falconry (fôlˈkənrē, fôˈ–, fălˈ–) [key], sport of hunting birds or small animals with falcons or other types of hawks; eagles are used in some parts of the world. It was known to the ancient Chinese, Persians, and Egyptians. Falconry probably spread from Asia to Eastern Europe and then to Western Europe. It became one of the chief sports of royalty and the nobility and attained its greatest popularity in late medieval and early modern Europe. After the 17th cent., falconry declined, and subsequent revivals never brought it into the favor it once enjoyed. It has limited popularity in W Europe, S Asia, and Japan. Falconry has never been very popular in the United States, largely because the laws of many states prohibit the employment of hawks to kill game. The birds, usually peregrine falcons, employed by falconers are taken when young from their nests. They are subjected to a rigorous course of training, in which they learn to fly, when released, at the quarry; to leave the prey untouched after killing it; and to sit quietly, when hooded, on the falconer's wrist.

See F. Illingworth, Falcons and Falconry (2d ed. 1964); F. Beebe, A Falconry Manual (1984); P. Glasier, Falconry and Hawking (3d ed. 1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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