The Real Sport of Kings

Falconry or hawking is a sport which involves the use of trained raptors (birds of prey) to hunt or pursue game for humans. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an austringer flies a hawk or an eagle. Falconry came to Europe around 400AD, most likely when the Huns and Alans invaded from the east. By the time of William’s invasion of England, it was well established as a hunting sport in England and on the continent. Because of the time, expense, and space required in the practice, it was generally a viable recreation only for the nobility.  In fact, the types of birds used, and subsequently the game hunted, were eventually dictated by the participant’s social status.

Falconry is an art that survives to this day. It requires long hours, constant devotion, finesse, subtlety and skill. The falconer must train a bird of prey to fly free, hunt for a human being and then accept a return to captivity. Of all sports in America, falconry is the only one that utilizes a trained wild creature. Falcons, hawks, eagles and owls are essential elements of our wildlife. The competent falconer takes care to follow sound conservation principles in the pursuit of the sport. A careless, uninformed individual, attempting to satisfy a passing fancy, can do great harm to one or more birds. Most falconers, therefore, before they will agree to help anyone newly attracted to the sport, will require evidence of a serious, committed interest in falconry.

In only a few weeks, the ancient art of falconry comes to life at this year’s Sarasota Medieval Fair with the hawks of Everwilde – program dedicated to educational entertainment of the history of falconry and appreciation of birds of prey. Come experience the real sport of kings!

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:13 am  Leave a Comment  

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