the front of the shed, so much the better ; 
at any rate, it must be protected as much as possible 
from the wind. Canvass, a yard high, pegged in the 
shape of a triangle, is useful as a guard against wind ; 
the apex being the point farthest from the shed, and 
opposite its middle, while the base of the triangle is 
represented by the front of the shed. Here is a 
dormitory for the warm months, and a place of shelter 
in bad weather during the day, as nearly as may be, 
all through the year. On fine calm days, blocks and 



CHANGES OF WEATHER. 83 

birds should be placed on the open lawn, under the 
shade of a tree when the sun is very powerful, and as 
night approaches conveyed to the shed. It is better, 
perhaps, to have two sets of blocks, one set for the 
shed and the other for the open. But in moving the 
birds from one position to another, the falconer has 
only to call the hawk to his fist by a " tiring," or 
well-picked leg or wing of a rook, &c, and then to 
hold the jesses between his fingers — all this with the 
left hand ; with the right hand he will either carry 
the block, or untie the leash from it (to be fastened 
to another block), just as his set be single or double. 
In very windy, perhaps in very wet, weather, but 
certainly in drifting snow from the south, it will be 
necessary to take the hawks into an outhouse, such as 
this, viz. a dry room having several inches of dry 
sand on its floor, and the window of which can be 
completely darkened by a shutter. Here they may 
rest on blocks, or on the perch or screen, day or 
night, or both, till the storm is over.* Care must be 
taken to make the darkness complete ; hawks do not 
dislike its sedative influence; and it keeps them 
perfectly quiet 

The perch or screen is a simple contrivance. It 
consists of a broad horizontal bar, placed breast high, 
and resting at each end upon perpendicular shafts, 
the bottoms of which are either heavily weighted, or 

* Darkness may be dispensed with, if the floor is well littered with 
straw oyer the sand. Indeed there should be straw in any case. 

o 2 



84 FALCONRY. 

secured to the floor, or. attached to a long wooden 
tray, full of sand or sawdust. The last method is the 
best. The bar, as I have called it, the perch itself 
in fact, is covered with green baize, which must be 
continued downwards, after the manner of a tight 
curtain, for two or three feet. Attached to the perch, 
at intervals of three feet, are spring swivels*, secured 
by little leashes of only a few inches long. The 
hawks should be hooded whilst their jesses are hooked 
on the swivels ; but, when all is safe, the hoods may 
be removed one after the other, the falconer imme- 
diately retiring and rapidly closing the shutter. If 
utter darkness can be insured, the birds won't bate 
off ; but, should they do so by any chance, they will 
climb up again by the curtain, provided the leashes 
are short ones. I confess, however, that I knew a 
case of a tiercel failing to regain his perch, and so 
dying. Still that happened, I believe, by daylight ; 
and I do not know the length of the leash. Certainly 
when hawks are first placed on the screen they should 
be frequently visited ;. but, in a short time, all anxiety 
may cease. Should any one feel nervous about the 
perches, he can use blocks, which are nearly as good, 
and perfectly safe. The screen f, in fact, has gene- 
rally been considered as the resting-place for short- 

* Spring swivels are safe in darkness, for there is little or no 
bating. 

f The advantage of the screen is that it can be placed in a small 
room, whilst blocks require a large one. 



"GORGE NIGHT." 85 

winged hawks — though the bow-perch is better — 
and I only recommend it, I repeat, for falcons, on the 
understanding that it is placed in perfect darkness. 

It will, perhaps, be thought a simple and unob- 
jectionable plan merely to take the hawks and blocks 
into the sanded room in boisterous weather, without 
troubling oneself about screen or shutter. If the 
room is well littered this may be done, as I have said ; 
but they are disposed to be restless, and to bate very 
much. Like the famous starling, they « can't get 
out," and they want to get out because it is light 

We have neither hooded our birds in the mew, the 
rustic shed, nor the open lawn ; but there is a time 
when it is absolutely necessary that they should be 
hooded. I will mention it in a moment: let me 
describe feeding first. It is Saturday evening ; give 
each hawk, at his block, as much rook or pigeon as 
he will eat, or else carry him, and while he is tug- 
ging at a bone feed him up to a, full crop with very 
small pieces of fresh beef. In fact, Saturday night 
is "gorge night," and it is selected for a feast because 
a day must intervene between it and flying ; and by 
giving a slight meal on Sunday morning, the birds 
are ready for the field on Monday. I do not mean 
to say that a hawk ought to be flown on all the six 
days ; on the contrary, three or four days a week are 
quite enough. However, as a general rule, weather 
will confine your sport sufficiently, and therefore 
advantage ought to be taken of Saturday night. On 

G 3 



86 FALCONRY. 

Sunday morning, then, give a slight meal about 
eleven o'clock ; and on Monday, at twelve, €S hood 
up " for the field. It is now that the hood is neces- 
sary. If you do not intend to fly till three or four 
o'clock, give just two or three small mouthfuls of 
lean beef or bird, without the least particle of fea- 
ther, at ten ; this must be only a taste of breakfast 
One meal a day is sufficient for peregrines, and it 
should be given in the morning ; but, when you have 
made up your mind not to fly a particular bird on 
the morrow, he may be indulged with a few pieces 
on the evening of to-day. Castings are also neces- 
sary : these are feathers or fur given with the skin, 
which, in order to make the hawk swallow them, 
may either be dipped in blood or offered with a small 
piece of flesh attached. Mice make excellent castings ; 
but the stomach may as well be taken out: some 
falconers consider it dangerous to give them without 
this precaution. The birds, if allowed to pick and 
eat part of a pigeon, &c, will get some castings in 
the natural way; but these must not be altogether 
depended on, as half your hawks' food is probably 
beef. The use of castings is to cleanse the crop or 
gorge ; they should be looked for on the sand, and, 
if nicely rolled, and free from smell and undigested 
meat — and if the mutes are white, having a slight 
dark mark in the middle, but no red, yellow, or 
green — the bird is healthy. Do not fly the birds 
till they have cast. 



DRESSING THE MEAT. 87 

Hawks must not have as much as they can eat, 
except on "gorge nights;" their condition may be 
known by feeling the breast. There are many ways 
of feeding them; but they should be often fed on 
the hand ; this, in fact, is done almost of necessity, 
after the capture of any bird which is not game, by 
letting the hawk eat it on the way home — and a 
warm meal of this sort is a good thing occasionally. 
In game hawking it is an excellent plan to take beef, 
ready cut, and cut small, into the field, and, when 
the head of the quarry is demolished, the feeding 
may be finished with the meat, which can be carried 
in a clean tin box, or in a pouch strapped round 
the waist, and having a division for hoods. (By the 
way, a spare hood or two must not be forgotten.) 
The daily meal, however, when it is a bird, may 
sometimes be given at the block ; not so when beef — 
for a hungry hawk, left to himself, will be apt to 
bolt that which he can tear so easily. Eemove also, 
for fear of this same bolting, all intestines: wild 
hawks do this for themselves ; but then they com- 
monly feed more deliberately than tame ones. 

Some falconers take the trouble to dress the meat 
in the following manner; and the plan is a good 
one : — A rook or pigeon is divested of all its feathers; 
if a pigeon, it is plucked ; if a rook, or any bird that 
will skin, it is skinned. The breast bone is taken 
out, the beak and feet are thrown away. The re- 
mainder is placed on a board and chopped, bones 

G 4 



83 FALCONET. 

and all, with a strong chopper; a few drops of water 
are added, and the whole becomes a fine mass. If 
beef be used, a raw egg may be mixed with it, when 
it has been well chopped. Of course such food as 
this is invariably given while the bird is carried, i. e. 
from, the hand. Hawks not at work will do better 
with a whole pigeon or rook, or part of one, at the 
block, as the pulling is exercise. If beef is not quite 
fresh (though this is a misfortune), it can be dipped 
in cold water and squeezed dry ; and the same thing 
may be done with fresh meat when it is desirable to 
reduce the hawk's condition. 

A bath mfist be offered to eyesses in the early part 
of almost every day in hot weather, and two or three 
times a week in winter. Messrs. Benham and Froud 
sell baths : but you may make one out of the bottom 
of an old tub. It should be six or eight inches deep, 
and, for a falcon, nearly a yard in diameter. I 
would not place it before the compartments of the 
shed, as it would be very much in the way there. 
Let it be sunk in the ground nearly its own depth 
(a stationary block being close to it) in some retired 
place on the lawn, out of sight of the other birds ; 
for hawks often bate a good deal if they observe one 
of their companions bathing when they have no bath 
themselves. As a sort of converse of this, you will 
take pains that a bad bather does see his fellows 
in the water. You may do a good deal by call- 
ing to your aid the two powerful genii, imitation 



IMPING. 89 

and jealousy. However, you may have several 
baths. 

Grease the jesses every week or ten days. And 
now a word or two about i/m/prng (mending a broken 
feather). Though a simple, it is a very important 
operation, and deserves the attention of every fal- 
coner. It is clear that a broken feather in the tail 
or wing, especially in the wing, is not only unsightly, 
but likely to interfere with the bird's speed. There 
is no particular reason, however, why its loss should 
be regretted; for if the stump remain, it can be 
mended. The falconer should collect all the feathers 
he can of the species of hawk he uses. If any stupid 
fellow has shot a peregrine, perhaps he may be pre- 
vailed upon to part with the " vermin's " skin ; and 
when a hawk moults the falconer must save the tail 
and larger wing feathers. It is well, when it can be 
done, to keep the tail and wings entire — for instance, 
in the " vermin case," and when a hawk dies. The 
best way of keeping feathers from the moth is to in- 
close them in brown paper bags. 

Imping is necessary, or at least desirable, even with 
a hawk just about to be put up to moult, which has 
an important feather broken off some distance from its 
point. In this case almost any feather will answer 
the purpose — which is only to afford support to the 
new and tender feathers whilst they are coming 
down. But when it is intended to fly the bird, great 
pains and neatness are necessary. Then any feather 



90 FALCONRY. 

will not do ; but one must be selected with regard to 
the sex of the bird requiring it, and to the number 
(first, second, or third, &c.) of that which is lost. 
The operation itself is performed in this manner : — 
hood the hawk, and get an assistant to hold him in 
such a manner that you can easily handle the broken 
feather. Take a sharp penknife (an unusually sharp 
one) and, having selected a firm pithy part at a 
reasonable distance from the quill, if the point of 
fracture will admit of your so doing, let the blade 
feel its way between the web to the shaft of the 
feather; now turn the edge towards you and cut 
cleanly and obliquely from quill to point, great care 
being taken not to injure the web on the side at 
which the knife comes out. The false feather — that 
which is to supply the place of the broken part — 
must be cut at an angle, through a thickness, and at 
a length, which exactly match the stump in the live 
bird. An impmg-rieedle is now taken. It is made 
thus : — Take a piece of iron wire rather more than 
an inch long, file it in a triangular shape and to a 
thickness which will suit the feather you are mend- 
ing, produce it to a point at each end, dip it in strong 
brine or in liquid glue, insert half into the false 
feather and the other half into the true feather, 
pressing firmly at the point of contact. The needle, 
of course, remains in the pith, and the feather is 
imped. If, as often happens, the original feather is 
broken without the end being lost, no false feather 



IMPING. 91 

"may be necessary. Imp the bird with a piece of his 
own feather in this case. Frequently, however, the 
end of the feather is broken so near the point that 
the shaft is too thin for the needle. Then cut 
further down, and use the false feather. Should the 
fracture be so near the open quill that the imping- 
needle will not hold, recourse must be had to plug- 
ging. This is done by taking off the web from the 
shaft of any feather of the proper size, and inserting 
this shaft (perhaps for an inch) into the natural 
hollow quill, both plug and natural quill having been 
cut straight across, and the plug having been dipped 
in liquid glue. A turn or two of waxed thread 
makes matters still more secure. Then the artificial 
feather is imped on the plug with the needle in the 
usual way. Sometimes the artificial feather is cut 
straight across its hollow quill, instead of obliquely 
through the pith ; in this case the plug, well smeared 
with liquid glue, must be passed up it 9 as well as up 
the natural quill on the bird's body. It is sometimes 
advisable to pass a common needle, with double 
thread, waxed, once through the plug and feathers — 
natural and artificial — tying the thread firmly on 
both sides. Oh no account must a feather be pulled 
out ; if it be, ten to one it grows a weak and de- 
formed thing, and sometimes bleeds. I had a merlin, 
however, last year, which lost a tail feather through 
the weakness of starvation, brought on before she 
came to me, and this feather grew perfectly. The 



92 FALCONRY. 

original one dropped out. Goshawks, too, seem 
sometimes, but I think rarely, to get feathers replaced 
healthily. 

Be careful how you fly hawks near light and almost 
imperceptible wire fences. The prince Dhuleep Singh 
had a tiercel severely injured in the head and neck, 
not long ago, just as the hawk was making his last 
dash at a magpie, through a wire fence. The quarry's 
life was saved, who chuckled in a most cunning and 
triumphant manner; that of thejiawk nearly lost. 

There are a few men in this country, calling them- 
selves sportsmen, who would shoot a trained hawk, 
knowing it to be trained. I shall not designate them 
by any epithet. It could not, indeed, be too coarse for 
them to receive, but it might be unworthy "of u Pere- 
grine " to write. There is a vulgarity too despicable 
for censure ; and I am unwilling to disturb these 
gentlemen in their natural and unalienable possessions. 

A kind and honest man, however, may shoot your 
hawk innocently ; and much may be done to guard 
against this accident. An advertisement put in a 
country paper; a notice on the blacksmiths' shops 
in the neighbourhood and other public places; an 
occasional public " meet " to fly pigeons, if your 
hawking establishment be a large one — all these will 
protect you with honest men : against rogues I fear 
you have no protection. You must wait with pa- 
tience, my brother, till the sport is better known. 
That it may be better known, or at least better 



A LOST HAWK. 93 

appreciated, propagate the undoubted truth, that a 
good shot and game preserver, a good rider to 
hounds, a man who has the best greyhounds, or who 
shoots the most deer, who throws a fly to perfection, 
or who flies the best hawks, is not necessarily a 
sportsman. Your true sportsman is greater than 
any of these. He is a generous, liberal-hearted man, 
who loves sport not only for the bulk of its bag, but 
for itself; who loves it so well that he likes to see 
others enjoy it; who, while he abhors the slander 
whiph would dignify some spurious pastimes with its 
name, rejoices to find it in a new or a revived garb, 
legitimate in birth ; and is ready to welcome the lost 
stranger to all the rites of his hospitality. 

One more hint, and this chapter is done. A stray 
or lost hawk must be sought for immediately, and by 
two people at the* least. In order that the assistance 
of a second person may be efficient, the birds must 
have been made thoroughly acquainted with him. 
If you have no regular falconer or gamekeeper, a 
friend, groom, or gardener, should now and then fly 
the hawks to the lure, in your presence, and take 
them up, feeding them well ; he had better not hood 
them perhaps, unless he is naturally expert at such 
matters ; though it is most desirable that he should, 
if possible, be taught to do so nicely, While you 
seek in one direction for the stray bird, this assistant 
will seek in another, both of you having a live 
pigeon in pocket, fastened to a short creance, as well 



94 FALCONRY, 

as the usual dead lure. A third person should ride 
to the farm and public houses at the distance of 
several miles, to engage the earliest notice, to he 
sent at once to you, should the hawk be seen. If 
the truant should be found after the absence of a 
week or two, he may be a little shy ; for nature soon 
asserts herself when she has a chance. In this case 
it may be necessary either to peg a live pigeon under 
the bow-net (an instrument to be described in the 
next chapter), or to peg down the dead lure, should 
the bird settle within sight of it when thrown 
up (a practice more common with merlins than with 
peregrines), placing a noose of soft string over the 
meat, which you may pull over the bird's feet 
and belly if possible, at the distance of a dozen 
yards. If however the peregrine be seriously wild, 
a live pigeon should be thrown up, fastened to a long 
string which is pegged. Permit the hawk to seize 
and kill the pigeon; then gently walk up, till he 
flies off. Now peg the dead pigeon firmly to the 
ground by both wings, its breast being exposed; 
draw out the long quill feathers, and stick them in 
the turf round their late owner, their ends pointing 
inwards. This arrangement will cause the noose, 
which you are about to place round them, to run 
up high and close to the legs of the hawk. Set it 
quickly and with care, retiring to some distance, 
taking the end of the long string to which it is at- 
tached in your hand ; the hawk will return ; on his 
return, jerk the string, and you will have him. 



VOICES OP THE PAST. 1)5 

Should you use the bow-net, you can hardly be ex- 
pected to rush frantically over miles of country with 
it in your hand ; and it is a good plan, if the hawk 
has been watched to his roost, to go straight to that 
spot before dawn, taking the net, and so present him 
with a pigeon the moment he is disposed for break- 
fast. The father of one of our professional falconers, 
having lost a hawk, sought it for hours in vain. At 
last the poor man, overcome with heat and fatigue, 
flung himself on the ground and fell asleep. The 
first object that met his eyes on opening them, was 
the falcon ; she had found him. faithful and de- 
voted u vermin," I would that some men knew thy 
nature, and then their good hearts would prompt 
them to call thee by a better name ! 

Wild rocky ground, though some miles from home, 
is a likely place to hold a lost peregrine. But if 
there is a ruined castle in the neighbourhood, go 
there at once. It is strange how fond our birds are 
of these relics of the olden time. The truth, I 
suppose, is that piles of stones, which resemble crags, 
attract them. But it is a stern and exacting truth. 
For my own part I will try to believe that the voices 
of other days, as they rustle in the ivy, and pass 
through the broken oriel, and go forth with the 
wind by the bastion-wall, still find ears that heed 
them. They call for the children of buried years ; 
and the children hear the old music, even through 
the din of cities and the hum of wheels ; — and the 
children come. 



96 FALCONET. 



CHAP. VII. 

THE HAGGARD PEREGRINE. — MRS. GLA88E. — HAWK-CATCHING IN 
HOLLAND. — THE BOW-NET. — HOW TO COOK THE HARE. — THE 
BRAIL. — TRAINING (PROPERLY 80 CALLED) OF PEREGRINES CON- 
CLUDED. 

The peregrine falcon is termed a " haggard " when it 
is taken wild in the adult plumage. During its first 
year the wild peregrine is called a " soar hawk" or a 
" red hawk ;" and, when caught during the migration, 
it is called a « passage hawk." All this will be found 
in the Chapter of Definitions ; but I mention it again 
for the sake of convenience. 

I am quite ashamed to allude to Mrs. Grlasse, even 
in the most distant manner. She and that unhappy 
hare are so continually pushing themselves into 
notice — they so struggle into the Times, so parade 
themselves in the reviews, turn up so unexpectedly 
in heavy and light literature altogether — that one 
really begins to think the moral and illustration (if 
they have such things to offer) no compensation for 
the perpetual plague of their presence. And yet 
" here we are again" — the old clown in the old pan- 
tomime ! Name " silence," and you break it. Kevile 



HAWK-CATCHING IX HOLLAND. 97 

Mrs. Glasse, and lo ! she is on the page before you : 
with one outstretched arm she directs you to the 
flying hare ; with the other she pathetically points to 
the currant jelly in the background. She conjures 
you to snatch the day — the moment; by all your 
hopes of happiness and of dinner, to take the initia- 
tory step with a decision and enthusiasm worthy of 
the cause. Well, Mrs. Glasse, I don't remember to 
have sought your society before to-day, so please do 
me a good turn : tell these kind people for me that 
a haggard peregrine must be caught before it can be 
trained ; and, when you have made that sage remark, 
we will consider both how to catch and how to train. 

First, how to catch, and also where to catch. The 
wild peregrine may be taken in the British Islands, 
and often is taken here, though not frequently for 
the purposes of falconry. A haggard tiercel was cap- 
tured the year before last in the south of England, 
and came into the possession of a friend of mine : 
several others were also taken. This bird was caught 
in a trap, and, strange to say, was entirely uninjured. 
A pole-trap is commonly used by gamekeepers for all 
hawks : it is circular in shape, and has no teeth. I 
shall say nothing more about it. 

If any of my readers wish for a haggard they may 
perhaps be able to procure one, either trained or un- 
trained, from some one of our professional falconers. 
The great heaths of Valkenswaard are resorted to by 
men — often cobblers, I believe — who pick up a good 

H 



98 FALCONRY. 

deal of money by taking peregrines on the passage, 
during the months of October and November. I 
should enjoy a day of this work, or sport it may be 
called, but should wish to be spared a very long 
apprenticeship, for you have to sit in a hole all day, 
to be nearly buried alive, while you pass the time, if 
you happen to be a cobbler, in alternately mending 
your neighbours' shoes and looking through a little 
aperture in a very low wall which surrounds your 
dwelling, with the object of discovering wild pere- 
grines. That wall consists of pieces of turf, which 
you cut away before you begin to dig ; you are roofed 
in, too, with more turf, laid on a rude frame. There 
is, of course, an exit. I hope you admire your 
quarters, and that the " event may justify the means," 
&c. You are looking through your aperture on a 
" bow-net," which is placed at some little distance 
from your new home. But what is a bow-net? 
Eefer to " Falconry in the British Isles ;" but here 
is the passage. It " is a circular net of fine twine, 
and is made to bag sufficiently in the centre so as 
not to press upon the captured hawk. It is fastened 
to a round frame, made by binding two iron bars 
(five-sixteenths in size) into semicircles, and joining 
them by loops at their ends, which act as hinges. 
When put together and laid out flat, this framework 
should measure 3 feet 4 inches from hinge to hinge, 
and 4 feet 10 inches across the other way. When 
set, only half the net is allowed to move, viz. that 



THE "BOW-NET." 99 

half to which the pull-line is to be attached ; the 
other half is firmly pegged to the ground by means 
of three square-headed pegs, which hold better than 
the round-headed. The net is set by turning back 
the movable bow and pull-line, and after adjusting 
the net and covering the whole with either soil or 
pulled grass, or moss, it is baited with a pigeon." 

You are supposed then to be looking in the direc- 
tion of such a net as this, which is spread out on one 
of the heaths of Valkenswaard. A pull-cord passes 
from it to your hand ; but there are two other cords, 
or rather strings. They are thin, and one of them 
runs through a ring-peg placed in the ground in the 
centre of the bow-net. To the end of that string is 
attached a live pigeon, which is put into a sniall box 
that has a door through which the pigeon can be 
easily pulled to the net's centre. The box is about 
eight yards from the net. (Hawks may be caught 
with this one live lure — no box being used.) But 
to make the affair even more attractive, another 
pigeon is fastened to a pole — to a pole, I fancy, for 
the convenience of a hawk that wishes to perch in 
order to reconnoitre and see how matters stand. This 
pigeon, however, has a piece of turf so placed for it 
as to afford a refuge on the approach of the passage- 
hawk. The second string of which I spoke is fas- 
tened to this lure, which can be stirred up when the 
falcon is seen. The hawk approaches: she makes 
for the pole-pigeon ; the pole-pigeon vanishes under 

H 2 



100 FALCONRY. 

the turf. The disappointed and angry hawk rises in 
a short circle, the better to see where the little wretch 
has crept. But you, my friend, inside the hut — you 
have another notion; you pull the string, and out 
comes the other pigeon from the box. The hawk 
probably takes him between the box and the net as 
he is fluttering. Draw the struggling birds gently 
to the net's centre, and with a jerk of the pull-line 
secure your prize. 

There are two little adjuncts to this. One is a 
butcher-bird. This fellow has done a good deal of 
private murder, on his own account, on the persons 
of little birds in thorn bushes ; he has impaled them, 
or he has been slandered. But the best of him is — 
at least for practical purposes — that he has a con- 
science. He sees the ghosts of his victims; they 
seem now to have great wings, immense talons, and 
crooked beaks. They pass, or would pass, but he 
shrieks in terror, and runs behind his turf. Down 
goes the half-mended shoe in the cellar hut ; glim- 
mers the eye of the cobbler through the aperture ; 
snatch goes the string which rouses up the pole- 
pigeon, and so on to the end. In fact, the butcher- 
bird tells the hawk-catcher when a peregrine is within 
sight. The second help to the individual in the 
cellar is not always used ; but it happens sometimes 
that he has caught a hawk which is weakly, or at 
least not all he could wish it to be. To the feet 
of this bird he ties a bundle of feathers, and fastens 
him to a string near the net. The hawk of course 



MRS. GLASSE. 101 

tries to escape, but presents to his fellows the appear- 
ance, not of being in difficulties, but of being in 
(literally) very " high feather." He seems to be 
struggling with some prey ; and a chance passer-by 
through the air comes to see whether a spot which 
afforded a feast for one may not afford a feast fdr 
two. So the passer-by is caught. I don't want to be 
sentimental ; but are not men sometimes a little like 
birds ? Of course I remember all about the plucked 
fowl of the philosopher ; but they are like, notwith- 
standing. 

Now, Mrs. Glasse, we have caught our hare ; let 
us cook her ! 

The peregrine, on being captured, is hooded with 
the rufter-hood (explained in the Chapter of Defini- 
tions), and sometimes put into the sock — a piece of a 
cotton stocking drawn over the hawk's head, (which is 
left exposed, except as far as the hood is concerned,) 
and fastened round his neck, the joints of the wings 
being allowed to project through slits. He is fastened 
round the body; and his feet, which pass through 
another slit, are wrapped up in cloth. It is not well, 
however, to leave him much more than half an hour 
in this state. Get him on a sort of turf block, 
fastened by his jesses to it, as soon as possible ; but 
perhaps you may catch another hawk or two before 
you make him quite comfortable. 

The passage-hawk is now at home. He has jesses, 
but scarcely any leash to the swivel, and is secured — 

H 3 



10* FALCONRY. 

the rufter-hood never having been taken off — to the 
block of turf; there are no angles, nothing by which 
he can injure his feathers. It is not necessary to 
commence at once a regular and systematic training. 
In fact, the first steps taken with a wild caught hawk 
are more in the direction of turning than training. 
For the first ten days or so he is removed from the 
block to the fist, only to be fed and carried, the hood 
remaining on the whole time. So far from there 
being any cruelty in keeping the bird hooded so long, 
you are kind in doing so ; for, at this stage, he would 
do all in his power to dash himself to pieces were he 
to see broad daylight. Neither is he in perfect dark- 
ness, the rufter-hood being cut away rather more 
than is usual with the hood-proper, at the beak open- 
ing. It is not amiss, by the way, to change the hood 
(in a dark room) for one with a somewhat larger 
opening (on the same principle as cutting the " seel- 
ing" — see Definitions) when the haggard has become 
a little reconciled to captivity. But this is antici- 
pating. Lift the haggard, then, on your fist, draw a 
piece of raw beef over his feet till he is provoked to 
peck at it ; let it be very tender, so that he may take 
a small piece up. He will probably shake his head 
and flip it away. Try again ; should he swallow one 
bit, he is almost certain to swallow more. But it 
may be necessary to cram, for the power of digestion 
is lost by a too long abstinence. You can, however, 
pass a good twenty-four hours, even allowing for a 



TAMING. 103 

fast before the hawk was captured, in perfect safety ; 
longer, I think. 

The dispositions of hawks vary ; but we will say 
that at the end of ten days or a fortnight the hag- 
gard feeds eagerly through the hood ; he, also, per- 
haps, just begins to recognise the whistle which you 
sound as you approach him. Now begin in earnest. 
Though in health, he has not been kept in high con- 
dition, and soon becomes " sharp-set." After a slight 
feed early in the morning, the bird must be carried. 
About two o'clock brail one wing, thus : take a strip 
of soft leather, about a foot long, as broad as a shoe- 
string, but three times the breadth in the middle; 
let it taper to points. Cut a slit down the middle, 
two or three inches in length. Place the joint of the 
hawk's wing through this slit ; bring one end of the 
brail under the wing, let it meet (outside) the one 
above ; tie the ends ; the joint is immoveable ; and the 
wing brailed. The picture in "Blaine's Encyclo- 
paedia " makes it appear that the brail goes round the 
body of the hawk ; this is a mistake, and has led to 
mistakes. The brailing being completed, wet the 
bird thoroughly by squeezing a sponge full of water 
over him, it being held some height above him, so as 
to add a shock to the wetting. Go to a perfectly 
retired place, an out-house perhaps, remove the 
rufter-hood, immediately replacing it by the hood- 
proper, and continue the lesson of €t making to the 
hood," as explained in a previous chapter on eyesses. 

H 4 



104 FALCONRY. 

It is recommended that haggards and passage- 
hawks should be kept, while they are in training at 
any rate, upon the perch, in a dark room, the shutter 
of which is thrown open only at feeding times. They 
seem to fly to the hand for food better from the perch 
than from the block, and the reason, no doubt, is that 
you do not stand over them when they are called 
from the former resting-place. These birds are first 
taught to come to the fist in a house — i. e. under a 
roof of some sort, where it is impossible that any 
passing object can steal that attention which ought 
to be devoted seriously to dinner. The truth is, that 
all hawks come to the hand better in a room than 
out of doors ; and I should not be quite satisfied that 
a hawk, say a sparrow-hawk, was perfectly broken to 
hand simply because I had seen her fly to it in a 
room ; out-of-door practice is necessary, and is the 
second step ; take care, however, not to make it the 
first, or you may lose time by frightening the bird at 
the outset. 

Haggards, when seriously taken in hand soon after 
their capture, are often rapidly tamed by being con- 
stantly kept awake for some days and nights. This 
can, of course, only be done by a relay of assistants 
to the falconer, as the bird must not be allowed to 
sleep for a minute. Such treatment, with a spare 
diet, soon conquers a rebellious, and even an obsti- 
nate spirit, and is, I think, to be recommended. It 
is not, however, absolutely necessary. Mr. Newcome 



TAMING. 105 

saw some haggards trained in Holland which were 
only carried from two to nine p.m. 

When the haggard, or wild-caught hawk of any 
age, comes readily to the hand out of doors, it is time 
to offer him a live pigeon in the house. Strange to 
say, he may refuse it. This bird, which when wild 
perhaps struck down the heron, may be now abso- 
lutely cowed at a quarry he could kill in a few 
seconds. All will be right in the end : offer a live 
sparrow ; let him kill several sparrows ; then, having 
kept him sharp-set for a day or two, give another 
pigeon with its wing brailed. When a live pigeon is 
given, the hawk must be on the block, fastened by a 
long leash, and the string attached to the pigeon 
must go through a ring-peg, in order that the quarry 
may be brought up to a particular spot within the 
hawk's reach. This is certainly the least agreeable 
part of training ; but once done, it is done with. 
The next step is to fly the hawk, in a creance, at a 
brailed pigeon; then he may be trusted at large, 
when very sharp-set, at a pigeon, to which is fastened 
a long string, to be shortened as the hawk improves. 
And I am sorry to say that as far as pigeons are con- 
cerned for a fiight 9 we must go no further, at least 
not for many months. A wild-caught hawk, however 
well broken, is sure to carry light quarry ; hence the 
necessity of the string to the pigeon, the end of which 
is taken up by the falconer as he approaches the 
hawk. All that, however, is only preparation. Your 



106 FALCONBY. 

haggard falcon is now prepared for being entered at 
heavy birds, such as the heron or herring-gull ; though 
she will be a wonderfully good hawk if she fly the 
latter quarry well. She can't carry these. The 
tiercel may be at once entered to rooks, crows, and 
Norfolk plover. But time accomplishes much that 
skill alone is insufficient for ; and, when a year or so 
has passed, the haggards will perhaps " wait on," and 
show no disposition to carry. When this happens 
they can be flown at game. Until it happen, they 
must be ridden up to after an unsuccessful flight, and 
taken down to a live pigeon in a string; for they 
have no notion at first of returning to the falconer as 
eyesses do, and are sure, if sharp-set, to dash after 
the first bird they may see in the distance. As for 
the dead lure, to which nestlings are trained, it can 
only be engrafted on the affections of haggards by 
very slow degrees, and the consequence is that wild- 
caught hawks are nearly always taken down with a 
live bird in a creance. Yet the passage-hawk is a 
noble bird, and, in experienced hands, more powerful 
than the eyess. I shall have something to show on 
that head when we come to " herou hawking." 

I have now entirely concluded the training, pro- 
perly so called, of the peregrine. The grammar is done 
with : let us try to enjoy the language. It has many 
beautiful passages, and perhaps a few that are instruc- 
tive. An revoir. We shall look for grouse and par- 
tridges with the eyess and pointer in the next chapter. 



THE FIRST OF SEPTEMBER. 107 



CHAP. VIII. 

THE FIRST OF SEPTEMBER. — BREAKFAST. — FLASKS. — MR. BROWN 
AND "PEREGRINE" SHOOT TILL LUNCHEON. — HAWKS GO TO 
THE FIELD. — CADGE. — A GROUSE IS KILLED. — BROWN AND 
ROBINSON DISPORT THEMSELVES IN A MANNER WORTHY OF MA- 
KOLOLO. — - MORE CAPTURES. — A FALSE POINT. — THE LADIES. — 
OUR BAG.— LECTURE. — THE TOTS. 

It is the first of September ! I know it is without an 
almanac. The morning air carries something peculiar 
with it; not exactly a scent — nothing so gross as 
that — but a sweet, charming, invigorating freshness. 
Summer has just gone away, with her red flowers and 
her hot face, with her jewels and her glitter : and 
Autumn has grown tall enough and strong enough to 
put the sickle into the corn, bind up the sheaves, and 
carry home all the harvest. 

I can sleep now on the night of the 31st of August. 
There was a time when I lay awake then : had they 
been erecting a scaffold for my accommodation in the 
early morning, I could not have slept less. A few 
grey hairs have a wondrously somniferous effect, at 
any rate when the exciting cause is only amusement. 

It is the first of September, I repeat; or, what 
amounts to the same thing for our present purpose, 



108 FALCONBY. 

I insist upon your allowing that it is. My friend 
Brown is sitting opposite to me at my own table. 
He has just finished breakfast; so have I. Now, 
Brown does nothing by halves, and he does not make 
half a breakfast. It would be inhospitable to him, 
however, were I to tell you, even if I knew, how 
many sardines he has swallowed, how many applica- 
tions he has made for ham, and how frequently he 
has referred to the marmalade. Enough that it is 
over : enough that rest follows labour. 

People differ as to what sort, and what amount, of 
breakfast a man ought to eat before a hard day's work 
out of doors. I have known people refuse meat, and 
even eggs, altogether, on the ground that such things 
are too heavy, and also induce a fevered state of the 
blood. Some men dare not drink tea, others refuse 
coffee ; the majority, I think, allow that chocolate is 
innocent. Well, I know nothing of medicine, but I 
know this, that a man in good health is better, and 
better able to work, after a moderately substantial 
breakfast than after one composed only of toast and 
tea. You will be careful, however, if you take my 
advice, to avoid anything salt, for thirst will come 
without being coaxed to the moor side — yes even to 
the stubble. However, the most difficult thing to 
determine is, what one ought to drink. It is the 
fashion of the day to take into the field huge bottles 
of cold tea, and indeed to refrain altogether from any 
more stimulating fluid. I don't like the fashion of 



BREAKFAST. 109 

the day; but I like it better than the fashion of 
yesterday, i. e. in other words, I would rather not 
have all tea, as we do now, nor all brandy and water, 
as they did then ; but would rather have all the tea 
than all the brandy. 

On the white cloth before me — I won't tell you 
what is before Brown — is a large flask of tea and a 
small flask of brandy-and-water. I intend to shoot 
till luncheon ; and I know full well that if I should 
get very hot, or tumble over a hedge, or struggle for 
long through very high turnips, I should miss two or 
three shots unless I applied to that brandy. Still I 
shall not touch it wantonly; I shall not attack it 
wishotit provocation ; I don't want to make an enemy 
of it. 

Brown and I have had a nice four hours : we have 
bagged three and a half brace of grouse from points 
and fifteen brace of partridges between us. We first 
took the edge of the moor, and then beat stubble, 
grass, and some patches of potatoes, all which lie not 
very far from the heather, on open table-land. We 
have taken pretty good notes too of the whereabouts 
of the birds we left behind us, and, if they don't 
move, shall be able to go almost straight to them 
after luncheon. We must be quick, by the way, for 
the hawks are hooded up, Jones and Eobinson have 
arrived, and the ladies who join our meet will be in 
the field before an hour is gone. 



110 FALCONRY. 

Eobinson is a pupil of mine, and he suggests with 
deference that we should have had a better chance of 
good flights had we "unhooded" immediately at some 
partridges which I told him Brown and I left scat- 
tered in a little field of turnips. It was a pity, he 
thought, to have to go home for the hawks, and so 
let the birds get together again. " Not so, my dear 
Eobinson," said I, " and for these reasons : in the 
first place, as Dr. Johnson was not ashamed to say, 
6 Sir, I like to dine,' I may perhaps venture to remark, 
* Sir, I like to lunch.' Again, although the partridges 
might have been found separately, kicked up one by 
one and shot, yet they were in a small field, sur- 
rounded by thick and tall hedges, and would not have 
afforded the sort of flight I intend to show to-day. 
There are plenty in the open," I added ; " we will go 
to them." Eobinson looked submissive, and offered 
me a cigar out of an immense case, somewhat after 
the manner of a penitent chief conciliating Dr. 
Livingstone with ivory and cattle : he evidently con- 
sidered that he owed me all the reparation in his 
power. 

We must make haste : the hawks are 100 yards on 
their way already, — I see the cadge by the gate. 
Look at that little idiot « Erin," how he tries to bate 
off! — I would not be the partridge before him in an 
open country, even if I had 300 yards' start, for all 
that. Whilst the cadge is preceding us on our way 
to the field, let me describe it. It is a wooden frame, 



THE FIELD. Ill 

about four and a half feet long by two or three feet 
wide ; it may be set down on its four short legs, or 
carried by a man, who stands in the middle of it, by 
straps which pass across his shoulders. In fact, it is 
generally an affair of four light poles fastened so as 
to form an oblong, with straps and legs, — the poles 
serving as perches for the hooded hawks, and being 
padded. At each end two or three bars of wood are 
fastened, to prevent the birds bating off inside, and 
the only objection to which is that they sometimes 
interfere with the tails ; but canvass would interfere 
more, to say nothing of its catching the mutes (of 
which, however, there are not many when birds are 
in flying order), and netting would be worse than 
bars. An excellent falconer has suggested the addi- 
tion of a piece of carpet fastened screen fashion, and 
has used such a cadge for unhooded merlins ; pere- 
grines, however, must be hooded on any cadge. 

We are now in the field, with three eyess peregrines 
of the year on our " cadge," viz. two tiercels and a 
falcon : added to this I have one old favourite tiercel 
on my glove. " Major," the pointer, keeps to heel ; 
but he is young, and it will be necessary to use the 
check-cord when we begin work. Let us try for 
grouse in this stubble : they come from the moor to 
it at all hours, and we were not near it this morning. 
We will fly against the wind, which is blowing gently 
from the heather: be quiet, and let " Major" hold 
up. The young dog quarters the ground like a young 



112 .FALCONRY. 

dog — there is a little too much gallop and romp, but 
the check-cord is a slight drag on him, and he will 
soon settle down to his work in style. Suddenly he 
pitches nearly head-over-heels. Toho ! " By Jove !" 
says Jones, " he's got them." " He has," I answer, 
" at least I think so, but I wont hood-off to a false 
point if I can help it; however, I've so often put 
them up from that very spot that I'll cast off the 
6 Earl.' As for you, Jones, instead of swearing by your 
heathen gods, do me the favour to canter after ' Major,' 
on that little pony of yours, the moment the flight 
begins, and if the c Earl ' kills, stop the dog, and peg 
him down near the birds ; here's a peg, and the cord 
is on him." Whilst giving these directions, I unhook 
the swivel from the jesses of the old tiercel, take off 
the hood, and, as I raise my hand to hold the bird 
aloft, he starts from it. In a moment he recognises 
the dog, and knows well what that statue-like posi- 
tion means : nay, perhaps, he can detect the very 
movement of the jaw (as though the pointer were 
eating the scent), and see the saliva running from it. 
I, however, at 200 yards, can only see the dead 
staunch point. Walk up gently, my friends ; let the 
hawk get his pitch. Pray do not hurry him ; the 
grouse know what kind of fellow has got above them, 
and won't rise till we make them. Well, thafs high 
enough, at any rate, and now his head is turned in 
towards the birds and towards the moor — so, here 
goes. " Hi, in ! ' Major,' lad ! into 'em, old boy !" 



A GROUSE IS KILLED. 113 

And I set the example myself. Up get a brace of 
full grown young birds, as the dog plunges forward. 
" Hoo-ha-ha-ha !" The practised hawk answers the 
shout by flying forwards, rising (if anything) as he 
does so, and then, in one terrible stoop, passing 
downwards through the air almost with the speed and 
the hum of a rifle-ball. It was a glorious stoop, but 
there must have been a clever shift too, for though 
he appeared to brush by, he has not killed, and not 
badly wounded, the quarry. Bounding, at the dis- 
tance of a few feet from the ground, which he almost 
seemed to touch, the good hawk rises again, not in 
rings, but in an oblique line, after the still flying 
grouse. 

Another stoop, from a pitch not so high as the 
last, at the same quarry again, which (evidently owing 
to its hurt) lags behind its neighbour ; and down it 
goes, with a wing broken, and the skull nearly laid 
open (as we afterwards discovered) by that single 
blow. Look at Brown and Robinson ! they " Wo- 
whoop" like wild Indians, and dance on English 
stubble the dance of Africa — a polka worthy Makololo. 
Hasten, redoubted Jones, on thy mission, and leave 
these, thy brother chiefs, in their ridiculous ecstasy ! 
Jones did well : he caught hold of the check-cord 
and stopped the young dog, who, though too well 
broke " to run in" on the struggling birds, conducted 
himself in so excited a manner, at the distance of 
fifteen paces from them, that a less experienced 

I 



114 FALCONBY. 

hawk than the « Earl " might have been frightened 
from its quarry. All was right, however, when I got 
up. The old tiercel was fed from the head and neck 
of its victim, hooded and placed on the cadge. (He 
might have been " fed up," for we did not fly him 
again that day.) 

Take the falcon next ; see what she will do — she 
has killed one bagged-grouse and three wild ones, 
since she was entered to them, and I know she is 
" sharp-set." Look, another dead point ! off with 
the young falcon ! She's well up now ; flush the birds. 
u Body of Bacchus!" said the enthusiastic but un- 
classical Jones, who, had he sworn at all, ought to 
have invoked Diana ; (t Corpo di Bacco !" (as if the 
accusing angel did not understand Italian) repeated 
he, "it's a hare!" 

It was indeed a hare. " Major " looked foolish and 
slunk back : I expect he had felt the check-collar for 
chasing not many weeks ago. The falcon wheeled 
off in disgust ; and just as the whistle shrieked, and 
the lure took its first whirl, a wood-pigeon passed in 
the distance. " Au vol !" shouted Eobinson, who 
had heard me lecture on heron-hawking. The hawk 
never thought of Eobinson, but she saw the pigeon, 
and off she went, like the wind, over some rising 
ground. " What a nuisance !" exclaimed I, in humble 
vernacular ; " but ride, Jones — ride !" Well, we 
were an hour finding that hawk ; she had killed the 
pigeon a mile or a mile and a half away, and, had it 



* 



MORE CAPTURES. 115 

not been that some rooks stopped to caw and circle 
about, we might have searched another hour. She 
had left the quarry, and was pretty well gorged when 
we found her, and had to be taken up with a live 
pigeon in a creance. 

Time gets on ; we shall dine at half-past six, and 
little has been done. We must go lower down, and 
get a brace of partridges at any rate. There ! some- 
body or something has put up that covey, or else 
they are passing out of the grass to feed on the 
stubbles. Mark them down! We shall have to fly down 
wind I fear, but, as there's scarcely any to fly down, 
it won't matter. There's time or rather distance for 
one stoop, and I should think two stoops, before they 
can " put in " at all. Speak quietly to the dog. 
" Have a care ! steady, 'Major ! ' " There he is again ! 
Now for "Erin" and "Comet," the two young tiercels; 
I'll cast off both at once, and chance their taking 
separate birds, which they are nearly sure to do." 
" That's right, Potterer," said I, speaking to a stupid 
gamekeeper who came with one of my friends, and 
carried the cadge — " that's right, and done without 
a blunder. Now you have given me ' Comet,' give 
* Erin ' to Mr. Eobinson." So Eobinson and I cast off 
our birds. They knew a little what the pointer 
meant, and seemed to regulate the position they took 
at their pitch with some reference to him — at least, 
I thought this was all, until, when the dog did not 
move, and we came up but slowly, little "Erin" proved 

I 2 



116 FALCONBY. 

to demonstration that he knew the dog's business as 
well as his own, for he fell almost as if he had been 
a stone, on " Major" 's back, or within a few yards of it, 
as much as to say, " Get in, sir, get in," and then 
regained his pitch before the dog— who seemed to 
be equally well up in the matter — flushed the par- 
tridges.* Down they came, " Comet " and " Erin," 
almost side by side ; but I was a little wrong in my 
calculations as to the number of stoops possible before 
the birds could reach cover. Whether the bird which 
" Comet " struck at the first stoop intended to "put in" 
the hedge or to pass over it, I could not see, though I 
suppose the former; however, he never reached the 
hedge alive, though he did reach it. The rush — not 
so much of wings as of the feathers of an arrow when 
it leaves a 70 lb. bow— the falling of a dark object 
from somewhere between us and the sky — something 
almost like the "thud" of a striking ball in the 
target — and the partridge falls dead on the hedge- 
top, his head cut away clean from the body.* That 
Brown and Eobinson, nay Jones to boot, would have 
relieved their excited feelings by some such exhibition 
as that with which two of them had already favoured 
us is more than probable, had it not been for the cir- 
cumstance that the partridge pursued by " Erin " "put 
in " not far from the spot where his companion fell, 
and so made it necessary that those gentlemen should 

* Founded on fact. 



THE LADIES. 117 

exert their talents and energies to get him out again 
as quickly as possible. To this end they called a 
small but courageous spaniel to their aid — a little 
fellow who did not recognise thorns as thorns ; and 
as the bird again took flight, it was brought down, at 
the first stoop, by the hawk, who, knowing what to 
expect, had a waited on " above for that express 
purpose. 

And what has become of our fair friends all this 
time ? Have we ungallantly forgotten them ? If so, 
we have forgotten ourselves too. But no : they rode 
well — nay, they cheered well. "Comet" heard one 
clear silver sound when he gathered himself for the 
stoop, which proved to be the most brilliant of the 
season. Sir Edwin Landseer, look at that flight ! 
dip your brush again in those undying colours, and 
give a picture to all time which it shall be as impos- 
sible for pen to rival as fully and sufficiently to 
praise ! 

Well, our bag was not large. It consisted of but 
one grouse, one wood-pigeon, the brace of partridges 
killed by the young tiercels near the hedge, and one 
other old cock-bird cut down afterwards by " Erin." 
" Comet " put in a single bird, but it was lost simply 
because neither dog nor man could put it out again. 
However, five kills out of six flights was not so bad, 
— at least we thought not. 

I was solicited to beguile the mile and a half that 
lay between us and home by a lecture on game- 

I 3 



118 FALCONRY. 

hawking ; but I had enough to do to answer all the 
questions which were put to me. " Did you not 
once say," asked Robinson, st that a beginner should 
attempt to train but one peregrine, and that the bird 
should be a tiercel ? Now, I have heard that when a 
hawk is lost the best plan to recover him is to fly 
another hawk of the same species (as a sort of call- 
bird), — the companion of the lost one, if possible." 
" True," said I, " the plan you mention is excellent ; 
it is patent to all falconers ; but you will remember 
that I recommended an * only tiercel ' to none others 
than to those who had never taken a hawk in hand, 
and who knew nothing practically about the matter. 
For such I know my advice is good ; and any one 
who really desires the spread of falconry should 
repeat it, and for this reason, that many would-be 
falconers have already been discouraged in limme, 
disappointed and disgusted altogether, simply because 
they have commenced with too many birds. They 
have been ' too greedy? as a great falconer expressed 
it to me. Besides, a hawk, which is the constant 
companion of its master, is not very likely to be lost ; 
and, if it be lost, can probably be recovered by the 
lure and shout." " What is the best way of restoring 
feathers on a living bird, which have become bent, 
but which are not broken ? " " Hood the hawk, and 
dip the tail or wing (as the case may be) in hot 
water," said I. " Do you think we could have good 
sport with the gun if, at the end of September with 



A LECTURE. 119 

grouse, and later on in the season with partridges, — 
in short, when the birds became wild, — we were to 
fly a peregrine to the lure, allowing him to rake away 
pretty well, and the moment he was taken down and 
hooded beat for the game ?" " You would have ex- 
cellent sport for a short time after the hawk was 
taken down, being able to walk perhaps even into the 
midst of grouse ; but it would be prettier sport to put 
the bird on the wing again to the first point, and to 
kill right and left while he struck down a third."* 

"Can you tell us an anecdote apropos of game- 
hawking ? " " Here's a fine stoop for you, at any 
rate," said I. (t Col. the Hon. E. Gr. Monkton saw a 
favourite # falcon of the late Col. Bonham do this: 
the falcon was ' waiting on ' rather wide, there being a 
strong breeze at the time, when up sprang an old cock 
grouse, uttering his wild cry as he skimmed rapidly 
down wind. In an instant the falcon (which seemed, 
from its great pitch, hardly larger than a.pin's head) 
made a straightforward flight for a short distance, 
and then, with a pause as if to take aim, but which 
was almost imperceptible, came down like a meteor 
upon the grouse, which, from the power of the stroke 
and the speed at which it itself was flying, spun over 
and over in its long slanting fall, and was found 
deep in the heather. CoL Bonham had an excellent 

* John Anderson, one of the falconers employed by the ancient 
family of the Flemings, of Barochan Tower, Renfrewshire, frequently 
did this. He died in 1833, at the age of 84. 

x 4 



120 FALCONBY. 

little tiercel called * Little Jack,' a famous bird for 
snipe ; the Colonel used to go out with him before 
breakfast, and seldom bagged less than two or three. 
The same gentleman was flying i The Countess ' (a fine 
eyess falcon) at grouse ; she was ringing at a great 
pitch when the old setter made a steady point. The 
peregrine moved on over the dog; a grouse was 
sprung; but as the hawk gathered herself for a 
stoop — which, had it sped, would have carried death 
— a raven, to the infinite surprise of all who looked 
on, intervened between the pursued and the pursuer, 
with the motive, however, not of intercepting de- 
struction, but of aiding it. She joined in the chase, 
but utterly spoiled the stoop of the falcon. The 
grouse 'put in.' ' The Countess,' disdaining the soci- 
ety of the vulgar nigger, rose loftily; and, as the 
quarry was again flushed, prepared once more for 
her stoop. Again the raven, convinced that she 
alone could bring matters to a satisfactory issue, and 
claiming the common rights of the air, started in 
pursuit, placing her black body between the high- 
born lady and the flying prize. This was too gross. 
f The Countess ' came down like lightning on the back 
of the intruder ; with one blow sent it off sick and 
croaking to the rocks ; and then, as though she had 
but brushed a gnat from her path, regained her 
pitch for the third time, and killed the grouse at 
a single stoop. The Colonel, and his old falconer, 
M'Cullock, declared it was the finest thing in falconry 



THE TOYS. 121 

they had ever seen. And now," said I, " one more, 
and we have done. Captain Salvin told me the 
following: — * I once had a splendid flight with " Ver- 
baea," an eyess falcon, at an old cock grouse, upon 
Grassington-moor, in Craven, near Skipton. The 
flight must have been about two miles. When I 
reached the spot where I expected to meet with the 
hawk, I found her panting and completely done, at 
some little distance from the grouse, which was 
wounded and exhausted, lying amongst a heap of its 
feathers. Neither could stir when I got up, and I 
shall never forget the pretty picture I thought it 
would have made. The grouse had fallen on a burn 
side, where the heather had given place to that beau- 
tiful short, soft, green grass which is made by the 
browsing of sheep and geese. Then, as a back 
ground, there was a sparkling stream, with rock, 
fringed with fern and purple heather,' " &c. 

"Thank you, ' Peregrine,' " said the ladies, and 
Brown, Jones, and Eobinson immediately said "Thank 

you." 

* * * # * 

Put up Brown, Jones, and Robinson in their oval- 
shaped box, made out of a great shaving that does 
not meet at all neatly at one side, and which is bound 
with another shaving, red, and thinner. They are 
only puppets, you know. I never knew them. Mind 
you don't break their legs off, or their heads, or spoil 
the wire that pulled them. They were very cheap 



122 FALCONBY. 

and I borrowed them from somebody else ; but they 
have lightened our toil a little — children that we 
are ! — and I would not hurt them. We all find our 
playthings strewed about the serious roads of life; 
they get full of dust sometimes, but (thank God) we 
can shake it out again. I, for one, like to see them 
there ; they do good and no harm ; they may some- 
times instruct, always amuse, us. Yes ! I think we 
must put them all up, very carefully, into the play- 
cupboard for another day. 



ESSAY ON "SPORT.'* 123 



CHAP. IX. 

AM ESSAY ON " SPORT." — MAGPIE-HAWKING. — NO DOGS.— HUNTING 
WHIPS. — ETESS TTERCEL8 TO BE USED. — THE SORT OF COUNTRY 
NECESSARY. — A FAIR SPRINKLING OF MAGPIES BETTER THAN A 
GREAT QUANTITY. — THE SORT OF WEATHER. — THE FALCONER 
AND HIS "FIELD/' — THE MAGPIE.— THE FLIGHT. — THE "TAIL." — 
— MAGPIE-HAWKING IN IRELAND. — ROOK-HAWKING. — BAGGED 
BIRDS. 

People agree in their notions of what sport is, so 
far as this, — that they confess certain elements are 
necessary to its existence, and that, if any of these 
fail — these essential parts — the whole is more or 
less a failure. A fair prospect of success, mingled 
with some uncertainty in regard to the exact time 
when we shall be successful ; an occasional difficulty, 
together with skill, tact, and perhaps bodily strength 
to overcome it; an occasional stroke of good fortune, 
with ability to make the most of it — all these are, 
of necessity, allowed places in that which is called 
« sport." 

Still, I question if we have a very accurate impres- 
sion of what it really is. We are inclined to see it 
only in its instruments. This man cannot under- 



124 FALCONRY. 

stand it in connexion with any creature but a fox ; 
that man weds it to a partridge. 

I grant, of course, that the immediate object of 
pursuit, together with the implements of chase, are 
necessary to the existence of sport; but they are 
necessary only in the manner — considerable, it is 
true — that the body; is necessary to the mind, or 
the fingers of a clock to the main-spring. 

Sport is not wholly material. It has material 
agents, but it is above and before them all. Do you 
imagine that, because it sits for awhile on the falcon's 
wing, or bounds side by side with your greyhound, 
or speaks to you in the music of the pack, or touches 
the water when' the eddy circles away, that it is the 
child of these ? It is not the child of these. Its 
parentage is as high as your own ; its spirit was born 
with your life, and will live in any house you may 
choose for its tenement. 

Is music material ? is poetry ? 

I have not confused the love of sport with the 
reality. For imagine a man born amongst the objects 
of the chase : let his chief companions be old women, 
or those who, until they joined him, have spent their 
existence amongst streets; let him be without tuition, 
and do you not think that he, or his offspring, 
probably himself, will find a way to hunting ? Aye, 
marry ! will they, as sure as the newly-fledged falcon 
makes her first stoop. Such a man had never seen 
sport ; he did not meet her on the wold, or in the 



ESSAY ON "SPORT." 125 

forest : there indeed was her food and raiment ; but 
she first sprang from his side — from himself, and 
came back to him clothed and armed, — the Diana of 
his dreams. 

Now, the fair maiden may clothe herself as she 
lists ; in other words, you, sir, may choose her dress 
for her, because she is sure to like it. 

That which I will call the immediate object may 
be a fox, a pheasant, or a fish. The value of that 
object, whatever it be, is not necessarily intrinsic, — 
it is adventitious. This may be made clear at once 
by dividing sports into two classes. In one class we 
will place (at any rate) shooting and fishing. In 
these a great deal depends upon the rarity and in- 
trinsic value of the creature taken : thus a woodcock 
is better than a snipe ; a trout than a chub ; and the 
" sport " is found to be very much in proportion to 
the value (as the term is commonly employed) of the 
bird or fish. But in what we emphatically call " the 
chase" — such as hunting and hawking — the value 
of the (t immediate object," though great, does not 
arise from its importance when caught, but from the 
excitement and amusement which it affords in the 
catching. The fox and fox-hunting, so familiar to 
every one, illustrate this remark at once (the animal 
chased being, as a possession, absurdly out of propor- 
tion to the pains taken in his capture); and the 
simple mention of them renders other comment un- 
necessary. 



126 FALCONRY. 

It is the incidents of the chase, then, that are 
amusing and absorbing; these follow nobly in the 
train of the " immediate object ;" they are created by 
it, whilst they are superior to it. Clearly the game 
must be valuable ; yet the value need not belong to 
the possession, but to the pursuit. 

I have thought it worth while to analyse a little 
our notions and feelings on the subject of sport ; be- 
cause I am about to offer my readers some remarks 
on the method of taking birds (with peregrines) 
which are treated, with reason, as vermin, or consi- 
dered as worthless altogether, and can therefore be 
valuable to the sportsman only as they afford him 
amusement in pursuing them. This chapter is on 
magpie-hawking and rook-hawking % However amus- 
ing the magpie may be when alive and in captivity, 
he is worthless when dead ; and falconers are, I fancy, 
the only sportsmen who care to pursue the rook and 
carrion crow, except, indeed, that the pea-rifle does 
some execution on the former at the beginning of 
every May. What I have to say practically upon 
this subject will be written, in great part, from notes 
prepared by my coadjutor, who has brought magpie- 
hawking (introduced, or at least greatly improved, by 
Sir John Seabright) to what I think may fairly be 
called perfection. 

Let us take magpie-hawking first ; — rook-hawking, 
indeed, is almost learned from the same lesson. For 
this sport a " field " is necessary : it is, in fact, the 



MAGPIE-HAWKING. 127 

fox-hunting of falconry. The quarry is the most 
artful of all birds which we chase ; and, though his 
speed is insignificant compared with that of some 
others, the cleverness with which he shifts to avoid 
the stoop, the brain which he bears, and the extra- 
ordinary adaptation of his bodily powers to elude 
capture in anything like cover, make it necessary that 
the hawks should be assisted by several experienced 
hands. In fact, you must have a "meet." That 
"meet" must be very devoted and very obedient.* 
One thing it must not do upon any account whatever, 
— it must not bring dogs. If it forget this prohibi- 
tion, even in the case of one of its members, the lives 
of your hawks will be in danger. Imagine a favour- 
ite tiercel, after a long and fine flight, just breaking 
the quarry's neck, — a tiercel that your wife, children, 
friends, love — the hawking community perhaps 
know — his name a household word among all, — 
imagine this fellow, docile as a dog himself, and 
never caring for one, run into and killed by some 
yelping brute ! A pleasant fancy truly ! " Pray you 
avoid " a possibility of the reality. 

But you must have hunting whips. When the 
magpie has taken to cover, the smart crack of a whip 
is almost certain to send him out again. You know 
the effect which such a sound has on a hare in 
" form ; " but with the magpie there is really a ne- 

* Circulars should be distributed in the neighbourhood with these 
directions ; this plan has been tried, and found excellent. 






128 FALCONRY. 

cessity for it Surely, if not a veritable witch, mag 
must imprison the spirit of some ancient caitiff who 
has never obeyed but at the threat of chastisement. 
To constitute a perfect " field " there should be horse- 
men and footmen — the former using their whips, 
the latter their sticks and staves, to drive the magpie 
from his place of shelter, such as a hedge or clump 
of trees, when he has been " put in " by the hawks. 

It is not at all meant here that a falconer, with a cast 
of peregrines, and a friend or two (or servant or two) 
to help him, cannot take magpies in a tolerably open 
country ; although, if he have never yet tried the 
sport, he will probably find it more difficult than he 
imagines it to be ; but I am simply saying how the 
thing is to be done if it be done in perfection. In 
that case there certainly should be a proper " meet " 
— a pic-nic " meet," if you will. Ladies who like to 
ride over a little fence, and yet do not care to follow 
the hounds, should be on horseback ; men who like 
riding, who like running, should be there ; labourers, 
with a couple of hours or more of holiday, should 
be there as beaters ; and if the " meet " be in Ireland 
(so says my friend from whose notes I am now writing, 
and who looks back with gratification — nay, perhaps 
I may venture to say for hfm — with gratitude, to the 
hospitality which he received in that country), there 
is sure to be as excellent a luncheon and as hearty a 
welcome as a man need eat or need shake hands upon. 

Falcons are so likely to start after rooks when the 



MAGPIE-HAWKING. 129 

magpie has "put in," and thus been lost to the hawks 
for a time, that tiercels ought to be used. Passage- 
hawks would not ee wait on " well — a matter in which 
magpie-hawks should be perfect — and would pro- 
bably a carry ; " for these reasons, and perhaps also 
from the greater facility in procuring the young 
birds, magpies are almost invariably flown with 
eyesses. A single tiercel, well supported by the 
" field," will take the quarry in time ; but it is much 
better to fly a cast at him, half the beauty of the 
flight consisting in the manner in which the assail- 
ants aid each other, one immediately taking up the 
stoop which his friend has missed. 

As for the sort of country necessary for the sport, 
it must be free from woods; not from the hedges 
of large enclosures, nor from occasional bushes, nor 
even from very small plantations, but from " woods," 
as one generally uses the term. Indeed, a country 
may be too open ; a magpie, when there is no shelter 
near him, will take wing .on the first appearance of 
the hawking party, and, if he is viewed at all, will 
be too far off for a flight. Choose, therefore, some- 
thing like the following for the ground: — Grass, 
with leapable hedges ; here and there a thorn bush, 
either in the hedge itself or in the large open fields ; 
and, of course, there will be, whether you like it or 
not, an occasional small tree. With these advantages 
a falconer and four assistants may have fine sport 
with a cast of tiercels, but the more the merrier, 



130 FALCONEY. 

and if the " cheer " may be spoken of as represented 
by the number of quarry killed, it will probably con- 
tradict the proverb, and not be " better " with the 
" fewer." 

A fair sprinkling of magpies is better than a great 
quantity of them ; the reason is, that if they be too 
plentiful, the hawks in pursuit are apt to fly at 
"check," i. e. when the quarry has "put in," the 
tiercels " waiting on " above him are almost sure to 
fly a fresh magpie, should it pass before the legi- 
timate bird is driven out. It is clear that in doing 
so they waste their own strength without the chance 
of being able to fatigue their opponents, who are 
compelled only to a labour which, like the breaking 
of separate sticks, is easy when it is divided. 

In this country hawks cannot be depended upon 
when the day is very bright and the sky azure ; 
in such weather they like the luxury of a soar. It 
is not difficult then to conceive that in such a sport 
as magpie-hawking, when a good deal of "waiting 
on," and consequently patience, is required of them, 
they should sometimes be tempted to leave it for the 
amusement which, notwithstanding their hunger, 
nature dictates — just as you, my friend, who like 
luncheon and fly-fishing, would forego both, in a 
broiling day, for one swim of ten minutes in the 
deep and crystal water. And as perfect calm, ac- 
companied by great heat and brightness, is detri- 
mental to the sport, so is a high cold wind. The 



THE FALCONER AND HIS "FIELD." 131 

medium is right here, and perhaps anywhere ; seek 
it, at least, here. 

Let us suppose that a good falconer, with a cast 
or two of tiercels, and a " field " of his friends and 
neighbours — ladies, gentlemen, yeoman, and beaters 
— starts for half a day's magpie-hawking. It is a 
neighbourhood that affords the quarry he seeks ; and 
one of a few scattered trees in the distance seems 
likely to hold it. A small but good glass is an 
excellent help now ; direct it to the tops of the trees. 
There is Mr. Mag on the very topmost bough — nay, 
on the highest twig of all, rocking himself about in 
an apparently free-and-easy, care-for-nobody, Ame- 
rican sort of manner, but, in reality, watching the 
little company with a most anxious gaze, and not 
a few nervous misgivings at heart. See how he 
telegraphs with his tail, in jerks whose rapidity is 
increasing, that all is well ; while, contradicting their 
antipodes, his clever head is turned more quickly, 
and his sharp eye looks out for the refuge which he 
is on the point of seeking. Poor maggy! had you 
balanced yourself on that bough before t€ Highland 
Laddie " was blinded, I had counted you but dead ; 
as it is, I pity you — nay, could I ride the air, I 
think you would be helped in your last shift, just 
when they come spinning past you, just as you drop 
one feather to their touch and expect to drop yourself 
when the next stoop comes. 

But some one has seen you, and has mentioned 

K 2 



132 FALCONRY. 

the fact of your presence to the. falconer. He is 
even now hurriedly telling his "field * to place them- 
selves between you and that little wood in your 
rear, so that, should you attempt to make for it, 
you may be intercepted. Had you been in the wood 
(you may be interested in knowing this), the side 
down wind, especially if most open, would have been 
left clear for your exit, while the beaters went in 
opposite. The object in any case is to get you into 
the (€ open " as quickly as possible. I perceive that 
you are there already; and, indeed, that a cast of 
tiercels has been cast off, and is in hot pursuit of 
you. Do you wear the half-mourning for one of your 
brothers slain long ago at a great stoop ? or is it put 
on quaintly and shrewdly on account of the doubtful 
issue of the present struggle, and in semi-anticipation 
of it? They are experienced hawks that are after 
you, and, had one been inferior to the other, you 
would have had the best first. As it is, fly! but, 
above all, as you cannot fly well, dodge. Pass down 
a hedge close to its side ; just skim the ground ; they 
dare not stoop hard then, lest they should dash them- 
selves against it; and, if you are pressed into the 
open, shift backwards as they stoop. Farewell ! 

There are two or three methods of managing a 
flight. Take, for instance, the case where the coun- 
try is pretty open, good for riding over, and most of 
the party are mounted ; then a straight flight across 
country is most desirable. To secure it the magpie 



THE FLIGHT. 133 

must hot' be headed, but allowed to make " his point," 
which, like that of the fox, will be straight to the 
nearest wood or cover — his stronghold. Or you 
may, under other circumstances, adopt a plan exactly 
opposite to this : it is common, and sometimes abso- 
lutely necessary. When cover is close by, the quarry 
must be headed at once and driven from it. He will 
take short flights near the ground, and from bush to 
bush ; but his favourite course is along a hedgerow. 
As the hawks cannot strike him in such situations, 
the great object of the falconer and his field must be 
to drive him across the open country ; at any rate, to 
press him over pretty good-sized enclosures, if there 
are any, so that the tiercels may get the chance of a 
stoop or two. Suppose the magpie has " put in " a 
hedge ; let the horsemen leap it, or get on the other 
side by some means as fast as they can ; the footmen 
must remain where they are. In this manner a circle 
is made, only prevented from uniting at two points 
by the hedge, which the ends of the semicircles, how- 
ever, must touch, the magpie being in the middle. 
Let each party now rapidly approach the other, and 
with the crack of whips, with sticks, and voices, com- 
pel the magpie to fly free of cover altogether. As 
the tiercels come down, one after another, he " shifts 
his flight," i. e. turns quickly in the air, thus throw- 
ing the hawks out, and giving himself the opportunity 
of regaining cover. From his new shelter he must 
be driven as before, and that as quickly as possible, 

K 3 



134 FALCONRY. 

for (as the field will do well to remember) the hawks 
are spending their strength on the wing, while he, 
cunning fellow, is creeping through bushes and 
hedges ; perhaps, as my notes assure us, " concocting 
some sly dodge to do his enemies." 

A flight, then, may be confined to some few fields, 
or it may be a straight-forward flight of a mile, or 
even possibly two miles ; the latter lasting sometimes 
for more than half an hour. Occasionally it will be 
found that the magpie gains a plantation, notwith- 
standing every effort to prevent him. Through this 
he must be driven, as sharply as possible, by the 
cracks of whips and by beaters ; but should he bury 
himself in a large wood, he is as safe as a fox gone to 
ground where there are no spades and no terriers. 
The " kill" is, of course, proclaimed by " whoo- 
whoop," at which cry all should fall back, in order 
that the falconer may secure the" hawks quietly : 
believe me he will be very angry if any one approach 
him too nearly at this period. The first person up at 
the death may claim the equivalent and counter- 
part of " the brush," viz. " the tail." It makes a 
pretty trophy to wear in the cap ; and, supposing it 
unusually fine, and from a cock bird, it can be formed 
into a very nice hand screen. 

Magpies are not always to be found in sufficient 
quantities in England to justify a stud of magpie- 
hawks ; but they abound in many parts of Ireland ; 
and that country, being generally free from wood, is 



THE MAGPIE. 135 

well adapted to the sport. Captain Salvin made a 
hawking tour in Ireland in the autumn of 1857, 
having been invited there by a friend in Tipperary. 
John Barr (since falconer to the Prince Dhuleep 
Singh) was then his falconer. The tour, which lasted 
about four months, embraced the counties of Tippe- 
rary, Cork, and Kildare. It was very successful. The 
rt meets" were published in the papers, and circulars 
were sent out, so that a " field " might be secured. 
The best hawks were " Assegai," " Azrael," and 
" Hydra" (falcons), with which sixty-eight rooks and 
a Eoyston crow were killed ; and " The O'Donohue " 
and " Dhuleep Sing " (the latter hawk brother to the 
famous " Bishop"), which took the astonishing num- 
ber of 184 magpies. No two tiercels ever varied in 
their method of killing more than these, though both, 
I need hardly say, were first-rate hawks. " The 
O'Donohue" always killed by a splendid stoop, while 
" Dhuleep Singh," though he could stoop well enough, 
preferred the more certain, but less grand, style of 
clutching the quarry the moment it began to flag. 
The average of each day's sport was about two or 
three rooks and four or five magpies; but on one 
occasion (the last day in Tipperary), the bird (( Dhu- 
leep Singh " took eight magpies himself ! I mention 
all this simply as a matter of encouragement. It 
shows what can be done. 

If you want to fly magpies, keep the hawks to that 
particular quarry. A good magpie-hawk may, how- 

K 4 



1S6 FALCONBY. 

ever, be converted into a game-hawk by being taken 
from magpies and entered at once at partridges, or 
other suitable quarry. But the flight, which is the 
subject before us, gives a tiercel confidence, tact, 
courage, and steadiness ; and when he has been well 
accustomed to it through the winter, he may almost 
always be entered to rooks in the spring. Tiercels, 
not being so strong as falcons, give great interest to 
a rook flight. A bird that is really good at magpies 
must have great tact and determination. Captain 
Saivin saw a favourite tiercel, after a hard flight, 
drive a magpie into a hole in a park wall ; there was 
a good " field" well up at the time, and they had 
drawn round the spot. The little hawk lit near the 
hole, dragged out the magpie, and killed him, amidst 
their cheers. 

I could write a chapter on rook and crow-hawking, 
I dare say, but it would hardly be fair to my readers 
to do so ; for, although there might be a slight differ- 
ence in detail from the sport I have just described, 
yet the leading distinctions can be stated in a few 
words, and the characters of the flights are too much 
alike to justify their being treated separately. It is 
enough, perhaps, to say, that in rook-hawking the 
country cannot be too open ; that rooks are commonly 
flown with falcons, not with tiercels ; that either 
eyesses or passage-hawks may be used; and that, if a 
tree should unhappily be in the way, and the rook 
takes to it, the crack of a whip will not drive him 



BOOK AND CROW-HAWKING. 137 

out, but stones and sticks, or some such strong 
remedies must be employed. This sport being only, 
or generally, followed in a perfectly open country, 
often admits of a good gallop; and if the quarry 
" takes the air " (or " rings * ), which is usually the 
case more or less, we get a sort of approximation to 
heron-hawking itself. A friend of mine once had a 
famous rook-hawk — a falcon; she enjoyed getting 
amongst a flock ; for, not content with one stoop or 
one prize, she passed several times through the whole, 
dealing death at each blow, and seldom descended 
until several victims were beneath her. 

Hawks may be entered to magpies and rooks by 
giving them winged birds, or, better than nothing, 
even dead birds, in the first instance ; but it is well 
to procure, if possible, a bagged quarry that can fly. 
This may be done with traps, or by rearing young 
birds taken from the nest. The great objection to 
the latter plan is that the nestlings make friends 
with you, their distinct characters and dispositions 
come out, and you know the little birds all by heart ; 
you cannot find in that heart to throw them to the 
hawks : they have ceased to be a mass of magpies, 
and have become individual intelligences. You 
cannot select one, say good bye — and then ? Or, if 
you can, you ought to be thrown to a wild beast 
yourself; and I should like to train him. 



138 FALCONRY. 



CHAP. X. 

THE u CHIVALRY n OF FALCONRY HAS, IN A MEA8URE, SPOILED ITS 
PRACTICE. — HERON- HAWKING (A LESSON ). — HERON-HAWKING 

(A narrative). 

Falconry, notwithstanding its partial revival at the 
present time — a revival which I have some hopes 
may yet increase - is, as has been said before in 
this work, still little known to the majority of sports- 
men, and utterly strange to nearly all others. We 
find an occasional mention of it, but only as an ancient 
romance, in those wonderful books which, coming 
thick and fast from Abbotsford, bound half the 
modern world in a spell such as was never felt since 
the days of William Shakspeare. It would have been 
strange indeed had the magic which brought before 
us, just as they existed, every custom and character, 
every habit and manner of the past, leaving them for 
ever in our memories, failed to call up the great sport 
of chivalry itself. And yet I verily believe that the 
pen which taught us to cast off our merlin at a wood- 
cock with Ann of Greierstein, or whistle the falcon to 
our hand with Ellen Douglas, spoilt the modern 
practice of the sport of falconry by the very charm 



THE " CHIVALRY" OP FALCONRY. ' 139 

with which it invested it. To Walter Scott, or at 
least to his readers, Falconry was but one ideal being 
in a long and sparkling pageant. She took her place 
only in the Past; by the arrow that split the willow- 
wand at one hundred paces — by the plumed helmet 
with the lady's glove clasped in it — and by the tall 
lance; with the ringing of beakers at the feast, 
with the " St. George for Merrie England," and the 
solitary Christian warrior who met the lonely Saracen 
on the plains of Palestine. 

" The knights are dust, 
And their good swords are rust ; 
Their souls are with the saints, we trust." 

I hope and believe they are with the saints : they 
are gone at least, but they have not taken everything 
with them. 

Falconry is of course a mere nothing, after all. It 
is only a sport. I never said it was more. At any 
rate it need not be considered only a piece of the 
ancient pageant; but something better than the 
ancient or the modern perhaps. Things of the kind 
are in full force. They are useful, though not as 
matters of bread and cheese. Then let them remain ; 
and don't be angry with me because I want to add or 
revive another ! 

I know what you, my lady, who have just thrown 
down that gilded volume, and are reclining there so 
gracefully — I know what you imagine falconry to be, 



140 FALCONET. 

— the strange, startling, beautiful fairy-tale of sport ; 
the delicate but haughty creature that, in the middle 
ages, rode through Europe with a gauntlet on her 
little left hand, with a train of velvet robes, and 
plumed caps and buff jerkins behind her ; the heroine 
who gave place only to the hero; she whose silver 
voice was always heard until the meeting of mace* 
and morion, the shouting of men-at-arms, drowned 
it in their din. Yes, my lady, you are romantic, 
and falconry has taken its colour from that of your 
mind. And you tell us what you consider it, Sir 
Exquisite — you who, knowing about as much of 
field sports as the butterfly whose plumage and habit 
you so industriously copy; you who, with these 
incapacities, amongst a host of others about you, 
had the gross audacity to review * it, and, with your 
puny pen, to try to transfer to a subject, in which you 
could have no part or lot whatever, the dulness and 
frivolity that are so conspicuously your own ! 

I am a practical man, and I am about to give you, 
my kind readers, a page or two of heron-hawking, 
not as it appeared in the "olden time," but as 
it existed a very few years indeed ago ; as it existed* 
to say the truth, among the members of the famous 
Loo Club in Holland. The paper which I shall 
present was not written by myself ; it was procured 
by Captain Salvin, who did not write it, but received 
it from the writer, an eye-witness of what it de- 

* Not this work, Sir E., — that has to come. 



HEBON-HAWKING. 141 

scribes. It is the production of a gentleman whose 
name I have no direct permission to give; but I 
may venture to say that he is an excellent falconer 
himself, and a very near relative of one to whom 
we all look up — the once fortunate owner of the 
wonderful hawks, "De Euyter*' and "Sultan." I 
shall transcribe it almost verbatim. 

However, with no wish, I am sure, to tantalize 
my friends, but rather with the hope that I may 
enable some of them the better to understand and 
appreciate it, I shall offer a very few lines on the rudi- 
ments of the branch of the sport which it describes. 

Those who have seen a cast of merlins fly a good 
ringing lark, have seen a portion of heron-hawking 
in miniature ; that is, they have seen a quarry at- 
tempt to outstrip his pursuers by rising into the 
skies. One great element in heron-hawking, how- 
ever, was omitted; the lark was very small and 
unarmed, whereas the heron is larger than the hawks, 
has formidable claws, and, above all, a most frightful 
dagger of a beak. With this he stabs ; but the great 
danger is not as generally supposed, and as Sir 
Walter Scott represented, from a thrust in the air, 
but on the ground, when the hawks, having let go 
to save themselves from the shock of the fall, " make 
in " to kill the quarry.* 

* In the spring of 1854 Mr. Newcome took several herons with 
"Verbsea" and "Vengeance," two excellent eyess falcons which had 
been flown at hack by Captain Salvln, at Kilnsey, in Craven, York- 



142 FALCONBY. 

Herons (though Mr. Newcome has taken them 
with eyesses) axe generally flown with passage fal- 
cons ; birds which, being stronger than eyesses, axe 
valuable in a sport in which " waiting on " is not 
required, and " carrying " is impossible. The heron, 
which might, no doubt, be killed as it rose heavily 
from a pool or brook by a female goshawk, suppos- 
ing that the falconer stalked it to within thirty yards 
or so, is, when once high on the wing, a bird to try 
the speed of our best falcons. Neither indeed will 
every falcon venture at first to attack this quarry 
at all, even though the heron* is captured and 
offered to her. Books are the preliminary game for 
heron-hawks ; but the real " entering " is occasionally 
a long and unpleasant process, a cock the colour of 
a heron being sometimes commenced with ; also the 
beak of the heron (employed next) being guarded 
by a piece of hollow cane or elder, into which it 
is thrust, and raw beef fastened to its back. The 
fq^tened meat, however, is not always necessary. 

When the hawk will fly bagged herons well she 
may be trusted, together with an experienced bird, at 
wild ones, but on the first trial pains must be taken 
to give her every advantage, and the falconer must 
not spare his horse, but take care to be up exactly, 

shire: and this is the first recorded instance of herons killed by 
nestlings. It has been done by another gentleman this year. 

* Herons are caught for this purpose on their nests, by a noose 
drawn over their long legs. 



HERON-HAWKING. 143 

or as nearly as possible at the kill, in order to assist 
the falcons. Herons, as is generally known, build on 
high trees, and the place of their assemblage is Called 
an heronry. In the spring, they pass to and from 
this place to fish, much after the manner of rooks 
when in quest of their worms and grubs, only that 
herons commonly fly higher, farther, and, as their 
favourite water takes them in a particular direction, 
more entirely over the same ground than rooks do. 
It is during these journeys, which are called their 
" passage," that falconers take them. The country 
must be quite open. The falconers place themselves 
down wind of the heronry, and look out for the re- 
turning birds : these, being weighted with the fish 
and frogs they, have captured, are called " heavy," 
and are generally flown at ; although, as will be pre- 
sently seen, some hawks are equal to a te light one." 

Heron-hawking has been practised even compara- 
tively of late years in this country, both at bagged 
and wild herons ; but owing to the draining of the 
land, many a good " passage " has been spoilt ; one, 
I fear, in Norfolk. Just now it is almost, if not quite, 
a dead letter here. Yorkshire, too, was great once ; 
but Clifford and Bramham Moor, of Colonel Thorn- 
ton's time, are all enclosed : in fact, everywhere is 
either enclosed or drained — so there's an end on't. 

Now for the narrative : — 

" Loo, twelve o'clock, p.m. Scene, a bed-room at 
Mother Camphors Hotel. Falconer enters: — ( Not 



144 FALCONET. 

up, sir ? Twelve o'clock. Wind S.W. ; rain in the 
night, and cloudy now. Just a little wind. We must 
go to the Wesen field.' 

ss A voice from the bed. — ' Open the window ! 
What a fine day for hawking ! Have all the hawks 
out ! Tell them to get breakfast ready directly ; some 
fish " bots," which they know how to cook so well.' 

" This speaker, and the rest of the members of the 
club, had dined at the palace yesterday, and managed, 
somehow or other, to get home late. However, they 
slept late, and arousing themselves at the falconer's 
call, got to the field by half-past five. The falconers 
had been there with the hawks an hour or more, but 
no heron had passed — it was too hot. However, 
about six o'clock one was a la voMed, coming over 
very high. The falconers looked glum and undecided. 
" Sultan" and " De Euyter" were ready on hand. The 
fortunate owner of these hawks cries out, c Will you 
have a shy, James, or shall I ?' The falconer ad- 
dressed thinks it rather too high for his young hawks. 
' Well, then, here goes,' says the former ; and having 
let the heron get a little past, off go the hoods. For 
a moment one hawk looks up, and is cast off; the 
other a moment or two afterwards. They both see 
him ; now for a flight ! The heron was about 250 
yards high, and perhaps a quarter of a mile wide. 
The hawks had gone up about a quarter of the way 
before the heron saw them in hot pursuit. ' Now he 
sees them !' is exclaimed ; and the riders rattle their 



HERON-HAWKING. 145 

horses as hard as they can, over deep sand-hills, down 
wind. The heron, in the meanwhile, vomits up his 
fish to lighten himself, and begins ringing up down 
wind. It is a curious thing to see the different 
manoeuvres of the birds. With his large wings, the 
heron can mount very fair, and has a far better 
chance of beating off the hawks than if he flew 
straight forward. This he knows full well by instinct, 
and puts on accordingly all sail for the upper regions, 
generally in short rings. Hawks make larger rings 
as a general rule, if, like these, they are good ones. 
Those have but a bad chance with a good heron if 
they adopt the same tactics that he does in mount- 
ing. This the two old hawks know full well. So far 
they have been pretty near together, but, seeing the 
prey beginning to mount, they separate, each their own 
way, now taking a long turn down wind, and then 
breasting the wind again. 'De Euyter ' makes the best 
rings, and after having gone a mile, there is a shout 
— ' Now "De Euyter" is above him !' and the hawk is 
seen poising herself for a stoop; down she comes, 
with closed wings, like a bullet, and hits the heron ; 
it is too high to see where, but the scream the quarry 
gives is tremendous. Hurrah ! there's a stoop for you ! 
Both hawk and heron have descended some yards ; 
the former, from the impetus of her stoop, much 
beneath the heron, but she shoots up again to a level. 
In fact, it was a perfect stoop. Though so near the 
heron she does not attempt a little stoop, but again 

L 



146 FALCONRY. 

heads the wind, so that the heron appears to be fly- 
ing the hawk. ' Sultan' is now above both, and makes 
her stoop, but not so good as her partner's. However 
she makes two quickly, and is within an ace of catch- 
ing ; but the good heron will not give an inch, and 
* Sultan ' will have to make another ring for another 
stoop. But where is ( De Euyter' all this time? She 
has made a long ring, and is now a long way above 
them. She makes another full swoop, and this time 
there is no mistake about it, for she hits the heron so 
hard that he is nearly stupified. ' Sultan 'joins in the 
fray and catches. Whoo-whoo-o-p ! down they come. 
Down they all three go together, till, just before 
reaching the ground, the two old hawks let go of their 
prey, which falls bump. Before he has had time to 
recover himself, in a moment the hawks are on him, 
'De Euyter' on the neck, and 'Sultan' on his body. 
Hurrah for the gallant hawks ! and loud whoops pro- 
claim his capture. ' Wouldn't take 1001. for them,' 
says their owner, who has ridden well, judiciously as 
well as hard, and has got up in time to save the 
heron's life. He gives the hawks a pigeon, and puts 
the heron between his knees in a position so that he 
can neither spike him nor the hawks with his bill. 
He has two beautiful long black feathers, which are 
duly presented to Prince Alexander — alas ! now no 
more — who is well up at the take. These feathers 
are the badge of honour in heron-hawking in Holland, 
as the fox's brush is in hunting in England. The 



HERON-HAWKING. 147 

hawks are fed up as speedily as possible, the heron 
has a ring put round his leg and is let loose, evidently 
not knowing what to make of it. 

" We hasten back as fast as we can, but the weather 
being now hot, the herons move more by night than 
by day. Many anxious eyes search the horizon for 
another. Opera-glasses are brought into requisition, 
and one gentleman called a la volie! to a gnat which 
got before the focus of his glass. At last two herons 
are viewed coming flapping lazily along. Every oue 
is again on the alert, and the horses are mounted. 
It is a fair 'hood off' for the young hawks. A 
pretty little flight; and the result — the hawks for- 
tunately sticking to the same bird — a capture. He 
is taken after having made about six or seven rings, 
and in ten stoops the whoop resounds. Peter, the 
other head-falconer, has on hand two good hawks to 
fly, and all are wishing for a good heron to try their 
merits. In about half an hour one is seen coming 
rather wide ; he has evidently been flown before, and 
now turns back down wind as hard as if the hawks 
were after him, being soon lost to sight. Great dis- 
appointment. In ten minutes another is <£ la voUed, 
and brought down in first-rate style. It is eight 
o'clock, and the falconers feed up. But the owner of 
' Sultan ' and 'De Euyter' has a hawk called ' Eocket,' 
which he does not care much about, as she is sure to 
crab another if flown with her ; besides, she does not 
trouble herself after two or three stoops. This 

L 2 



148 FALCONRY. 

waiting 'just five minutes longer' ends with the 
take of another heron at the second stoop. We then 
scamper off as fast as we can to supper, the late hour 
of which accounts for midday slumbers. 

st The next day was just the one we could have 
wished for the sport ; for, as we had foretold, rain 
came the evening before, and there were plenty of 
herons flying. The wind was then S.W., and the 
field Wesen. About three o'clock we are there, and 
all the hawks, good, bad, and indifferent, are taken 
out — some to train who are backward, either from 
wildness or not taking kindly to heron ; some who 
had been beaten off after long flights, or had been 
lost, and wanted entering again. About twenty- 
eight are on the cadges : they begin with a ' train ' — 
i.e. a bagged heron — on the way ; but, like a bagged 
fox, it is not good for much, and is soon taken. A 
little better flight with the next ' train,' and the 
hawks are promised to fly a wild one to-morrow. 
These two herons then received their liberty, but 
would not fly at first a hundred yards at a time, 
evidently expecting to be pounced on again. 

" Here we are at the field; hitherto we have been 
only on the way to it. The two sets of falconers, 
with their hawks, place themselves about half a mile 
apart, to intercept the herons on their passage back 
from their fishing-grounds. ' A la volee ' is called ; 
it is for Peter ; a pretty little flight is the result. 
The amateurs' horses have hardly time to catch their 



HERON-HAWKING. 149 

wind before James is seen just hooding off at another, 
and we have another flight of much the same sort 
with a catch. We have just time to light our pipes 
and get through the best part of one before we 
are disturbed by another ' a la vol&e? A heron is 
coming very low ; immediately he sees the hawks on 
wing he vomits up a good-sized eel, and is trying to 
do the same with something else. Of course he falls 
an easy victim, for he has a pike of nearly two pounds 
in his throat, the head of which being downwards, has 
been digested. The eel is found entire, and is re- 
served by one of the falconers for supper. Another 
comes Peter's way, and is bagged ; another to James, 
which escapes — for, as soon as the two hawks are 
well on the wing, one crabs the other, and they fall 
fighting to the ground. The heron goes on his way 
to his expectant family, not even having thought it 
worth while to throw up the fish. Peter has another 
chance, but after a few stoops the hawks give up. 
The truth is, they are reserving the best birds for the 
arrival of the royal party. However, six flights, with 
four catches, in one hour and thirty-six minutes, 
afforded some nice sport. 

" The royal party is now seen approaching, some 
in carriages and some on horseback — a very pretty 
turn-out. Two casts are on hand, and, as luck will 
have it, a heron immediately flies close by. After a 
short flight of half a dozen rings and stoops, the hawks 
and heron tumble down within a hundred yards of 

L 3 



150 FALCONRY. 

the royal carriages. One amateur rushes in to secure 
the heron, who gives him a hint of ' noli me tangere ' 
by striking him with his bill close to the eye — a 
spot herons always aim at. They must be secured by 
the neck. Another young gentleman, anxious to show 
the bird's graceful plumage to the royal party, takes 
hold of the heron, but not scientifically, for, after 
walking a few yards, he feels the heron's bill in the 
back part of his neck, and blood is drawn. He gets 
laughed at, but holds the bird pluckily. Somebody 
comes to the rescue and holds the bill, while the black 
feathers are plucked out and presented to the queen ; 
also divers plumes to the dames cChonneur. The 
bird is then dismissed, with much pity from the 
ladies. 

" There is no lack of herons. The little wind there 
was has fallen to a calm, and they come home higher. 
All the better, for we have some good casts to fly. 
One is soon c hooded off' at, and, after a capital 
flight, is taken high in the air. The pet hawks are 
now taken in hand — 'De Euyter' and ' Sultan ;' and, 
as there is no wind, the owner says he will fly at the 
first 'light one' that comes at all fair. All is ex- 
citement when one is seen coming from the Iteronry, 
and therefore unweighted. They are 'hooded off' in 
his face; he sees them directly, and proceeds to 
mount. < Now, good hawks, you will have some work 
to do before you overtake him !' The knowing riders 
are down wind as hard as they can go. Eing after 



HERON-HAWKING. 151 

ring is made, and yet the hawks seem to gain but 
little on him. Still they are flying like swallows : 
' De Euyter ' makes a tremendous ring, but still fails 
to get above him. Again and again they ring, and 
have attained a great height. A scream of delight 
is heard : < They are above him ; " De Euyter " is at 
him ! ' A fine stoop, but the heron dodges out of the 
way. Now for ' Sultan;' but she misses too : the heron 
is up like a shot, and three or four rings have to be 
made before there is another stoop. Another and 
another stoop, with loud cheers from below. ( Sultan' 
just catches him once, but can't hold : it seems still a 
doubtful victory, when ' De Euyter ' hits him hard ; 
and, after two or three more -stoops, * Sultan ' catches 
him, amidst the excitement of hurrahs and whoops. 
A really good flight : canH be better 9 — two and a half 
miles from where they were ' hooded off.' 

"We return well satisfied with the sport, and 
scarcely in time to see another flight going on ; still 
they come over our heads, making a great quantity of 
stoops, but the young hawks are too eager, and hang 
at him too much ; but they are good plucked ones, 
and at length pull him down: unfortunately the 
heron falls with such force that he kills himself. 
Another comes at a good height, and seeing the 
hawks as soon as they are off the hand, sets off 
mounting immediately, after getting rid of his fish. 
It will be a fine flight if the hawks stick to him, but 
he is very high before they reach him ; they make 

L 4 



152 FALCONRY. 

three or four stoops and then fall below him some 
distance. They are so high, they look the size of 
swallows. One makes another stoop and then gives 
up ; the other sticks to him, and is at last entirely 
lost to sight, — soon afterwards we cannot see the 
heron ; but shrill screams are heard, and the hawk 
has not given him up yet. The other hawk is taken 
down with a pigeon. We stand still gazing up, but 
see nothing more, and the plucky but deserted hawk 
is taken up half an hour after. A cast or two more 
are flown, and c homeward' is the word to dinner, 
at half-past nine. 

"Thus ended as good a day's sport as any one 
could wish to see. Bumpers of champagne were 
quaffed to the health of the Koyai Family, and the 
Eoyal Loo Club ; nor were the healths of ( Sultan'' 
and ' De Euyter ' forgotten. 

" Alas ! we shall never see such sport again ; for 
the club is broken up, and probably the heronry 
destroyed." 

Here ends the narrative. To me it is excessively 
interesting. And this is not romance but reality. I 
can only congratulate my readers and myself that I 
have been able to present them with anything so 
practical and so charming. 



THE PEREGRINE. 163 



CHAP. XI. 

THE PEREGRINE (CONCLUDED). — RECAPITULATION. — DE8ULTOBT 

MATTER. — INCIDENTAL FLIGHTS. 

This short chapter will be found to conclude all I 
have to say on the peregrine. We have already seen 
how he is to be captured, either as a nestling or a 
passage hawk; in what manner we ought to rear 
him ; how train to the lure ; enter at pigeons ; fly at 
game, magpies, and herons. It only remains to speak 
of incidental flights, as perhaps they may be called, 
such as at snipe, plover, &c 

The truth is, that no hawk flies well at any quarry 
to which he is not accustomed. Even in their wild 
state these birds pursue with greater eagerness the 
prey which is most common in their hunting ground. 
Well blooded to it in their youth, and having it 
constantly offered to them afterwards, they know 
thoroughly what to expect at the termination of their 
labour ; they put out their full force on the almost 
certain promise of a definite meal, which they know, 
from long experience, will be a good one. Not that 
they decline other quarry ; far from it. The wild 
hawk is remarkably liberal in his views, and leaves 



154 FALCONRY. 

very little reason amongst the feathered tribe for any 
complaint on the score of partiality. Still, as I have 
said, a certain preference is observable. In the arti- 
ficial state of servitude the disposition to prefer one 
prey to all others is strongly marked. But this is 
owing to the falconer ; by him the natural inclination 
of the hawk is made use of; and, as he generally has 
a bird for each quarry, he acts wisely. Besides, when 
we come to real practice, it is found difficult to make 
a hawk good, or equally good, at all birds. He is 
entered at pigeons, because they are easily obtained ; 
and I confess that, for the first few weeks, a young 
hawk will fly almost anything started before him ; 
but these are not adapted to his youthful powers, and 
so he seldom takes them. The speed of a pigeon, 
however, his master can regulate by the withdrawal 
of a feather or two, and the young bird flies success- 
fully at this quarry ; hence his great partiality to it. 
You may enter him at partridges, or what you will, 
in the manner I have described in other chapters ; 
but he continues to prefer a particular quarry, 
though that quarry is now partridges. In my opinion 
it is better to let a hawk kill but few pigeons ; at any 
rate to get him on to partridges as soon as you can 
find any a little more than half grown. He may be 
tried at snipe also, while they are young, or else going 
through their moult. Mr. James Campbell, who 
published a good book on falconry (with, by the bye, 
one of the strangest prefaces in the world) in 1773, 



PEEWIT, OR LAPWING. 155 

advises his pupils not to enter birds at pigeons at all. 
This, however, is wrong, and almost impossible. I 
imagine that in his time there existed a reason for 
his recommendation which does not obtain now ; the 
country was full of large dovecotes, most farmers 
keeping " doves," and it was probably very difficult to 
keep a hawk, that had been entered to pigeons, at 
his pitch, " waiting on " for game, from which height 
he could see his first and favourite quarry in all 
directions. 

I had a tiercel, last year, which I never saw leave 
a pigeon ; but he would not look at any other quarry. 
He had not been properly entered. In the neigh- 
bourhood of Somerton, whither in October I had 
made a long pilgrimage to pay a delightful visit, 
I was flying this tiercel to the lure ; a magpie which 
had been kept at hack by one of the villagers, but 
which no one can catch now, joined my bird, and 
flew in his wake. The tiercel took not the slightest 
notice of him — or, if he did, it was to hasten away : 
nor is this the only magpie whose presence this hawk 
has ignored. The case, however, can hardly, perhaps, 
be considered singular, for so very much depends upon 
" entering." All birds know when a hawk does not 
mean business, and plague him accordingly: this 
remark especially applies to the crow tribe. 

The peewit or lapwing — the green plover, as it is 
usually called — affords a tolerably good flight when 
quite young ; but there is scarcely an instance of a 



156 FALCONRY. 

hawk taking a strong old bird. It is possible, how- 
ever,- that a cast of tiercels, if kept to the quarry, 
might succeed. This is Captain Salvin's opinion. In 
ordinary cases the shift from the stoop is so rapid and 
certain, that the pursuer is entirely thrown out, and 
soon discontinues the attempt. I once flew a clever 
female merlin at an old plover, and, as she occasion- 
ally struck her prey sideways, I thought it just con- 
ceivable she might be successful. There was no 
doubt about fair speed : the hawk was soon up, but 
the quarry flew from the stroke several times with 
such disdainful ease that my bird came back fagged 
and baffled. Of the two, I should think the peregrine 
would have less chance than the merlin ; the sparrow- 
hawk (though this is simply conjecture) more than 
either ; but it could only be in her first dash from a 
whirl just over or round a plantation, &c. 

Snipe-hawking may be successful with peregrines, 
especially with the tiercel, when the quarry is young 
or in moult, and even afterwards ; but I need hardly 
say that the hawk must be entirely free from the 
vice of " carrying :" so light a quarry would hardly 
impede a tiercel's flight. Spaniels, or an old slow 
pointer or setter, accustomed to snipe, may be used 
for this sport. If the former are employed, they 
should beat close, and the falconer should know their 
manner well enough to make sure that they are on 
the point of springing a veritable snipe when they 
feather fast and begin to bustle about At that 



WOODCOCKS. 157 

moment, and before the snipe rises, let him cast off 
his hawk. If the peregrine has got to his pitch, he 
may kill at the first stoop ; if not, you may have a 
long flight ; but this quarry is rather difficult to find 
when it has " put in" at a distance — at least, it 
must be a very good hawk that will make a point 
sufficiently accurate to render much assistance. Two 
or three good spaniels will simplify matters. If you 
hunt pointers or setters, the flight is regulated after 
the manner of game-hawking. 

Woodcocks will, under advantageous circumstances, 
show good sport. Of course the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of woods must be avoided ; but there are 
little nooks and corners, on and near moors especi- 
ally, where we find a sort of half-ditch, half-stream, 
and a sprinkling of low cover. To put a cock up 
and" mark him down is not often, in such places, 
a very difficult matter. Let this be done, and the 
hawk cast off as soon as the cock is down. The 
former must be allowed to gain his pitch before the 
dogs are sent in to spring the quarry. The flight 
may be either long or short; sometimes the cock 
takes the air, and goes to a great distance. The 
following, from "Falconry in the British Isles," is 
a most interesting description of a flight : " A wood- 
cock was flushed on a rough brae-side, and having 
been marked down in the open, a favourite tiercel 
was flown, and allowed to attain a commanding 
position; upon the woodcock being again sprung, 



158 FALCONRY. 

it made a rapid zigzag flight over the broad mouth 
of the Clyde, but finding it could not gain the op- 
posite shore in safety, it returned for the country it 
had left. The tiercel pursued it eagerly, making the 
most beautiful stoops, which the quarry as adroitly 
evaded, until within two or three hundred yards 
of the shore, when a fatal stroke brought it dead 
upon the water. The spaniels, seeing this, dashed 
in, and one of them brought the woodcock in triumph 
to land, attended by the tiercel, * waiting on ' above 
its head. The Scotch falconer, having taken up the 
bird which had been deposited at his feet, threw it 
to his well-trained hawk to 'take his pleasure on,' 
whilst the spaniels bayed around with delight — all 
who witnessed the scene declaring it worthy to be 
immortalised on canvas." 

A friend in Ireland mentions a tiercel which, when 
flying at hack last summer, chased a heron out of 
sight on several occasions ; kestrels also may be killed 
with a high-couraged tiercel* ; the falcon is too slow 
at the turn. 

Wild ducks are flown with the falcon. The hawk 
may be flown either " out of the hood " or from his 
pitch; but a duck would not soon rise from deep 

* In the autumn of 1858, the Maharajah Duleep Singh lost an ex- 
cellent tiercel by its binding and falling with a kestrel on the sea, 
near Mulgrake castle, Yorkshire. The father (wild, of course) of 
41 Comet," a famous tiercel trained by, and in the possession of, my 
friend, Mr. Brodrick, was drowned in the sea, having bound to a 
guillemot. This was in 1857. 



SEA-GULLS. BLACK-GAME. 159 

weedy water, lined with bushes, if the hawk were 
over her, A tiercel may be used for teal and 
widgeon. In all cases a small pond or shallow 
stream should be chosen in preference to broad deep 
rivers or lakes. Spaniels are necessary. 

Sea-gulls, of different kinds, may be taken with 
the peregrine. They may be approached within a very 
short distance, as they follow the plough like rooks ; 
but the distance from the sea should be considerably 
more than a mile. Even the herring-gull has, I 
believe, been killed with falcons ; a peregrine must, 
however, be of great courage as well as power to 
undertake the flight thoroughly. 

Black-game try a hawk's courage ; young ones 
are easily killed ; but the flight of the old black-cock 
is exceedingly rapid. 

The Norfolk, or thick-kneed, plover affords an 
easy flight. 

I could mention many other birds which have 
been taken by trained hawks, such as curlews ; but 
these were probably killed by chance stoops; and, 
as they are altogether exceptional quarry, it is useless 
to treat of them. 

We may conclude, at any rate, with safety that 
Providence has created some few birds, as possibly 
some few beasts, which, by their speed or cunning, 
set at defiance the rapacity of their own order. 

There is one other flight, a new one in England, 
with the peregrine, which it is quite worth while to 



160 FALCONET. 

mention : it is with hares. I have myself seen even 
a tiercel stoop with the greatest possible determina- 
tion at a full-grown rabbit; but it is evident that 
something might be done in earnest against hares.* 
I need not say that the birds (for there must be two) 
chosen for such a quarry should be strong and high- 
couraged falcons. This is, in truth, a great sport in 
India; and though the hares there are smaller than 
the European, still there is little doubt that matters 
might be arranged, even with our seven or eight 
pounders, on the open downs. It would be a fine 
flight. The falconer and his party would have to 
be well mounted, for no such course could be a 
short one. It seems that the falcons stoop in turns 
from a great height — perhaps, in a good flight, 
forty times; and the excitement must therefore 
be excessive. In training, a rabbit should be com- 
menced with, then the birds put to leverets, and 
lastly to hares. 



* Captain Salvin has known three or four old English hares killed 
by a falcon ; therefore the flight would be nearly certain to answer 
if tried upon the downs. The falcons mast be kept for this quarry 
alone. 



TIIE MERLIX. 161 



CHAP. XII. 

THE MERLIN (falcO j&SALOn). — CLASSIFICATION. — BREEDING. — 
PLUMAGE, GENERAL APPEARANCE, SIZE, ETC. — DISPOSITION. — 
REFERENCE TO CHAPTER IV. — "RUHY's" DESERTION AND SINGU- 
LAR CAPTURE. — A GOOD SNARE. — HOODS. — BELLS AND JESSES. — 
HOUSING THE BIRDS. — FAMINE AND DAMP. — " PEARL " AND 
" EMERALD." 

The merlin (the smallest of our birds of the chase), 
although a true falcon, must not be considered typical. 
He has indeed the dentated beak, and will occasionally 
stoop, especially after certain quarry, from a con- 
siderable height ; but his wings (the second and third 
feathers of which are almost always, according to my 
own observation, of equal, or all but equal, length) 
are proportionately shorter than those of any other 
falcon, and his mode of pursuit approaches, as a 
general rule, to something like a stern chase. He 
has, perhaps, a little tendency also to length of leg ; 
and, on the whole, it may be said of this beautiful 
and excellent bird that a faint suspicion of the true 
" hawk " attaches itself to the undoubted prerogative 
of classification as a true falcon. 

The merlin builds on the ground — that is, the 
pair make a sort of hole among the heather. The 

M 



16*2 FALCONRY. 

number of eggs varies from about three to five ; it is 
possible that six may have been found. These are 
dotted or mottled brown; varieties, I believe, exist, 
but I never had the fortune to meet with them. The 
parent birds are very careful of their offspring ; and my 
friend Mr. Brodrick assures me that he has himself 
seen the female bird affect lameness, in order to draw 
away danger from the brood — after the manner of 
the lapwing, &c. An opinion that hawks, like some 
gulls, &c, do not breed till after the first moult, is 
entitled to the most entire respect ; indeed, it is no 
doubt the correct one, though personally I have had 
no opportunity of testing its accuracy. An exception, 
however, to the rule has been known in the case of a 
female sparrow-hawk. 

It has always been said that hawks will not breed 
in captivity, but I have some hopes that an experi- 
ment will be tried next summer which may possibly 
set the matter at rest. I say " possibly," because it 
could only do so by its success; failure might be 
variously accounted for. Certainly the merlin — the 
species fixed upon for the trial — is of all hawks the 
most adapted to the purpose. An adult male is, 
however, in request, and I am not sure it will be 
procured. 

The merlin — if it were, I will not say, positively 
preserved, but if it were not wantonly destroyed — 
would be common enough in some of the northern 
counties to enable many a willing man to try his 



BREEDING. 153 

'prentice hand at falconry, who is now discouraged by 
the difficulties he has to encounter at the threshold, 
I have said enough in this little work, and elsewhere, 
on the utter ignorance which most, though not all, 
gamekeepers exhibit concerning the "manners and 
customs " of hawks. I know that many sportsmen 
are in the same blissful state as their servants ; that 
" trapping " of flying u vermin " is in itself an art, a 
sport, a business ; that the extermination of the finest 
birds in the world is a feat and an achievement ; that 
an accidental head of game is infinitely more valuable 
than all the claims of natural history, of a reviving 
sport, and of Auld lang syne, put together. Or, if 
I do not know these things, it is that I have been 
lately blinded to them by the noble conduct of a few 
great sportsmen, who have not thought it unworthy 
of themselves or their craft to look rather deeply into 
a question which late years have encrusted with pre- 
judice, but which has come out dear enough to their 
generosity, because it can never suffer at the hands 
of sense and courtesy. 

This little bird breeds is Northumberland, Cum- 
berland, Westmoreland, sometimes in Lancashire and 
Cheshire; indeed, it may be looked for, though 
perhaps not always found, wherever we have, in the 
north, wild and extensive moors. Thus it is frequent 
in Scotland ; Ireland, too, seems to suit it admirably. 
For autumn and winter quarters the merlin flies to 
the south, generally leaving England, probably for 

M 2 



164 FALCOXRT. 

Africa, but occasionally not passing our southern 
coasts. It is widely distributed, being known in all 
the continents. At Malta it is often taken on passage, 
with numbers of other hawks.* 

I have trained and flown merlins for many years, 
and the hours they must have stood a few inches 
under my eyes can only, I suppose, be counted by 
hundreds. Besides this, I have made it my business 
to examine minutely every stuffed specimen that 
came in my way, or at all near my way. For these 
reasons I give the following description of the plum- 
age of these hawks from " Falconry in the British 
Isles," because my judgment, pretty well matured 
on the subject by this time, tells me that nothing 
can surpass it in accuracy, or in a brevity which 
is consistent with its being accurate : — 

In plumage the female merlin differs but little 
in the young and adult state, the old bird having 
merely a greyish tint mixed with the dark brown 
of the back, without the light edging to the feathers 
which distinguishes those of the first year, the 
breast being similar at all ages, and marked with 
long dark splashes on a dusky white ground; the 
edging of the feathers of the back, shoulders, and 
scapularies is rusty, the shaft of each feather being 
distinctly lined with a darker tint of brown; the 
cere changes from blue to yellow, the legs and feet 

* There is a small hawk, similar in size to the merlin, but of very 
different plumage (more like that of an old tiercel), used in the East. 



PLUMAGE. 165 

acquiring at the same time additional colour. In 
the male, the change of plumage at the first moult 
is much more marked. The young bird, being simi- 
lar to a female, loses the brown colour on the head, 
back, wings, and tail ; this is replaced by a uniform 
deep slate-blue, with black shafts to each feather, 
the tail having a broad black bar near the end, 
with a light tip, and sometimes three or four in- 
distinct narrower bars upon each feather. In this 
respect individuals differ considerably, some of them 
having very distinct bars on the tail, while in others 
there is only the broad one at the bottom. The 
breast and throat are white, with an imperfect ring 
round the neck stained with buff red, and marked 
with oblong blackish-brown spots. The albino vari- 
ety of this bird has been seen, though we have never 
met with a preserved specimen. 

I confess, when my attention was called to the 
question whether there was any difference in the 
nestling plumage of the male and female merlin, 
that I saw, or thought I saw, something that might 
justify an answer, though a most qualified one, in 
the affirmative. For the first few weeks after the 
birds are full-fledged there is a sort of darkish bloom, 
clearly observable in some individuals, which is to 
my taste very beautiful, but which shortly disappears. 
When it is gone I fancy that the plumage of the 
hen has in some specimens a washed-out appearance, 
which one does not meet with in the male ; but 

M 3 



] 66 FALCOXBY. 

the difference must be slight, and perhaps altogether 
fanciful, when it has escaped a falconer for years ; 
and I mention the subject here rather to call the 
attention of my brethren to it, than positively to 
assert any opinion of my own. It is quite a mistake 
to suppose with the Kev. F. 0. Morris that there is (so 
I read his meaning) a gradual change towards blue in 
the males before the commencement of the moult. 
The moulted feathers have, perhaps, a somewhat 
faded appearance, but that is all. Patches, indeed, 
of a few blue feathers may occur before moulting 
time, but they are those which have replaced the 
true nestling plumage of which, in the spots they 
cover, accident has robbed the bird* 

The eye is black, or at any rate appears so, except 
in a very bright light, when the pupil stands out 
as jet in the dark brown of the iris. The average 
weight of the male is perhaps over five ounces, that 
of the female full seven ounces. Heavier specimens, 
however, will not, I think, be found uncommon. 
The length of a fine female is fully eleven inches, 
of a male, nine and a half. The differences in size 
and weight between the sexes is not so great as 
that in other hawks. 

No bird with which we have to deal is so easily 
tamed, or becomes so familiar, as the merlin. There 
is nothing more common in my practice than for 
one of these hawks to. sit upon my head whilst I 
walk the stubble, and for him to keep that place 



DISPOSITION. 167 

till a lark rises, A brother falconer, in Hertford- 
shire, bears the testimony of the same circumstance 
to their docility. Indeed, this is the only hawk 
with which I am acquainted that can by possibility 
be — or appear to be — too tame. At any rate you 
may so pet and feed a merlin in reward of his 
familiarity, that he will learn to leave the quarry, 
unless an easy flight, and drop on your head or hand 
for the food which he knows he will receive. I men- 
tion these things now simply to show the character 
of the bird, and not as anticipating any directions 
for conduct in the field. 

In two chapters with which I presented "The 
Field" some time ago, I gave the whole history 
of taking young merlins from the nest, placing 
them in the hamper, feeding them three times 
a day (say at seven, one, and seven) with small 
pieces of beef or pigeon, till they are nearly, if not 
quite, gorged, sounding the whistle in the mean- 
time ; I described their introduction to the lure ; the 
gentle degrees by which they should be induced to 
fly to it, and to the fist, from the edge of the hamper,' 
and then from a greater distance; the carefully 
feeding them with choice bits from the hand whilst 
they tug at a tough piece on the lure, so that they 
may not be disposed to carry, and the whole method 
of " flying at hack." I need not repeat what I then 
said, further than to recapitulate it in analysis, as I 
have just done ; because Chapter IV. of the present 

M 4 



168 FALCONRY. 

work, written on the eyess peregrine, will apply to 
the merlin, with the single exception that the latter 
bird should be taught to fly to the hand as well as to 
the lure. 

Merlins may be taken wild by the clap-net or bow- 
net. This may be done when a nest has flown before 
the falconer knew that the birds were ready to take ; 
but it is possible to catch old ones on the moors with 
these nets. They are also sometimes taken on the 
southern coasts in the winter by bird-catchers, -to 
whose call birds they come down. The bait, of 
course, is a live bird, or perhaps more than one. A 
very singular instance of the capture of a merlin 
occurred last year, one of my birds being the hero of 
the tale. By referring to my journal, I find under 
the head of " Tuesday, July 21st," this short notice: — 
"One cock merlin missing:" this was from hack. 
The bird had suddenly, and with very little warning, 
given up his orderly habit of punctual appearance at 
meal times, and Tuesday was the first day on which he 
had not fed from the lures at all. He came no more 
on duty; and though occasionally doing us the favour 
of inspecting our proceedings from the air, or even 
from a wall in the neighbourhood of the house, he 
sedulously declined all advances made either by his 
relatives or myself ; except on one occasion, when I 
very nearly had him in the clap-net. He confined 
his hunting ground to a circle of about three or four 
miles from the house ; and we sometimes heard his 



DESERTION AND RE-CAPTURE OP "RUBY." 169 

little silver bell in the evening, when his road to 
roost happened to lie our way. I was sorry for his 
loss, because he appeared to me a very tractable bird, 
and just before he left us I saw him making some 
fine stoops at swallows. Under " Wednesday, October 
21st," I find the following: — rt As I am dressing, a 
servant comes to tell me that a hawk has been brought 
in a basket. It turns out to be the lost merlin, 
which has been away exactly three calendar months. 
A boy caught him four miles from here, in a horse- 
hair noose." There, indeed, was "Kuby" in bell 
and jesses ; the latter, having been made of strong 
leather for hack, were unbroken, though somewhat 
decayed. Poor fellow ! he looked rather weak as he 
sat at the bottom of the basket, though I perceived 
that slices of bread had been offered him in the most 
liberal manner ; nay, I almost think there was butter 
on them ; indeed it would not at all surprise me to 
discover that the hospitable woman, mother of the 
brat aforesaid, had provided tea for him on the pre- 
vious evening, and been hurt that he had not accepted 
it* We soon re-arranged the matter of diet, how- 
' ever, and in one fortnight from the day I took him 
out of the basket he was on the wing, and as tractable 
as any hawk I ever possessed. The chief thing, 
however, which makes the stoiy worth relating is 
the singular means of his capture. In the neighbour- 
hood of my present abode, not very far from Buxton, 
many of the half-labourers, half-farmers, or their 



170 FALCONRY. 

children amuse and occasionally profit themselves by 
snaring fieldfare in the winter, and thrushes, &c. in 
the autumn ; rather, perhaps, I should say they did 
so — for the custom, I am told, is not so common as 
it was once. The snare is made thus : — A straight 
round piece of a branch is cut — from any tree of 
tough wood — about two or three feet in length, and 
two-thirds or three-quarters of an inch in diameter. 
Every twig is carefully taken off, and the marks of 
the knife obliterated by a method which is rather 
filthy than difficult — in point of fact, by spitting on 
very dirty hands, and then polishing the stick there- 
with. At intervals of but an inch and a quarter, 
small holes are bored with a nail passer, into which 
are inserted the knots of black horse-hair nooses, each 
made of a length of three hairs, doubled and twisted 
so that the noose is of six hairs' strength, except at 
the loop. It is perhaps more than three inches in 
diameter when the noose is open to the full. Little 
pegs driven into the holes, over the knots, make 
matters secure. The ends of the sticks should, if 
that were possible, be forked ; at any rate, one end 
forked, and the other broadly notched. Two small 
bunches of mountain-ash berries are fastened to the 
stick, some little distance apart, and so as to hang 
under the nooses. A rather naked tree is now selected 
in a spot frequented by the birds ; a forked branch is 
found, cleared of twigs, and forced to bend apart a 
little in order that it may receive, wl*en released, the 



A GOOD SNARE. 171 

inserted snare with a tight embrace. Let the operator 
be careful not to hurt himself: 

44 He that of old would rend the oak, 
Thought not of the rebound ;" 

but then he was a gentleman who once carried a 
bullock forty yards on his shoulders, cooked and ate 
him the same day. It was quite proper that he 
should try all those little matters, and yet he got his 
hand caught at last ; but who would be a Milo after 
fieldfare ? 

On one of these snares my merlin was caught: 
nothing could have been a purer accident. There 
was no bait that could attract him, unless he mistook 
the red berries for raw meat, which is very unlikely. 
Of course I expected to hear that some small bird 
was hanging in one of the nooses, and that the hawk 
came to him; but no such thing. The truth no 
doubt was this: there were but few trees in the 
neighbourhood ; it was perhaps about three to one 
against a hawk which passed within a quarter of a 
mile of the spot resting at all ; and, given that he 
did rest, about twelve to one against his choosing 
that particular tree. However, once destined for the 
tree, the odds against his alighting on that branch 
were small, and for the reason that it was probably 
the only horizontal one. Most birds, and especially 
hawks, sit clumsily on semi-vertical boughs; and 
therefore, perhaps, it was about an equal chance 



172 FALCONRY. 

whether the bird would settle on the one only stick 
which suited his purpose to perfection, or on any of 
the hundred that only suited it moderately. You 
see, therefore, that, through a great piece of luck, no 
doubt, the capture was probably effected without any 
real bait, and that the hawk happened to drop upon 
the only spot, and that a little one, in all his hunting- 
ground, that could have restored him to his master ! 
It would scarcely have been worth while to tell 
this tale had it not been connected with the descrip- 
tion of a trap, not, perhaps, generally known, but by 
which (a dozen should be set at once) one's table can 
be supplied with fieldfare in a good winter, and one's 
hawks half fed on them. Those that are taken by 
the neck, and so strangled, are for the man ; those 
caught by the legs alive are excellent for the pur- 
poses of entering or feeding the hawk. I think, also, 
I see something more. Supposing I had known of 
the existence of this simple snare while " Ruby" 
came in the neighbourhood of the house, should I not 
have done this? (certainly; and I advise all those 
who keep merlins or sparrow-hawks, to provide them- 
selves with such snares.) I should have chosen a 
very small low tree, as naked of boughs and leaves as 
possible ; I should have pegged a merlin down on the 
ground a few yards from it, giving him a whole bird 
to pick and eat. The snare would then have been 
inserted on the tree, low down, on the side where the 
hawk was pegged. " Ruby*' would surely have come. 



HOODS. 1 73 

He might have settled on the snare as a preliminary 
measure to disputing the food ; or, having struggled 
for the food (I should have pegged it down), he would 
have probably flown up on the tempting but delusive 
bough. Or, as the bird had been accustomed to raw 
meat, a piece might have been fastened on the snare 
itself. I shall always keep one or two of these snares 
by me ; they are instantly set, have no appearance of 
a trap, and, as your help is not wanted, you may 
retire to any distance to watch them.* 

Hoods for merlins should be home-made, or pro- 
cured from Mr. W. Pape, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, to 
whom I will send patterns, in order that he may get 
some ready for next summer. I hope, too, he will 
collect all the young birds he can towards the first 
week in July, for I am in hopes the sport will have 
a fair trial next year. And this reminds me to men- 
tion, that merlins must be looked for nearly a month 
later than peregrines ; therefore, if any one should be 
unlucky enough to miss the latter birds, he may pro- 
bably be able to fall back upon the former. I was 
unusually successful in hooding the two female mer- 
lins I brought up this year, and the plan I adopted 
was this : I did not show them the hood at all till I 
began to fly them, or at any rate till the day before 
(this would not answer with peregrines). I carried a 
bird into a darkened outhouse, and, by the least light 

* My gardener has to-day brought in a couple of live fieldfare 
thus taken, which were the very things I wanted for a sick peregrine. 



174 FALCONRY. 

through a chink, slipped on the hood ; I then came 
into the light, and found she pulled through after the 
least possible shaking the head. I fed her through 
the hood, unhooded, and replaced her on the block. 
The next day I did the same, giving, however, only 
one small mouthful when the hood was on. I then 
carried her to the field, and she flew instantly out of 
the hood, with no fear whatever at its removal, and 
killed a moulting lark. On our way home I succeeded 
in slipping on the hood at the first trial, while she 
was in the midst of her meal, the latter part of which 
she pulled through. After she had been on the block 
a minute, perfectly quiet, I removed the hood. The 
same plan was adopted with her sister, and with the 
same result. Now this is not what is called " break- 
ing to the hood ;" I know that. I know that, had 
the hoods been suffered to remain on the birds for 
five minutes or so after their return to the blocks, 
the probability is they would have struggled to get 
them off. But it is of no use whatever to keep 
merlins hooded on their blocks, or, if it be, the evil 
that follows is infinitely greater than the good. 
Every one who knows my hawks will say that I 
never had a feather or the web of a feather of a 
merlin broken by bating, and yet I never hood these 
birds, except when I carry them to the field, and 
during the latter part of the way, if a long way, in 
returning home. I broke the two sisters to the hood 
in a few minutes, as far as I cared they should be 



BELLS AND JESSES. 175 

broken ; they wore it in peace while on the glove, 
and flew quarry with eagerness the moment it was 
removed. 

As for bells, I have never been able to get more 
than one with a tolerable sound, and that by acci- 
dent, which I think light enough for these little 
birds. In lark-flying it is essential not to use any. 
Belling males is, under any circumstances, after hack, 
out of the question. When merlins are expected to 
fly right good ringing larks, the jesses should be 
made out of an old white kid glove, and well stretched 
and greased before they are put on. You may have 
to renew these every fortnight; but even that is 
better than over-weighting the birds. 

On a fine summer's day these hawks may be placed 
on the lawn, the blocks being removed into shade 
during the heat of mid-day. On summer nights, 
the " rustic shed," described in Chapter VI., will 
answer very well for merlins. In rough winter 
nights, and when snow is on the ground, nothing can 
be better than a dry loft, the floor sprinkled with 
sand, on which is placed a block or two, while a 
couple of perches run from wall to wall. Here two 
or three good-tempered birds may be kept together 
at liberty ; here they may have a bath, and here you 
may feed them with chopped meat, given bit by bit 
to each bird, as the set of them sit on your arm ; or 
perhaps one on your glove, another on your shoulder, 
a third on the perch, and so on. You won't, of 



176 FALCONET. 

course, dream of throwing anything whole among 
them — at least if you value their plumage or their 
lives. I have, besides this, a large pen out of doors, 
most carefully made, in this respect at any rate, that 
everything connected with the interior should be 
smooth and round, so that not a feather may be 
broken. I often change the birds about — perhaps 
every two days — from the pen to the blocks, and 
from the blocks to the pen. 

There is no use in denying that merlins are deli- 
cate. They die when in captivity, I believe, nine 
times out of ten, from one of two causes : they are 
either killed by famine or by damp. It is folly to 
say, that as they must be flown sharp-set, you cannot 
do this or that. You must feed them twice or occa- 
sionally three times a day, if you intend them to 
live. I have given a female bird, in high condition, 
a slight feed (no castings, of course) at nine in the 
morning, and killed a ringing lark with her at one or 
two in the afternoon ! However, I do confess that 
even a merlin may become coy and independent, and 
that on occasion she may be taken down, to use the 
vulgar formula, several pegs with advantage. But 
this must be done skilfully — that is, in other words, 
it must be done gradually. Is it a bull to add to 
this, that you must not be long about it either ? I 
think not, because I wish you to do very little in the 
matter at all. 

With regard to damp, it is horrible ; it produces 



"PEABL" AND "EMERALD." 177 

disordered liver and green mutes, bad throats, tender, 
inflamed crops, and food discharged from the mouth 
like castings. Damp ! Poor, poor " Pearl !" I would 
give good money were you alive again ; and you, too, 
my little " Emerald/ as swift as any hawk, and more 
brilliant than any at a catch ! I could not keep the 
damp from your homes, my pets, though I tried my 
hardest, because we were sopped, and steamed, and 
drenched here for weeks and weeks. Oh, that I had 
turned you out at hack even in the rain ! it would 
not have hurt you at liberty ; and better have lost 
you in life than stuffed or buried you dead ! It is too 
late ; but I will yet tell people that you were brave 
birds, and I think they will be sorry that you were 
obliged so soon to leave the world and " Peregrine." 



N 



178 FALCONEY. 



CHAP. XIII. 

IS ENTIRELY ON LARK-HAWKING WITH MERLINS. 

Merlins may be flown at almost any quarry which 
is not much larger than themselves ; but> swift and 
courageous as they are, it must be an unusually 
bold and strong female which will stick well to a 
full-grown partridge ; and as for wild larks, in full 
plumage and condition, it is only occasionally that 
the very best merlins can take them. 

As the lark flight is the flight with this hawk, 
I shall place it first here, and enter fully into the 
subject. I have, a few times in my life, seen such 
brilliant flights, concluded by a kill, when the lark 
was a wild one, and in full strength and plumage, 
that, could the capture of such quarry happen even 
once out of three times, I should esteem the sport 
as nearly the finest in the world. But> as the best 
merlins that were ever reared are, as a rule, over- 
matched by a good wild lark, falconers find it 
necessary to introduce an artificial element into the 
sport. That which the birds cannot obtain by their 
own determined exertions, their master must pro- 



MERLIXS. 179 

cure for them ; he must, in short, help them, and 
this he can do by providing himself with bagged 
larks — not that every flight need be at a lark 
which has been previously captured for the purpose ; 
if that were the case I for one should care very 
little for the amusement. The use of the bagged 
quarry may be stated as twofold ; in the first place 
when, after a fine long ringing flight, the lark has 
been driven into a wall of loose stones (in which 
there is sometimes a run of a dozen yards), or into 
a thick hedge full of brambles, which perhaps strag- 
gles into the ditch — in fact, anywhere from whence 
the quarry cannot be shortly recovered — it is abso- 
lutely necessary to be able to produce a live lark 
from your bag. Merlins are persevering, and will 
fly a bird into the clouds ; they do not grudge the 
most desperate exertion, but (after the first few 
flights) they will do none of this unless experience 
has taught them that the chances of success are 
in their favour. It may occasionally happen that 
wild merlins follow a ringing flight to the end, but 
it is a very rare occurrence. Nature will not per- 
mit her children to make such excessive efforts when 
the prospect of reward is worse than uncertain. Art 
suggests a remedy and supplies a deficiency; then 
Nature re-examines the matter, and gives her con- 
sent that it should be carried out. The proper way 
of offering the bagged lark I shall mention presently. 
The second use I spoke of is the following: — You 

N 2 



180 FALCONRY. 

fly your merlins, or cast of merlins, at a wild lark, 
which, we will say, escapes, after a long flight, by 
power of wing, the hawks leaving it at last in the 
sky. It may be taken as a rule that no merlin 
will continue a first-rate bird if it is disappointed 
twice consecutively on several occasions. Therefore, 
after a long unsuccessful flight, I would take the 
hawks up with a dead lark on a string, give them 
two or three mouthfuls each, without feather, and, 
in an hour or two, fly them at a bagged lark, in an 
open place, a couple of feathers having been taken 
from a wing of the quarry, if a strong, f ull-plumaged 
bird, and recently caught. Care must be taken, 
however (and this I think a very special point indeed), 
that the merlins don't see you throw the lark up. 
If they find you out they will soon be shy of wild 
birds, and only follow those for the easy catching 
of which they know you have made private arrange- 
ments. Give, therefore, the bagged lark to your 
friend or servant, and let him seem to walk it up, 
while in reality he jerks it from him with a motion 
unseen by the hawks. Perhaps a better plan still 
is to feed your birds up after an unsuccessful flight, 
and reserve the bagged flight till the next day. 
Don't shorten the flight of the lark too much ; he 
is pretty sure to be somewhat inferior to a wild 
one, and your object is not to make the flight very 
easy ; if you do, the merlins will learn to give up 
birds that dash swiftly from them, and your object 



MERLIN AND LARK. 181 

will be defeated, because the thing will be overdone. 
Another plan is to throw up a lark, its flight con- 
siderably shortened, just as your birds are coming 
down to you after leaving the quarry in the clouds, 
taking care to cheer them well as you do so. The 
notion, in this case, which you are to try to originate 
within them is that the lark you (still disguising 
what you do) throw up is the one they have chased, 
and which has been compelled to seek safety on 
the ground, though they did not know it. This may 
not seem a very clever delusion, but it is certainly 
better than using no bagged lark at all. I have 
a great notion myself that it does deceive the hawks, 
at any rate, for a time. It is certainly attended 
with very little trouble. By these means, because- 
they induce the hawks always to persevere, you 
may occasionally kill a wild lark in perfect plumage, 
and that, though it ought to happen several times 
in a season, is a great feat. You will also fly bagged 
larks in full plumage; these afford good exciting 
flights, only there is, to me, an awkwardness in the 
fact that they are not wild quarry. 

So much for the lark, while he is in the pride of 
his full power, when, in fact, he sometimes goes up 
whistling, out of sheer impudence, though the hawks 
are climbing fast. But we must inquire into his 
condition, prospects, and fate at another, and to him 
a most alarming and dangerous, period. This is the 
time of moult From the beginning of August till 

N 3 



182 FALCONET. 

the middle of September larks are moulting. Possibly 
they commence the operation sooner than the former 
month I have named ; but their arrangements then 
are to me, practically, of little moment. I only know 
that they are in perfect plumage by the end of Sep- 
tember, and so do my hawks, to their cost, poor 
things.* Now it so happens that when their quarry 
is in moult, the young merlins themselves, though 
not much more than two months old, and in a 
measure weak, are fast gaining their full powers; 
and I think their courage and determination are, at 
first, almost greater than we find them in older, more 
discreet, and more experienced birds. Therefore it 
is that moulting larks get most unmercifully slain. 
When in full moult they have really no chance with 
a commonly good merlin, supposing they are 200 
yards from cover ; nay, I would give 100 yards start in 
such a case. Occasionally, at this time, however, you 
will spring a fine fellow that will give something like 
a ringing flight ; this, I fancy, must be an early nest- 

* Evidently an example of a provision made for the weak by a 
Providence whose " mercy is over all His works." If the prey were 
in full vigour whilst the hawk's powers, either owing to youth or 
moult, were imperfect, the rapacious birds would starve. What 
worse than folly it is to talk of God's creatures being "greedy" or 
unfit to live, because they sustain life as He intended they should 
sustain it. How dare you, squeamish and morbid sentimentalist, 
take that fly out of the spider's web ? Who taught that poor creature 
to weave that exquisite net for its sustenance ? The same Being 
who, had he treated you according to your folly, would have made 
you break stones upon the road for your daily bread. 



A FLIGHT. 183 

ling of the year, for, as such, he would be in full 
feather. 

Unless the country is very much enclosed with 
impenetrable fences, you may have at the season I 
mention, several weeks' hawking without the trouble 
of bagged larks. Two out of three moulting larks 
will keep the birds in order ; but kill four out of five 
if you can. Towards the end of August and the 
beginning of September very fine sport may some- 
times be had, for the larks are nearly, though not 
quite over their moult, and chances are remarkably 
well balanced. Your birds, too, have been accustomed 
up to this period to look upon $ kill as almost a 
matter of certainty. Perhaps the very finest possible 
flights are those which go quite into the clouds (as it 
seems), when not only the lark vanishes but the 
hawks are lost to sight also. But I fear I must say 
that these scarcely ever terminate in a kill ; at least 
I was never certain of one, though it may have 
happened, when my birds, after such a flight, have 
been lost for an hour or more in an enclosed part of 
Northamptonshire. However, such flights as these 
probably will not begin, as a rule, till the end of 
September. 

The following is a nice, quiet flight — nothing 
" loud " about it, as your tailor would say, but quite 
a neat, gentlemanly flight, sir. On Saturday, August 
22, 1857, I went on the moor, accompanied by a 
friend, to look for a snipe in the damp pants of it. 

N4 



184 FALCONRY. 

I had poor "Pearl," a female, on one hand, and 
" Hornet," a cock bird, on the other. I had a notion 
at that time that I could make merlins kill snipe. 
I may as well say at once that I failed, though I don't 
yet despair of it being done. We had hunted for 
snipe for an hour without finding one : my fingers 
ached with holding the jesses of the hawks, which 
were carried unhooded, one on each hand. At last 
a lark got up, and I flung the merlins after him. 
The quarry "took the air" in a moment, and with- 
out hesitation — a sure proof that he was confident 
in his own powers. They did not go so very high ; at 
least, even the lark was always plainly in view. They 
would not let him rise after a certain point, though 
he persisted in attempting to do so. His determina- 
tion was unusual, considering that he was continually 
stooped at. No sooner did he fly from under the 
very foot of one bird than he shot up in the most 
gallant style, only to run the gauntlet with another. 
They were both good footers, but it seemed as if they 
could not touch him. There was some wind, and we 
had to run, though the continual stooping kept the 
flight near us. At length the three birds seemed to 
get into a current of air, and passed off more quickly. 
A bend in the moor hid them from our sight. I ran 
till I could hardly speak, but did not see the finish. 
At last we observed the cock bird on a wall. "Pearl" 
was underneath, in the midst of a heap of feathers ; 
and, after preparing her meal, had just begun to eat 



LARK-HAWKING. 185 

it. She did not show the smallest disposition to 
" cany " on this occasion ; and, on the whole, though 
nothing extraordinary, it was a very pretty thing 
indeed. I agree with Mr. Newcome in thinking 
that hen merlins have more perseverance than males, 
at the same time, I have had two, perhaps I may say 
three, of the latter sex which were most wonderful 
lark flyers, and for some time (they were spoiled at 
last from the impossibility of procuring bagged larks) 
flew their quarry into the clouds. The distance of 
the flight just mentioned was a good half mile from 
end to end; but I have had several of a mile, though 
not often with such good points about them as the 
one I have selected to record here. Very often, when 
a lark rings out of sight, the hawks are scarcely able 
to stoop at him at all, though they follow. A friend 
of mine, in Herts, took a wild lark the other day with 
a cast of merlins — a thing not to be done easily in 
the winter. His birds are eyesses. Mr. Newcome 
has taken several in the winter with wild-caught 
merlins ; but haggards are so given to carry, that I 
should prefer to keep them for heavier quarry than 
larks. 

If the field is any distance from home, it is right 
to hood the two hawks, and carry them on the 
left arm and hand. I have a spring swivel, with 
two or three inches of leash, fastened to my glove 
half-way between the elbow and wrist, to which the 
jesses of the first bird are easily hooked ; the second 



186 FALCONRY. 

bird has also a spring swivel, and his ordinary block- 
leash is wrapped round the hand. When the field 
is entered, I take the hawk from the left arm to 
the right hand (so that there is a bird on each 
hand) ; unhook the swivels from the jesses, holding 
the birds only by the latter ; then I unhood them 
with my mouth and spare fingers, putting the hoods 
into a leather box fastened round the waist. It is 
easier, however, to do all this if you have the assist- 
ance of a friend, who will unhook the jesses, &c. 
The merlins learn, in a very few days, for what pur- 
pose they are thus carried. Supposing there to be 
little or no wind, they will sit perfectly still, only at 
least moving their heads quietly from side to side, 
that a sharp look-out may be kept for the quarry 
which they expect at any moment to see rise. He 
will scarcely have left the ground, and probably 
before you can see him, when both hawks will spring 
violently from your hands. Open your fingers at 
once if you can, so that the hawks may not be checked 
or detained ; and this is easy enough when you see 
the lark at the same time that they get sight of him; 
when you do not you may be forgiven for stopping 
them during the fraction of a second. Give them a 
cheer or two, and then let them fight it out ; except 
that it is well to cheer any extraordinary effort of 
either bird, nothing more need be said to them. 
Care only must be taken, as I have observed in a 
former chapter, to make a broad distinction in sound 



LARK-HAWKING. 187 

between the cry which excites to exertion after a fly- 
ing quarry, and that which calls them to the lure. 

If the flight end in a kill, you may be in time to 
reach the birds while they are struggling for the 
quarry, each having a foot on it. In this case nothing 
is easier than to take the captured lark in one hand, 
whilst with the other you thrust a peg (previously 
prepared) into the ground, having a live or dead lark 
attached to it by a string of two feet long. One of 
the merlins will easily be persuaded to release his 
hold of the capture for the lark produced by you. If 
you don't intend to fly again immediately, allow both 
birds to take their pleasure on their larks, the one 
on the ground, the other in your hand ; and, if you 
wish to feed up for the day — as probably you do if 
you allow castings — give occasionally to each bird a 
small piece of fresh beef, which has been bruised to 
make it tender. If one hawk has driven the other 
away by the time you get up, take that other down 
to a dead lark, and proceed as just recommended. 
Should the flight have been entirely unsuccessful, 
and you have no bagged lark with you, or do not 
wish to throw one up, take the birds down to the 
ordinary horseshoe-shaped dead lure, to which they 
were accustomed during hack, and which it is better 
that they should not forget. If you are using only one 
bird, which does not plague you by ts carrying," and 
this bird has u put in " a lark where the cover is too 
dense to permit of its extrication — i.e. if you cannot 



188 FALCONRY. 

retrieve it — take out a bagged lark, draw most of the 
feathers from one wing, and jerk it towards the hawk 
when she is close to you, after you have pretended to 
beat earnestly for about one minute. She will cer- 
tainly think it is the quarry she " put in." But if 
your bird is (as most merlins are) at all given to 
" carry," or if you are flying two, offer a live lark in 
a two-yard creance, and affect to drag it out of the 
bush or wall — perhaps, indeed, this is the safer plan 
under any circumstances ; however, I would take care 
that the creance is a dirty green, and not conspicuous 
in any way. When, in the winter, you find that a 
cast of hawks have not taken a wild lark for some 
time, rest them for a day or two, then choose the 
better one, and fly her alone where there are many 
fences. The lark being stooped at, and missed, and 
seeing no second hawk underneath ready to take him 
should he drop, is not unlikely to cause himself to 
fall, like a stone, into a fence ; then you are in luck, 
for if you can't find the real Simon Pure, you can 
immediately produce a counterfeit, as before de- 
scribed ; and the incident will be worth anything in 
the world to the character of the hawk. The same 
experiment can be tried with your other birds. 

So much for flights with merlins, which are really 
in order, and constantly worked at larks. But it 
is a duty, which I must not forget, to give a hint 
to the tyro that this may happen to him : — He 
may take his merlin up from hack, break him to 



LARK-HAWKING. 189 

the hood, find him most obedient to the horseshoe 
lure, take him to the field in the most orthodox 
and confident manner; possibly he may engage a 
few friends, to whom he has lectured on this in- 
teresting subject at almost as great a length as I have 
done, to witness a first but a conspicuous triumph. 
Up may get a lark in the most obliging manner 
a few yards from his feet; the welkin may ring 
with his first real " hoo-ha-ha-ha ; " and with the 
most perfect imitation of that exciting cry which 
his admiring friends can accomplish ; when lo ! 
horror I nay delusion I — it can't be true — after 
six weeks of trouble and a year of hope — the lark 
goes off quietly and happily one way, while the 
"trained hawk " circles round his master's head for 
food, or flies off lazily another ! Patience, my dear 
sir, you must st enter " your merlin ; thatf 8 all; and 
it's soon done. 

This may happen ; but it is not every merlin that 
requires entering from the hand or creance ; the 
best I ever had did. Still, only last year I flew 
two nestlings at moulting larks which rose from a 
field, and entered them in that way. Females are 
not so likely to require the artificial entering as 
males are. A good deal, no doubt, depends upon 
what the birds have killed during the end of hack, 
or whether they have killed anything. Before the 
hawks are " taken up " I would let them kill a 
lark in creance; you may capture them with it, 



190 FALCONRY. 

if you please, giving a full meal, but I think I 
would use the common lure for that. When they 
are broken to the hood and made tame with what 
is called "handling" (which only means carrying the 
birds, hooding them, and so forth), throw up an- 
other lark in the open, with its flight shortened, 
but not in a creance, unless you think the hawk 
is given to " carry ; " or you may compromise 
matters, and have a yard of fine string fastened 
to the lark's leg (which, by-the-way, will impede 
its flight sufficiently), so that, on approaching the 
hawk after the capture, you may secure the end 
of this string, and thus frustrate an attempt to 
" carry," should it be made. It is during these 
trials that the cry of incitement to chase is first 
taught. Any hawk that has not been spoiled will 
permit you, when he has killed, to put your hand 
within a foot of him, though he may not, at this 
early stage, allow you to touch his prize. After 
this, get on to wild moulting larks as fast as possible. 
As for "waiting on," there are very few merlins 
indeed that will do it well, and it is by no means 
necessary. When a lark is "put in," these little 
hawks, if they are unable to follow the quarry into 
cover, or if they lose sight of him, settle as close 
as possible to the place where he vanished. I have 
stood a yard from another man, hunting with our 
hands in long grass for the lark which has been 
driven there after a hard flight, the hawk remaining 



LARK-HAWKING. 191 

on the ground between us as staunch as a pointer, 
and having found the quarry, which dare not move, 
I have given it to the little beauty who so well 
deserved it. I always keep the legs of wild larks 
taken in fair flight, and having assigned to each of my 
birds a particular colour (sometimes chosen in refer- 
ence to its name), I tie the legs together, after they 
are varnished with mastic varnish, with silk of the hue 
belonging to the bird, and thus I know at a glance 
which merlin took this, and which that. 

I have worked out as well as I am able the whole 
subject of lark-flying. In the next chapter I shall 
conclude what I have to say on the merlin, as well 
as convey to my readers all that I know about that 
beautiful little falcon, the Hobby. 



192 FALCONET. 



CHAP. XIV. 

MERLIN CONCLUDED. — KEPT TO A PARTICULAR QUARRY — HOW TO 
CHOOSE A HEM MERLIN WHICH 18 INTENDED FOR LARGE QUARRY. 
— ENTERING TO PIGEONS AND PARTRIDGES. — MERLIN AND MAO- 
PIE. — RING-OUZEL. — BLACKBIRDS AND THRUSHES. — SNIPE. — 
PLOVER. — LANDRAIL. — QUAIL. — MERLIN ON THE WING. — RE- 
CAPITULATION OF THE CHARACTER OF THE MERLIN. 

THE HOBBT. — NEST. — DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD. — BAD AND GOOD 
QUALITIES, AND (POSSIBLT) GREAT EFFICIENCY, WITH A FAIR 
TRIAL. 

Merlins which are used for lark flying even in 
August and September, ought to be kept entirely to 
that quarry; but if it be in contemplation to fly 
them at larks throughout the winter, their owner 
must make up his mind never, under any circum- 
stances, to permit them to kill anything else. And, 
if, by accident, they do make a flight at a thrush, 
blackbird, &c, let him devoutly hope that it may be 
an unsuccessful one. 

And what is true in this respect of lark-flying, is 
true also of pigeon-flying. A merlin (female of course) 
intended for £he latter flight, and ultimately, perhaps, 
for partridges, should never be permitted to kill a 
quarry which is easily mastered. In the case of 



TO CHOOSE A HEN MERLIN. 193 

larks, the difficulty which merlins have to contend 
with is speed; in that of pigeons and partridges it is 
chiefly strength ; as well, indeed, as with their own 
fear, which the large size of the quarry sometimes 
engenders. I will suppose that you wish to test the 
powers of a hen merlin at large quarry. You have 
two or three hens at hack ; perhaps there is a dove- 
cote near your house, or in its premises ; do any of 
the hen merlins, which have been on the wing for 
three weeks or so, fly the pigeons ? I don't mean, do 
they kill any, but do they chase them at all ? Yes ; 
you think they all give them a turn occasionally ; 
but one certainly begins to take up the matter in 
earnest ; she really strikes, while the others turn off 
as soon as they get veiy near. But she screams so 
fearfully, even when her meal has been much greater 
than her sister's, that you think, upon your word, 
you shan't be troubled with her. You are sure, 
and rightly sure, that in lark-hawking she would sit 
on your hand, with her feathers up, making a noise 
so hideous that the larks would, in many cases, either 
get up out of distance, or lie so close that it would 
puzzle you to find them at all ; therefore you will 
part with her. Please to give me the refusal ; I 
want just such a bird to make certain experiments 
with on partridges. For, be sure she has indomitable 
pluck ; she has no eye for size, and little notion of 
times and seasons ; she is always prepared. She may 
have to be flown alone, however, as she might, if 

o 



194 FALCONRY. 

sharp-set, make quarry of her own sister. I am far 
from wishing to say that no silent birds are coura- 
geous ; but I never met with a merlin such as I have 
described which had not unusual courage. These 
are the birds (they occur in the proportion of about 
one to twelve) that, when desperately hungry, two or 
three times in their lives perhaps, chase a full-grown 
grouse (which, however, if it be unwounded, they 
cannot hold), and thereby convince the very logical 
mind of a gamekeeper, or other scientific gentleman, 
that merlins mostly feed upon grouse, or at any rate 
reject all food which has not a truly game flavour. 
I do the merlin, however, less or more than justice 
(as you will), for the hero of these wonderful tales is 
seldom this little hawk at all, but a bird of a larger 
species. Scientific gentlemen sometimes don't know 
very much more than that a hawk is not a hern- 
shaw — at least at a little distance and on the wild 
moor. 

Choose, then, this screamer for your purpose, 
which I have mentioned above ; and if she chance to 
have size as well as courage, she is a valuable bird 
indeed. Her relatives I will suppose you intend for 
smaller quarry; let us consider how she is to be 
treated, with the view of making her a first-rate 
pigeon- hawk in the first place, and a partridge-hawk 
in the second. 

During the last ten days of hack, or as soon as she 
is observed to chase pigeons, call her down to a dead 



ENTERING TO PIGEONS. 195 

pigeon lure ; allow her to plume the neck and to 
feed from it, as well as from the upper part of the 
breast; insert also the most delicate morsels of tender, 
fresh, juicy beef-steak into the breast, whilst you are 
helping her to make her meal, and contrive that she 
may pull them out, as if they were part of the pigeon. 
In a couple of days kill a pigeon, as the hawk is 
coming down to you. The muscles of a dead bird do 
not lose their action the instant sensation has de- 
parted, and the hawk will therefore feel the pigeon 
struggling under her for some seconds after she has 
seized it. Open this bird's head and breast, assisting 
the hawk in removing the feathers, and then let her 
take her pleasure upon it. The next day, keep your 
hawk waiting an hour for her breakfast (though with 
an eye on her movements), and when she is called, 
throw up a young living pigeon that can fly about 
twenty yards. Wait till she has found the neck, and 
has it firmly grasped in the terrible vice of one of 
her feet ; then assist her, and let her take her plea- 
sure as before. Do not even permit her to eat a 
lark, far less fly her at one. Try to impress upon 
her that there is no such thing as quarry apart from 
birds as large or larger than herself. It will \>e very 
easy, should you ultimately wish it, to make her 
take blackbirds and thrushes; but if you begin 
with small birds you will probably be disappointed 
in any attempt you may make with pigeons after- 
wards. Perhaps this remark, however, applies only to 

o 2 



196 FALCONET. 

the generality of merlins, and not so much to the ex- 
traordinarily courageous bird which I have described; 
but even with such a one I should undoubtedly carry 
it out in practice. You will find that a single good 
merlin, or (better still) a cast, will make excellent 
flights even with strong old pigeons ; the struggle on 
the ground, however, is trying to the hawks, especially 
to their tails. A quarry as large as a pigeon is rather 
frightened than knocked down by merlins, though 
they strike and make' the feathers fly ; it is almost 
invariably killed after it has dashed, or attempted 
to dash, into low cover, where it is followed and 
strangled. That habit of following into cover makes 
good merlins more deadly with pigeons than perhaps 
even the peregrine himself. 

In making the attempt to get on (for it is a step) 
from pigeons to partridges, you will be encountered 
by some difficulties. You may, when it is impos- 
sible to procure young bagged partridges, select a 
few pigeons as nearly brown as you can find them, 
and rather young, so that the flights shall be easy, 
and have them thrown up in stubble or turnips, by 
some one who shall pretend to beat them up ; or it 
would perhaps be found to be a good plan to have a 
pigeon-shooting trap hid in the field, the string being 
pulled when you are within fifteen yards of it. Young 
landrails, in some counties, are not unfrequently 
caught by the hand in the fields at the breeding 
season; and they attain a considerable size before 



ENTERING TO PARTRIDGES. 197 

they can fly. These given from the hand, as they 
are near enough the colour of the partridge, and very 
strong, may be of use. This, however, is a matter of 
accident, and almost of indifference ; and, in truth, 
these are somewhat clumsy expedients when taken 
alone. I think I should not trouble myself with 
either of them until I had failed in the following : — 
Get some half-grown partridges marked down ; take 
your merlin (which, remember, has been in the habit 
of killing pigeons — I hope brown ones) when sharp- 
set, if possible into the very middle of them ; and 
may your devout wish, that the first bird she flies 
shall not drop into the turnips, and escape by the 
legs, be accomplished ! If she kill, let her gorge her- 
self on the quarry ; and get on, by degrees, to full- 
grown birds. You will find the struggle on the 
ground desperate indeed, and you must " make in " 
very quickly, or you may lose the partridge; his 
stout strong legs make it difficult for the merlin 
to throw him and reach the neck with her honest 
never-flinching talon. On the whole, this flight 
somewhat overtaxes the strength of any merlin. 

When live partridges can be procured, and the 
merlin is destined for the quarry, they should be 
given instead of the pigeons during the end of hack. 
Were I commanded by a certain king to present 
him within a given time with a cast of merlins for 
partridge-flying; he appending to that command, 
in case of failure, several pleasing little punishments, 

o 3 



198 FALCONRY. 

which, while they would probably be sport to him, 
would certainly be death to me ; — but were he in 
his clemency to give me the service of an eminent 
poacher — I should say to that slave (as soon as I 
saw symptoms of the merlins preying for themselves), 
" Procure me, oh most vile of mortals ! between the 
rising and setting of the stars, three brace at least 
of live partridges two-thirds grown; in default of 
which offering I shall make such arrangements in 
connexion with thy head as shall have a very mate- 
rial influence upon the length of thy shadow ! " 
After calling down my hack birds to a dead par- 
tridge, and feeding them in the manner described 
when pigeons are the quarry, I should on the day 
following wring the neck of one of these bagged 
young birds, as it were in the very face of the 
merlin (as also described in the case of pigeons), 
and then day after day offer the " train " (i. e. the 
bagged birds) at first, with their flight considerably 
shortened, and at length in an open place, unimpeded 
by any restraint whatever. This being accomplished, 
and the hawks having never been permitted to feed 
on anything but a partridge* (or beef out of a 
partridge), I should take them amongst a wild covey 
of young birds, having of course a live partridge 



* There is nothing in the flavour of the partridge which is attrac- 
tive to the hawks ; they generally like fresh, tender beef better ; bat 
you mast persuade them that this comes out of the quarry you wish 
them to fly. 



MERLIN AND MAGPIE. 199 

with me, with which to recompense the young hawk 
in case the real quarry should escape in cover. 
Then it would not be improbable that the Grand 
Vizier would be decapitated, and I installed in his 
office, to say nothing of the offer of the dozen hands 
of half-a-dozen princesses, and the prospect in due 
time of conspiring against my father-in-law, making 
matters smooth and agreeable in connexion with 
his head, and finally ascending the throne amidst 
the plaudits of my people. 

A friend of mine had a merlin which took par- 
tridges Well ; it was an unusually courageous- bird ; 
once flew a kestrel, and once killed a magpie — 
both thrown up from the hand. Last spring I had a 
strong female bird at large ; she had been at liberty 
during the winter, occasionally preying for herself, 
but generally coming down to be fed. She usually 
sat on a tree about two hundred yards from the 
house ; and, the moment the window was open and 
my arm thrust out, she came to my glove. She 
was an excellent lark-flyer, but somewhat pf a coward, 
and afraid of a strong pigeon. Knowing that she 
was rather discreet than valorous, I was surprised, one 
day, on looking out of the window, to observe her 
dashing round a tree, in the most excited manner, 
the object of her pursuit being a magpie which 
was crouching amidst the branches. I had unfor- 
tunately, at that moment, no available help, no one 
within call; but I ran to her assistance as fast as 

O 4 



200 FALCONRY. 

I could. We dislodged the magpie; and no pere- 
grine in the world could have made finer stoops 
than she did. Other trees were near, but before 
the magpie could reach them, the hawk had shot 
up to a distance twice the height of the house, and 
spun down with the speed, if not of a bullet, cer- 
tainly of an arrow, almost brushing the quarry's 
wing as she passed. She seemed to have been 
enchanted by a kind fairy; the very manner as 
well as the spirit of some dead peregrine possessed 
her. Eising above the next tree, she " waited on," 
as though she had made a pilgrimage to Ireland 
with Captain Salvin, and killed a hundred magpies. 
I was on the point of putting the quarry out a second 
time, when, the good fairy having left us for a 
moment, a confounded witch, passing by on her 
broomstick, and seeing that we were on the very 
point of accomplishing a thing not on record,* 
changed herself into a magpie, and appeared at the 
distance of about a hundred yards from us. In- 
stantly the merlin went off in pursuit ; as instantly 
did that witch take to cover; and I went on, beating 
out first one magpie and then another, till my hawk 
and myself were "beat" also. In sober earnest- 
ness, had I been supported by beaters, and had there 
been but one magpie instead of two, the hawk would 
have killed. This merlin flew a few magpies after- 

* I believe there is no instance of a merlin taking a wild magpie, 
though it might be accomplished. 



HE RING-OUZEL. 201 

wards, but with no spirit at all, and I gave up 
making the attempt to enter her. She is not the 
only bird of this ppecies which I have seen suddenly 
possessed of the most wonderful qualities, and almost 
as suddenly lose them. 

The ring-ouzel has occasionally afforded me ex- 
cellent sport with the little hawk under our con- 
sideration. The great and only difficulty one has 
to contend with in conducting this flight is the 
certainty that about five ouzels out of six will con- 
trive to dash into a wall of loose stones, or into 
the rocks, in the neighbourhood of which they are 
found. I have many a time, when this has happened, 
thrust my hand in after the quarry, the hawk sitting 
on the top of the wall, and yet I have only been 
able to touch the tail feathers, two or three of 
which I have drawn out with my two fingers, and 
lost the bird after all. Observe that cock ring-ouzel 
on the wall! He sees you and he sees the hawk, 
but he chatters the most absurd defiance. At length 
he skims along on the other side; the merlin is 
off your hand in a moment ; you hear a shriek, con- 
tinued in a sort of squeal ; he was taken just as 
he was entering a crevice. Or again, you will see 
a bird of the same species, and perhaps of the same 
sex, behave very differently. He will squat on the 
wall the moment he observes the hawk, his breast 
pressed close to it, and the white of his throat 
looking like a white pebble. He may even be able 



202 FALCONRY. 

to slip off on the other side without the hawk catch- 
ing sight of him at all. The merlin should have 
a live ouzel (or a blackbird will do as well) given 
from the hand, when it has been impossible to re- 
trieve several from the walls, and she has flown a 
third or fourth to cover. The sparrow-hawk would, 
I fancy, be a famous bird for this flight. 

Last spring we were somewhat startled by a dash 
and flutter against the window. A hen ring-ouzel 
had sought refuge from the merlin mentioned above ; 
but she was taken just as we turned round to see 
what was the matter. 

I may observe that, when I have wished to enter 
a merlin to ouzels and have been unable to get live 
quarry, I have taken the gun, the hawk following 
me ; from catching wounded birds she has soon been 
encouraged to fly and kill uninjured ones. Merlins 
will take blackbirds and thrushes put out of low 
turnips or potatoes ; but it will be found that, while 
few or none refuse a thrush, several require a proper 
entering to blackbirds. The flesh, too, of the black- 
bird, and indeed of the ring-ouzel, does not seem very 
palateable to them. 

I think that full-snipes, when young, and found 
in their breeding-places, as also when in moult, 
might easily be killed with merlins ; with jack-snipe 
there would be little difficulty. But it is, perhaps, 
worth observing, that some of my very best lark- 
flyers, and female birds too, have refused to follow a 



SNIPE. — PLOVER. 203 

snipe above a couple of hundred yards, and in time 
ceased even to make an attempt ; at the same time, I 
ought to say that I have seen a female bird of my 
own, not entered to the quarry, fly a snipe through its 
numberless turnings for more than half a mile, but lose 
it at last. However, anything can be done by proper 
entering; and, were snipe to be obtained alive, to 
serve as bagged birds, at a moderate cost, and could 
a store be kept alive, nearly as fine sport might be 
had with this quarry (and that, ultimately, in its 
wild state) as with larks themselves ; besides, there 
would be a satisfaction in procuring a bird for the 
table, in a manner, at present, so unusual. 

I have seen merlins fly the common plover, but 
never saw them take one. The landrail would be 
easily taken, in an open place, especially by a bird 
accustomed to partridges. Quail would make famous 
sJ)ort, if there were any ; and in the East the small 
hawks are flown at this quarry with uncommon suc- 
cess. 

I have endeavoured, in the first of these three 
chapters on the merlin, to give such a description of 
the bird, when seen either adult or young, either 
male or female, as must enable any one, however 
unaquainted he may be with ornithology or falconry, 
to recognise it, on a close inspection, without hesita- 
tion. And I will only add further, with regard to its 
appearance, that when on the wing at too great 
a distance to display much of its colour, the speciea 



204 FALCONET. 

may be detected by the manner of the flight. The 
wings of the sparrow-hawk are short, and have 
somewhat of a rounded look in the air; those of 
the hobby are exceedingly long, and their length 
gives a swallow-like appearance to the bird; the 
mouse-hunting kestrel is constantly balancing him- 
self, with his head to the wind, at a greater or less 
distance above his prey ; but the wings of the merlin 
are neither so short as those of the sparrow-hawk, 
nor so long as those of the hobby. He may be seen 
rapidly skimming along, at no great distance from 
the ground; or ringing after a bird that has " taken 
the air ; " or following the straight, or the zigzag, line 
of a quarry with such wonderful (apparent) accuracy, 
that one is almost tempted to believe there is a path 
in the air by which " her way may be found," till 
reminded of the absurdity of such a notion by our 
senses; and perhaps recollecting that divine and 
glorious simile by which, in the Book of Wisdom, 
the vanity of pride and the transient nature of riches 
are shown : — " All those things are passed away like 
a shadow, and as a post that hasteth by; and as a 
ship that passeth over the waves of the water, which 
when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, 
neither the pathway of the keel in the waves; or as 
when a bird hath flown through the air, there is no 
token of her way to be found, but the light air being 
beaten with the stroke of her wings, and parted with 
the violent noise and motion of them, is passed 



THE HOBBY. 205 

through, and therein afterwards no sign where she 
went is to be found." 

The character of the merlin is soon recapitulated. 
The bird is docile, courageous, almost intelligent. 
More than any hawk it seems made for the service 
of man ; as fax at least as its inclination, though not 
as far as its power, extends. Individuals vary in their 
respective strength, but more especially in their 
courage, and yet I have seldom met with any that 
could be termed cowards. Generally they are emi- 
nently daring, though their boldness is not unlike 
that attributed to the ancient Grauls, and indeed to 
our modern neighbours ; impetuous at first, it fails 
before discouragement. This, as I have already said, 
will be found when they have been overmatched, for 
several times, either by strength or speed. On the 
whole, I would most strongly recommend them to 
the young falconer, who will make a great mistake if 
he take the sparrow-hawk in preference. In skilful 
hands this latter bird is, as will presently be shown, 
very effective in some flights ; but let the tyro com- 
mence with the merlin; and, if he will take my 
advice, I will pledge my credit that, with ordinary 
management, he shall not be disappointed. 



The Hobby (Falco mbbuteo). — I regret to say that 
this bird (somewhat larger than the merlin, except 



206 FALCONRY. 

perhaps as to its feet) is exceedingly rare in the 
British Isles. I once begged its mutilated body 
from a gamekeeper's museum of stinking cate, stoate, 
rats, magpies, and kestrels; and I know the bird 
well, in its appearance, from having seen many 
stuffed specimens, and thoroughly, I think, in man- 
ner and efficiency, from the report of intimate friends 
who have trained and flown the species. 

The hobby, an exquisitely made falcon, with closed 
wings reaching even beyond the tip of the tail, is 
found in England only in the breeding season, and 
then chiefly in the southern and midland counties. 
This species builds almost always on trees; or, to 
speak more properly perhaps, it occupies the old or 
desort*d nest of some other bird, making only slight 
alterations and repairs. But as many species differ 
so much in the matter of nidification when over- 
ruled by the influence of locality, it is not difficult to 
believe that the hobby now and then, but very seldom 
indeed, has its nest among rocks. Certainly kestrels 
and buzzards (to show the converse), which breed in 
rocks when they can find them, breed in trees (espe- 
cially the former species), where no convenient rocks 
are to be found. With regard to the egg, it is per- 
haps somewhat paler in colour than that of either 
peregrine, merlin, or kestrel. The merlin's has 
generally the lake tint more conspicuously than the 
others. Yarrell appears to me to describe correctly, 
when he makes the hobby's " speckled all over with 



DESCRIPTION OF THE HOBBY. 207 

reddish brown, on a dirty white ground." The " white," 
however, is very dirty, and has a dingy reddish-yellow 
tint. The truth is that the eggs of the true falcons 
are very much alike in colour. Hobbies arrive here 
in April, and leave us in October ; probably they go 
to Africa: they have been caught en route to that 
continent (at Malta) from Europe. The bird is, 
however, very common in the east of Europe, and the 
adjoining portions of Asia. 

The following excellent description of the hobby is 
from " Falconry in the British Isles:" — , 

" In plumage the young and adult birds do not 
vary very considerably. In the young the upper 
portion of the body is nearly black, the edges of the 
feathers alone being of a rusty tint, while the whole 
of the under surface is of a dingy white ground- 
colour, marked with long dark splashes. In the 
adult, the edging to the feathers on the back and 
wing coverts disappears, the colour is at the same 
time changed to a dark slate, with the head, cheeks, 
and primaries nearly black ; the chin pure white in 
the male, dingy in the female, with a white ground- 
colour for the breast, marked in a similar manner to 
the young bird; the thighs and under tail coverts 
acquire at the same time a fine clear rusty tint, the 
former being in the female splashed with dark spots ; 
this is sometimes also the case in the male; more 
usually however with him the rusty portions are 
without marks. The cere, in the young bird, is blue, 



208 FALCONRY. 

which as it increases in age changes to yellow, and 
ultimately to a fine orange, the legs and feet altering, 
in the same manner, from greenish-yellow to a deep 
chrome. The eyes are a dark hazel." 

In their wild state they take cockchaffers on the 
wing (as will the merlin, according to my own re- 
peated observation), dragon-flies, and many insects ; 
also small birds, especially^ larks. Whether they 
have the pluck — they certainly have the power — 
to go through the ordeal of a good ringing flight 
remains, as far as I know, to be proved. I have 
never known them flown at larks with the advan- 
tage of bagged birds ; and therefore I am not aware 
that they have been fairly tried with the quarry. 
They ought to be absolutely wonderful in their 
flight, their speed being unquestionably superior to 
that of the merlin. Snipe, too, ought scarcely to 
have a chance with them. They have, however, 
been so stolen from Nature by people who, not 
being naturalists, have taken a coarse or ignorant 
view of matters, that falconers have no materials 
left to work on, in connexion with this species. Mr. 
Brodrick, however, killed pigeons with a haggard 
female, and Mr. Holford, of Ware, before he be- 
came the accomplished falconer he is at present, 
flew some nestlings, with only indifferent success, 
at larks ; — he did not use bagged birds in those 
days. Mr. Newcome (an authority inferior to none 
in Europe) complains that even the trained birds 



HABITS OF THE HOBBY. 209 

amuse themselves with insect catching. I must not 
forget to mention that I have seen a female of this 
species that was shot as it rose from a dying par- 
tridge ; and I did not hear, though I inquired, that 
the partridge had been previously wounded. Such 
a bird would probably be, for pluck, one out of 
ten ; and yet I cannot help thinking that with skill, 
care, and perseverance, the hobby might be made, 
could it be procured, to show great sport with larks 
and snipe. I have certainly reason to suppose that 
a good deal was done with it in the olden time. 

It* is hardy — much less delicate at least than 
the merlin — "waits on " beautifully, is very docile, 
and its appearance is perhaps more elegant than that 
of any hawk in the world. 

* Hobbies, but especially merlins, should be fed chiefly on birds : 
when beef is given, it should be very fresh and tender : it is well to 
bruise it, and some falconers chop it up like nightingale's food. 
Beware of giving birds that have been shot much — though I have 
given unnumbered winged birds with impunity. Shot taken into the 
stomach is fatal to hawks as to domestic poultry ; the latter will pick 
it up if spilt in a farmyard, and die of the poison. 



210 FALCONBY. 



CHAP. XV. 

THE GOSHAWK (aSTUX PALUMBARIUs). — DESCRIPTION, AS TO COLOUR, 

OF THE BIRD. GENERIC APPELLATIONS. — FURTHER DESCRIPTION. 

— WHERE FOUND A "TRUE HAWK," WITH EXPLANATIONS 

FLOWN FROM THE HAND. LAROE QUARRY. — FLOWN "TO THE 

RIVER," ETC. — TEMPER. — WHERE PROCURED. COST. ADVAN- 
TAGES.— DISADVANTAGES. — TRAINING. — NOT HOODED IN MODERN 
PRACTICE. — THE BOW-PERCH. — TARAK. 

I MAKE no apology for quoting the following descrip- 
tion of this hawk from "Falconry in the British 
Isles " (to the pages of which I have, indeed, more 
than once applied for a similar purpose), because 
one of the authors of that book is practically in- 
terested in this; and I know that my friend, his 
coadjutor, makes us welcome to anything of the kind 
which we may consider of service. 

" The colour of the young goshawk differs con- 
siderably from that of the mature state. During 
the first year, the whole of the under portion of the 
body is of a rusty salmon colour, marked with long 
lanceolate streaks of blackish-brown ; while the 
upper part is liver-brown, each feather being mar- 
gined with reddish-white. At first the eyes are 
grey ; this colour gradually changes with age to 
lemon-yellow, and eventually becomes orange; the 



THE GOSHAWK. 211 

cere is wax-yellow, with the tarsi and feet of a 
deeper tone. At the first change the whole of the 
under plumage becomes light grey, striped trans- 
versely with narrow bars of a dark brown colour, 
the top of the head, back, wings, and tail becoming 
of a uniform hair-brown, with five distinct bars of 
a darker colour on the latter ; there is also a streak 
of light grey over each eye, speckled, as are the 
cheeks, with minute brown splashes. The bars on 
the breast of the adult birds differ considerably 
in width in different individuals; the under tail- 
coverts are pure white." 

Naturalists have lately concurred in giving different 
generic appellations to the goshawk and sparrow- 
hawk — the former bird being Astur, the latter 
Accipiter. Certainly the difference in the length 
of the tarsi and the singles is very considerable ; and 
I believe the severance of the genera is justified, 
if not justifiable, from that circumstance. The gene- 
ral appearance of the two birds, however, is so 
similar that, in . looking at a sparrow-hawk, you 
might almost fancy you saw a goshawk through a 
diminishing glass. 

The length of a full-grown male is about eighteen 
inches, of a female about twenty-four inches ; there 
being, as in the case of the sparrow-hawk, a very 
considerable difference in size between the sexes. 
This bird builds on high trees, and makes a large 
rough nest ; the eggs are a bluish-white , I very 

p 2 



212 FALCONRY. 

much doubt whether they are ever spotted. Gos- 
hawks appear to be very widely distributed; but 
those found in America, though similar to the rest, 
are said to have a difference which some think might 
be made specific. Macgillivray, however, denies the 
existence of this difference : I believe him to be in 
error; but, for the present, I am quite content to 
leave a matter, which is of no consequence to fal- 
conry, in doubt. 

The goshawk prefers wild rugged districts, es- 
pecially dark fir forests. It is not uncommon in 
Norway, Sweden, Germany, Holland, &c, and is 
found in France; the birds which we receive for 
training are generally imported from Germany. The 
excessive preservation of game, and a population 
which spreads itself over almost every acre of land, 
have exterminated it in this country ; neither is it to 
be found, except very rarely indeed, in Scotland or 
Ireland. The last specimen killed in this island was 
however " procured " (I believe that is the term) as 
lately as November, 1858; this was in Norfolk. 
The same county afforded one in 1854, and another 
in 1850. But the goshawk has ceased to breed in 
England. Mr. Thompson mentions, in his "Birds 
of Ireland," that the name of " goshawk " is some- 
times given to the peregrine by the common people, 
or by those who, ignorant of ornithology, adopt a 
local name, without reference to its propriety. It is 
indeed doubtful whether the goshawk has been seen 



NATURAL IIISTORY OF THE BIRD. 213 

in Ireland for a considerable period. That it was 
once common there we may gather from "The 
Gentleman's Kecreation," 1677. The author, after 
enumerating many parts of the world in which the 
bird is found, says : " Yet there are none better than 
those which are bred in the north parts of Ireland, 
as in the province of Ulster, but more especially in 
the county of Tyrone." Also, in "A Treatise of 
Modern Falconry, by James Campbell, Esq.," a book 
of which I have spoken before, we have the following 
passage: "The goshawk is found in the. north of 
Scotland and Ireland," &c. This was written as 
recently as 1773, but the family must have been 
dying out then, and they are dead now. 

The goshawk is a true hawk. 

I reminded my readers, in the third chapter of 
this book, that there is a wide difference, both in 
make and manner, between the true falcons, which 
only we have at present considered, and the true 
hawks. Perhaps it may be convenient if I recapitu- 
late shortly what I then remarked. In Natural 
History the falcons are known by two infallible 
marks ; the first of these is the " dentated beak," or 
"falcon's tooth," (it will be found in the shape of 
a little sharp projection on either edge of the upper 
mandible, of which it is a part); and the second is 
the shape of the wing, the second feather of which is 
the longest; there being only one exception to the 
rule, as far as I know, and that is made in favour of 

p 3 



214 FALCONRY. 

the merlin. To these certain marks may perhaps be 
added the dark hazel eye and the moustache. The 
true hawks, on the other hand, have no tooth, but an 
elegant curve, called in natural history the " lobe " or 
" festoon ;" the fourth feather in the wing is generally 
the longest ; the eye is yellow ; and the mark which I 
have called the " moustache," spoken of by Sir. W. 
Jardine as the " dark streak of the real falcon," and 
which descends from the corner of the gape, is of 
course wanting in the true hawks. In Falconry the 
manner of. pursuit is taken into consideration; also 
the female goshawk is spoken of as a falcon, but 
simply by courtesy. 

The goshawk, especially the female, has not much 
speed: she, and also the sparrow-hawk, are flown 
"at bolt," or from the hand, and must be trained to 
fly to it. They are called hawks of the fist, as I 
have had occasion to mention before. With these 
birds it is proper to approach the quarry as nearly as 
may be, in order to compensate for the want of 
" stoop ; " though I saw last year a female goshawk 
sight and overtake a hare which got up from a hill 
in a slight mist at 150 yards from me. She was off 
my hand in an instant, and rolled the quarry over, 
though in this instance she did not hold. I imagine, 
however, that in her wild state one habit, and that 
the most common, of the goshawk is to sit cat-like 

m 

on a tree, ready to dash on the first unsuspecting 
rabbit or marmot that passes. Larger and heavier 



FLOWN "TO THE RIVER." 215 

than the peregrine, and with a frightful power of 
foot, she can be trained to hold even the gazelle ; 
but for such quarry it is necessary to " succour " her 
with greyhounds. This was done in the olden time 
even with hares. In the East, where this hawk is 
highly esteemed, she is used for the large quarry 
just mentioned, and a most interesting account of 
these flights will be found in " Falconry in the Valley 
of the Indus." 

It seems that so lately as the latter half of the last 
century, the goshawk was flown " to the river," as it 
was called, at herons, wild geese, wild ducks; she 
was also flown at rooks ; but it is difficult to under- 
stand how she could be effective against any of these 
birds. The only possible way — and in truth this 
seems pointed out in the old hawking-books — was 
to stalk the quarry ; and it was for this reason, no 
doubt, that the goshawk was never belled when she 
flew wild-fowl. Were the falconer carrying a gos- 
hawk, to creep up to the river side, through cover, 
or near steep banks, and in this manner get within a 
few yards of a heron, there is little doubt, as I have 
said in a previous chapter, that the hawk would take 
it in the act of rising from the shallow. I have my- 
self marked wild ducks to a brook, when I have been 
shooting, and stalked them to within a few paces. 
When this can be done, the goshawk's work will be 
found light enough. With rooks there would pro- 
bably be more difficulty ; and I really can't imagine 

P 4 



216 FALCONRY. 

how the falconer is to get near geese now, even if he 
adopt the stalking-horse of olden times. 

I have known a female goshawk dash from my 
hand at a snipe, which rose near, and follow it 
through a turn or two; frequently she has flown 
grouse — I need hardly say, without success in either 
case. For my own part, I like the hawk ; there is a 
certain feeling of power which she communicates to 
you, as she is borne gaily along on the fist, derived, 
I suppose, from the knowledge of her great strength 
and courage, and from the size of the quarry you 
seek to kill with her. With Captain Salvin she is a 
great favourite ; and certainly, if there be anything 
in intimate acquaintance, his favourable impression 
is a correct one. The reader is indebted to his copious 
notes for much of the practical part which follows on 
the subject of the goshawk, especially that connected 
with fur-hawking. 

It is a thousand pities that the temper of this bird 
is so very far from amiable ; it is, in fact, sulky. 
Its trainer must have much patience ; a virtue, how- 
ever, which, if exercised, the hawk will ultimately 
reward. 

Goshawks may be sometimes procured by an appli- 
cation to our professional falconers ; and, I believe, 
through the manager of the Eegent's-park Zoological 
Gardens. If you have a choice, take a large one — 
especially if it is a female, and you require her for 
hares. Look also to the feet, for she should be well 



WHERE PROCURED. — COST. 217 

armed, as she catches by clutching ; these should be 
large and powerful, having sharp claws. Unfortu- 
nately the goshawks which are imported into this 
country are much injured in plumage. They are 
generally, if not always, nestlings (though there is 
no objection to that) ; and it would seem that they 
scarcely taste food between the time of their capture 
in Germany and their delivery in England. All that 
can be done on the receipt of such a bird, preparatory 
to training it, is to feed it gradually, and keep it as 
clean as may be. The feathers which have been 
broken, either by the hunger-streak, or by its con- 
stant beating against a cage or pen on its voyage, or 
by both, may be left unimped until the bird shall 
be, in a measure, reclaimed. The tail, if perfect, is 
sure to be destroyed by violent bating, even from a 
bow-perch. The cost of an untrained nestling is 
about 4Z. 

But before detailing the proceedings which are 
recommended with a goshawk just delivered at your 
door, a few advantages in the use of the bird shall be 
recounted, which may tend to reconcile you to your 
purchase, should it look ragged and miserable : — 

1st. It can be used in. an inclosed country, where 
it would be impossible to fly a falcon. 

2nd. Its flight being short, it is never far from its 
master, and is therefore in little danger of being 
lost. 

3rd. Its feathers are very elastic, and those of the 



218 FALCONET. 

wing, at any rate, are scarcely ever injured. (Proper 
treatment is, of course, taken for granted here.) 

4th. It is very hardy ; stands our climate well ; is 
not subject to frounce or kecks ; and will thrive, if 
necessary, on the coarsest food, such as rats, cats, &c. 

5th. It need not be flown at hack. 

6th. It does not, like the falcons, deteriorate by 
standing idle ; but will become all it ever was by a 
week or ten days' attention. 

7th. It improves with age, which, to say the least 
of it, is a very doubtful matter with falcons. 

8th. Desperate courage. 

The drawbacks are the following: — 1st, want of 
speed ; 2nd, uncertainty of temper ; 3rd, the impos- 
sibility of flying a cast together, as they would " crab," 
and injure or kill each other ; 4th, a habit of leaving 
quarry after a few unsuccessful attempts. 

I will now suppose the untrained bird on the hand 
of her master for the first time. She will probably 
feed there by candlelight ; indeed, when very sharp- 
set, she will scarcely refuse to feed by daylight. Her 
food should be given by small pieces, and a sufficient 
quantity for a meal spread over some hours. This 
may be arranged by giving the legs of rabbits which 
have previously lost a portion of their flesh, and 
indeed the toughest pieces that can be procured. It 
will take the hawk some time to pick them clean or 
to tear them to pieces. Thus you will have induced 
her to sit on the hand for a long time without over- 



TRAINING. 219 

much bating. Let her be carried, if possible, by at 
least two people during the day, each person having 
her for three or four hours ; she should be stroked 
with the wing of a bird, and by degrees made to 
endure the presence of strangers. As she progresses, 
introduce her to every possible scene likely to be new 
— as the fields, the stable-yard, the noise of a camp, 
the sparks of a blacksmith's shop. Falconers in the 
East often tame their hawks by carrying them into 
the busy streets of a large town after dark ; this is an 
excellent method. If the goshawk should bate ex- 
cessively, when, during the first week or two, she is 
committed for a short time to the bow-perch in the 
day-time, a person to whom she is accustomed may 
remain close to her ; this may have a tendency to 
console her, and he will of course try to attract her 
attention by a little judicious feeding. Total dark- 
ness is the only thing that will keep a wild hawk per- 
fectly quiet. 

When the bird becomes a little reconciled to the 
fist, she should be placed on a wall close to it, and 
induced to jump to hand by the offer of a tempting 
piece of meat. One mouthful having been taken, 
she must be again placed upon the wall ; there will 
probably be no difficulty in making her return to 
the food. She may then be carried for ten minutes, 
pulling at a stump from which veiy little meat can 
be obtained. Again the wall; again the fist^ a few 
inches further from the wall ; and again a more 



220 FALCONRY. 

substantial reward than she can obtain from the 
stump. And so, day by day, the distance of the 
jump is increased; at last it becomes a fly; and 
six, eight, ten yards is done easily. A creance is, 
of course, used during this part of the training. 

During training a full crop of food should not 
be given ; neither should the bird be made weak 
by too much fasting. Beef is more supporting than 
rabbit; but very much here must be left to the 
judgment of the trainer. All hawks differ in temper 
and constitution, and must be treated accordingly. 
Scarcely a day should pass without your hand having 
been run along the breast-bone — there is no ob- 
jection to it being a little sharp; but if the sides 
of the breast seem to have fallen in, give more 
food. 

We do not hood goshawks in these days* How 
they ever could have been hooded, as we are told 
they were, I, for one, cannot understand. As I shall 
have to observe, in the chapter on the sparrow-hawk, 
the great secret (to many I believe it is a secret) 
with the short-winged hawks, is to let them see all 
it is possible they can see ; they want taming — 
emphatically taming — nay, they must be kept tame; 
they require this far more than the falcons do ; and 
it can only be effectual (as far as my friends and 
I see the way to it) by the continual recurrence 
of new scenes, other people, fresh dogs, as well as 
by all sorts of sounds. We cannot comprehend the 



THE BOW-PERCH. 221 

wisdom of Mr. James Campbell's remarks on the 
subject of hooding the goshawk : " Beware of carry- 
ing her bare-faced; .... no hawk demands the 
hood so much as the goshawk, which she ought 
never to want but at weather and bath." 

The bow-perch, on which the short-winged hawks 
are kept, is a very simple contrivance. For the 
goshawk it is an ash or oak sapling, four or five 
feet in length, or something of the kind, bent to 
a half circle, in which shape it is kept by means 
of a strong wire fastened to either end of the bow, 
about seven or eight inches from its points; these 
points may be shod with iron. A ring, which will 
run easily upon the perch, is placed upon it, and 
this is, of course, done before the wire is used. To 
this ring the hawk is fastened by the leash, the 
perch having been firmly fixed in good and level 
turf. Some falconers make matters more secure 
by attaching the middle of the wire to an iron pin, 
which is driven firmly in the ground. This pre- 
caution, if not necessary, is advisable; for should 
a goshawk escape in the neighbourhood of hawks 
on their blocks, she is not unlikely to kill them 
all, one after another. Great care must also be 
taken that the leash, jesses, and swivel are very 
strong. Do not, however, make the jesses of harsh 
thick leather ; your own judgment will decide upon 
what is the happy medium. I have had a goshawk's 
foot made very sore by hard coarse jesses ; the fault 



222 FALCONRY. 

was in the leather, which was continually greased, 
and ought therefore to have been soft. 

There is a state to which the short-winged hawks 
must be brought before they can be flown with 
effect, called yarak. It may be known by the erect 
crest, a certain eager straightforward look, and oc- 
casionally by the cry of hunger. The plumage too 
is slightly puffed up, and the bird looks anxiously 
round for the expected quarry. When, together with 
these symptoms, the hawk sits quietly in the hand, 
looking suddenly at every bush which you kick, 
and occasionally — as it were in a moment of repose 
— rousing and pruning, there is no doubt that she 
will fly, and fly in right earnest. But if, on the 
contrary, she bate from the fist, not daring, as it 
seems, to look you steadily in the face ; if she make 
herself small by keeping her plumage close, utter- 
ing perhaps a sort of twittering chirp, be quite sure 
that she is better on the bow-perch, for she will not 
fly that day. 

The process by which this necessary condition of 
yarak is arrived at ; the entering to pheasants, rab- 
bits, and hares, together with the actual flights at 
these quarries, I must reserve for another chapter. 



(CONCLUDED). " YARAX."- 

NO. — BELLED 
QBAftRT. — IO 



> QUAR ft If. I.UKK 



I When the young goshawk has been treated in the 
I manner described in the last chapter for a fortnight 
' or more she will begin to show signs of " yarak." 
This is the time to enter her. But before we proceed 
to that necessary part of her education, I will dispose 
of "yarak" altogether — at least as far as detail is 
concerned. A goshawk which has been trained, but 
which has been allowed to stand idle even for weeks, 
may (supposing her bow-perch has been in a tolerably 
public place) be brought into " yarak," and there- 
fore intp flying order, in from five to ten days. And 
this process is so exceedingly like that of training a 
young bird (though the absolute carriage may be 
confined to two or three hours a day), that it is only 
the great importance of the subject which induces me 
to risk the appearance of repetition. Let your walk 
be in the fields, taking a companion with you, and 



224 FALCONRY. 

occasionally going within a short distance of la- 
bourers, talking to them, as the hawk seems disposed 
to bear their presence ; but this comparative publicity- 
is only an introduction to frequented roads, where 
horses, carts, women and children are continually 
met. Neither should the flying to hand from a wall 
or gate be forgotten. If the bird has become very 
fat during her long sojourn on the bow-perch, her 
flesh must be slightly reduced before you carry her 
at all. This precaution is to avoid the risk of a fit, 
with which she might be seized if she bated very 
much from the hand in her obese state. Still I would 
trust chiefly to the time she is carried for bringing 
her into condition. The great matter, of course, is 
to keep the hawk neither too low nor too high ; and 
the happy medium will probably be attained by 
giving rather more than half a crop of rabbit, or 
rather more than a quarter of a crop of beef daily. 
However, for the reason mentioned in the last 
chapter, no fixed rule can be laid down, hawks 
differing in temper and constitution. I think that, 
when a goshawk has been fed rather too sparingly 
for several days, and is indulged with a hearty meal 
early in the morning, she will be very likely to fly 
in first-rate style at twelve or one o'clock on the 
morrow. The full meal will have given her pluck 
and tone, and yet she will be very sharp-set. The. 
usual and, no doubt, the best plan, is to continue the 
small meals, given with regularity both as to time 



QUARRY OF THE GOSHAWK. 225 

and quantity, for a week, or until the hawk exhibits 
the symptoms mentioned at the conclusion of the 
last chapter ; and then allow the bird to kill some- 
thing, taking care that she has a full meal. On the 
following day she is to be fed very slightly, and on 
the third day taken to the field and flown. Once in 
" yarak," she may be kept in that state by very little 
carriage and judicious feeding on the few days she is 
not used : she should have a warm gorge once, or 
sometimes twice a-week. 

But to speak more immediately of the young bird 
wKose taming, rather perhaps than training, we may 
now consider complete. She bates towards you for 
food, when she is sharp-set, as you approach the bow- 
perch ; she comes to fist ten or twenty yards from a 
tree or wall ; and you safely conclude she has arrived 
at "yarak," all the symptoms of which she un- 
mistakeably shows. We must now come to active 
operations, — to actual use in the field. 

The goshawk is used in Britain chiefly against 
rabbits, hares, and pheasants, or even partridges. It 
will also take landrails, water-hens, and coots. The 
first of the trio last mentioned can only be flown 
when the grass is not very high ; and Ireland seems 
to be the country which affords the best opportunity 
for the flight ; water-hens, when found in hedge-rows, 
at a little distance from water, are easily taken by 
the goshawk ; and coots, which are not very common, 
can only be dealt with in a frost. These, however, 

Q 



226 FALCONRY. 

must be considered incidental flights; and I shall 
confine myself in description to fur, pheasant, and 
(to a glance at) partridge-hawking. 

In describing the course of training necessary for 
the bird before us, I have just reached the point 
when it becomes proper to enter the hawk. Now to 
what quarry do you wish to enter her? Do you 
aspire to pheasants with a male or female, to par- 
tridges with a male, or to hares and rabbits with a 
female ? I will suppose you have a large hen bird 
with powerful feet, which you intend to enter at 
rabbits at once, and perhaps to hares hereafter. 

Lay in a stock of live rabbits, which are easily 
obtained by nets and ferrets. Give one in a string 
to the hawk at the perch, the string passing through 
the eye of the hawking-pin, which has been spoken 
of, as securing the bow-perch at the middle of its 
wire. The falconer can thus draw the rabbit — one 
about two-thirds grown — within the reach of the 
goshawk : the leash of the hawk may be lengthened, 
and indeed every precaution taken to prevent the 
bird being disappointed at this her first attempt at 
killing. If she seize and hold on, go in and kill the 
rabbit at once ; the thrust of a long blade is to be re- 
commended, care being taken of the hawk's feet.* 
Open the head of the newly-killed rabbit, and feed 
from the brains, eyes, &c. This will teach the bird 

* Or the hawk may be taken off on a dead rabbit, the live one 
being instantly knocked on the head. 



BELLED ON THE TAIL. 227 

in flight to make for the head, which is the only sjj8tT 
place to hold a strong rabbit or hare with a goshawk^ 
foot. After this let her take her pleasure on the 
rabbit. The next day, or perhaps on the two follow- 
ing days, she must be fed sparingly ; then a second 
rabbit may be given. 

At this time, if not before, let the hawk be belled 
— on the tail. It is much better, for short- winged 
hawks, to place the bell here than on the leg ; it is 
less in the way (a fact, by-the-bye, which applies to 
falcons also), and it has an excellent chance of being 
heard, as the trains of goshawks and sparrow-hawks 
are constantly in motion. The process, however, will 
require explanation. The bell itself must have a 
shank of peculiar form ; Messrs. Benhams and Frond 
make it. You have the bell in your hand ; take a 
piece of strong leather, about as long as the bell is 
broad, and which tightly fits its shank; at some 
little distance from either end punch a hole large 
enough to fit a feather of the goshawk's tail ; cut a 
passage, giving it a little breadth, from those holes 
to the ends of the leather ; insert respectively, by way 
of the passages, into the holes the shafts of the two 
middle feathers, and make all secure with waxed 
thread. If the leather widens abruptly at the ends, 
the thread will have a firmer hold. If this descrip- 
tion be not clear, reference may be made to a plate 
in " Falconry in the British Isles," which is exceed-* 
ingly so. 

<*2 



228 FALCONRY. 

Your bird may now be flown at liberty at a bagged 
rabbit, whose speed is impeded thus: Put a light 
collar, with a yard of string attached to it, round the 
rabbit's neck, to the loose end of the string fasten a 
shorter piece at its middle, and tie the ends of this 
second piece to the ends of a piece of cane about a 
foot in length. A light splinter-bar is thus formed, 
which, besides slackening the speed, prevents the 
rabbit, should it escape the hawk, from entering any 
cover or hole from which it would be difficult or im- 
possible to retrieve it. This of course is not intended 
to be sport ; on the contrary, it is the very unpleasant 
part of its preparation ; but there is certainly no more 
cruelty in it than in the chase of a greyhound after a 
leveret ; in either case the pursued is over-matched. 
The rabbit, as a matter of policy as well as humanity, 
should be killed as soon as the hawk has taken it. 
In a wild state the goshawk must put her prey to a 
prolonged suffering. 

When this experiment .has been repeated with suc- 
cess, the hawk may be considered trained. I should 
recommend that she should now be taken to the 
roughest possible ground on which rabbits can be 
found lying out, were it not that ploughed fields, &c. 
would injure her feathers ; but, at any rate, I hope 
the hawk may have an easy flight to begin with, and 
then all will be well. She will soon kill on grass. It 
is a good plan to take young hawks, as much as pos- 
sible, to fields free from trees ; because, until they 



GOSHAWK AND RABBITS. 229 

become steady by work, they are apt to take perch 
when they have the opportunity ; and then, turning 
rakish and wild, they may give an infinity of trouble. 
As no one, however, can altogether guard against his 
young goshawk taking to a tree, it is as well to make 
het acquainted with live pfigeons at her perch and to 
a string ; one of these is easily carried to the field, 
and the pegging it down near the root of a tree may 
possibly save hours of toil. There is another plan 
which may be advantageously adopted when a gos- 
hawk declines to come from a branch to hand — a 
piece of red but tough beef (exceedingly tempting 
always) may be fastened to a string and thrown into 
the tree ; then hawk and meat can be pulled down- 
together ; or a dead rabbit may be used with effect 
in the same manner. 

Eabbits, as is generally known, may in most places 
be found sitting out in rough grass fields and the 
like, particularly after windy weather, and for a day 
or two after their holes have been ferretted. Where 
this is the case, the falconer may often kick them up, 
and a considerable number may be killed in a day 
with one bird. Still it is advisable that they should 
not be nearer any hole than 80 or 100 yards. When 
the first is caught by the hawk, make in and kill 
it. Open the head, or give, at any rate, the eyes and 
tongue, with perhaps a small mouthful of cheek* 
Bag that rabbit, and proeeed. The goshawk must be 

<*3 



230 FALCONRY. 

slightly rewarded after each successful flight; and, if 
she be really good and in practice (that is the great 
matter) she will go on killing till those mouthfuls 
have made nearly a meal, or till she is over-tired 
with much work. 

Where rabbits do not lie out much, they can be 
ferreted : the hawk will, however, bate at the ferret, 
and care is necessary to prevent a catastrophe. If a 
fight took place, the hawk might possibly suffer, and 
the ferret would be killed. However, by using the 
two together, a sort of armed neutrality may be es- 
tablished — nay, perhaps a certain alliance. 

If the bird is intended for hares, enter her at 
leverets; it is unnecessary to have them bagged, 
supposing your pupil tolerably perfect with strong 
rabbits. She should be flown on a sort of " gradu- 
ating scale," beginning with small leverets, and 
ending with large hares. Also let her be kept as 
much as possible to the quarry ; that is, do not pur- 
posely fly her at rabbits. I shall never forget a flight 
I had last year at a hare about three-fourths grown. 
It was in a thin plantation. I did not see the hare 
jump up, nor indeed was I aware that anything 
moved. " Vampire " knew better. She was in almost 
screaming yarak, and shot from my hand gloriously. 
There were occasional bushes, and a little under- 
wood, and when the hare passed through them the 
hawk rose as high as the tops of the trees, coming 
down the instant there was an opening. It was one 



"VAMPIRE" AND HAKE. 231 

of those happy occasions when your bird seems to go 
beyond herself, and surprises you with a manner 
which is scarcely hers. This flight was very parallel 
with that of the merlin and magpie, described in 
Chapter XIV. " Vampir V owing I confess partly to 
the position of the trees and bushes, stooped ; she 
was a falcon for five minutes. The flight occupied a 
period not very short of that time ; hawk and quarry 
passed twice over a stone wall ; a bird which gene- 
rally gave up after four unsuccessful strokes, struck 
twenty times. As for me — " what was the world 
beside ? " — it was sport truly, but it was ecstasy also. 
It won't do again, even if I should ever see it again ; 
but I had never seen it before. I dashed down the 
hill to find them; they came back and met me. 
" Stick to her, my girl ! you shall have a rich feast." 
They were out of sight. " Once more above the tree, 
' Vampire ? ' Down ! — the well-known cry of a hare ; 
she has really <lone it ! " I flung myself in with 
open knife. Talk of the " beauties " of sport : look 
at that picture ! They were as still as statuary ; they 
only breathed. The quarry had pressed forward on 
being taken ; the hawk lay back, one foot over the 
head, the other on the shoulder of the hare ; the fine 
second plumage of her long striped thigh lay like 
black and white mosaic ; her head leaning towards 
that of her victim ; one of its hind legs was inserted 
through the feathers of her wing. I have the hare's 

Q 4 



232 FALCONRY. 

foot in my study here. t€ Vampire " is dead, much 
further south.* 

But I will now tell you what Capt. Salvin has done, 
armed with a good hawk, and in a good country. 
He took two 8 lb. hares and one rabbit with " The 
Bushman," a strong four-year-old goshawk, during an 
evening's walk ; on another occasion he killed with the 
same bird, five hares, three-parts grown. About the 
same time (the autumn of 1857), at Cloughton Hall, 
Lancashire, the same bird caught in one day ten 
rabbits, most of them old ones, of which she held 
nine — one breaking off* and gaining its hole. Some 
years before he caught eight old rabbits with a gos- 
hawk in one field, not one escaping. He has seen a 
hare leap up three or four feet to free itself from the 
hawk ; rabbits roll right over with the hawk, which 
retained its hold; a goshawk turn upon a dog, in 
a passion at missing its quarry, though previously 
they were friends and allies. These are some of 
the experiences of an indefatigable friend of the 
goshawk. 

All flights are not straight, short, and easy; far 
from this. Sometimes, from the frequent doubling 
of the hare or rabbit, the hawk becomes exhausted 
— occasionally, undoubtedly, sulky — and she stands 
panting on the ground without looking at the quarry, 
which disappears. Again, hares and rabbits are 

* Mr. Holford took fifteen bagged rabbits out of seventeen with 
44 Vampire " in one day. 



PHEASANT-HAWKING. 233 

taken at a headlong dashing flight into cover, just 
as they are dwelling for a second on entering it. 
At other times they break away, and are recaptured. 
When near many spectators, they sometimes turn 
from a straight course, and are taken amongst them. 
A rabbit may be caught at the mouth of a hole by 
one foot on the head, while the other is employed 
by being firmly pressed on the ground to save its 
possessor from being dragged in with the prey ; the 
position strengthened by outstretched tail and wings. 

It must be understood that the female goshawk 
only has been spoken of as yet; the male is too 
weak even for rabbits. He has been used, however, 
with success against both pheasants and partridges. 

Captain Salvin has been very successful in taking 
pheasants with the male goshawk ; he found that 
the bird required no entering,, but flew and killed 
even old cocks, threading his way curiously, rapidly, 
and beautifully through the trees. 

Col. Thornton was perhaps the last falconer who 
used the goshawk, together with spaniels (clumbers 
are the best), for pheasant-hawking. The hawk 
was trained to fly this quarry when it had taken 
perch, as well as on the wing. Mr. Campbell gives 
the following directions : — t€ Take a brown chicken 
with you to the woods in the evening, and, having 
broke its neck, erect it on the top of a long pole, 
high enough to be seen by the hawk ; then stirring 
the pole, so as to give the chicken a fluttering ap- 



284 FALCONET. 

pearance, and at the same time calling to the hawk, 
she will come directly and pull it down. Let her 
eat the head and neck among the dogs as her reward. 
By following this method you will bring your hawk 
to be so bold that she no sooner shall see a pheasant 
go to perch than she will seize him and bring him 
down." More recently a bagged cock pheasant, in 
a creance, has been placed upon the bough of a tree, 
and the hawk allowed to seize it, when both were 
lowered to the ground amongst the dogs. These 
in their turn had to learn a lesson, viz. that of 
keeping at a respectful distance from the hawk when 
she was lowering amongst them. It must have been 
a pretty sight, and I hope it will yet be a pretty 
sight, to see the spaniels barking round the goshawk 
and quarry in a bit of fine wood-side or picturesque 
glen. Howett, the artist and etcher, published some 
plates on hawking in 1799. One of these gives an 
excellent idea of pheasant-hawking. And as he 
was a sportsman, and came from Col. Thornton's 
neighbourhood in Yorkshire, there is little doubt 
that he had frequently seen what he represented 
with his pencil. 

It is scarcely expected of the goshawk, in par- 
tridge-hawking, that he should actually take the 
quarry on the wing, unless indeed at the beginning 
of the season, when the coveys are young and lie 
very close. "A great many partridges," says Sir 
John Sebright, " may be killed by the means of the 



PARTRIDGE-HAWKING. 235 

goshawk in the beginning of the season, when the 
birds are young, and particularly in a dewy morn- 
ing, as their wings becoming wet from their having 
been driven into the hedges, they will be easily taken 
by the dogs. In fact, not one in ten of the par- 
tridges brought home by those who use these birds 
has been actually taken by the hawk." In an open 
country even the male would have no chance with 
partridges ; where there are hedges he drives them 
into cover, and then takes his stand on a tree, or 
even on the ground (in this latter case he should 
be called to fist), and waits till the spaniels have 
flushed one of the partridges ; he is then off a second 
time, and if the quarry is wet and draggled, he may 
take it in the air. 

The goshawk is excellent with fur, good with phea- 
sants, and only tolerable with partridges. He may 
also be used, with effect, in the " incidental flights " 
mentioned before. The general character of the bird 
has already been given in the balancing of the ad- 
vantages and disadvantages attendant upon his use. 

These birds may be moulted either in a room or 
out of doors. If a room be chosen, care must of 
course be taken that there shall be no edges, but 
that all shall be round and smooth, so that there 
may be no danger to young feathers. There must 
be a perch opposite the light, and an occasional, bath 
given. If the bow-perch be preferred to in-door 
moulting, it should be placed on smooth level grass, 



236 FALCONRY. 

and occasionally moved. Let it be taken under a 
large out-door shed in very wet, or very hot, weather. 
It is necessary to exercise some patience during 
the end of moult; for the bird must not be put 
into training until the last wing-feather is quite down 
and hard; neither must she be made to lose flesh 
rapidly when taken up. In fact, what I have pre- 
viously remarked concerning a gradual lessening of 
food, while the hawk which has been standing idle 
is yet confined to perch, holds good in drawing her 
from the mews. From over fatness, coupled with 
exertion, you have to dread a fit. It is, perhaps, 
the only illness to which a goshawk is subject ; but 
if it attack her, it will be her last. 



THE SPARROW-HAWK. 237 



CHAP. XVII. 

THE SPARROW-HAWK (JLCCIPITBR N1SUS). — ITS NATURAL HISTORY, 

CHARACTER, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, ETC. SIR JOHN SEBRIGHT'S 

SPARROW-HAWK. — HAGGARD. — THE EYESS. — TRAINING. — HINTS 
ON "CARRIAGE." — FEEDING OCCASIONALLY AT THE BOW-PERCH 
AND SCREEN. — THE NEXT CHAPTER. 

This is a very beautiful and a very capricious bird. 
It has a great deal of ability and a great deal of vice. 
I intend, in the course of a page or two, to enter 
thoroughly into its character. 

Its natural history, as far as appearance and habits 
are concerned, is generally known ; at any rate, it 
may be told shortly. Perhaps this bird may be con- 
sidered, in reference to the merlin, very much what 
the goshawk is in reference to the peregrine. It is 
the little hawk to the little falcon. Whether the 
sparrow-hawk, which is widely distributed, inhabits 
America seems a doubtful point with ornithologists ; 
but so simple a matter ought to be cleared up. In 
different parts of the world its size and colour will 
probably be found to vary : the difference may be 
specific, or it may belong only to races. The male 
is about twelve inches in length, the female fifteen 



238 FALCONRY. 

inches. " In plumage the female sparrow-hawk, in 
the nestling state, differs but little from the adult 
bird, the principal change being, that at the first 
moult the feathers on the upper surface of the body 
lose their lighter edging, and become of one uniform 
brown. The colour of the breast differs very much 
in different individuals ; even in the same nest, one 
or two of the young birds may have the ground- 
colour white, with dark brown transverse narrow bars, 
whilst the others may be entirely of a rusty colour, 
with uneven markings of a darker tint. The young 
male bird resembles the female, but after the first 
year the brown colour of the back and shoulders is 
changed to a dark slate blue ; whilst the breast is 
finely barred with rusty brown upon a light ground, 
the under tail-coverts being pure white. Whilst very 
young, the hides are of a greenish-grey ; this colour 
changes with age to a lemon-yellow, and eventually 
becomes of a bright orange-tint. The cere is of a 
greenish-yellow, and the legs and feet gamboge, with 
very black claws." — Falconry in the British Isles. 

This bird builds a large rough nest, having broad 
sides by way of a platform for the young to creep on 
when they are strong enough. It is generally its own 
architect ; but this, I believe, is not, always acknow- 
ledged. The nest should be looked for, and may be 
easily found, in the tall trees, especially the fir-trees, 
of a wood. The eggs, like those of all other hawks, 
are roundish; colour a skim-milk ground, with 
reddish-brown blotches, chiefly at the larger end. 



HABITS AND DISPOSITION. 239 

The number is generally four or five. I have always 
believed that the sparrow-hawk feeds almost exclu- 
sively on birds ; I am disposed still to believe it. A 
respectable man, however, whose former occupation 
called him much into woods, assured me that he had 
seen the sparrow-hawk seize and carry off small rab- 
bits. The man is so honest that I quite believe he 
has seen some hawk do this ; and that he knew the 
sparrow-hawk by sight (at any rate, on inspection) at 
the time he refers to, I have convinced myself by 
many questions. His testimony, however, does not 
amount to demonstration. But a far more wonderful 
thing is told us by a modern author, whose opinions 
I am, for many reasons, unwilling to attack ; still I 
complain bitterly that one who has undertaken to 
give instruction on ornithology, not only to ordinary 
mortals, but to the highest personage in the land, 
should commit himself to so many errors in his chap- 
ters on the birds of prey. He tells us that small 
birds are devoured wlwle by the sparrow-hawk, even 
legs and all ! This is monstrous. I am sure I do 
not say so unkindly, neither do I wish to affect 
superiority over a naturalist whose scope of study is 
wider than my own ; but surely a writer on a scien- 
tific subject should be careful in dissecting evidence, 
and thoroughly armed against asserting as a fact that 
which is a physical impossibility ! 

In considering the disposition and character of the 
sparrow-hawk, we are met, on the threshold, by an 
apparent difficulty — a difficulty, at least, to those, if 



240 PALCOXKY. 

there be any, who will not admit that a creature may 
have two distinct and opposite points of character. 
At the first glance, too, it might appear that a rule 
already given is faulty, viz. that a state of semi- 
captivity helps to bring out, or bring to our know- 
ledge, the true disposition. I hope to explain these 
things satisfactorily. My present proposition may 
look like a paradox ; it is this — the sparrow-hawk is 
the most shy hawk in existence, and yet is of so bold 
and reckless a disposition as occasionally to approach 
voluntarily its most dreaded enemy, man, and to 
place itself in his power. There is perhaps no bird 
which is more disposed generally to give us a wider 
berth than this hawk ; it is " as wild as a hawk," and 
a shade wilder. Except in the breeding season, he 
must be a clever fellow who creeps within gun-shot. 
And yet, on occasion, few birds are so daring in the 
presence of man. I am speaking as yet, of course, of 
the unreclaimed and uncaptured state. 

The general wildness will be admitted ; there are 
numberless instances of its apparent opposite. Such 
as a cage containing a canary, or small song-bird of 
some kind, and which hung on the wall of a house 
close to a window, seized, and an attempt made to 
tear out the occupant. A bird, which had dashed 
through a window, positively pursued into a room. 
A sparrow chased and killed in a toivn. I was 
myself a witness of the following occurrence last 
winter. A fieldfare was caught alive in a snare of the 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 241 

kind described in Chapter XII. A female sparrow- 
hawk struck at and hung to the captive. I was at- 
tracted to this state of things by the almost diabolical 
clatter of a couple of magpies, which never ceased to 
jump and fly from twig to twig all round the snare. 
The hawk did not notice them, but dropped from her 
hold of the poor fieldfare only to cling again. I was 
in hopes that she would ultimately settle on the top, 
and be taken in one of the nooses 5 this, however, she 
declined doing, not, I am convinced, from any fear 
of a trap — she was too much excited for that — but 
simply because the thing did not occur to her. But 
the magpies, I doubt not, were calm amidst their 
clamour, and had weighty reasons for not settling 
among the horsehair. At length I was humane 
enough, or weak enough, if you will, to feel for the 
poor wretch who was suffering torture, and I des- 
patched the gardener to the rescue. He killed the 
fieldfare; but, as he was taking it from the snare, 
the hawk coming " from somewheres or other" dashed 
at his hand, which in his descent of the tree was near 
his head, and nearly knocked his hat off. That, 
however, was the last we saw of her. 

The species — or if, so to speak, but one, the 
genus* — under our consideration has, then, as I 



* There are, however, to say the least of it, foreign varieties; 
perhaps they may deserve the dignity of species ; if so, it is incum- 
bent upon Science to find some other specific name than *• nisus " for 
her other children. 

R 



242 FALCONRY. 

set out by saying, two distinct, and perhaps an- 
tagonistic, points of character; but it is clear that 
they can exist together. These are — to restate them 
concisely — (1.) an intense appreciation of danger ; and 
(2.) a courage and recklessness great enough, at times, 
to overcome and override that appreciation. Now, 
in training, we observe the first point only. That 
comes out clearly enough, as I fear some of my 
readers may find to their disgust. The sparrow-hawk 
is, in my opinion, the wildest, in some sense the 
most intractable, the most ungrateful, the most pro- 
voking and temper-trying, of all birds or beasts that 
were ever taken under the care of man from the be- 
ginning of the world. But, when training is over, 
and the hawk is in constant practice, in continual 
work, there is no bird more fearless in the field, nor 
any with which a greater head of quarry can be taken 
in a single day. A trained sparrow-hawk has been 
cut out of a blackthorn bush into which it had forced 
itself after its prey. So perhaps the paradox is 
broken altogether; and also training, with its re- 
sults, are shown to assist, even in this instance, the 
inquiry into character. 

I think, moreover, that I observe in the sparrow- 
hawk a want of intellect) if I may so express myself. 
She is governed by present impressions, which are 
wonderfully evanescent. Under the circumstance 
which I am on the point of describing, she will forget 
Nature with tolerable rapidity, and in a few hours 



SIR JOHN S. SEBRIGHT. 243 

she will return to her utterly. I am now speaking of 
" training" in a great measure incidentally, as it tends 
to prove character and disposition ; I shall soon do so 
systematically, and in connexion with the practice of 
the sport. Pray observe the following: — Sir John 
S. Sebright tells us that he once " took a wild par- 
tridge with a sparrow-hawk of his own breaking ten 
days after it had been taken wild from a wood." 
There was a time when, having kept sparrow-hawks 
for two years — flying them at young pigeons — I 
was terribly puzzled by the above quotation. It was 
with me almost a balance of opinions whether a man 
of spotless integrity, and a great falconer, should, in 
the intense desire to accomplish a certain matter, 
have dreamed or fancied he had accomplished it ; or 
whether the sparrow-hawk, in an hour of amiable 
eccentricity, had made a vow to confuse and confound 
her foes, while, in point of faot, she had rendered her- 
self insanely agreeable. Such were my feelings then ; 
they have changed now ; I accept the account literally, 
and see my way to its explanation at once. 

Ten days*, if every hour of them be employed, is a 



* Nevertheless, some merlins could be trained in the same time 
and -with less trouble, bnt only to short low flights, like those of the 
sparrow-hawk. No haggard peregrine, with even night and day 
watching, conld be pnt upon the wing in anything like ten days ; but 
this is not attributable to her disposition (which is far more tractable 
than that of the sparrow-hawk), bnt simply to the range and height 
of her flight. Sir John, no doubt, was fortunate in the temper of the 
bird which he trained. 

R 2 



244 FALCOXRY. 

sufficient period to leave on the brain of a bird, pecu- 
liarly organised as the sparrow-hawk is, a certain 
strong though passing impression. When I speak of 
" every hour" I do not wish to dwell so much on 
number as on continuance. Of course you must have 
a certain time; but what you must not have is inter- 
mission. When Sir John Sebright tells us that he 
trained this bird himself, he probably means that it 
was trained partly with his own hands, and partly 
under his immediate orders and superintendence. 
Probably it was kept awake for the first three or four 
days and nights, there being a relay of watchers ; car- 
ried as long as it could be induced to pull at a stump 
or pinion, and returned to its perch when it had ob- 
tained what was considered proper ; made continually 
to jump to hand for food — at first in the house, 
afterwards in the garden, then in the fields ; never 
left with less than two or three people, and those 
moving ; certainly never, except for a few hours at 
night during the last five or six days, left alone. I 
imagine it was flown in the afternoon, having been 
quietly carried during the morning, tearing at the 
skinny bits of partridge's wings, without being al- 
lowed to swallow a feather; and I should think it 
killed a bagged partridge in a creance two days before 
the flight, on which quarry it was permitted to make 
a tolerable meal. Then mark ! — it was flown, not at a 
blackbird, or small bird of any kind, but at a par- 
tridge, which it could not carry, and which could be 



THE HAGGARD. 245 

sprung under its master's feet if the period chosen 
were the beginning of the season. 

This description, a little modified (no sitting up at 
nights, for instance), may serve for training a haggard 
in real practice ; but I mention it here to show that 
an impression, a habit, must be kept up (more or 
less, according to the time you give yourself for the 
training, but certainly kept up) if you are to succeed 
with the sparrow-hawk* The habit and the impres- 
sion in the case of a fresh-caught bird will, if you 
withdraw the means which created them, pass faster 
than caloric from boiling water in a frost, if you take 
the fire away. Nature will rush in if they are absent 
for an hour, quickly as the frost will take away all 
that is artificial from the water. I say it advisedly, 
if, after but ten days' training, close as it must have 
been, Sir John had lost his hawk for a day, perhaps 
for half a day, he would scarcely have taken her again 
only with lure or fist, even if she had procured but a 
poor meal in the interval, and though she had flown 
well to hand in the morning. Nature would have 
touched the bird in every breeze, and spoken to her 
in every sound, and beckoned to her in every waving 
tree, and wearied herself to re-assert her dominion 
before that sun was half set. 

*' Natnram expelles furca, tamcn usque recurret, 
Et mala perrumpet furiim fastidia Victrix." 

A haggard sparrow-hawk may be taught to fly to 

B 3 



246 FALCONRY. 

hand at ten or twenty paces for food, and from it at 
quarry in about six weeks, moderate attention being 
given to her training; but to effect even this the bird 
must never be left alone in the daytime, and, when 
she is carried (which may be for an hour and a half 
in the morning, and an hour and a half in the 
evening), she should be constantly introduced to fresh 
scenes, and made to fly for food to several people. 
All wild-caught hawks, however well trained, have a 
tendency to " carry ;" and, this being the case, it is 
better to enter them to heavy quarry : in the case of 
a large female sparrow-hawk, I would suggest par- 
tridges or landrails. 

Having disposed, then, of the haggard, a bird not 
so frequently trained as the eyess, we will lose no 
time in climbing the tree containing a nest which 
has lately been guarded with more care than if it 
had been a pheasant's in a hedge-bottom near a path. 
There are four young ones ; two hens and two cocks, 
the sex being easily distinguished by the size. Now, 
the male, or musket, is seldom trained, though I 
really do not see why he should not be flown at black- 
birds; he would be quicker than the female, and 
perhaps less likely to "carry." At least the only 
explanation which suggests itself to me is this : — it 
is found that even the hen bird is disposed to prefer 
sparrows, chaffinches, &c, to blackbirds; and this 
tendency might be even greater in the male. How- 
ever, let us carefully convey from the nest the two 



TRAINING. 247 

hens : they have a brown and white appearance — 
feathers and down— the brown predominating. In 
a week, perhaps, they will fly. Even at this early 
age they suspect you. The sparrow-hawk always is 
suspicious — you know it by the wild eye, half-open 
beak, and panting body. They may be brought up 
either at hack or in a room ; but if hack be chosen, 
it should be of short duration. This hawk soon preys 
for itself, and every day may well be grudged that it 
is allowed to be apart from its master. I should say, 
take it up as soon as it can sit erect and firmly on 
the fist. Of course my readers remember all about 
the hamper into which nestlings are placed. If 
you determine to have this in a tree, care must be 
taken to cover it well with something waterproof, for 
sparrow-hawks are very subject to cramp, induced by 
wet and cold; and if the attack does not kill the 
bird, it will probably paralyse a leg for life. But 
there is no place better for the hamper than an un- 
used outhouse, having a large door or window which 
fronts the morning sun. Many falconers would con- 
fine the bird in this room till the time for training 
arrives. Hack is certainly not necessary with sparrow- 
hawks. What has been said in Chapter XII. on the 
merlin, with regard to the times of feeding and the 
use of the whistle, applies also to this bird. It is o£ 
the greatest importance, however, that there should 
be two or more feeders. The nestlings may become 
so familiar with their master as to fly readily to his 

B 4 



248 FALCONRY. 

hand or arm; but if they are not accustomed to 
others also, they will be as dreadfully frightened at 
the approach of a stranger as if they had never seen 
a human being. Nay, it is all the better if they are 
fed, from the first, by men, women, and children ; 
and accustomed, also, to the presence of different 
dogs. 

As young sparrow-hawks sometimes contrive to fall 
out of the hamper before they can fly, put a little 
straw underneath it when in a room, and a little fence 
round it out of doors. I should certainly choose 
a dry room, free from damp and rats, and put them 
on the floor with plenty of straw. They must be 
well broken to fly to the fist as soon as they can 
use their wings; but I think they should also be 
made acquainted with a lure. For this reason ; — 
a sparrow-hawk, like a goshawk, may take a fright 
in the field, and hesitate about coming well to hand, 
and yet the lure may bring her down even from a 
high tree; if she be properly trained, though not 
in actual yarak, a live lure will be found to answer 
when the ordinary one has failed. 

The time, I will suppose, has arrived when it 
is considered proper to take up the nestlings and 
to commence their training. Carriage on the hand 
. — absolutely necessary to their proper tuition, for 
they will have to be carried — will at first have a 
tendency to make them wild ; presently, if properly 
managed, it will make them tame. The young 



TRAINING. 249 

falconer will naturally be disappointed to find the 
bird which came so well to hand yesterday, now, on the 
first day of its being carried, stare wildly with its mad 
eyes, and bate violently. It will probably even hang 
at the length of the jesses and swivel, and dash off 
again the moment it is quietly replaced. More than 
this, the very power of standing will appear to have 
left it; the claws will be clenched and distorted. 
The whole creature will be changed; instead of a 
tolerably bold and Very handsome bird, the transi- 
tion of a few minutes will present you with a terri- 
fied, crouching, vicious, abject wretch; a horrible 
mixture of fright and feathers. My very kind com- 
pliments, dear sir ; it is with pain that I am compelled 
to bring you to this pass; but I thought that pro- 
bably you would like to know the truth — the worst. 
It is indeed as I state, though I confess the nuisance 
is transient, and appears in a modified form when 
the nestlings have been much accustomed to many 
people. Some people think that the helpless look 
of the feet and legs arises only from temper, and 
that it is a sham; it may arise from temper, but 
it is not a sham. It appears to me that this bird's 
brain is overcharged with electricity, or something 
fearfully subtle ; and that, on the smallest provoca- 
tion, these fluids shoot through the whole frame, 
overturning and deranging everything that is healthy 
and regular. Well, it is very unpleasant to have 
to deal with a lunatic, whatever be the cause or 



250 FALCONRY. 

explanation of the lunacy ; but it must be done here. 
The sparrow-hawk's legs are, during these fits of 
fright and passion, in a temporary paralysis. Still, 
it is of exceedingly short duration ; and, when the 
bird is trained, it passes away altogether. For fear 
of fits, and for the obvious reasons connected with 
training, the bird must not be carried after a meal. 

This hawk should be belled on the tail, in the man- 
ner described for the goshawk. Its whole training 
bears a close resemblance to that of the larger bird ; 
and up to the time of entering it would puzzle a 
writer to point out any difference. However, train- 
ing, when applied to an eyess, may be learned from 
a glance at the directions in this chapter on that 
process as it refers to the haggard: not only the 
nature, but the details, of the discipline are alike ; 
less time, perhaps, may be employed with the young 
bird than with the old one. The actual rearing 
the nestlings done with, he who can train a haggard 
can certainly train an eyess. I would only warn 
my readers not to make " carriage " an annoying 
or painful process. It is a great mistake to suppose 
that you can train or tame a sparrow-hawk by 
fastening her to your hand for two-thirds of a day ; 
and, when this horrible and senseless arrangement 
is over, turning her into a room, where she can 
see no one, till it is time to " walk her out " again on 
the morrow. How is it possible that a bird can 
do anything else than take a disgust to your hand, 



TKAINING. 251 

and to you, when you have done all in your power 
to induce her to consider the " fist " a prison or a 
pillory, and yourself a jailor or an executioner? 
No; carriage is absolutely necessary, but it must 
be done with judgment. From the bow-perch, on 
which the nestling just come to her strength is 
placed, she must be taught to fly to your hand 
for food — for something which she likes — for some- 
thing which is ultimately to make her like you, 
and the spot and position in which she received it. 
She is to remain on the hand some time. It is for 
these reasons that I have insisted so much on tough 
pieces of meat, on the stumps of wings, &c., for the 
meal is prolonged by the difficulty of obtaining it, 
and " carriage " should scarcely last longer than the 
meal. This, however, may be done with great ad- 
vantage; in fact, I am convinced that it must be 
done — viz. when the bird during carriage has pulled 
for twenty minutes or so at a "stump," quietly 
withdraw it, concealing it in the right hand. The 
hawk, if in an advanced stage, will put her head 
on one side, at first quite in a facetious manner, 
as she tries to peep into your right hand ; or she 
will look eagerly underneath her talons and between 
the fingers on which she is carried. I would keep 
her attention to the food as long as possible, by occa- 
sionally giving her very small pieces of it. Presently 
she will begin to notice objects near ; bate at a pass- 
ing bird perhaps (that is good) ; after a pause, look 



252 FALCONET. 

restless, almost frightened. Now, don't go beyond 
this point. She has had some excellent experience. 
You have every reason to congratulate yourself. 
During the actual pulling and eating she was taught 
to like the fist in a measure ; I say in a measure, for 
she was so eager and excited in tugging for food, 
that she hardly knew where she was. After the 
withdrawal of the food she had more time to consider 
matters : the first, natural, and (as it happened) cor- 
rect notion was, that food is not far off — somewhere 
about yon. So far, very good ; the proper feeling 
was still being kept up. She looked, as I have said, 
round her, and felt that the position was an awkward 
one — alone, without an object, on the hand of her 
natural and most dreaded enemy ! There had been 
time to recognise and appreciate this ; for, the feed- 
ing having been stopped, her attention was released. 
But the truth came gradually, and it came out of 
good — out of chicken's wing, or some such delicacy. 
It came fast, however, at length — too fast. I will sup- 
pose that moment this one. Stop the truth before she 
connects her position with pain : you have gone quite 
far enough for to-day ; out with that same chicken's 
wing ! She will forget her climbing sorrows in it. 

Now, a sparrow-hawk treated in this way will not 
only learn to like her master and his society, but, 
while she is learning such things, will be accustomed 
also to the motion of being carried, and to the ap- 
pearance of trees, hedges, &c, as she is made to pass 



FEEDING AT BOW-PERCH. 253 

them on her chariot. But remember that you struck 
down the scales in favour of yourself the moment doubt 
began to merge into fear, or the moment before ; 
and the position on your hand, which was fast ap- 
pearing new, unnatural, frightful, was rendered expe- 
dient and desirable by the opportune re-introduction 
of the meat. With the recurrence of such a fear on 
another occasion, there will probably come the recur- 
rence of a circumstance vastly agreeable to a hungry 
hawk — there will be a recollection of dinner. And 
so, by degrees, good-bye to Nature, or, rather good- 
bye to the teaching which she gives her children: 
you have induced her to permit you to succeed in 
something that is new and opposite. Habit is not a 
"second nature," nor a "new nature;" there is no 
such thing : it is nature in another garb, perhaps in 
another form. 

. Your young hawk is pretty sure to receive several 
frights in your morning's and evening's walk. So 
much the better : she must get use to be frightened, 
or, rather, she must be taught by practice to recover 
instantly from her fright. Something under three 
hours a day — the time divided between morning and 
evening — is long enough to carry an eyess in train- 
ing, provided she is always in the society of human 
beings, and is called to hand several times during the 
middle of the day for small but tender pieces of 
meat. For my own part, I think it is almost as diffi- 
cult to reconcile a sparrow-hawk to the bow-perch as 



254 FALCONET. 

it is to the hand. I give, occasionally, a small bird, 
or a portion of a large one, at the perch, standing 
close by the hawk while she is feeding, and once or 
twice offering a tender piece of beef at the tip of the 
finger ; but this is a point upon which, after practice, 
I wish my readers to form their own judgment. 
There is another plan, to be used in a somewhat 
advanced stage of the education, which I have found 
exceedingly useful in taming the bird ; and, as it is 
so very difficult to tame her at all, I ought to men- 
tion it. It is this: fasten your hawk, when she is 
somewhat sharp-set, on the "perch or screen," de- 
scribed in Chapter VI. In wet weather, this is of 
course done in-doors ; in fine and very still weather 
out of doors. Place in the garden or the hall, as the 
case may be, a small box containing tiny pieces of 
meat, which have been squeezed three or four times 
in cold water, in order to extract a considerable por- 
tion of nutriment. (How much more quickly birds 
would be trained if they could eat twice as much they 
now do, and yet have an appetite !) Instruct every 
one who passes — ten minutes or a quarter of an hour 
intervening, we will suppose — to abstract one piece 
of meat from the box, and, quietly walking up to the 
bird, present it on the tip of a finger or short stick. 
The hawk bates off; but with her little leash she 
must come up again in the same place, or nearly so ; 
don't move the finger ; the meat will soon be taken ; 
now pass quietly away. The consequence is, that in 



THE NEXT CHAPTER. 255 

time the bird, so far from being alarmed at the near 
approach of a stranger, will rather hope for it. 
Something of this kind was done when the nestlings 
could only just fly; however, it ought to be con- 
tinued. The only objection to the above plan is a 
possible sacrifice of tail ; but who can keep that per- 
fect even on the bow-perch ? 

I have but glanced at the natural history of the 
sparrow-hawk, or what is usually called the natural 
history, for most people are tolerably familiar with it. 
In this chapter my chief anxiety has been to place 
before the reader character and training. In the 
next I shall touch lightly on the method employed 
by successful hawkers ; show my readers this bird in 
the field, and append a little history which I hope 
they may find interesting. 



256 FALCONRY. 



CHAP. XVIII. 

THE SrARROW-HAWK (CONCLUDED). — LETTERS. — MORE FACTS. 

GALE'S MANAGEMENT OF THE SPARROW-HAWK. — BLACKBIRD, 
PARTRIDGE, AND OTHER FLIGHTS. — MERLIN AND WATER-HEN. 

m 

QUAIL. — THE SPARROW-HAWK HAS ACCOMPLISHED ADMIRERS. 

THE DEAD HAWK LB (A TRUE TALE). 

There are now in England several gentlemen who 
fly the sparrow-hawk most successfully. I have before 
me two letters from Barmston, near Hull, the con- 
tents of which will, I am sure, induce my readers 
sincerely to thank Mr. Bower, who so kindly wrote 
them for this work. He says : " I allowed my nest- 
ling hawks to fly at hack till perfectly strong on the 
wing; and, during the early part of the training, 
showed them every new scene I could; I never 
allowed them to feed except on or from some one's 
hand — as many different people as possible. I found 
this of great use, as the hawk on the approach of a 
stranger rather expected food than showed any fear. 
My present sparrow-hawk is far the best I ever had. 
I don't remember her ever having refused to fly at a 
blackbird within thirty yards; and frequently she 
has killed a blackbird with, as near as I could tell, 
100 yards' law. Sometimes, but not often, a thrush 



LETTERS. 257 

has beaten her to a hedge, and I have been unable 
to drive it out. I flew her a little at partridges the 
early part of September ; altogether she killed seven- 
teen, all full grown, and six old birds amongst them 
— all sprung within ten yards, except one old one, 
which passed about forty yards off, as she was sitting 
in a tree ; she pursued and killed it in the middle of 
a large seed field. I had capital sport at thrushes in 
the turnip-fields. I believe she would have gone on 
killing partridges well, but I kept her more to black- 
birds, as I think they afford better sport. I com- 
menced flying her on the 23rd of July, 1858, and 
from that time till the 7th of September, I flew her 
about three days a week. She killed, in the time 
mentioned, forty-three blackbirds, thirty-six thrushes, 
seventeen partridges, seven sparrows, four hedge- 
sparrows, and one starling. I never let her kill a 
sparrow if I could help it, and always fed her on 
blackbirds. Her best day was six blackbirds, three 
thrushes, two partridges, and a sparrow. She has 
been on a bow-perch during the winter, under a shed, 
and put out on fine days, a bath of chilled water 
having been occasionally given her in the sun. I 
have another sparrow-hawk that has been at large in 
a room ; both have been well and regularly fed, and 
are in perfect health. I never trained a male, or 
haggard. My hawks are broken to the hood, but 
they never wear it unless when travelling. I think 
that by always feeding a sparrow-hawk on the hand, 

s 



258 FALCONBY. 

you prevent any disposition to carry ; I never had 
any trouble in that respect* The great thing is not 
to attempt to fly a sparrow-hawk till it will come 
well down to the lure from a tree ; for if these birds 
get a habit of sitting, it is hardly possible to break 
them of it." This excellent hawk is now in perfect 
health, and moulting nicely. Mr. Bower further says 
of a sparrow-hawk which he trained in 1857 : " I 
killed my first bird with my little sparrow-hawk 
(called ' Teddy') on the 23rd of August, 1857, and up 
to the 20th of October she killed 327 birds, consist- 
ing of sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, a few partridges, 
and linnets — more than two-thirds sparrows* She 
unfortunately got drowned by getting into a pond, 
having pulled her bow-perch up. In all probability 
she would have killed as many more if this had not 
happened, for she was quite as keen as ever, and got 
very shifty." (By the way, does not this misfortune 
show, at least, how desirable it is to peg down the 
wire of the bow-perch, as recommended in the chapter 
on the goshawk ?) 

Sir Charles Slingsby, Bart., has been very success- 
ful with this bird. Major Verner, too, who had seen 
it used by the Sikhs some years ago, when his regi- 
ment was in India, caught 150 birds in about three 
months with a single hawk ; and I doubt not he has 
done even better since that time. I believe I repre- 
sent his opinion correctly, when I say that he is no 
friend to a great deal of " carriage" during training, 



MORE FACTS. 259 

but that he trusts very much to keeping his young 
birds in a public place, and to calling them to fist 
frequently. 

Sir Molyneux Nepean, Bart., has most kindly 
interested himself on the subject of this chapter. 
As long ago as last September he wrote me a letter 
in which he described the management of sparrow- 
hawks, by John Gale, hawker to the late Baronet. 
I quote from the letter : — " You are quite right in 
your surmise that the landrails were taken with the 
female hawk ; she was chosen as being superior in 
size and strength to the cock bird. The hawks were 
always kept at perch (a moveable bow-perch, the bow 
fixed into a flat heavy board), either in Gale's cot- 
tage or about the premises, where people of all ages 
and sizes were constantly passing in and out. Threats 
of instant vengeance were, however, always held out 
if the hawks were either fed or bullied. The dogs 
we used, which were small spaniels, were continually 
about the place where the birds were at perch : they 
attended the hawker when the birds were fed, and, 
indeed, were sometimes fed themselves in their pre- 
sence. With regard to the wild nature of these hawks, 
ours were not particularly wild unless neglected or 
kept from society, but they were always distrustful 
with a stranger, and would not stand teasing. The 
treatment was this : The birds were taken from the " 
nest quite young, and as soon as they had sense and 
strength enough they were compelled to creep to the 

s 2 



260 FALCONET. 

edge of the place they were kept in to get their food. 
As soon as they had a little use of their wings they 
were taught to fly from the perch to the fist holding 
the food, beginning, perhaps, with a foot in distance, 
and gradually increasing it to the length of the room. 
When quite accustomed to this, they were taken on 
the green, and (with a long and light string attached 
to the jesses and perch) taught to fly to a stuffed 
bird for their food, which was fastened to the back of 
the neck. After this the stuffed bird was gently 
swung at the end of a string (like a lure), which 
taught the hawk that she must not only strike and 
bind, but that she must do so when the quarry was 
in motion before she got her dinner. The hawker 
always whistled in a peculiar way when feeding his 
birds, or, indeed, going near them ; and they got so 
accustomed to it, as a sort of dinner-bell, that if they 
did stray, the whistle would almost always bring 
them to fist. If they missed the quarry they would 
sometimes fly off to a tree, but were seldom if ever 
lost. They were always kept in the highest possible 
condition, and if they seemed dull, the old man's 
grand specific was cayenne pepper put into a bit of 
meat, which they could swallow without inquiry. 
Old Grale used to refuse to fly his birds if there was a 
breeze ; he said that they would not and could not 
fly if there was wind — - ' If afore 'em they could not 
face it, and if ahind it turned 'em over.' " 

It seems also that Gale's birds were always to be 



DEATH OF GALE. 261 

depended upon when sharp-set ; they would follow a 
quarry sprung at thirty yards or more; he never 
hooded them ; they occasionally, but very rarely, 
flew partridges — landrails were the quarry. People 
in those days did not shoot landrails ; they hunted 
them up with little spaniels, and flew the hawks 
as the birds rose. At the time to which reference 
is made, a great deal of hemp was grown about 
Loder's Court, Dorsetshire, and hemp is a favourite 
resort for landrails. Many country gentlemen, in 
that county, forty or fifty years ago, always took those 
birds with the sparrow-hawk, for the sake of the sport, 
and also because shot often injures the delicate flesh 
of the landrail. 

I will place at the end of this chapter a paper con- 
taining the particulars of poor John Gale's death 
(father, I believe, of the present Gale, who is still on 
the estate) ; it will have a melancholy interest, but I 
trust may not be considered altogether out of place 
in this work. The narrative has been forwarded to 
me by Gapt. Salvin ; but it is in the words of one of 
the family in whose service Gale lived and died. 

However, I must not in the meantime forget my 
promise to show the sparrow-hawk in the field. After 
the letters already quoted, that will be soon done. 

For real sport, blackbird-hawking is probably the 
best. It is conducted very much after the manner of 
magpie-hawking, and altogether resembles it. The 
hawk must be kept entirely to the quarry. Several 

6 3 



262 FALCONET. 

assistants are required ; they should be armed with 
long sticks, with which to force the blackbird out of 
cover when he has been " put in " by his pursuer. 
If the quarry is found in one of many bushes in a 
large field, it is flown at as it leaves one cover for 
another. The hawk, it is assumed, has been ac- 
customed to fly to any one's hand for food, having 
only perhaps a slight preference for that of her 
master. In the excitement of the chase, supposing 
her in thorough yarak, she will perhaps settle on the 
head of the beater who happens to be nearest the 
spot where the quarry disappeared, and dash off in 
instant pursuit at the proper time. Beating hedges 
must be conducted in this way : a beater is placed 
near the hawker, but on the opposite side of the 
hedge, while several others are sent forward to pre- 
vent the blackbird from escaping by creeping up the 
fence, or by flying out on the wrong side of it. They 
make a large circle a considerable distance ahead; 
unless they do this, it is very possible that no flight 
will be had. If the country is very much enclosed, 
the flight (or rather, perhaps, forty flights after the 
same bird) may last for more than half an hour ; 
the master and his assistants having had almost as 
much to do as the hawk herself; having had, at least, 
as much healthy exercise as they can well stand. A 
hen blackbird is usually killed in a few minutes, but 
a fine old cock affords, as a rule, a very exciting 
flight. Four or five — taking cocks and hens as 



WOODCOCKS AND PARTRIDGES. 263 

they come — is good work for a good hawk in one 
day. 

I have no doubt that, in Ireland, much sport might 
be had even now with landrails, but in this country 
they are not found in sufficient numbers to justify 
the hope of anything like a good day with them. 
This flight has been already described. Mention has 
also been made of excellent sport with thrushes out 
of turnips. Last year a gentleman in Ireland flew a 
female sparrow-hawk at a woodcock ; the hawk, which 
had lost a considerable portion of her tail, seems to 
have stuck well to the cock, but did not take it. 
However, a sparrow-hawk, though in complete plu- 
mage, must have been overmatched, in such a case, 
if she missed the first dash. 

Partridges, half or three-parts grown, may be easily 
taken with this bird; nay, as shown above, even 
when strong and old, a good hawk has speed and 
power to kill them. A steady old pointer, or a couple 
of very small close-hunting spaniels, may be used ; 
but where game is abundant, it is, of course, possible 
to walk the birds up. The old hawking-books tell 
us that magpies were flown at with the sparrow-hawk; 
this one can easily credit; but rook-hawking with 
this little creature, mentioned also, is entirely out of 
my comprehension. Water-hens may be killed with 
a strong female, but I never saw the flight, though I 
believe it is a pretty sure one. I once flew an ex- 
cellent hen merlin at a water-hen ; the hawk knocked 

a 4 



264 FALCONET. 

it down, but could not get to the throat At -last 
there was an entire shake off, the quarry gaining its 
feet ; and very well did it deserve the escape which 
it effected, for, rising erect on its long green legs, the 
little tail stuck up, and lifting high the red-capped 
head, it stood in the attitude of defence assumed by 
a game-cock. The assailant stared, paused, and flew 
quietly away. The sparrow-hawk, however, has cer- 
tainly more power than the merlin. 

In April 1859, the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh took 
three sparrow-hawks (which had lately arrived from 
Syria) to Italy for quail-hawking. The hawks were 
flown from seven to ten in the morning, before it was 
too hot for the sport ; and in seven days they killed 
117 quaiL The gipsies in Wallachia use it for this 
quarry. Had we but quail here, what fine sport 
could be had with the subject of this chapter, and 
also with the merlin ! 

The advantages and disadvantages in the use of this 
bird have already been rather elaborately, though in a 
measure incidentally, laid before the reader. I need 
only add that it is the favourite with some excellent 
falconers now living, and that in the old time it held 
a very fair position. It was assigned to a priest in 
this country ; but in the late Manchester Exhibition 
there was a portrait, by Titian, of the Duke of Milan 
holding a sparrow-hawk upon his fist. However, had 
he been an English nobleman, there is no reason why 
he should not have carried a hawk below his station. 



THE DEAD HAWKER. 265 



\ 



I now offer the story of which I have spoken ; it 
is called 

THE DEAD HAWKER.* 

One fine morning in February 182-, an old man 
issued from his small cottage, situate in a village in 
the West of England. Though the snows of more 
than seventy winters had fallen since his birth, Old 
Time had dealt kindly with him. He was, in spite 
of his great age, still hale and vigorous, his eye glit- 
tered like a diamond, his pace, though not quick, 
was firm and regular. His square shoulders, well-set 
head, long arms, and immense bones, showed that in 
his early days few of the best wrestlers (in a country 
famous for that athletic game) would have selected 
the rustic Titan as an easy playfellow. His head had 
no appearance of baldness, but every hair was as 
white as snow, and hung in curls over his neck and 
shoulders, giving an appearance and dignity to the 
old man that might have well become one of 
the patriarchs of old. In his right hand was a 
" quartei>staff" or stick, used for beating covers or 

* Hawks prope*, or the short-winged hawks, require a different 
treatment from that necessary for the long-winged hawks or falcons; 
and this applies not only to their daily management at home, bat to 
the sort of country in which they are flown. Thus we find those 
who, living in an open country, kept falcons, were called falconers ; 
whereas the men who (in wooded districts, &c.) trained and flew 
only hawks proper, were described as hawkers. They were fre- 
quently quite ignorant of the management of the nobler birds. 



2G6 FALCONET. 

as a weapon. It was between five and six feet long, 
and somewhat thicker than a man's thumb, of which 
weapon (now almost extinct as such) the old man had 
been a distinguished professor in his youth. On his 
left arm (which up to the elbow was protected by a 
long glove, of antiquated appearance and curious 
work) sat a hawk pluming its feathers in the bright 
sun, and occasionally picking at its master to obtain 
a caress, or playfully endeavouring to pull off its bell 
and jesses, the badges of its servitude. The veteran 
had that unmistakeable look about him which be- 
longs exclusively to those who have spent their lives 
in the field, alike indifferent to the scorching sun and 
the wintry hail-storm. He was, as his appearance 
denoted, « a hawker" nearly, if not quite, the last of 
his race or profession in the once merry West of 
England, and was in the service of the lord of the 
manor in which his cottage stood. He was followed 
by five or six spaniels of the small cocker breed, 
which were used to spring the game, principally 
young partridges and landrails. These dogs were 
always reared with the hawks, and were carefully 
broken when young to hunt within twenty or thirty 
yards of the hawker, so that when the quarry was 
roused the hawk might get a fair flight. Half-a- 
dozen chubby, curly-headed urchins (under pretence 
of asking after his health, and where he was going) 
hung about his heels, well knowing that the kind old 
man in his progress through the village seldom failed 



THE DEAD HAWKER. 267 

to stop at " the shop" and spend his odd pence (if he 
had any) in the purchase of choice " lollipops," or 
those wonderfully-shaped quadrupeds made of gilt 
gingerbread, which delicacies he distributed for the 
special gratification of these youthful allies ; nor were 
they on this occasion disappointed, and consequently 
old John Gale, or " Jan," as the provincials call him, 
was greeted with their lusty cheers as he left the 
village on his way to visit an old gamekeeper in the 
service of a neighbouring squire, who lived about 
twelve miles from Jan's home. That day and the 
next passed over, frosty and clear ; on the second 
evening the clouds gathered round, and at night there 
was a heavy fall of snow. On the third day, although 
the morning was bright, and looked more like settled 
weather, a snow-storm burst with terrific violence 
over the whole tract of high, bleak down and deep 
valley, of which that part of the country is principally 
composed, and continued until the morning of the 
next day, which was a Sunday. That day was fine, 
although the storm still raged in the distance, and 
the whole parish assembled for morning service ; and 
when that was finished the church-goers were grouped 
about the doors gossiping, &c., when a very tall, 
powerful man, whose huge whiskers and badger-skin 
cap were congealed into one mass of frozen snow, and 
who appeared exhausted with fatigue and exposure, 
burst into the circle, and was at once recognised as 
head-keeper at the Squire's, to whose place the old 



268 FALCOXKY. 

hawker had gone, and son to the old forester with 
whom he had sojourned. He at once demanded 
whether old Jan had been heard of. S( No," said his 
astonished and wondering auditors, " he be'ant corned 
whoam yet !" " Then vur zartin zure," said the 
keeper, " he be smothered up i' snow, vur his dogs 
be coomed back alone and whining — that be as 
yesterday's sundown. Tve been zarchin for un since 
grey o' mourn, but the very dog couldn't veace the 
curl o' the storm," pointing to a large bloodhound 
that lay panting and footsore at his feet. In less 
time than I have been describing this fearful inter- 
ruption, the news had spread Hke wildfire through 
the village that old Jan was lost in the snow, and 
three or four hundred stout men (the flower of the 
lordship) had hurried home to doff their Sunday gar- 
ments, and start, headed by the keepers, to scour the 
country in search of their old friend. On came the 
night, and with it the return of the almost exhausted 
villagers, whom the renewal of th& storm had most 
unwillingly compelled to relinquish the search. Next 
morning, at daylight, they again started with better 
hopes of success, for the day was beautifully clear, 
and they were reinforced by a score or so of keepers, 
with their retrievers, from the neighbouring manors, 
who, as soon as they heard of the news, came forward 
at once to show their good feeling towards one so 
universally looked up to as old Jan. Some hours 
had passed without a trace being discovered, when 



THE DEAD HAWKER. 269 

one of the sons, who was rounding the shoulder of 
Eggerdon hill (which his father might have gone 
over as a short cut) fancied he heard the cry of a 
hawk, and partly by chance, and partly from habit, 
gave the long shrill whistle used to lure the hawks by 
his father, and a hawk instantly replied to the well- 
known call. The stout countryman sat down in the 
snow, and covering his face with his hands, said to 
those with him, " Zumthing do tell I that be poor 
feyther's bird. Go ye .up, two or dree of you, and 
seek the drift." They did as he bid them, and, 
guided by the occasional cries of the hawk, soon 
came to the spot where the old man had laid down 
to his last sleep. Not a part was visible through the 
snow but the hawk-hand, to which the bird was 
fastened by his leash. The poor creature, not being 
able to escape, had (to the horror of the men) fairly 
ripped up the glove, and, in the extremity of hunger, 
fearfully mangled the hand of the dead man. Sor- 
rowfully they bore the stiffened corpse to their village, 
each tiny hamlet, as they passed, turning out to offer 
such consolation as they could to the old man's 
mourning family. His funeral was wonderful ; many 
came from the heart of the neighbouring counties 
who had long known " Jan the Hawker," and many 
whose skulls had in youthful days been cracked by 
Jan's unrivalled cudgel at the village fairs came to 
show that though their heads might not be quite 
sound, their hearts were. To this day his rustic 



270 FALCONRY. 

virtues and accomplishments are never-failing themes 
of gossip and admiration ; and many a stout fellow 
would give his ears to be likened to "Jan the 
Hawker." 



JER-FALCONS. 271 



CHAP. XIX. 

JER-FALCONS. — THE NORWAY FALCON. — THE ICELAND AND GREEN- 
LAND FALCONS. — LORD ANGUS'S "WHITE HAWK." — FLYING THE 

ICELANDER. — 8ACRE. — LANNER. — BARBAE Y FALCON — KESTREL. 

THE FUTURE. 

If, as I have hinted before, the old writers on fal- 
conry, either directly or by looseness of expression, 
laid themselves open to the suspicion that they sup- 
posed specific distinctions where none existed — as, 
perhaps, in the case of the peregrine — their error 
with regard to the jer-falcon was entirely on the 
other side. An Iceland, a Greenland, or a Norway 
falcon were all jer-falcons to them, and probably 
nothing more. They are jer-falcons to us also ; but 
many modern naturalists have begun to recognise a 
specific difference between the Norway bird and the 
others, while some class even those two as different 
species.* 

Let us dispose, first of 'all, of that bird about which 
there is not very much dispute. " We are indebted," 
says Mr. Brodrick, in "Falconry in the British 
Isles," (S to the kindness of Mr. John Hancock for 

* Such recognition was subsequent to " Falconry in the British 
Isles." 



272 FALCONET. 

the means of giving a figure of this noble bird 
(the Norway falcon). His specimen is a male bird 
of the second year, showing the change of plumage 
from the nestling to the adult state, and presents 
very much the appearance of a large peregrine. 
This species might be obtained from Norway at the 
present day, and would probably well repay the 
trouble and expense of seeking. The male bird, 
from which our drawing was made, was (with the 
exception of the greater length of tail) almost of the 
same proportions as a large female peregrine, though 
with a less powerful foot ; but this must have been a 
very small specimen; for, upon the authority of 
several falconers, we find it generally of the same size 
as the Greenland and Iceland species. The tarsi are 
partly feathered, similar to the other northern fal- 
cons; and in colour also it is intermediate, between 
the adult peregrine and the darker varieties of the 
Icelander ; the legs and cere in the young bird are 
blue lead colour, becoming yellow when adult. This 
species, though possessing great power of wing, appears 
to be very local; and we have never heard of a 
specimen, in any stage of plumage, having been met 
with in these islands." It seems that in August, 
1839, Mr. Newcome netted in Norway three young 
birds of this species, two tiercels and a falcon. 

With regard to the large falcon found in Iceland 
and that found in Greenland, the question is, whether 
they are distinct in species, or only dark and light 



THE NORWAY FALCON. 273 

varieties of the same bird. To enter into this subject 
at any length would be simply to copy in words, or, 
at any rate, in substance, the admirable remarks 
upon it (would that I could give the author's in- 
valuable drawings ! ) contained in " Falconry in the 
British Isles." With that book before me, and with 
the aid of Mr. Hancock's last paper (from the Annals 
and Magazine of Natural History for February, 1854) 
"On the Greenland and Iceland Falcons," I can 
offer a short analysis of the argument, which may 
perhaps be found interesting. 

Ihe two and only difficulties — the former perhaps 
at first sight considerable — with which the up- 
holders of the specific-difference theory have to con- 
tend are, that "both species are precisely alike in 
size and comparative proportions, which is perhaps 
[but there is a suspicion of this in the case of the 
Norwegian bird] more than can be said of any other 
two distinct species known;" and also that "even 
in colour some of the adult birds of the two species 
approach very closely to each other, viz. the darkest 
of the Greenland and the lightest specimens of the 
Iceland birds." 

On the other side we have the following very strong 
and important evidence : — The darker bird, for which 
a specific name, Icelandicus, is claimed, breeds only 
in Iceland ; the lighter coloured bird, Grcenlandicus, 
only in Greenland. This has been proved by obser- 
vation. The nestling plumage of the latter is always 

T 



274 FALCONRY. 

lighter than the adult plumage of the former. Now, 
in both instances, there will of course be a change of 
colour in the first moult; but the dark bird of Ice- 
land will not appear as the light bird of Greenland. 
After the first moult there is scarcely a visible change 
in either species — or so-called species — perhaps none 
at all. It is a mistake to suppose that the plumage 
of falcons becomes lighter each year after it has 
become adult. Mr. Hancock, premising that (this 
was in 1854) he had seen at least 150 specimens of 
both " species," writes as follows on the Greenland 
falcon : — 

u The mature Greenland falcon is distinguished 
from the young, not so much by its greater whiteness 
as by the character of the markings, which on the 
back and scapulars are always cordate, inclining to 
sagittiform ; the head, under parts, and tail are fre- 
quently unspotted, but not by any means constantly 
so. The young is characterised by having the upper 
parts marked with large oblong spots, and the head 
and under parts with long narrow dashes. In both 
old and young the markings are of a dark warm grey, 
almost black in the former, which is also distin- 
guished by the cere, beak, feet and toes being of a 
pale yellow or straw colour ; while in the young these 
parts, with the exception of the beak, are of a light 
livid blue. Some of the young are very white, so 
that they can be distinguished only by the form of 
the spots, and colour of the naked parts. In such 



THE GREENLAND FALCON. 275 

the spots or dashes on the head and under parts are 
reduced to mere lines, scarcely wider than the shafts 
of the feathers, and the tail is not uncommonly devoid 
of all markings. Other nest birds are comparatively 
dark, with the spots large and crowded. The former, 
on maturity, are very little spotted, and have all the 
under parts, head, and tail not unfrequently pure 
white; the latter never attain the same degree of 
whiteness, but change into the dark and richly marked 
varieties of the adult. There is no doubt with regard 
to the mature and immature state of this species. I 
possess several specimens with the large oblong 
markings of the nest plumage, which are moulting, 
and in every case the new feathers have the cordate 
spots of maturity; and to show that no cnange takes 
place afterwards, it is only necessary to refer to the 
beautiful specimen which was kept alive in the Zoo- 
logical Gardens, Eegent's-park. This individual was 
a male ; it had the plumage very light ; and when I 
first saw it in 1849, it exhibited both mature and 
immature feathers, the old and faded ones, on the 
upper parts, having the oblong spots of the first 
plumage, the new feathers of the back and scapulars 
being all marked with cordate spots. I took a draw- 
ing of the bird in this state. On completing its 
moult it was one of the whitest specimens I have 
ever seen. It lived until May 1852, and must con- 
sequently have changed /ts plumage twice after 
having assumed its mature dress; but no further 

T 2 



276 FALCOXBY. 

alteration took place in the form of the markings, 
and the bird was as white on its first rnoult as it 
was when it died. Another living specimen, which 
I had in my possession some years ago, moulted 
once. This was mature when I received it, and it 
was as white then as after its moult, and no change 
whatever took place in the character of its plumage. 
It may also be stated that I have several specimens 
in the mature plumage, which have partially cast 
their feathers, and those coming are exactly like the 
old ones — neither darker nor whiter — the feathers 
of the upper parts bearing the same characteristic 
cordate spots. Thus there appears ample proof that 
the birds with oblong spots on the upper parts change 
at once into those with cordate spots, and that the 
latter undergo no subsequent alteration : the one is 
therefore evidently the young of the other, and is un- 
doubtedly in the first or nest plumage, unless this 
species be an exception to the rule, that all the true 
falcons get the mature plumage on the first moult : 
the Iceland falcon, peregrine, merlin, hobby, red- 
legged falcon, and kestrel all do." 

Mr. Hancock then proceeds : — 

" Falco Ghwnlandicus, then, differs from F. Ice- 
landicus in both the mature and immature states, 
and is characterised by its greater whiteness of plu- 
mage. The former, in fact, may be stated to have 
white feathers with dark markings, the latter dark 
feathers with white markings; besides that, the 



THE ICELANDER. 277 

mature Iceland falcon is further distinguished by con- 
spicuous transverse bands above and on the flanks, 
and by the blue colour of the beak, and bright yellow 
of the cere and feet." 

I copy a further description of the Icelander from 
" Falconry in the British Isles" : — " The weight of a 
female Iceland falcon is about 3 £ lbs., its length from 
bill to tail about 23 inches, the spread of the wings 
being above 4 feet ; the length of the male bird is 
about 20 inches. In colour and markings both sexes 
are alike, as well in the young as in adult states ; in- 
dividuals differing only as they assume the light or 
dark varieties of plumage with the intermediate gra- 
dations. . . The tarsi are feathered about half way 
down, and the naked parts are, in the young birds, 
of a blue lead colour, as are also the cere, and skin 
about the eyes. This colour changes to yellow in the 
mature birds, and deepens with age. - The young 
birds are,' all of them, on the upper parts of the body, 
of a dark greyish brown colour, each feather being 
margined with dusky white ; the under surface is of 
the same dusky white, marked thickly with longi- 
tudinal blotches of the dark colour of the upper 
parts ; the thighs and under tail-coverts having long 
streaks, which, in the adult plumage, are changed 
into transverse bars, similar to, though not as distinct 
as, those in the peregrine. The colour of the irides 
is dark hazel." 

With regard to eggs, I can do nothing better than 

i 3 



278 FALCONET. 

copy the following from a letter which Mr. Hancock 
was obliging enough to write to me, the other day, 
on these birds : — 

" In my opinion, the egg of the Iceland and Greenland 
birds will neither differ in size nor colour. Descrip- 
tion of the egg of the Iceland falcon : about the size 
of that of the barn-door fowl, but of a rounder form, 
blotched or spotted all over with red-brown ; colour 
varying from light to dark in different specimens." 

The broad differences in plumage, detailed above, 
between the nestlings bred in Iceland and those bred 
in Greenland, together with the particulars of the 
first moults, are simply facts, obtained by observa- 
tion. They are the data upon which naturalists must 
determine if in these great [northern birds we have 
different species; or whether one is but a variety 
of the other. 

Of the three birds already mentioned, the Iceland 
falcon is that which has been used most frequently in 
this country. I imagine, however, that when we 
read of a very great sum being given in olden times 
for a cast of jer-falcons or white falcons, the Green- 
lander is intended ; for it is rather a difficult matter 
to procure this bird at all ; and individuals are occa- 
sionally met with so slightly pencilled, that it would 
hardly perhaps be an error in language to call them 
" white." In 1545 there was a certain battle fought 
in Scotland called " Lilliard's Edge ;" at the com- 
mencement of it (says Sir Walter Scott), Lord Angus, 



LOED ANGUS'S WHITE HAWK. 279 

as he led his Scots against the English horse, saw a 
heron rise from a marsh close at hand : " Oh," said 
he, " that I had my white hawk here ! we could then 
all join battle together." As the Greenlander was 
not there, the heron escaped; but Lord Angus cut 
the opposing cavalry to pieces. 

Till the end of the last century, the Iceland falcon 
was used for flying the kite. This quarry was fre- 
quently found at a great height — only, perhaps, just 
within sight. To bring it down a curious expedient 
was adopted. Sir John Sebright gives it thus : — "A 
great owl (Strix bubo), to the leg of which the fal- 
coners usually tie a fox's brush — not only to impede 
its flight, but to make it, as they fancy, more attrac- 
tive — is thrown up to draw down the kite." Poor 
Milvu8 probably considered, from his height, that 
there, near the earth, fluttered a bird that he could 
bully, slowly carrying off some heavy and valuable 
prey; so Milvus came down just in time to see a 
great grey hawk dart from a man's hand by a hedge- 
side, and chase him for his life. The forked-tail 
kite was once very common in this country, and was, 
we are told, protected in London in consequence of 
its services as a scavenger. I need hardly say to the 
enlightened men of this generation how unworthy it 
would be of mankind in the €t nineteenth century" 
to accept anything directly and at once from the 
hand of Nature. We are too wise, and too foolish in 
our wisdom, for that. 

T 4 



280 FALCONET. 

Recently, the Icelander has been flown at hares 
and herons ; even at so small a quarry as partridges. 
Mr. Newcome "succoured" those trained by him 
with a slow dog for hares. The flight was not very 
successful. The hare was repeatedly rolled over by 
the falcon, and left an easy prey to the dog. It was 
seldom, if ever, that the hawk did the whole.* 

A tiercel turned out a very good heron-hawk ; and 
one which the late Duke of Leeds gave my coadjutor 
was good at partridges. For black game I can 
imagine nothing better than a jer-tierceL 

These hawks — the jer-falcons altogether — are 
generally netted soon after they q$tn fly, or as old 
birds. In either case they must be trained precisely 
in the manner recommended for peregrines ; and, if 
it were possible to bring them over as half-fledged 
nestlings, they would still be treated like the smaller 
falcon. Sir John Sebright speaks of the Icelander 
as being esteemed for its great powers and tractable 
disposition. I have heard from more modern fal- 
coners that the tractability is not so conspicuous. 
This gentleman makes a distinction between the gyr- 
falcon (or jer-falcon) and the Icelander, assuring us 
that the former is less than the latter ; but I have no 
idea what he means (in this comparison) by the " gyr- 
falcon ;" for the Norway bird is probably all but, if 
not quite, as large as either Greenlander or Icelander ; 

* I believe it has been done since by the hawk alone. 



SACKE. — LANNER. 281 

and these are — one the size of the other. To the 
Saker he was probably an entire stranger. 

In " Falconry in the British Isles" we have three 
most valuable plates (to say nothing of that of the 
Norway falcon) of hawks not known in modern or 
European practice — unless, indeed, possibly the last ; 
these are of the Saker, the Lanner, and the Barbai*y 
falcons. No naturalist can afford to ignore these 
pictures and the letter-press belonging to them. For 
myself, I have no language to express my admiration 
of both. Mr. Brodrick has placed himself out of the 
reach of flattery — for even a friend cannot exaggerate 
excellence. 

Of the sacre*, Belore says that in colour it is some- 
thing like a kite — a sort of smoky red, the dullest 
in plumage of all the hawks used in falconry, with 
blue legs and feet (when young) : that it is a bird of 
passage, and was taken by falconers in the islands of 
the Levant, Cyprus, Ehodes, &c. The " Gentleman's 
Eecreation " gives the following description : " She 
is somewhat larger than the haggard falcon; her 
plume is rusty and ragged ; the sear of her foot and 
beak like the lanner ; her pounces are short ; how- 
ever she hath great strength, and is hardy to all kinds 
of fowl ; she is more disposed to the field a great deal 
than to the brook, and delights to prey on great fowl, 

* A friend of Capt. Salvin has lately seen the Arab Sheiks use 
both saker and lanner : for a trained sacre £40 was frequently 
offered and refused. 



282 FALCONRY. 

as the hern, the goose, &c." It seems that this bird 
flew the kite well. The quaint writer proceeds to 
say of this flight — " if well observed, together with 
the variety of contests and bickerings that are between 
them, it cannot but be very pleasant and delightful 
to the beholder " (what a shocking sentiment ! and 
yet methinks I would have walked barefoot some 
miles to have seen those same contests and bickerings); 
" for," he continues, st I have known in a clear day, 
and little wind stirring, that both the sacre and 
kite have soared so high that the sharpest eye could 
not discern them; yet hath the sacre, in the en- 
counter, conquered the kite, and I have seen her 
come tumbling down to the ground with a strange 
precipitancy." 

Both sacre and lanner differ from all the other 
European falcons in this particular, that (t neither of 
the sexes alter the colour of their plumage in the first 
and subsequent moults." The female sacre is about 
the size of the male Iceland falcon. 

The lanner seems to have proved somewhat of a 
slack-mettled hawk, though it is far from being with- 
out its share of praise. I have several times seen the 
female bird at the Eegent's-park, called a lanner, and 
I believe truly called so. It is certainly not a pere- 
grine, nor a bird of any species which I have met 
with elsewhere. The lanner breeds, we are told, in 
France, on the highest trees in the forest or in the 
loftiest rocks. Possibly it might be procured with- 



THE KESTREL. 283 

out much difficulty ; but for practical purposes the 
peregrine is doubtless superior. For further informa- 
tion on this bird I must refer my readers to s€ Fal- 
conry in the British Isles." 

The Barbary falcon is, I may venture to assert, 
almost unmatched in speed, strength, and courage by 
any hawk of its size in the world. Some pains have 
been taken this year to bring the bird to England, 
but I don't know, at present, with what success. I 
should exceedingly like to see its powers tested; 
perhaps some day I may do so. 

The following is a description of it : — " This beau- 
tiful little falcon, in colour and marking, is a perfect 
miniature likeness of the peregrine, and might be 
taken for a dwarf variety of that bird, were it not for 
its proportional difference. It forms, in our eyes, the 
beau idial of what a falcon should be, and is a 
perfect model of strength and speed combined. For, 
although smaller, by nearly a fourth, than the pere- 
grine, it has the organs of destruction — such as the 
beak, feet, and talons — fully as large, united to 
longer and more pointed wings in proportion to its 
total length; in this respect almost rivalling the 
hobby." — Falconry in the British Isles. 

The Kestrel is a beautifully-shaped little falcon ; 
and has no fault in make that I can see except a 
want of length in the foot and singles. It was oc- 
casionally trained in the olden time, but assigned to a 
" knave " or servant. Nature has played a prank here, 



284 FALCOXBY. 

and has condemned one of the most beautiful and 
capable of her children to be the victim of a grovel- 
ling instinct. Why should this little Hercules wash 
out the stables? Why should this Arachne, who 
could work tapestry with Minerva, be made to do a 
spider's task ? I cannot tell. The kestrel or wind- 
hover (Falco tinnunculus) contents itself, as a rule, 
with mice, with a beetle or two, but will attack a 
bird in a snare, or a wounded bird unable to fly. I 
have been at the trouble to prove these last facts by 
experiment : a male kestrel seized a fieldfare, and a 
female a pigeon. But there is no making it chase 
for many yards ; and it was probably carried of old 
as a badge, and for the amusement of seeing it fly to 
the lure, which it may very easily be taught to do. 
There could be no nicer pet for a lady than this bird, 
were it not that the merlin, which is rather smaller, 
is useful as well as beautiful. The kestrel generally 
builds on rocks, occasionally on trees ; neither is it 
scrupulous about appropriating the old nest of another 
bird, a few alterations and improvements being made. 
Its eggs are in colour much like those of the other 
falcons. 

As this work professes to treat only of those birds 
which are or have been used in falconry, it would be 
out of place to attempt any description of the buz- 
zards, harriers, &c. 

The next chapter will conclude this treatise. It 
will be devoted, in some measure, to the diseases 



THE FUTURE. 2<5 

xnd moulting of hawks ; but will contain also some 
Indian Hawking, which I hope may relieve the 
tedium of details that are more necessary than 
amusing. 

At some future time I may perhaps give a detailed 
account of the British birds of prey, from the largest 
to the least. It has been the object of the present 
work to make natural history subservient to falconry ; 
in the next the sport must only be servant to the 
science. 



286 FALCONRY. 



CHAP. XX. 

THE UGLIEST AND THE LAST. — INQUIRIES. — CATS, ETC. — MOULTING. — 
MEW8. — AFTER THE MOULT. — PHARMACOPEIA. — CRAMP. APO- 
PLEXY. — EPILEP8T. — THE KECKS. — THE FROUNCE. — 8MAIX 

TUMOURS ON THE FEET. THE BLAIN. — FRACTURES. — PARA8ITES. 

— A PURGE, AND CASTIKG8. — A FRIEND*8 ANSWER ON A SUBJECT 
OF ANTIQUITY. — INDIAN HAWKS AND HAWKING. — MANAGEMENT 
OF HAWKS AT THE CAMPS. — FAREWELL. 

I must apologise for this chapter — it is the last, and, 
in some parts, the ugliest of all ; not, perhaps, that 
the former fact will distress many, but my readers 
must try to forgive the latter. However, the dish 
is served up with some excellent Indian pickle, which 
will be found in due course. This is an appendix, 
and will stand on its privileges. I have tried to be 
systematic and methodical through nineteen long 
chapters ; let us, in the name of mercy, have a nice, 
complicated, lazy, refreshing jumble to end with ! 

During the publication in "The Field" of the 
aforesaid " nineteen," I received a very considerable 
number of courteous letters from strangers; con- 
taining, in the first place, a little incense which I 
was begged to burn at the shrine of Vanity ; and, in 
the second, a list of questions on the Art of Falconry 



INQUIRIES. 287 

which the writers hoped I would be kind enough to 
answer. I was — not kind enough, but — grateful 
enough to reply privately to most of those queries ; 
and, in doing so, I had occasion to remark to many 
who propounded them, that the required solutions 
might be found by reference to some former chapter. 
Still, I know that, when a small work like the present 
drags its slow length through more -than a year and 
a half in the periodical in which it appears, the 
best memory cannot always retain the whole of the 
facts recorded, to say nothing of the order in which 
they were written. In their present form of a volume, 
and with the advantage of an index, I trust these 
papers may not be considered incomplete ; but I 
make it my business now to attempt to supply any 
omissions which I may have made during their com- 
position. 

"What," says one correspondent, "is a ' make- 
hawk ? ' "—A " make-hawk," my dear sir, is an old 
and experienced hawk flown with a young and in- 
experienced one, in order that the latter may be 
incited to perseverance, and instructed in manners. 
Such a help, however, can only be employed when 
the birds show no signs of " crabbing." Again, " How 
do you prevent two birds ' crabbing ' in the air or on 
the lure ? " You cannot prevent them from crabbing 
in the air ; but, if you use but one lure, take one of 
the birds from it to your hand with a piece of beef 
as soon as both bind. " How to hood a hawk without 



28S FALCONRY. 

disgusting or alienating him thereby ? " Cultivate a 
manual dexterity, which comes to some men sooner 
than to others, but which in any case can only be 
acquired by practice. Work away, if you like, at a 
kestrel for a fortnight. Also, rather drop the left 
hand, and turn it outwards ; this will oblige the hawk 
to keep his head tolerably steady, and also to thrust 
it towards the hood. When the hawk is tame enough 
to feed from the hand " barefaced," he may be made 
to pick a few pieces of meat out of the hood, which 
is to be of course held in the right hand. Other 
directions may be found in their proper place. 

With regard to cats killing hawks in captivity, my 
own experience has been that they will not touch 
them. I know that an immense wild tom-cat was in 
the habit of prowling among my merlins at night, 
and that he did not hurt them. At the same time 
the fate of Mr. Brodrick's goshawk shows that cats, in 
this matter, are not absolutely to be depended upon. 
My friend's bird was attacked in the garden, in open 
day, and was so injured that it was mercy to kill it. 
I have no further information on this subject which 
is not negative. I have heard of a rat or rats in- 
juring merlins, and of a male sparrow-hawk having 
been killed by a stoat or a weasel — I forget which. 
Mr. Brodrick had a peregrine tiercel knocked off its 
perch, at night, by an owl; really "by a mousing 
owl hawked at, and (I think) killed " — more probably 
by the hanging than the blow. Foxes have been 



MOULTING. 289 

known to pass by trained hawks at night, leaving 
them untouched. 

And now a few words on an important subject, viz. 
moulting. Hawks, as I need scarcely mention, change 
all their feathers once a year. For instance, the 
nestlings of this summer will begin to moult in 1860 ; 
young peregrines, if kept fat at the time, will probably 
drop the first feather — the seventh in the wing — 
between the middle of March and the middle of 
April. Merlins are later; but they are in full plumage 
again by the middle of September, as are often young 
peregrines. By taking care that a hawk is in flying 
order, and by constantly working him, you may so 
postpone the important part of the moult that he will 
fly well till September. Captain Salvin has several 
times done this. In point of fact, it is quite possible 
to fly hawks — I don't speak of the same individuals 
— all the year round. The second and subsequent 
moults always commence later than the first moult. 

The birds may pass their period of moult at liberty 
in a room, or confined to blocks out of doors under 
cover of the shed in very hot or wet weather ; but, 
when out of doors, on fine soft grass. The fatter they 
are kept, the sooner the moult will be over. If they 
are moulted in rooms (the most expeditious, but not 
always the most convenient way), great care must be 
taken to cover any angles with double matting, in 
order that no feathers may be injured in case of a 
hasty flight round the room, or towards the roof. 

v 



290 FALCONET. 

Each bird should have a room to itself.* Large, 
round, smooth stones will serve as blocks. The floor 
must be covered with sand to the depth of several 
inches. Every falconer should have some room or 
loft which will answer the purpose of mews — the 
larger the better. Here he may, if he choose, moult 
his hawks ; and here also he may place them to pro- 
tect them from stormy and snowy weather, when they 
are in flying order (plenty of straw in such cases 
being round their blocks). It is obvious that two or 
more such rooms are necessary to many falconers. 
As for shape, that will probably be left to chance ; 
for I certainly shall not discourage the young falconer 
by telling him that he must have mews built The 
room must be ventilated by its own chimney, or, if it 
lack that, by some device which will not let in the 
day. There must be a window and a close-fitting 
door, through which no stream of light can enter. 
The window must have the closest possible shutters, 
all, of course, to be opened and closed at pleasure. 
I have mentioned in a previous chapter under what 
circumstances it is necessary to make the room quite 
dark, and I need not recapitulate them. Hawks 
require a bath at all seasons, and in very hot weather 
it may be offered daily. Let them have, as a rule, 
more food during the cold than during the hot 
months ; when in moult, however, they can scarcely 

*. Goshawks should be moulted either on the bow-perch, under a 
shed (where there is plenty of grass), or separately in rooms. 



MEDICAL MANAGEMENT. 291 

have too much, and some peregrines may be fed twice 
a day; merlins at least twice, better perhaps three 
times ; sparrow-hawks and hobbies twice ; goshawks 
once, and well. When the moult is over, and the 
hawk fit for getting into flying order, he must be 
carried and almost rebroken to the hood. Eeduce 
the quantity of food for two days, but return to it 
thoroughly on the third. If beef be used, it may be 
dipped once in cold water, and squeezed nearly dry. 
The little weight which you intend the bird to lose 
must be lost gradually. Give castings daily, and 
once, perhaps, during this preparation for flight, a 
couple of grains of rhubarb on an empty stomach, 
without castings. Do not trust only to " carriage" 
for bringing back good order and training ; but before 
the hawk is put on the wing at liberty, let him bate 
to the swung lure from his block, on which he has 
been placed unhooded, on thick fine grass, immedi- 
ately putting the food within his reach when you find 
he is sufficiently eager. He may also be flown once, 
in an open place, in a fifty yard creance, to the lure. 
During the period of moult, the hawks — I assume — 
have been fed from the hand, as they sat either on 
the fist or block. It will never do to throw the food 
in amongst the sand, and leave the birds to fight it 
out. But I ought to beg pardon for seeming to think 
it possible that such a thing could be done. 

And now for the pharmacopoeia. You must some- 
times throw a little physic to hawks as well as dogs; 

U 2 



292 FALCONRY. 

but very little, and very seldom. I have been asked 
a great deal about diseases ; but they are either very 
few, or not readily recognised. Our ancestors had 
pages on pages of recipes — very elaborate, very 
curious, and very incomprehensible. Take the follow- 
ing nice little remedy. I don't mean, swallow it 
yourself; Heaven forbid! but take it — it's a very 
easy way — as an eocample. In point of fact, " Take 
germander, pelamountain, basil, grummel-seed, and 
broom-flowers, of each half an ounce; hyssop, sassafras, 
polypodium, and horse-mints, of each a quarter of an 
ounce, and the like of nutmegs; cubebs, borage, 
mummy, mugwort, sage, and the four kinds of miro- 
bolans, of each half an ounce ; of aloes succotrine the 
fifth part of an ounce, and of saffron one whole 
ounce."* This is to be " put into a hen's gut, tied 
at both ends." I hope it may be found agreeable. 

I suppose all this means that a happy mixture of 
purgatives and stimulants is occasionally desirable. 

Let us look seriously into the matter ; but I know 
that I shall disappoint the reader, for there is really 
little or nothing to add to the last pages of " Falconry 
in the British Isles." 

Cram£. — This attacks hawks in. their extreme 
youth, when they have been taken from the nest too 
soon.f It breaks the bones of peregrines, and para- 

* " Gentlemen's Recreation," 1677. 

f Capt. Salvin, however, has seen tetanus produced in a falcon 
by the sudden loss of a claw, as she was taken roughly from a rook. 
She died from the attack. 



APOPLEXY. 293 

lyses the feet of sparrow-hawks. There is no cure for 
it. Should nestlings unfortunately be sent to the 
falconer when they are little more than out of the 
down, the only thing which I can imagine as likely 
to be of service, is the keeping them in a very warm 
room, amongst a depth of straw, and perhaps, if they 
are very young, placing a flannel over them. But 
this is only conjecture, as I never had occasion to try 
the plan. 

Apoplexy. — This disease has been found by some 
of my brother falconers to be very fatal to merlins. 
I am not aware that it ever killed a bird of that 
species in my possession. When I have lost these 
little birds, by disease, they have died, in damp 
weather, of some affection in the crop : symptoms — 
perfectly green mutes, sometimes changing to black, 
accompanied by an erect position on the block, with 
(often) a stretching up of the neck and head. There 
is no further convulsion ; and this cannot be apoplexy. 
It is probably inflammation of the crop. A grain of 
rhubarb may be given to the smaller hawks when ill ; 
they must be fed frequently, but somewhat sparingly, 
with light food, such as live sparrows, &c. ; no beef, 
unless it is pounded to a paste. But when a merlin is 
seriously ill, one can do little more than hope against 
hope. Mr. Holford had a famous merlin which died 
in &fit 9 when in the act of killing a thrush in the field. 
This probably was apoplexy, and it is not the only case 
of the kind which has reached me. I have seen a 

u 3 



294 FALCONET. 

favourite sparrow-hawk of my own die in a fit, and 
over-fat goshawks may be killed by apoplexy, espe- 
cially if they are allowed to bate in a hot sun. Pere- 
grines, if ordinary care be used, are exempt. In the 
case of nestling merlins, which have flown at hack for 
some weeks near the house, I am quite convinced, 
from experience, that the best plan is, on the first 
symptoms of illness which are at all decided, to give 
a slight purge ; two hours after it, half a crop of light 
food ; to put on a couple of hack-bells, and give the 
hawk its liberty : after a few days' hack, it may pro- 
bably be taken up, quite restored to health. 

Epilepsy may attack peregrines, but I am not 
aware that any special treatment belongs to it. 

The Kecks, also called the Croaks, is a sort of 
cough which may attack a peregrine, and is generally 
produced by damp. Remedy : Six or seven bruised 
pepper-corns, given in the castings; keep the bird 
dry, and fly it to the lure three times a day. High 
feeding, and frequent ; but the food easy of digestion. 

The Frounce. — This disease is said to be very 
similar to the thrush which sometimes attacks young 
children. Like many others, it proceeds from damp. 
If taken in time, it may be cured. Remedy : Scrape 
off, with a clean quill cut for the purpose, all the 
diseased coating with which the swollen tongue and 
palate are covered. The bleeding parts are to be 
dressed with burnt alum mixed with vinegar. If a 
rod of nitrate of silver be used, it must be used very 
slightly, or it may occasion sloughing. 



VARIOUS DISEASES. 295 

Small Tumours, or swelling on the feet and toes, 
which are occasioned either by accident or by long 
standing on a hard block, may generally be removed 
by opening them carefully with a sharp knife. Of 
course the bird must in future be placed upon a soft, 
perhaps a padded block. This complaint is gene- 
rally spoken of as " corns." 

Inflammation of the Crop. — Symptoms: Throw- 
ing up the food after it has been some little time in 
the crop. The appetite is tolerably good ; but the 
bird loses strength, and may soon die. — Treatment : 
Give two or three grains of rhubarb in the morning, 
fasting, and repeat the dose every second or third day. 
The hawk should have rather frequent but small 
meals of light food. No castings. The warm flesh 
of rooks or pigeons is good. 

Worms. — Give river sand upon the meat, and 
every other morning, fasting, a dose of rhubarb. 

Bangle. — Falconers of old gave their hawks small 
stones, thrusting them into the throat. This is not 
done now; but experiments are being tried on the 
voluntary system, and they seem to succeed. 

The Blain. — It " consists of watery vesicles within 
the second joint of the wing, and is supposed to be 
peculiar to passage-hawks." The swollen part may 
sometimes be lanced with advantage; but if the 
disease is of long standing it may produce a stiff 
joint. No thorough cure. 

Fractures. — Curable in the leg, especially if below 

u 4 



296 FALCONRY. 

the joint; almost incurable in the wing, "Where the 
bone is simply fractured, as far as the restoration of the 
bird's power is concerned, it will be necessary to have 
the bird held firmly by an assistant, and, after the care- 
ful adjustment of the broken surfaces, to secure the 
bone in its proper position, either by a bandage of calico, 
previously dipped in strong starch, which hardens in 
drying, or by forming a neat splint of gutta percha to 
fit the limb. This is easily done by softening a strip 
of the material, about the thickness of ordinary shoe- 
leather, in warm water, and while in that state 
moulding it to the limb, and when cold and hard 
trimming and rounding the edges, and sewing on 
tape-strings. This form of splint will keep the 
broken parts immovable, and after about three weeks' 
time may be removed, when the limb will be found 
straight and sound again ; the plumage acts as a soft 
wadding between the splint and skin, and thus pre- 
vents the latter from becoming chafed. When, how- 
ever, the fracture is a compound one (where the 
broken ends of the bone are forced through the sur- 
rounding muscles), and the flesh much lacerated, the 
part should be bathed repeatedly with warm water, 
and not bound up tightly until the inflammation and 
swelling have in a manner subsided ; after which it 
must be treated as in the former instance. The 
wounded bird should be kept as quiet as possible, in a 
darkened room, and fed twice a day upon a light diet, 
such as the flesh of rabbits cut into small pieces, and 



PARASITES. 297 

given from the hand*" — Falconry in the British 
Isles. 

Parasites. — There is a very curious flying tick 
found on young merlins, which does them no harm and 
soon leaves them. It comes from the moors. I have 
seen it also often on the peregrine, on young grouse, 
and I think on plover shot in the neighbourhood of 
moors. Once I was introduced to a highly respectable 
bullfinch, in Northamptonshire, which was said to have 
been attacked by one of these creatures, and it was 
found a very difficult matter to catch the parasite : con- 
siderable warmth, if my memory serves me, was resorted 
to in order to induce the vermin to show himself out- 
side the feathers. It is wonderful how quickly the hard 
flat body, with flat wings, disappears before you can 
touch it. Lice may be got from rooks, or partridges 
of a late hatch, during the time the hawk is killing 
the quarry. Frequent bathing is the best remedy ; 
should this fail, a decoction of tobacco mixed with 
spirit may be applied to the neck and shoulders. 
There is also a species of acarus which burrows in the 
nares, and which must be got rid of as soon as pos- 
sible ; it is a sort of dark red mite. A fine camel's 
hair pencil and the tobacco-wash are remedies; in 
bad cases the red precipitate of mercury ointment 
should be applied. The hawk affected with this 
worst of all parasites must be kept from his compa- 
nions till he is pure. 

For a Purge. — Two or three grains of rhubarb 



298 FALCONET. 

given (to a peregrine) in a piece of meat, on an empty 
stomach, without castings. If only a laxative is re- 
quired, pounded sugar-candy rubbed into meat acts 
well ; also water, conveyed by dipping in it several 
pieces of meat. Thick lumpy mutes show that the 
bowels require an artificial relief. I like to see mutes 
full ; not very thick, nor very thin ; white, with no. 
rainbow streaks; but a little lump of black in the 
middle is quite admissible. Beware, however, of being 
fanciful, and of giving too many drugs. The whitest 
and most healthy-looking mutes come from fresh beef, 
castings having been given. These castings, which will 
be found under the block or perch, should be looked 
at ; all is right if they are free from indigested food or 
slime, of a nice oval shape, without smell. A small 
piece of the skin of a young rabbit, the hair inside, is 
a good casting to convey pepper. Peregrines and 
goshawks, if fed and flown regularly, and kept dry, 
and yet out of the scorching sun, have seldom any 
serious ailment. 

I confess that the old falconers would have laughed 
at my simple doctor's shop and very unassuming 
kitchen. They would have ridiculed the absence of 
the "complexions" — black, blank, russet, &c. — 
with the cock's flesh for " melancholic " hawks, and 
lamb's flesh for the " choleric : " they would certainly 
have been angered that I did not " incorporate * 
incense and mummy with my castings, and add 
cassia fistula to my purges. 



INDIAN HAWKS. 299 

I once wrote to a dear friend of mine to ask the 
question, " What is mummy ? " His answer was, 
I have no doubt, correct, but perhaps scarcely ex- 
plicit; "mummy," he said, "is mummy." In can- 
dour, however, I should add that he proceeded to 
observe : " It is often used as a paint, the asphalte 
with which bodies were preserved being probably 
the colouring matter, and perhaps the medicine." 
So much for physic ! 

I said that this chapter was a medley and an ap- 
pendix ; so perhaps the following may be not much 
out of place. In itself it is exceedingly interesting. 
I offer it in the form of scraps, which I took from 
the letter of Major E— — , an officer in India, to 
Capt. Salvin. 

INDIAN HAWKS AND HAWKING. 

The Lugger. — This is a beautiful falcon, not so 
large as the peregrine, but with a longer tail. It 
is very dark; the female's breast nearly black — 
not a speck of white; the head, light coloured, 
like a light peregrine's, contrasts curiously with the 
dark plumage. The adult bird is like a young 
peregrine; for, instead of assuming the transverse 
bars on the breast, the dark breast changes to white, 
with longitudinal markings. The back never be- 
comes blue, but the head gets darker and very like 
a young peregrine's. In the first year the feet are 
bluish, but the mature bird has a very beautiful 



300 FALCONET. 

bright yellow cere and feet. Strange to say, they 
do not bear the heat well, and sometimes die in 
their hoods of sun-stroke. They are not quite so 
swift as the peregrine, but good footers. Pigeons 
and quails were the quarry. No implements for 
hawking were to be met with at Cawnpore. The 
Indian birdlime is very good, crows and kites being 
caught with it ; it is a difficult matter to get it off 
the feathers — oil is used for the purpose. Cawnpore 
is not a good place for sporting; a man can only 
get out from 4.30 A.M. to 7 A.M., and from 5 p.m. 
to 6.30 p.m. Eagles are a great nuisance to the 
falconer ; they follow the falcon, and make her drop 
the quarry. It is necessary, therefore, to let your 
servant carry a rifle. 

Hawks in India are much tamer than those in 
Europe. A falcon was seen to fly a tiny dove, which 
had a very narrow escape by slipping down an old 
well. The falcon lit on the top, just over, and 

Major E spiked down a pigeon within thirty 

yards of where she stood. He took out about 100 
yards of line, made a noose over the pigeon (after 
a way described in a previous chapter), and caught 
the hawk directly. At another time he saw a merlin 
eating a pipit; immediately a quail was pegged 
down, a noose and pull-line arranged, and the mer- 
lin transported to his house.* Major E con- 

* An officer of the Rifle Brigade sent me an old female sparrow- 
hawk, a month or two ago, which was caught at his house in Scot- 



INDIAN HAWKS. 301 

tinues: — "A sparrow-hawk did what I never saw 
a sparrow-hawk do before. It is a female, of an 
Indian variety, smaller than our bird. I shot at 
a blue rock pigeon, near an old castle, and knocked 
feathers out. The bird would have gone off, but 
this little beggar dashed out from a tamarind-tree 
and caught the pigeon. For once in a way I had 
no materials for catching hawks. Here was a got 
I badly wanted a sparrow-hawk ; here was a stunner, 
which I was sure to catch if I had my things. Well, 
I was determined to have her, so I left my groom 
to watch, and keep her from eating too much, and 
galloped off to a village on the river, hardly hoping 
to get anything, as string is bad and scarce in Indian 
villages. Luckily, however, I went into a house 
where they had some fishing-line. I easily got a 
trowel and spikes. The hawk was still there, and 
I caught her the moment I left the snare after 
arranging it. She will be a clipper. She takes a 
pigeon without hesitation, no matter how big it is. 

" I shot a curious sort of eagle the other day, and 
in its crop it had four snakes, each of which the 
natives tell me would" kill a man in an hour. I have 
given away my tame eagle to H — ; it is still a 

land, by the butler, in the manner alluded to above. The hawk had 
killed a wood pigeon. She was put off it, the snare set, and she 
caught on her return. I trained this bird in a few weeks to fly to 
hand at any distance. I also killed bagged starlings thrown from 
the hand with her. She was on the point of an introduction — or 
re-introduction — to wild quarry when she was lost by an accident. 



302 FALCONRY. 

great pet. H - keeps him at hack : he sleeps 
every night in the verandah, in front of the door of 
his room. The merlins — I have another which I 
took from the nest a month ago — are rum little 
birds. They would be beauties were it not for their 
chestnut-coloured heads, which I don't like ; other- 
wise their plumage is exactly that of an old peregrine. 
They are very plucky little hawks, and very swift. 

" I heard much of hawking at Lucknow, but found 
none. 

" This morning I caught a beautiful falcon ; I had 
watched her for three days. It settles a point about 
the plumage of luggers. In the second year, after 
the first moult is completed, the lugger only loses her 
white head ; the breast remains, black. This falcon 
is just finishing her moult, and very beautiful she is 
with her new feathers — such a bloom on them ! Her 
legs are not so yellow as the old hawks. I now fancy 
my oldest falcon is five years old. This new falcon 
will fly first. I am now feeding up the others like 
fun, to get them through their moult. I forgot to 
mention that the day before I left Cawnpore I caught 
a falcon — the one I say I fancy must be five years 
old. Her breast is a fine clear white without a speck, 
except at the sides." 

The following communication from Major E 

has been received subsequently to the foregoing, and 
is crowded with interesting matter : — 

" I find that here, as everywhere, there is no bird, 



INDIAN HAWKS. 303 

on the whole, better than a peregrine. The sha- 
been I have not seen, or even its skin. The fal- 
coners I have questioned have never seen it, though 
they have heard of it. The falcons best known 
and most generally used in the parts of India I 
have visited, from Calcutta to Delhi, are the cheskh, 
which is like a very large lugger, swifter and 
pluckier than that bird, and flown at the heron, 
black curlew, hares, &c. It is considered inferior 
to the peregrine for most quarry ; but a peregrine, 
for what reason I know not, is not flown at the 
black kite, whereas the cheskh is. The falconers 
admit that a peregrine would most probably take 
them if tried, but they have never seen it done. I 
have never seen a trained cheskh ; indeed, only 
one specimen of the bird at all, which I shot, not 
having at hand means of catching her, and wishing 
to inspect it. The cheskh in its wild state feeds almost 
entirely on small ground game, a large sort of lizard, 
and rats ; it rarely kills birds, except in hard weather. 
Its plumage is not so bright, hard, and clean as 
a peregrine's. The foot is much smaller. Next in 
size is the peregrine. Most falconers in India, about 
Lucknow, -and Oude in general, will tell you that 
the peregrine (or bhyree), is the finest falcon in. 
the world. They have heard of the shabeen, and 
eafed cohee* 9 and coquila, tiercel of the safed cohee, 

* Literally, White cohee. 



304 FALCONRY. 

as they have heard the jer-fcticon and her tiercel 
called, but they don't count these birds, but seem to 
consider their existence as almost mythical. The 
peregrine is always used in India as a passage hawk 
— literally a passage hawk — as they are taken only 
for about four or five months in the year when 
they come, following the flights of wild fowl in the 
winter. Chiefly red hawks are taken. The bird 
is quite undistinguishable from our European birds. 
I have seen them of all sizes and shades of colour. 
In India they seem to prey almost entirely on water- 
fowl, and live near great lakes. 

" Next comes the cohee. My men tell me there are 
three varieties of the cohee. I have only seen one. The 
one I know is, in the young plumage, exactly like a 
young peregrine, but that the plumage has a red glow, 
the cere and feet are much deeper yellow than in 
the peregrine, and the feet are larger in proportion 
to the bird's size, as is the case with all the varieties 
of cohee ; and the cry differs. In the adult plumage 
the head is of a chestnut red, back and wings of 
a light slate colour, and the breast gets transverse 
bars, as in the peregrine. It is a visitor as far 
south as Lucknow. It is said to breed in the Ne- 
paulese mountains, and near the Eaptee river in 
trees. Its chief prey is parrots and doves. It is 
very swift, though not so clever at repeating a stroke 
as a peregrine. It mounts very high, and generally 
kills at its first stoop. I have only one cohee now ; 



LUGGER AND MERLIN. 305 

I had two, but one turned out useless, and I let 
it go; the one I use is an adult bird. I will not 
fail of securing you some skins of the cohee. 

" Next comes the lugger ', which I described in a 
former letter. It preys, like the cheskh, on ground 
game, and rarely kills birds, except such as are weakly, 
in its wild state. 

" Next, the Indian merlin (or turmutz), a beau- 
tiful little falcon, quite different from our merlin 
in .everything except size and proportions of wing 
and tail, which are precisely the same. Its colour 
is totally different. The head is red, and the back 
and wings and tail blue, and the breast marked 
with transverse black bars on a white ground, 
like an adult peregrine. It is an exceedingly swift 
hawk; some falconers say the swiftest of all. It 
is used in India for flying at the roller, which is 
an exceedingly difficult bird to take. Very few 
peregrines can do it. It mounts to a great height, 
and tumbles about in the air in a wonderful manner. 
By the way, the turmutz is the only hawk in India 
of which two are employed at the same quarry. 
The season for merlin flying is shortly coming on, 
and I shall soon look out for some. The hobby I have 
not seen. So much for the long-winged hawks. 

ts The goshawk is held in India in higher estima- 
tion, perhaps, than any other hawk. It is exactly 
the thing to suit a native — never being lost, and 
killing such a quantity and such a variety of game. 

x 






806 FALCONRY. 

"Next comes the basha, a short-winged hawk, which 
I consider identical with our English sparrow-hawk. 
It and the goshawk are migratory about Central, 
and probably are not found in Southern India. They 
come, like the peregrine, in the cold months for a 
short time, and are said to breed in the hills of 
Nepaul. It, the basha, is thrown from the hand. 

" Last comes the sicara, or Indian sparrow-hawk, 
a wonderfully plucky little brute : — thrown from the 
hand. In the young plumage the bars are longi- 
tudinal, as in the young goshawk. It is highly 
valued by natives, but I don't care a rush for the 
bird. It lives all the year round in India, and 
breeds here. By the way, the lugger and merlin 
are the only other species which breed in the hot 
parts of India. The sicara sparrow-hawk is flown 
all the year round, and takes an infinity of game. 
It is valued by the rich, but chiefly it is in high 
favour with the poor, who cannot afford the valu- 
able migratory hawks. I have seen them take hun- 
dreds of crows, jays, &c. ; and I am told that a 
male sicara will actually seize on a white heron, 
and hang to him till the bird comes down and 
is caught, though many are killed by the heron's 
beak. I do not doubt it, from what I have seen. For 
this purpose it is necessary to sneak very close to 
the heron while he is feeding, and throw the hawk 
with all your force at him. The sparrow-hawk (basha 
and sicara) never kill except when thrown ; and when 






MAGNIFICENT HAWKS. 307 

trained to be thrown, never attempt to catch any- 
thing without this assistance. 

" I broke five falcons and four tiercels ; but lost a 
tiercel and caught a falcon immediately after, and 
I let the young cohee go. Since I arrived at Delhi 
I caught a young tiercel and two falcons, and I 
had one falcon brought to me. Magnificent hawks ! 
but what on earth to do with them I don't know. 
One is six years old. These I do not count in my 
establishment, as I am undecided whether to kill 
them for their feathers, which I cannot bear to do, 
or to turn them loose; and I have a hankering 
wish to keep them, though of course they will be 
useless when the hawks come in at the beginning 
of the cold season. Indeed, I believe that the wisest 
plan would be always to turn out the hawks in 
March, and catch fresh hawks every October; but 
I do not like turning out my good hawks, and shall 
at all events keep them to look at. It is quite 
impossible now to work a peregrine, and, except a 
few days in the rains, when they may be flown 
at easy quarry in the early mornings and late in 
the evenings, they will be idle till October. Natives 
only keep the very best. Hawks are never clean 
moulted till December. Most of these peregrines 
were caught by inyself; some two or three were 
brought home by native bird-catchers. One pere- 
grine was taken from the train of the rebel Begum of 
Oude, by one of the loyal Zemindars, together with 

x 2 



808 FALCONET. 

a goshawk, and the commissioner of the district got 
them for me. The falcon has evidently been se- 
lected for her beauty for the Begum, and has been 
taken the greatest care of. She is two years old, 
and has not a blemish, now every one of her nest- 
ling feathers has fallen. She is a perfect picture 
of a peregrine ; very bright blue, with a bloom on 
it, and a fast hawk. The goshawk is three years 
old ; was a present from Benee Madho to the Begum; 
she is clean moulted, and a nice hawk. My best 
falcon, * Tigress,' is an old falcon (two years old), 
which I caught myself at Bijnow. She had moulted 
clean before she was caught — is a very black hawk. 
She was the first old falcon I had in my mews, 
and native falconers were strongly advising me not 
to have anything to do with her, and break none' 
but young red hawks. I insisted, more on account 
of the beauty of the falcon than anything, and she 
has turned out the pluckiest and swiftest falcon I 
have ever seen. Now, though my men and the 
Nawabs have been falconers all their lives, and are 
first-rat^ fellows in their way, yet everything they 
do is by rule. They did not speak, as they told 
me, from experience, when they tried to dissuade 
me from training the wild old falcon, but on prin- 
ciple ; and I heard Peerbux, my head falconer, say 
to another near him, while the falcon was going up 
to a heron, c I will never reject, an old falcon again, 
if I get her clean moulted.' Certainly it will never 



ARE YOUNG HAWKS FASTEST? 309 

do to stint a hawk in her grub, &c., when she is 
yet moulting; and if I found an old falcon very 
fractious, I would not break her, as one must fly 
her so light that the young hawks would be better; 
but I often thought, and this season's experience 
has confirmed my opinion, that provided an old 
falcon be clean moulted, and very carefully dealt with, 
she is swifter and more powerful than young hawks. 

" Falconers are in the habit of saying the young 
hawks are the fastest ; but this is surely impossible. 
It would be absurd to say a young grouse can go like 
an old cock; and with other birds the same argu- 
ment applies. Undoubtedly old hawks are much the 
most difficult to manage at first. A young falcon, 
— very like your falcon ' Assegai ' in appearance, only 
much handsomer, never having been in a basket, &c, 
— is the next best: she is capital at black curlew; 
and I have frequently seen her take the long-billed 
curlew. This she would do, turning from a heron 
in the most provoking manner. She is nearly as fast 
as the old hawk. I have two clipping tiercels, — 
splendid plover-hawks: it is capital sport, plover- 
hawking ! none but passage-hawks, I am sure, could 
do it. 

" My falcons are flying at herons, white herons, 
black curlew, wild ducks, spoonbills, and one has 
killed a crane. The tiercels fly white herons, teal, 
plover, and paddy birds, a sort of bittern (I should 
say were flying, as they cannot work now). 

x 3 



310 FALCONRY. 

" The goshawk is now killing partridges, and occa- 
sionally a hare ; but in the cold weather she killed 
no end of peacocks, hares, wild ducks, little white 
herons (it won't do to fly a goshawk at the big white 
Heron, because, as you know, she does not secure the 
head and neck as quickly as does a peregrine, and 
will get stabbed). A good goshawk in the young 
plumage takes eagles and kites. My goshawk catches 
crows like fun; but of all quarry she prefers par- 
tridges and hares. 

" I will now give you the results of a morning's 
hawking, on which occasion I killed 28 head, viz. : — 

3 herons 
8 white ditto 
7 paddy birds 
3 plover 
1 wild duck 



killed with 
' the peregrines. 



3 partridges 

2 hares 

1 peacock fthT^hawk. 



2hares - killed with 



22 

" I don't wonder at Mr. Barker imagining he could 
take partridges in England with the goshawk. One 
would not think there was much difference in pace 
between our birds and the Indian ; but there must 
be, inasmuch as I am satisfied no goshawk could 
touch an English bird, and I see here they never miss 
an Indian partridge. I have not tried the black 
partridge as yet. 

" Ajyi^il 20th. — Last night I was out with the 
goshawk between five and seven p. M. She refused 
all the hares, but killed two and a half brace of par- 
tridges. I see she will not go on flying much longer : 



FLYING TWO FALCONS. 311 

she is dreadfully punished by the heat. She affords 
great sport to those who do not understand much of 
hawking: they are pleased with the large bags of 
game, and the hare-killing. 

" Natives never think of flying two falcons, either 
peregrine or cheskh, at a heron : no falconer I have 
met with ever heard of such a thing. I said I would 
do it, but I never have : all my falcons have killed 
herons single-handed. No peregrine falcon, say they, 
ought ever to fail in killing a heron, unless from 
some such obvious cause, as the heron falling into a 
large sheet of water. I have never seen a long flight 
at a heron, even a light one : when the hawk is 
hooded off at a heron at a moderate height, say two 
gunshots, the hawks generally kill at the third stoop ; 
or, say the falconers, ' the falcon is playing with the 
heron ' (if she is a good hawk), and fly her no more 
that day, but physic her next morning, after feeding 
her on washed meat the same evening on which she 
is flown. I have seen some splendid flights at lofty 
herons, however. The hawks here have far greater 
determination and dash than I have seen shown by 
hawks in Europe. Mine are all very nice hawks, — 
such a pretty show! — no broken feathers; and, 
being all passage-hawks, no " singers " among them. 
I have one tiercel and one falcon which mantle over 
their food, which trick I detest : I shall get rid of the 
falcon for it, but I would not part with the tiercel on 
any consideration. 

x 4 



312 FALCONRY, 

" The black curlew is, next to the heron, the best 
quarry my falcons have flown at. I like this sport 
well enough ; but the worst of it is that the black 
curlew has got an abominable trick, when he is 
well aloft, and finds he must give in, of using all his 
remaining strength in a dash at a village. He is five 
times out of six taken in the air during this effort ; 
and the consequence is that the hawk is liable to be 
in a scrape with a cur-dog, or, if she is at all shy, 
disappointed of her quarry by being obliged to let go. 
However hard you may ride, and however well- 
mounted you may be, it is impossible always to guard 
against misfortunes at this work. It is much better 
when you are stationary at a place, as then you can 
warn the villages all round ; but at the time I had 
the best of my curlew hawking I was marching up 
country, and consequently going into a new country 
every day. I never had an accident to the falcon, by 
luck, but on several occasions they were disappointed 
of their quarry, and had to be taken down, as it won't 
do to let a passage-hawk be wheeling about in the air 
till you can get up to serve her, more especially in 
such a country as India. 

"I had an unlucky accident with a tiercel in the 
early part of the season ; he has, however, quite re- 
covered now. He had bound to a night-heron in the 
air, and got struck by its beak on the pinion-joint. 
For a few days he could not fly at all, and I feared it 
was all up with him ; but he got better, and killed 



FLIGHT AT GEESE. 313 

paddy birds. As he got still better he killed white 
herons, and at last took plover again ; and when I 
left off flying peregrines he was the swiftest tiercel : 
he mantles. He takes wild pigeons, which is a most 
unfortunate habit, and makes it dangerous to fly him, 
— at any rate till some peregrine has been on the 
wing near at hand. Pigeons do not avoid the lugger 
or cheskh. The night-heron is good quarry for a 
tiercel, so is the white heron in all its varieties, 
egrets, &c. One species is bigger than the great 
grey heron. But I like plover-hawking best of all 
for a tiercel: his speed and activity are more severely 
tested. Hawks are rarely made to wait on in India ; 
natives do not care about it Wild ducks and teal are 
the only quarry for which they are made to wait on : 
a hawk is never flown out of the hood at this quarry. 
* I saw a curious thing near Billore lately. A young 
falcon of mine, very like * Assegai' of yours, had flown 
a black curlew. She killed close to some natives, 
unfortunately, near the edge- of a river. She was at 
this time rather shy, having only just completed her 
training. The crops were very high, and there was 
no open place large enough to give her a good sweep 
at the lure ; and, after striking at it a few times, she 
sat down on the bank, the far side from us. I was 
preparing a live pigeon with a long string, that she 
might truss it in the air, when five or six wild geese 
came over from some other part of the country, high 
in the air, and passed over the falcon ; and to my 
horror I saw the falcon look up, open her wings, and 



314 FALCONBY. 

rattle away after the geese as hard as she could go. 
'They won't stop under four cop (six miles),' said 
Peerbux, my falconer. He was mistaken. They 
went till they were specks in the sky (a good distance 
on a clear Indian morning) : the falcon was undistin- 
guishable. I had given up hopes, when the specks 
looked larger and larger, — so we all said. There was 
very soon not much doubt the geese were returning, 
but the falcon was not to be seen. At last they got 
within easy sight of us, when all of a sudden the 
geese opened out in all directions, and the falcon 
shot like an arrow through them, marking her course 
with a cloud of white feathers, leaving one goose 
staggering, while the others made the best of their 
way off. The falcon was up again in a few seconds, 
and at him again, with the same effect as before. At 
the third attack she bound to him, and fell* about 
200 yards on the other side the river. One of the 
Nawab's falconers swam over and lay by the falcon. 
I galloped off to a bridge about a mile off, as I did 
not want to get wet under a hot sun with ten miles 
to ride afterwards, and came up before the falcon had 
done feeding, — most fortunately, as she would not 
let the naked falconer get within ten yards of her, but 
jumped off the goose. That was the most extraordi- 
nary and the luckiest, flight I ever saw. Peerbux tells 
me he has in his life lost six or seven heron hawks 
by their going away at a disadvantage straight on end 
at wild geese, but never saw a kill like that before. 
ss April 2UL — I went put last night with the gos- 



WILD DUCKS AKD PIGEONS. 315 

hawk. She had plenty of chances at hares, but only 
took one leveret and a brace of partridges. She is 
very much oppressed by the heat. In a very few 
days flying her will be out of the question. I let two 
magnificent old falcons go last night, after levying a 
a small tax on them in wing and tail feathers. One 
of the falcons instantly killed a parroquet when she had 
got up. The other rattled away after some teal, over 
the Jumna, at a great distance off. Pigeons are ex- 
ceedingly cheap here. I sometimes buy them by 
the hundred, in the large towns, at from two to three 
rupees a hundred. In the country I have hired a 
day's services of a bird-catcher for a few pence, and 
received a hundred and fifty pigeons. Grain in 
abundance; to feed them is exceedingly cheap. 
Wild ducks are excellent food for hawks. I have 
bought them near Delhi at one rupee for fifty. 
Pigeons swarm all over the country ; common blue 
rocks. They breed by thousands down the shafts of 
dry wells; the same kind is found in equally large 
numbers, breeding about the houses of crowded cities, 
as in the loveliest parts of the jungle. I fancy 
peregrines in India prefer wild ducks and waterfowl 
to all other quarry. When they come fresh frorn the 
wild state they well know the whistling of their 
wings as they pass over head. I have often seen the 
falcons sitting unhooded on the falconer's hands 
near a fire, before it was light enough to hawk or 
even to shoot a duck going over, but the moment 
the sound of wild ducks' wings was heard, all the 



316 FALCONBY. 

hawks rose up and stared into the sky, and if they 
caught the least view they baited furiously, being in 
trim for flying. The bird-catchers tell me that they 
have seen a peregrine go in chase of a flight of wild 
fowl before it was well light, heard her kill, and 
found the duck. 

"April 23rd. — My falcons are suffering tremen- 
dously from the heat ; I do not expect they will all 
live. Only one, the Begum's falcon, is in the highest 
health and spirits ; she never gets any physic. The 
others would soon be dead but for physic. They 
throw their meat (not from inflammation of the crop 
however), refuse it frequently, and bait furiously, 
although tame. 'Tigress,' I am glad to find, has 
not very much the matter with her. I long for the 
rainy season. I think I shall go on leave to the hills 
on the 23rd July. 

" I have not mentioned hoods. Indian hoods have 
no ties; they are very nice hoods — most excellent 
for flying a hawk 'out of the hood;' but a hawk 
must never be allowed to pull off her hood, even 
once, for some two months, or I should think no 
hawk would keep one of these native hoods on her 
head a moment when put on a block. They are far 
more easy for a hawk to feed through, not that I 
consider that much of an advantage. I think it a 
very bad plan to allow hawks to feed through their 
hoods after they are broken, or unless there is some 
necessity for it. It makes them pull and bite your 
glove in a tiresome, foolish manner. I should be for 




HAWKING IN INDIA. 317 

using Indian hoods in England, on those hawks 

which do not throw them off. They are lighter than 

ours. I decidedly think the absence of bands is a 

very great advantage. The hood goes farther back 

under the falcon's chin, and leaves the upper part 

of her head more uncovered; it 

is something in this shape*, very 

much bossed out at the eyes, and 

the plume is stuck right at the 

back, which, at first, had an ugly 

appearance to me, but I now am 

used to it ; as also to the handling of it, which at 

first I found rather difficult. 

te Natives always carry a falcon on the right hand. 

"Winged game for hawking and shooting also 
abounds: partridges, black and grey; peacocks; 
quail ; wild ducks and snipe ; geese ; herons ; cranes ; 
curlew ; white herons ; egrets ; bitterns ; night-herons ; 
plover, &c. I am sorry to find Mag. is never seen, 
but hawking him could last but a very short time 
in the year if he were; and none but old hawks could 
be used, as no young or old passage-tiercels would 
wait on for a magpie two months after their capture. 
Hawking in this country has suffered a very severe 



a 



* The original sketch was unfortunately too indistinct to copy, 
and consequently all that could be done was to represent an Indian 
hood from the Punjab. This hood however has two ties, but its 
shape is exactly that of the original drawing which was so obscure 
in its details. From the text we may infer that the ties are done 
away with altogether in some districts of India. — F. H. Salyix. 



31 8 FALCONET. 

blow by the recent mutiny, as you may imagine, — 
perhaps not so great as the last war inflicted on the 
hawking in Europe ; but the demand for falcons in 
the great cities, Lucknow and Delhi, Cawnpore, &c., 
has dwindled to nothing. I was the only person to 
whom falcons were brought last season at Lucknow. 
Formerly, I am told, so lately as two years ago, not 
less than 200 peregrines were disposed of every year 
in Lucknow. 

" Probably somewhere about this number came to 
Delhi, Cawnpore, and Benares. Now the bird- 
catchers do not catch them unless specially ordered 
to do so, as they have no earthly use for them and 
cannot dispose of them. This is rather lucky, how- 
ever, for a poor man like me : my hawks cost me 
nothing, or next to nothing; and I have a large 
choice, by catching more than I want, and turning 
out those I do not approve of. 

" I shall end by a few remarks on the sport itself. 
Hawking in India, although it sounds very well when 
you hear that one can get any number of hawks, and 
kill herons, black curlew, cranes, &c, is, I have come 
to the conclusion, on the whole, inferior to hawking 
in Britain. Many, I have no doubt, would not think 
so ; but I cannot get over the climate. It is true, I 
see a few days' most brilliant sport, and some days in 
the cold weather you can work all day, but you can- 
not take the hard exercise, — the atmosphere and 
country are not so enjoyable as in England. 



HAWKING IN INDIA. 319 

"A goshawk, properly speaking, is not fit to fly 
much after the 1st of March or before the middle of 
November, — that is to say, to kill handsomely 
hares, peacocks, &c. She will go on early and late 
at partridges, voila tout, in April, but the greatest 
care must be taken of her. Again ; with a peregrine 
there is such a variety of nasty troublesome birds she 
can so easily take, that your sport is very frequently 
spoiled. If a peregrine once takes to killing crows 
you had better get rid of her. Paddy birds, and 
minors, and doves, and parrots are eternally in the 
way, — ducks also. ' Tigress' took to killing ducks a 
good deal. Luckily, she is such a fast falcon that 
it did not much signify ; but many hawks are lost by 
flying out of the hood slap at a flight of ducks. These 
take a falcon half a mile, we'll say ; she puts them 
into a pond ; she is a passage-hawk. As she recovers 
from her stoop which she made at them over the 
water, which foiled her, she sees others ; before get- 
ting a sight of the lure, away she goes again, perhaps 
with the same result; and a third time kills, goodness 
knows where ! 

" One day's absence in India is the certain loss of 
a lately caught passage-hawk, — she can so easily kill. 
Only the Par Sal hawks, as the natives called the in- 
termewed hawks, are to be trusted. I have only one, 
— the Begum's : she will wait on and kill a wild duck, 
or kill a heron; but she is much inferior to 'Tigresd^ 
though she is a very good falcon. 



$20 



FALCONBY. 



A New Swivel. 





Ol 



JL 



*o. 









10 



\J 




a. Swivel complete. 



9 $ 

v O \> 

b. In its four parts detached. 



a in figure b is a small flat bar of brass, about 1£ in. 
long, with three holes punched in it. (1 2 3) 6 c d 
are three round bars of brass, about 1^ in. long, each 
having a ring at one end, and a knob at the other. 

" When put together, figure A, the two right and 
left ones, as b and d, should have their rings and 
knobs on the same sides as each other of the bar 
a and c ; the centre one must be reversed. To the 
ring of c is affixed the hawk's leash, to the rings 
of b and d the hawk's jesses. The holes in the bar 
should allow the rods of b c d to play very easily 
from knob to ring. 

" Inconvenience of course attends the fastening and 
unfastening the jesses to the rings of b and d ; this is 
the only difficulty. I have no doubt you will find a 
way to manage it ; otherwise this swivel is perfection." 

The following paper is from the pen of Capt. Salvin : 

« Management of Hawks at the Camps. — Hawk- 
ing is such a fine manly sport, and is so particularly 



HAWKS AT THE CAMPS. 321 

adapted to a military life, that we hope to see it 
taken up by officers ; and this we may reasonably 
expect, since there are now some keen and good 
falconers in the army, who must give others a taste 
for it. As we have had some experience as to the 
management of hawks in our camps of Aldershot, the 
Curragh, and Shorncliffe, &a, where they must be 
more or less exposed, and have to ' rough it' like 
everything else, perhaps a few hints may prove ac- 
ceptable. The two great evils to be avoided are wind 
and sun. For the first evil, observe which direction 
the wind generally blows from, and cut it off by 
erecting a wall of canvass supported by stakes, from 
the top of which stakes run out ropes, and peg them 
down tight, as an additional support. Hawks should 
be taken in at night at our camps during the winter. 
If at any time of the year the weather is very severe 
— that is, if it is too hot or too cold, or too wet or too 
windy for hawks to be exposed to it, we should advise 
their being taken in even during the day. When 
taken in they are to be placed upon the perch. If it 
should be a very hot day they would be cooler hooded, 
with the windows thrown open, but generally it is 
better to keep them unhooded in the dark. A 
window is easily made dark by covering it with a 
frame of wood, to which must be nailed some of that 
oil-cloth which is used for table covers. This frame 
maybe easily fastened by means of 'leather hinges, 
and a wooden catch or button. It should be so con- 



822 FALCONRY. 

trived that it will not interfere with opening the 
window. To keep the mews clean, cover the floor 
with fresh clean sawdust, and place sheets of news- 
paper (supplement to the Times) over that portion 
where the mutes will fall. Little stones put upon 
the paper will keep it from moving. The paper can 
be burnt, and fresh put down as it may be required. 
Though goshawks, from their being so hardy, may be 
kept out both night and day in most weathers, they 
must occasionally be taken in when the weather is 
very severe. When this is the case it is better to 
put them in a stable upon the bow-perch, with plenty 
of straw round it to save their feathers, or if this 
cannot be done, hood them, and place them with 
their tails inwards upon the box-cadge. A ' hot meal ' 
should occasionally be allowed your hawks ; and, as 
you may wish to save your pigeons, which are ex- 
pensive household goods, you may economise in this 
way. In every regiment there are to be found men 
who are fond of field sports, even in the humblest 
branches, and for a slight reward and the loan of a 
steel trap or two, &c, they are delighted to trap you 
rats, mice, sparrows, &c. Then, again, rat and rabbit 
catchers often visit our camps, and are glad to sell both 
their live and dead stock. ' The little staff gun,' sold 
by Messrs. Hancock, Bridge-end-street, Newcastle-on- 
Tyne, is most useful to the falconer, especially at the 
camps, where it is a great help to the larder. For in- 
stance at Aldershot (the worst camp for hawking), this 
little gun is invaluable to the falconer, for many rooks 



HAWKS AT THE CAMPS. 323 

will gain the trees, in which case it is better to shoot 
them with the gun whilst they are kept in the tree 
for fear of the hawk ; you thus get food for the hawk, 
and he is not disgusted at missing his quarry. If 
the trees are near or down wind, you may generally 
anticipate the rooks going there, and therefore it is 
better to be there before the hawk " leaves the hand," 
Though this gun will only cany shot some fifteen or 
twenty paces, it is a deadly weapon for small birds 
and for rats, which are generally found about camps. 
You can never make hawks too public, since ignorant 
people will kill them. You should therefore put 
out notices about them, and these notices should be 
sent to the canteens ; and this should be occasionally 
repeated, as when a new regiment comes in* It may 
be as well to observe that at the Curragh tiercels will 
be required for magpie-hawking ; and at Shorncliffe 
you may fly tiercels at magpies and partridges (having 
of course obtained leave) ; but at Aldershot you have 
no quarry but rooks, and therefore you require nothing 
but falcons. We have found it an excellent plan to 
put out damaged corn in open places in order to bring 
up the rooks. Some would imagine that the camp 
itself would interfere with the flight, but it is not 
the case — indeed, some of the finest flights we have 
ever seen have been amongst the huts of the north 
camp. We have seen as many as fifty or sixty stoops 
at a strong old rook, and we well recollect — and 
hundreds must remember it too — that on one occa- 

T 2 



324 FALCONRY. 

sion the rook and falcon ' Assegai ' mounted all but 
out of sight ; from which immense height both came 
down amongst the lines of the 36th Begt., and at the 
next stoop the quarry was taken upon the roof of a 
hut, to the delight of every one. A horseman is neces- 
sary, to keep dogs and men off the hawk when he kills. 
" In concluding these hasty remarks upon hawking 
at the camps, we must observe that there could 
scarcely be a better place for lark-hawking than 
Aldershot; for though birds in general are very 
scarce, larks abound in every direction." 

It is time to bring these chapters to a close. I am 
sure I do so unwillingly. Their first form of pub- 
lication, in a periodical, is one which suits my taste, 
and I certainly had some kind readers. 1 hope to 
have some kind readers still. Many of my old friends 
will, I think, meet me in the pages of this book, and 
I may perhaps hope for some new ones. Collected 
papers are certainly more convenient for reference 
than the odds and ends which one snips and shears 
out piecemeal ; and mine have lately had great ad- 
vantages — as mentioned in the Preface — from the 
experience of Captain Salvin. 

It is difficult to say "Goodbye!" but it must be 
said sooner or later ; and I leave all my readers with 
thanks which I do not know how to express, but I 
am quite sure that they are not the less sincere 
because they are not long and not eloquent. 

Peregrine. 



FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 



I 3 




t/1 



I 



I 



FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 



CHAPTEE L 

INTRODUCTION. — ITS CONNEXION WITH CHINA. — MASTER OP THE 
ROTAL CORMORANTS IN ENGLAND. — THE DUTCH APPEAR TO HAVE 
PRESERVED A KNOWLEDGE OF THIS MODE OF FISHING. — ISAAC 
WALTON. 

The most ardent lovers of the rod cannot, we trust, 
begrudge a little cormorant-fishing during the heat 
of summer, when fishing with the rod is impossible. 
To such as possess a good reach of river, or who 
can get leave for an occasional day's fishing with these 
birds, it will be found a very delightful summer's 
amusement; and as it comes in just at the time 
when most rural sports are at a stand still, it de- 
serves some encouragement, particularly when carried 
on by sportsmen and gentlemen who will not abuse 
it. Should this little treatise fall into the hands 
of those who generously invited me to fish their 
waters some years ago in the northern counties, I 
take this opportunity of thanking them for their 
kindness and liberality, through which I derived so 
much amusement myself, and which, I believe, 

Y 4 



332 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

at pleasure. They are fond of perching or standing 
upon a rock in a commanding situation, and therefore 
they should have a rockery, mixed with roots of trees 
and branches, in the centre of the yard. As a pond, 
or rather a large tank sunk in the ground, is very 
necessary for them to bathe in, and must be kept 
very clean, it should be so contrived that the fresh 
water can be let in and the foul let out at pleasure. 
The tank should be made of thick planks of wood, 
two feet deep, by ten long and four broad, well 
covered with pitch. The floor of the shed should be 
covered with litter, which must be frequently changed; 
and each bird should have a stone to perch upon, at 
such a distance from his neighbour's that he cannot 
bite him. The yard also should be daily cleaned and 
covered with sand ; and the " guano," which is not 
to be despised by the agriculturist, may be saved. 



TRAINING. 333 



CHAR III. 

TRAINING CORMORANTS. — APPARATUS USED IN CORMORANT FISH- 
ING DAILY MANAGEMENT. 

You must fix your cormorants' dinner-hour so that 
it shall not be too late in the day; for as they 
always take their bath after dinner, there would not 
be time for them to get dry before going to roost 
were the meal late. Teach them at that hour — 
which must be kept exactly — to come to the call 
and to the rattling of the tin box you carry their 
food in. Thi3 may be called "making them to the 
lure.'' As they are clumsy* birds on land, those that 
require lifting to your arm (it is a good thing to 
accustom them to be lifted) are to be laid gently 
hold of by the head, neck, or beak, the forefingers 
being passed down the arch of the neck to support 
it. Indeed, whilst training them, and afterwards, 
this is the best and safest way of lifting them up and 
of putting them down ; in doing which throw them 

* My cormorants used the bills like parrots, for pulling themselves 
up banks, &c. 



334 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

also a little forward, at the same time drawing them 
slightly towards yourself, which will break the force 
of their coming to the ground. If this (rather ex- 
traordinary manoeuvre) is not attended to they are 
apt to pitch upon, and to break up, their tails, 
which it is a great object to keep as perfect as pos- 
sible, being of the greatest assistance to the bird in 
diving. Cormorants' feathers will come again, so 
you may sometimes pull out a feather, but they will 
not imp. Hot water will sometimes straighten 
them.* 

You must now begin to "carry" them for two 
or three hours every day for nearly a week, just 
as you do hawks, with this difference, that in the one 
case you are constantly hooding and unhooding the 
bird, whilst here you have to be hooded yourself; 
that is, you must wear a fencing mask, otherwise the 
bird will take out your eye to a certainty, to say 
nothing of biting your face. Your ears and hands 
may not escape, as you cannot cover themf, but 
should they suffer, the cut, being a very clean one, 
soon heals. By "carrying" they see new objects, 
and as they at the same time acquire confidence in 



* In drawing a feather out, let an assistant hold the root, whilst 
you pull it out with pliers. 

f Spirits of turpentine is the best cure for such cuts. It acts thus: 
The oil forms a coating and keeps out the air, whilst the spirit eva- 
porates and cools the part. 



CARRYING. 335 

you, it tends wonderfully to tame them. Some will 
be much more wild and savage than others, but 
" nil desperandum" must be your motto; and be 
sure to turn your face to them whenever they strike 
the mask, which will soon convince them that the 
jar it gives them is more disagreeable to themselves 
than to you. " Carrying " is useless unless it is con- 
tinued, and as it is tedious work where you have 
several birds, an assistant who can be fully trusted 
must be procured. It is conducted thus: — Being 
masked, take up the bird, and having placed it upon 
your hand* put your thumb upon its right foot. 
Whenever it bates from your fist hold it if possible 
by your thumb, then by yielding a little to it, and 
with a peculiar backward jerk of the arm, and at the 
same time balancing the bird, it will regain its seat 
upon your hand. Whilst thus carrying it about, oc- 
casionally offer it a morsel of fish from your tin box, 
which, if not too sulky, it will eat. Such attentions, 
especially if offered after it has tried to bite you, will 
gain the bird's affections, which lie more in the 
stomach than in the heart. Whilst training you 
must keep its appetite sharp-set. The next thing to 
be done, after having made cormorants to " the lure " 
and to " the fist," is to enter them in a large tank, 



* Cormorants can throw back the hind toe of each foot, which 
enables them to perch. 



336 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

without their straps (which shall be explained) at 
live fish, a good supply of which you must have 
netted for this purpose. After repeating this lesson 
two or three times put leather straps, five inches 
long, and nearly half an inch broad, with a small 
one-tongued buckle, upon their necks, like a horse's 
lip-strap. 

The oesophagus or gullet, having a bottom formed 
by this strap and being very elastic, is turned into a 
capacious bag for holding the fish.* Feed them, 
with the straps on, in their yard. This will teach 
them to hold their fish, for whenever they disgorge 
it, it will be stolen by another bird, and in their 
eagerness to be fed and to hold it they will allow 
you to handle them. This tantalizing ordeal should 
be repeated three or four times. The birds will be 
now ready " to enter." For this end choose a small 
moor-side stream which you know to be full of trout. 
Trout are slimy, and consequently better than scaly 
fish to enter the birds at, for the scales irritate the 
gullet or pouch, which at first the birds do not like. 
If you have an old steady cormorant ("a make 
bird ") it will save you much trouble, for it will both 
teach the young ones to hold the fish they catch 
and to come out of the water. 

It is often no easy matter to catch young cor- 

* The Greenlanders float their fishing-nets with them. 



NOOSE JESSES. 337 

morants, and much tact is required in wading round 
them, and putting out your arm, or the whip, on 
the side on which they are likely to pass you, &c, 
which experience and patience alone can teach. 
When you make a bird disgorge always give it a 
small piece of fish for its reward. Cormorants are 
lazy birds, and must be made to dive by cracking a 
whip, and by throwing soft earth at them, which 
frightens them. If an old bird tries the water well, 
and then flaps and washes itself, you may rest assured 
there are no fish. When once entered keep them at 
work daily for a week, and as it is of great import- 
ance to tire them well, choose a small rough stony- 
bedded stream, that by walking from one deep to 
another they may be well fatigued, which will greatly 
help to tame them, and is an excellent prescription 
for any other wild subject. 

When only one cormorant is kept, " noose jesses " 
are put over each foot, to which jesses a cord is 
attached, to serve as a leash, and the bird is carried 
either on foot or on horseback to and from the field, 
&c, upon the fist*, just as we carry hawks. When 
several cormorants are used, they must be carried in 
a palanquin, which must have a separate chamber 
for each bird, otherwise they would fight and injure 
each other. It will be necessary here to describe 

* That part of the arm upon which you carry the bird should 
be guarded with leather, in the shape of a gauntlet with the hand 
cut off. 

Z 



338 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

the palanquin. The framework of this conveyance 
must be of light wood, covered with tarpauling ; the 
cabins into which it is divided must have a door on 
each side, opposite each other, that the bird may go 
in or out on either side. These doors are of tar- 
pauling, and open half-way up the framework, like 
an apron, being well stayed to prevent their slitting 
up. They are fastened at the bottom, on each side, 
by leather straps and one-tongued buckles. The 
four legs of the palanquin must be long enough to 
allow of their passing through openings in a thin 
wooden platform, which forms the bottom or floor, 
and is quite separate when the iron pins which pass 
through holes in each leg are withdrawn. It is thus 
easily washed and kept clean. The palanquin is to 
be ventilated and kept cool by means of holes along 
the sides near the top, and by an opening round the 
bottom, which also allows file birds' tails to come 
through. The palanquin should be 2 feet wide by 
5 long and 2 deep. Whilst fishing down a river, the 
birds are to be rested and worked in their turns, and 
the tired ones carried outside the palanquin, where 
they will spread their wings and dry themselves. A 
sponge must be kept in a pocket at one end, for the 
purpose of keeping the top clean. The poles by 
which it is carried must be fiat, and in order to pack 
in less room they should have a hinge in the middle. 
They require to be well padded where they rest upon 
the men's shoulders. 



FISHING BOOTS. 




i 1 1 i, the four cabins, n n b b, their doors, c c C c, the straps. 
by which the doors are fastened, d, a light wooden floor, at the 
corners of which are four openings through which the palnnqain lege 
pass, and tbe whole is made firm by the iron tongues which pass 
through its holes, ebbs, four strong broad straps, with roller- 
buckles with one tongue, by which the poles are fastened to the 
palanqnin. The middle straps are to pass over the pole hinges, by 
which the hinges are prevented from moving. A leather washer 
must be nailed on between the division, to prevent the hinges from 
being strained, f x f i, padding on the poles, to protect the carriers' 
shoulders.* 



Leather fishing-boots will be found to stand the 
hard work of climbing up banks, running, jumping, 
and bushing through rough places, better than Indian- 
rubber. In order to change your boots from one foot 
to the other, and thus prevent wearing them down 
on one side, they must not be made " rights and 
lefts." There should be rough uails in them, to save 
the wearer from slipping from atones, &c. To pre- 
vent the legs of the fishing-boots from coming down, 



340 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

I find it an excellent plan to have a single-tongued 
buckle about the middle of the outside of each boot, 
from which a strap with a loop is to be run upon 
another passing round the waist above the hips. 
Long warm thick stockings should be worn with the 
boots. A tin box, say 4 inches wide by 3 broad, and 
3 deep, and made in the shape of half a circle, so as 
to fit the side, should be worn in front, upon this 
hip belt, for the purpose of holding rewards or lures, 
consisting of pieces of fish, of which more hereafter. 
This box can be easily run upon the belt by having 
a loop of tin on the flat side. The master of the 
cormorants should also carry a fishing creel or pan- 
nier, and perhaps the best costume he could wear is 
a sailor's jacket and shepherd's plaid trowsers. I 
shall now wind up this chapter with a few observa- 
tions upon the daily management of cormorants. 
Although as active and swift as swallows below water, 
they are, as I said before, very awkward upon land, 
and in this artificial state they are apt to break their 
feathers, particularly their stiff whalebone-like tails. 
This is to be avoided as much as possible. It is 
advisable, therefore, to keep their larder out of sight, 
for their endeavours to get to it would cause them to 
pitch upon their tails and break them.* After the 

* Imping does not answer with cormorants, for their tails are 
constantly used, as in the woodpecker, &c, to balance their bodies: 
and this strain upon such coarse feathers is too much for the needles 
to bear. I think they might be mended, as the Eastern falconers 



DAILY MANAGEMENT. 341 

young birds are full grown, they are fed but once a 
day, about noon. 

The feeding and conditioning of cormorants is a 
very important duty, in order to insure health, 
strength, and obedience in the field. Like hawks, 
they must have a full "gorge" on Saturday, with 
very little on Sunday, so as to create a sharp ap- 
petite for Monday. If they are not in full work 
they should be sparingly fed for two days in suc- 
cession — say a quarter of a feed the first day and 
a little more the next. They should not be fasted 
longer than this. On the third day they should 
be well fed, otherwise, by getting them too low you 
may sicken them. Good condition and health all 
depends upon judicious feeding. Cormorants will 
eat meat greedily*, as sheep's and beast's livers, 
hearts, rabbits, &c. ; but meat brings on disease 
resembling scrofula, which attacks their joints as 
well as their interiors. Fish of every kindf is the 



repair hawk 's feathers, thus :— Cut the bird's feather where it is hol- 
low, then put a feather down the hollow, and, haying passed a fine 
needle and thread two or three times through and round the shaft of 
both feathers where they are joined, tie it fast and cut off the ends. 

* I have frequently caught water rats with cormorants, and upon 
one occasion I witnessed one take a water, or moor-hen whilst it 
was diving. The cormorant, however, did not detain it long, for, 
appearing annoyed with its feathers, it let go the poor bird, which 
lost no time in making off. 

f At present it is not ascertained whether fresh-water fish will 
keep them in health, or whether it is necessary to feed them chiefly 
upon sea fish. 

z 3 



342 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

best, because the natural food of these birds. Per- 
haps the safest way to feed cormorants, in order 
to prevent their biting each other or breaking their 
feathers, is from the fist, to which some will spring 
like hawks; but when they decline jumping to it 
they must be lifted, as described at the beginning 
of Chap. III., or you may throw them the meat, 
which they will catch with great dexterity. After 
dinner, in lieu of taking a nap, they take their 
bath, and then, having ascended some elevated 
position, they flap and dry themselves, and finish 
their toilette by oiling their feathers from the oil 
gland, which I have repeatedly seen them and hawks 
do when upon my fist. " Old Isaac " did this so 
deliberately, that you could actually see the "ma- 
cassar" squeezed out; and after applying it with 
bis bill, he rubbed it in with his throat 



FIELD MANAGEMENT. 343 



CHAR IV. 

FIELD MANAGEMENT. — CONCLUDING REMARKS UPON THE OTTER. 

Like most sports, cormorant fishing requires a pecu- 
liar country and certain circumstances, in order to 
enjoy it in its fullest excellence. The essence of 
a fishing-place is one consisting of short deeps, clean 
sloping sides, gravel beds, and streams ; or in 
other words, a brisk wadeable river or brook, which 
has generally these requisites * ; and lastly, there 
should be plenty of fish of a certain class, upon which 
I shall presently offer some remarks. Weather, 
too, is an object which must not be lost sight 
of, particularly in making an appointment for 
"the meet," inasmuch as heavy rains might sud- 
denly come on, and so swell and discolour the water 
as to prevent the birds from working or seeing 
the fish. 

With regard to fish, it is necessary to observe 
that certain fish cannot be managed by the birds, 
and, in fact, it is running a great risk to attempt it. 
Perch, and all such fish as have a similar back fin 

* They have not as yet been tried in the sea or upon lakes. 

z 4 



344 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

cannot be disgorged, and if the bird is not speedily 
allowed to swallow them by taking off the strap, 
there is great danger of the fin lacerating the pouch. 
Cormorants are so fond of eels, that where they 
are plentiful they will catch nothing else, prefer- 
ring them to all other fish ; nor can they take large 
eels on account of the great difficulty they have 
in killing them. Eels, when small, often pass into 
the stomach, which of course makes the birds still 
more independent. In short, where eels abound, 
cormorants " run riot " and are unmanageable, and 
soon get tired from the eels repeatedly escaping 
by riggling up again out of the pouch. It is quite 
clear, then, that where such fish are it is impossible 
to use cormorants. Ponds and mill-dams, and all 
water having, like these, a muddy bottom, cannot 
be fished successfully, because the fish know their 
green-eyed foes by instinct*, and all fish, even trout, 
will disappear in the mud in order to hide them- 
selves. " Wearing," or " fendering " (as it is some- 
times called), weeds, roots, walling, cracks in rocks, 
and large stones, will afford so much shelter to fish, 
that where these exist no success can be relied upon. 
Having considered everything necessary for fishing, 
I will now prepare for starting. The first thing to 

* I have frequently seen fish throw themselves upon land to save 
themselves from a cormorant ; and upon one occasion, in the river 
Wear, county of Durham, I witnessed an eel throw itself a foot out 
of a stream, like a trout after a fly, to avoid the fatal rush of one of 
these birds. 



DISGORGING. 345 

be done is to put on the neck-straps, which are not 
to be too tight, then put the birds into the palan- 
quin and send them with two trusty men to the place 
of meeting.* Arrived at the brook* or small river to 
be fished, turn out one or two of the birds, according 
to the size of the stream, for like dogs they assist 
each other. Whenever you come to a likely place 
where you wish them to dive, crack a whip, and cry 
" Get away, ah ! " or throw a little light soil at 
them. Young birds are shy of being taken when 
they have caught a fish, particularly if it is not 
a large one, when it will give them little trouble to 
hold it. 

As we before observed, it is sometimes a good plan 
to wade round the bird in order to get it out of the 
water. If it is inclined to turn back and pass you, 
you may cause it to take to the land by putting out 
your arm, or holding out the whip, or by throwing 
a stone near it. When you approach it to disgorge, 
you must put away your whip, go up to it quietly 
and lay hold of the beak, at the same time that you 
must pass your two forefingers along the arch of the 
neck to support it and lift it gently to a stone ; next, 
open the mouth with one hand, whilst with the 
other gently press upon, and a little below, the fish, 
so as to push it upwards, waiting for an instant for 
the bird's assistance, which it will give you upon 

* A little short straw should be put into each chamber of the 
palanquin, for the birds to sit upon. 



346 FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. 

finding it cannot retain the fish. After thus taking 
a fish from it give it a small fish as a reward ; it en- 
courages it to allow it to take the fish you lure it 
with. There cannot be a better lure than a minnow 
or a small dead eel. When you perceive the birds are 
wet and tired with fishing, place them upon stones 
or upon the palanquin, where they will dry them- 
selves. Whilst they are thus resting bring out your 
fresh birds, and thus work and rest them by turns. 
After fishing feed them up, and if you have far to go 
you had better dry them outside the palanquin, as 
you move off the ground, for they cannot dry inside. 
About four birds is a manageable number, and for 
these you require an assistant to act as "whipper-in," 
and to carry the fishing creel. Two more men are 
necessary to carry the palanquin, but they may gene- 
rally be engaged in "the field" before "throwing 
off." Of course it is easier for the birds to go down 
than to fish up a river or brook, and with four 
cormorants you may fish for some hours and for 
some miles, provided the water is not too cold, 
and all the time you keep moving on. When they 
come to a likely deep they will turn and fish it 
thoroughly, and they will frequently turn up stream 
after a fish, but generally when in a stream (par- 
ticularly a strong rapid one) they keep moving 
down, striking at fish as they pass. 

It is extraordinary how wonderfully active and 
rapid these curious birds are under water ; and their 



ACTIVITY OP THE BIRD. 347 

cunning, which improves by experience, is also asto- 
nishing. You may observe them look up every rat- 
hole and under every shelving bank as they proceed 
down a stream. Many fish are caught in these 
places; but they catch fish — even grayling (which 
are swifter than trout), by fairly swimming or 
coursing them down in the open water. If they 
know they have a chance of getting a fish from under 
a large stone (no matter how deep the water is)*, they 
will repeatedly dive until they have accomplished it. 
Fish appear to get " blown," as it were, when pursued 
by these birds ; for they can only go for some fifteen 
to thirty yards, f The fish that escape generally do 
so by doubling. Upon catching a fish, which they 
usually do across the middle, but occasionally by the 
very tip of the tail, they come to the surface in order 
to swallow it. If it is a large fish, they work it round 
with the beak until the head is in the right direction, 
when they gulp it down head first. Should the fish 
be a light one, they toss it into the air, and catch it 
most dexterously head foremost. I have often seen 
fish escape that had only been caught by a fin or tail, 
and I have seen the cormorant dive and retake them 
like lightning. With the strap on, a two-pound fish 

* In deep water both cormorants and otters descend and ascend 
in a spiral or corkscrew direction, as falcons " mount/' 

f I once witnessed "Isaac Walton" exhaust a large trout by spin- 
ning round it like a top, with his neck and tail turned inwards, the 
better to confine the fish within the circle* the fish of course making 
every effort, but in vain, to escape. 



348 FISHING WITH CORMOBANTS. 

is about as much as they can manage, though I once 
saw two cormorants in a rapid stream seize a grilse* 
of perhaps five or six pounds weight ; but he escaped. 
Clear water is greatly in favour of spectators, as they 
can see every movement of the birds and fish ; but it 
is not necessary for the birds, for some of my best 
days' fishing have been in dark moss-water. I have 
also taken a good deal of fish in water that was still 
muddy after a flood ; but I have frequently seen it 
too muddy. 

During the three years I kept cormorants I caught 
a great variety of fish with them ; indeed, I might 
almost say that I have taken all the fresh-water fish 
from a minnow f to a pike. In brackish water near 
the sea I have frequently taken flooks.J I will con- 
clude this chapter by giving the results of a fishing 
tour, and of two or three of my best days' fishings. 
In the summer of 1849 I made a most delightful 
tour§ in the northern counties with four cormorants, 



* In January, 1850, a cormorant was shot by the Hon. W. Fraser, 
in Beauly River, which had swallowed a 4 lb. grilse, of 22 inches in 
length. Part of the fish was ont of the bird's month. 

f Trolling baits may be easily obtained by means of a cormorant ; 
and as small fish are caught uninjured, a pond may be stocked if 
you disgorge them quickly and put them into water, &c. 

J I have met with an instance of these flat fish living in a fresh- 
water pond, into which they had been put by the owner. 

§ When travelling, cormorants may be secured by " noose-jesses" 
and leashes, and placed, like hawks, upon stones upon a lawn or 
some enclosed place, or they may be put into a loose box, the floor 
of which should be covered with straw, and there should be stones 



A FISHING TOUR. 349 

upon which occasion I took in twenty-eight days 1,200 
good sized fish. I was kindly invited by several fish- 
ing clubs, as Driffield, Kilnsey, &c. ; and it appears 
from my Journal that I had some good sport at 
Driffield in those streams which had no weed, but the 
main stream was too weedy.* At the Kilnsey club, 
which I visited in the summer of 1848, I had two 
days' fishing. On the best day I " threw off " in the 
Arncliffe Brook, and fished it and the Eiver Whalfe 
to the first falls. As I was anxious to know what 
amount of fish could be taken where they were plen- 
tiful, I fished for seven hours before the birds were 
completely done, when the results were forty-five fine 
trout, weighing twenty pounds. I obtained about this 
time a couple of days' fishing at Whitewell, through 
the liberality of Col. Townley. There had been a 
fresh, which had brought up the sea fish, called 
locally a sprods :" they are silvery fish, of about three 
quarters of a pound weight. " The meet " was well 
attended, and the success nearly equalled that at 
Kilnsey; but on this occasion very few trout were 
caught, for the birds seemed to prefer the sprods, — 
in which they showed their taste, for I certainly never 
eat more delicious fish than these proved to be, for 

for the birds to sit upon ; and as they are so apt to fight, it is advis- 
able to make the place as dark as possible. 

* In some of the deep holes at Driffield, where the water is very 
clear, it was curious to observe what little notice the very large trout 
took of the cormorant, whilst those up to a pound or more darted in 
all directions. 



350 PISHING WITH OTTERS. 

we had them for dinner at that romantic little inn, 
where a large party assembled. 

I will now draw these chapters to a close with a 
few remarks upon the otter. This animal has fre- 
quently been trained for fishing, both in this country 
and the East. The native fishermen on the Indus 
are said to employ a small species of otter for driving 
fish into their nets, and also to catch them. In order 
to prevent their biting, and consequently spoiling the 
fish, leather cups are strapped over their canine 
teeth. 

An otter which it is intended to tame should be 
taken young, and confined in a yard well secured 
over both the top and sides with wirework, contain- 
ing a pond, a shed with dry straw facing the sun, 
and a hollow trunk of a tree into which he may creep 
and rub himself, as they delight in doing after 
swimming. 

The otter trainer must be careful to observe the 
various cries of the animal, in order not to irritate 
its temper, as it has three distinct modes of express- 
ing its feelings. Thus when pleased it whistles, 
when suspicious of danger it blows through the valves 
of the nose, when vexed it growls. It is therefore 
only advisable to play with it when it shows itself to 
be amiable by its whistling. Otters are particularly 
playful after feeding, and it is quite a pretty sight to 
see them play with a ball, for even on land their 
activity is wonderful. 




r 



FISHING WITH OTTERS. 351 

In 1848 I succeeded in taming a young otter, 
hich I called " Diver," so perfectly, that he would 
follow me into the country like a dog *, and jump 
into my lap to sleep. At first he was an awkward 
swimmer, his early education being defective, owing 
to his separation from his parents, and I found it 
was necessary to be cautious with him, as cold water 
at first produced fits. Knowing that otters can scent 
fish under water, and even smell eels, &c. when in 
the mud, I taught him to dive by sinking meat with 
a plumb-line, which he never failed in finding. As 
the otter cannot eat a fish of any size when swimming, 
I it must come to land to do so ; its master must then 
approach it quietly, and taking hold of its long and 
strong tail (called by otter hunters " the potter "), 
hold him with one hand, whilst he takes the fish 
from him with the other, immediately rewarding him 
with small pieces of fish, after which he will again 
take the water in search of more. Otters are par- 
ticularly fond of salmon, and in some waters a great 
many may be taken. I need hardly remark that the 
death-struggle of a large salmon with his foe, in a 
rapid stream, is a grand and exciting thing to witness. 

Provided a little sawdust or sand is placed in a 
corner, the otter will be found a particularly clean 
animal, having no perceptible smell, which cannot be 
said of Isaac Walton and Co., who indulge so much 

* I put a collar and bell upon this otter's neck, in order to hear 
where he was in cover. 



3S2 FISHING WITH OTTERS; 

in musk, and are not very nice feeders. They are 
rather delicate animals, and require to be kept warm 
and dry, to be well fed, and kept as fat as possible. 
They may be fed upon both fish and flesh, such as 
rabbits *, rats, birds, &c. Diarrhoea is a complaint to 
which they are liable, and their daily habit of body 
must be closely watched, being in a great measure 
an index to their health. 



* In severe frosts, when frozen out of rivers, &c, this curious 
animal, which so much reminds me of the weasel tribe, will take to 
killing rabbits, water hens, &c; indeed, there are not many rabbit 
holes it cannot enter. 



THE END. 



LONDON 

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DATE DUE 
























JUN 


1988 





































































































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STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRARIE 
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