Falconry Glossary

'Flying a hawk is the royal pastime and it is to talk royally to talk of the flight of birds. Everyone speaks of it but few speak well. Many so ignorantly as to excite pity among their hearers. Sometimes one says the ‘hand’ of the bird instead of the ‘talon’, sometimes the ‘talon instead of the ‘claw’, sometimes the ‘claw’ instead of ‘nail’ etc…’

Claude Binet, Biographer of Ronsard, C16th

There are many different words in the falconer's vocabulary which have been handed down through history. The Anglo -Saxon terminology was transposed by French after the conquest of 1066 to be developed into Middle English by the 17th century. Though some terms are now not so commonly used , most of these terms are still used in common parlance and some modern phrases and terms have also been included.

Accipiter (n): member of genus accipiter,orig,Lat.

The true hawks also known as shortwings

Alula(n): Group of small feathers on the first digit, orig, Lat: alula

Angel posture(n): Defensive threat posture with raised wings

Arms (n): The legs of a hawk, orig ME: armes> Lat: arma= weapons/ tools

Austringer (n): Trainer of accipiters and buteoninae(the broadwings)

orig. ME: ostringer> MFr: ostricier, deriv. ostour= hawk

Aviary (n): A large cage or enclosure to house a bird, orig, Lat: aviarium

Aylmeri (n): leather anklet attached to the hawks legs designed by Guy Aylmer

Back-standing(n): Describes behaviour when Harris' Hawks perch upon each other's backs.

Bag (n): The total prey taken in a period orig,ME: bagge> ON= bundle

Bagged game/ abbr. baggie (n): Previously caught prey which is served to the hawk

Bal-chatri: Trap to catch hawks (acronym BC).orig, Ind: bal chatri= boy's umbrella

Bate (v): To flap when tethered. orig.Fr: battre des ailles = to flap the wings

Bechin (n): Little pieces of meat. orig, uncert/ poss Fr: bec = beak

Bewit (n): Leather strips which bind bells to a hawk's legs or tail

orig, OFr: buie = bond

Bind to (v): To connect with and grasp prey during flight, orig, OE: binden

Birding-piece(n): Historic word for a piece of meat used to recall a bird to the glove (see: pick-up piece)

Bird of prey (n): A bird that hunts primarily with its feet. Falconiformes & Strigiformes

Block-perch (n): A perch primarily used to perch falcons

Blood-feather(n): New-growing feather

Bow-perch (n): Bow-shaped perch used for accipiters, broadwings and owls orig, ME: bowe

Bouse, also bowse (v): When a hawk drinks.orig.Fr: boisson = a drink

Bob(v): To move the head up an down for visual acuity

Brace(n): Tassels used to open and close the hood, orig, OFr: Braz = arms

Break into(v): To penetrate a prey item with beak or knife

Broadwings (n): Of the subfamily Buteoninae: the buzzards and eagles

Bumblefoot (n): Blisters on the hawk's foot caused by trauma

Button-jess (n): A removable leather strap with a swivel slit attached to an aylmeri anklet, orig, ME botoun>MF boton=stud

Cadge (n): A portable perch to transport numerous birds at once, orig, ME: caggen= to tie

Cadge(v): To carry numerous birds with a cadge.

Cadger (n): A person who cadges.

Call off, (v): To call a bird from a perch

Call in (v): To call a bird to the glove

Cap (n): Used to describe the plumage on a hawk's head

Carry (v): To try to fly away with prey or lure

Cast (n): Two hawks flown together

Cast (v): To hold and immobilize a bird by hand

Cast (v): To regurgitate an undigested pellet of fur or feather

Casting (v): An indigestible pellet of fur or feather & sometimes bone

Cast off (v): To throw off a bird from a raised glove

orig, OE: casten>ON: kasta=to throw

Cawking-time (n): Mating/ breeding time

Cere (n): The waxy casing of the nostrils above the beak

orig,ME; ceren> Lat: cera= wax

Check off, (v): To hesitate and refuse prey during flight

Check at (v): To change prey target during flight

orig.OFr: eschequier= to check at chess

Clutch(n): A hatch of eggs, orig, ME: cletch>ON: klekja=to hatch

Complain (v): when a bird raises its voice ( see: Give voice)

Condition In (n): Describes when a bird is reliable to fly

orig, ME condicioun>OFr>Lat: condicio= agreement/ con dica = with say

Condition, Out of (n): Describes when a bird is unable to fly well due to health or weight

Cope (v): To cut and file the beak or talons.

orig. Fr: couper = to cut off

Coverts(n): Small feathers which cover the bases of the larger wings

orig,Lat: coopertus= cover

Cower(v): To quiver, orig, ME: couren=to crouch

Crab (v): When hawks seize or strike each other, orig, OE: crabba> OLG: Krabben= to scratch or claw

Creance (n): A long piece of string used for training a bird of prey

orig.Fr: creance> Lat; credentia = credence

Crest(n): Rising feathers on the top of a hawk's head, orig, ME creste>OF> Lat: crista

Crine(n): hair around the cere, orig, Lat: crinis= hair

Crop (n): A storage sack in the alimentary canal which precedes the gizzard

Crop-tube (n): Tube to feed liquids directly into the crop

Crop up (v): To feed to capacity or to give a full crop

orig,ME: croupe> OFr: crope = paunch/ growth

Day-old also DOC (abrev) : A day old chick used to feed raptors and reptiles

Deck feathers (n): Central tail feathers

Draw the hood(id): To pull the hood straps closed orig, OE: dragan= to drag together

Diurnal: Of the day

Dive (v): To descend vertically head first

Drop (v): To descend vertically feet first

Ear tufts(n): Feathers on either side of an eagle owl's head

Endew(v): To put over the crop (see: put over) Orig OFr: enduire=to induct

Enter, (v): To introduce the bird to something new

Enseam, (v): To retrain a bird after the moult/ to cut down a bird's fat weight

orig. OE: seme= sew (see: Seel)

Eyass (n): A young fledgling first year bird

orig:ME: nyas>MFr; niais= nestling, > Lat: nidus= nest

Eyrie, also aerie(n): A nest of an eagle

orig,OFr: aire>ML: airea> Lat: area= open field

Falcon (n): Used to describe longwings (often to denote a female)

orig. Fr: Faucon> Lat: falx= sickle/ con falci = with sickles

Falconer (n): Generic term for a trainer of birds of prey, originally longwing. orig Fr.Fauconnier

Falconry (n): The art of training and hunting with birds of prey, orig, Fr: Fauconerie

False-Aylmeri (n): Aylmeri anklet which is removeable

Feak (v): To wipe the beak upon the perch, orig unkn.

Feather perfect (adj): Describes a bird with undamaged plumage

Feed up (v): To give a full crop of food (see: Gorge)

Feed up on (v): To feed a hawk on the quarry ( see also: pluck)

Fed up (adj): To be full gorged and unresponsive to being called in

Festoon (n): A curve in the upper mandible of shortwings and broadwings

orig, Fr: feston> It: festone= festive ornament

Fledge(v): To grow flight feathers,orig, ME: flegge> OE: Flecge= to fly

Fledgling (n): A newly fledged bird (see also: fully-fledged)

Floccus (n): Downy covering on young birds.

Flying jess(n): A slitless jess permanently attached to aylmeri anklet

Foot (v): To strike out with the foot

Footer, good (n): A hawk good with its feet at capturing prey

Footy (adj): A hawk prone to lash out with its feet

Fovea (n): Concentrations of rods and cones on the retina

Free-loft (v): To house a bird of prey untethered, orig,OE; loft= upper chamber

Fret-marks (v): Marks of weakness on a feather due to lack of food.

orig. Fr: frette = interlaced

Full-gorged (adj): Describes a hawk whose crop is full to capacity (See also: gorge)

Full-summed(adj): Fully moulted (see hard-down) orig, Lat: summa= total number

Fully fledged, also full fledged(adj): Describes a young bird having acquired adult flight feathers

Fur (v): To make contact on a slip before the prey escapes

Furniture (n): The equipment used in falconry, orig, Fr: fourniture deriv. fournir= to furnish

Gauntlet(n): Glove with extended cuff for the wrist, orig,ME gantelet> MFr: gant=glove

Game (n): Generic term describing all wild prey species

Get in(v): To get to the hawk after it has taken prey or lure

Giant hood: An American term to describe a travelling box

Give voice (v): When a bird uses its larynx

Gizzard(n): A digestive pouch in the alimentary canal

Gleam(v): To throw up slime while casting a pellet, orig,ME:gleme>OE glaeme= bright

Glide (v): To fly downwards at a low gradient

Glove(n): Covering for hand with seperate sheath for each finger,orig OE: glof

Glueing-in(v): when imping, to glue old shafts directly into current shafts

Gorge (v): To eat to capacity, (See: Crop up).

orig. OFr: Gorge = throat

Gyr (n): Large falcon, Falco rusticolus,Orig: GK: gyros= ring/circle

Gyrkin (n): Male gyr ( see also: Jerkin)

Hack (v): A period of liberty for fledgling birds before training,

orig,ME hacche>OE:haecc= hatch

Hack-board (n): Feeding station where food is placed for birds at hack

Hack-house(n): A shed where birds find shelter and are fed during the hack

Haggard (n): An bird taken from the wild with adult plumage

orig.OFr: faucon hagard = wild falcon, lit.: hag = hedge/ woods

Halsband (n): A strap tied to the neck used to cast accipiters, MG=collar (see also: Jangoli)

Hard-down: A fully moulted bird

Hard-penned (adj): Describes a fully moulted bird whose feathers are no longer in the blood.

Hawk (n): Generic term used to describe longwings, shortwings and broadwings

orig: OE: hauk> OFrisian: havok

Hawking (n): Hunting with diurnal birds of prey

High (adj): Describes a bird which is too heavy to be flown reliably

Ho!: Interjection to call a hawk in, orig, OE: hwa.> Lat; quis= who

Hobby: Small falcon, Falco subbuteo,

orig, ME: hoby>OFr: hobe, deriv. hobeler= to skirmish

Hood (n): A head cap which covers the eyes of a hawk to relieve stress )

Orig,ME: hode>OE: Hod = hat

Hood (v) : To put the hood onto the hawk

Hood shy (adj): Describes a hawk which tries to avoid wearing the hood

Hunger-trace(n): Undeveloped webbing growth on a feather due to lack of food (see also: fret mark)

orig: OFr :tracier= way/course

Hybrid(n): A cross-bred hawk. Offspring of two separate species, orig, Lat: hybrida

Imp(v) : To mend broken feathers with previously moulted feathers and glue

orig, OE: impe = to graft

Imping needle(n): Splint or pegs used to graft old feathers onto new shafts.

Imprint(v): When a hawk recognises another species as its own

Imprint (n): A hawk which has undergone imprinting

Inke (n): The neck of the quarry , orig,ME: inke> OFr: enque

Intermewed (adj): A hawk the been reclaimed after moulting

In the blood (id): Describes a growing feather with blood circulation.

Jack (n): Male kestrel or hobby, orig ME: jakke= petaining to male

Jangoli (n): A neck jess used to propel accipiters. ( See also: Halsband)

Jess (n): Leather strap attached to the tarsus of a hawk

orig. Fr: ges> Lat: jacere= to throw

Jerkin (n): Used to denote a male gyr falcon

Jump-ups (n): method of exercising hawks by flying up to a higher perch

Kill (n): An item of prey which has been caught and killed

Keel (n): Breast-bone of the hawk, the sternum

orig, ME: kiel> OE: ceol = ship

Keen(adj): Eager (see: Sharp-set) orig, ME: kene> OE cene>G: kuhn= bold

Kestrel (n): small falcon, Falco tinnunculus,

orig OFr: creserelle, derive; cressele= little rattle

Lamping(n): To hunt at night with the use of torches.

Lanner(n): Falco biarmicus orig ME: Laner> MF: Lanier= wool weaver (term of abuse: cowardly)

Lanneret (n): A male lanner falcon

Leash (n): Piece of rope used to tie a hawk to its perch.orig. Fr: laisse = leash

Longwing (n): Of the sub-family Falconidae; the falcons

Lost (adj): Describes a hawk whose whereabouts is unknown

Low (adj): Describes a hawk which is underweight.

Lure (n): Imitation prey used to train and call in a hawk

orig. Fr: leurre=decoy

Lure (v): To entice the hawk by means of the lure

Mail (n): The breast feathers, orig. MFr: maille = mesh

Make(v): To train and condition a hawk, orig OE: macian> OD: maken

Make hawk (n): An experienced bird used to encourage the training of young birds

orig OE: gemake= companion

Make in (v): To move in close to a hawk when it is on prey or lure


Man (v): To tame a hawk. orig. Fr.: manier = to handle

Mangala (n): Protective wrist-sleeve used by arab falconers to carry hawks

Mantle (v): To spread the wings when feeding, orig OE: mantel = cloak

Mandible(n): The beak of the hawk,orig, Lat: mandibula=jaw

Mar-hawk: An inept falconer who spoils a hawk (sometimes used to mean the offended hawk itself) orig,OE merren= to offend

Mark (n): When a bird recognises a prey target

Merlin(n): Small falcon, Falco columbarius, orig, ME: merlioun/merlone>OFr: esmerillon

Mews (n): Indoor accommodation for a hawk, originally for moulting

orig.MFr: mouer = to moult

Musket (n): A male sparrowhawk or spar

orig, Fr : mousquet>It: moschetto= little fly

Mute(n): Dropping of longwings, orig,OFr: meutir= to melt

Moustachial-stripe(n): A dark marking on either side of a falcon's beak, orig, Fr: moustache> It: mustaccio

Moult (v): An annual occurrance when a hawk drops its feathers and grows new ones

Nape(n): The back of the neck

Nare (n): Nostril, orig, Lat: naris

Nictitating membrane (n): A membrane that cleans and protects a hawk's eye.

orig, ML: nictitatus> Lat: nictare= to wink

Pannel (n): A hawk's stomach

Passage (n): Migration of a hawk, orig, Fr: passage = voyage

Passager (n) : Immature hawk, caught in the wild (perhaps on first migration)

Pellet (n): Ball of undigested fibre made of fur or feather ( see: casting)

orig,OFr: pelote>Lat; pila= ball/pilus= hair

Peales peregrine (n): A subspecies of peregrine falcon

Pen(n): Flight feather, orig OFr: penne> Lat: penna= feather

Perch (n): An object used by a bird for roosting

orig. ME: Perche>OFr>Lat: Pertica = pole

Peregrine(n): Species of falcon, Falco peregrinus,

orig,ME= foreigner >Lat; peregrinus=wanderer/per agere= through the field

Perlin (n): A Peregrine and Merlin hybrid

Petty-single (n) also petty-simples: The toes of a hawk.

orig OFr: petit sengle= small individual

Pick-up( n): procedure of showing meat and persuading a hawk to the fist

usually from the ground

Pick-up piece(n): modern equivalent of a birding-piece used to make a pick up

Pitch (n): The height at which a falcon waits on, orig ME: picchen= to set up

Pluck (v): To eat from the quarry, orig, OE ploccian= pull out

Pluck (n): The heart, liver and lungs of the quarry which is fed to the hawk to encourage it.

Plume(v): To pluck the feathers of quarry, origME>MFr>Lat: pluma= feather

Plume (n): Feathers used to adorn the top of a hood

Plumage: The feathers collectively, orig, OFr: plumage>Lat: pluma = feather

Put in (v): To drive prey into cover

Put out (v): To drive prey out of cover

Put over (v): To move food from the crop into the stomach

Pounce (n): The claw of a shortwing or broadwing.

orig. ME: punchen = to punch

Point, on (n): The position of a hawk above the falconer,

orig. Fr: a point nomme = just at the right moment

Preen(v): When a bird zips up and waterproofs its feathers with its beak,orig, ME: prenen/proynen= to prick/prune

Preen gland (n): A gland at the base of the tail which emits wax

Primaries(n): The flight feathers

Quarrel (v): When birds attack and fight each other, orig OFr. querele = to complain

Quarry (n): Prey a hawk is flown to.

orig OE: querre>OFr: cuiree, deriv. cuir= skin/hide> Lat: corium

Raptor: A bird of prey, orig. Lat: rapere= to seize by force

Ratchet tendon(n): A toothed tendon in the foot that holds the hawks grip, orig,MF rocquet= blunt lance-head

Rake (v): To fly past game orig.ME: raken = to go

Rake away (v): To fly far from the falconer or the point (also rake off)

Rangle (n): Small stones eaten by birds to aid digestion

Recall-lure (n): Lure used to call in a bird.

Reclaim (v): To train a hawk after a period of liberty (see also enseam),

orig. MFr.: reclamer = to claim again

Refuse (v): To give up or not fly to quarry, orig. Fr: refuser = turn down

Rejoice(v): To feak, rouse and preen

Ring up (v): To climb to a height in a circling motion, orig,OE: hring>OG: ring= curved

Rob(v): To take a hawks meat away

Rouse (v): To shake the feathers, orig. uncert. prob OE: arisan = to arise

Rufter-hood(n): A hood without a plume used on wild falcons, orig ME: ruf=rough

Sail (n): A hawk's wings, orig ME saile>OE segl >ON :segl

Scrape (n): A nest site for a falcon, orig OE: scrapian=to scratch

Scream (v): Describes when a hawk gives voice due to imprinting on its owner

Screamer (n): Describes a noisy hawk that is demanding of food

Screen-perch (n): Indoor perch made of a frame and stretched cloth, origin,OFr: escran

Serve (v): To find and reveal quarry for a hawk

Seel (v): Historic method of sewing hawks’ eyes closed, still used in the Middle East

orig,MFr: Cil> Lat: cilium= eyelash

Sewing-in (v): Olf method of imping a feather to a basal shaft by means of sewing

Shaft (n): The central stem of the feather,orig,Lat: scarpus

Sharp-set (adj): Describes an eager hawk

origin,ME/OE: scearpe= keen

Slicing (n): Dropping of a broadwing or a shortwing

orig MFr: esclice, deriv. esclicer= to split

Slip (v): To release a hawk to quarry, orig ME: slippen=to escape >MD: slippen: to glide, slide

Slip (n): A flight to quarry

Snite (v): To sneeze, orig: OE : snyten=to clear the nose

Sore-hawk (n): A bird with immature plumage, orig OE: sar= sensitive

Spar (n): An abbreviation of sparrowhawk

Stoop (v): To tuck in the wings and dive headfirst from a height

orig OE: stepe = steep

Strike the hood (v): To pull the hood braces open, orig OE: striken = to stroke

Strip (v): To remove sperm from the male bird

Soar (v): To glide upwards with fixed wings

orig, MFr: essorer> Lat: ex aura= out of the air

Sour-crop(n): When meat in the crop goes off and becomes indigestible

Supra-orbital ridge (n): A bony ridge on the skull which extends above the eye

Swivel (n): Metal piece of furniture attached to jesses and leash

orig, OE: swifan= to revolve

Swing-lure: Lure attached to string and swung in a circle to exercise falcons

Talon (n): Claws of a falcon or longwing, orig Lat: talus = heel

Take (n): When a hawk catches its prey

Take stand (v): To find a perch, orig, OE: tacan= to grasp + OE: standan

Tarsus(n): The shin of a hawk between the foot and the hock, orig,GK: tarsos= flat of the foot

Tassel (n): Male peregrine, also known historically as tassel-gentle (see also tiercel-gentle)

Tassel (n): Decorative ornament on a falconer's glove

Take stand (v): To perch in a tree

Thermal (n): Risingcolumn of hot air used by a bird of prey to gain height

orig,GK: therme= warm

Throw up (v): To fly upwards after a dive or stoop

orig. OE: thrawen = to twist

Tiercel (n): Originally the male peregrine or gyr, a third smaller than females.

Also relating to one in three birds hatched being male.

Also historically known as tassel, tassel-gentle and tiercel-gentle.

Modern generic use for all male falcons.

orig. MFr: tercuel>Lat: Tertius = third

Teardrop (v): To stoop downwards in a teardrop shape

Telemetry (n): Radio-tracking system used to retrieve lost hawks, orig Fr: telemetre= far metre

Tercel (n): The male goshawk

Tiring (n): Piece of bony meat used to work the beak and the neck muscles,

orig. Fr: Tirer = to pull

Tomial tooth (n): The extended cutting edge of a falcon's upper mandible

Tomium (n): The cutting edge of a birds beak orig,Gk: tome= a cutting

Tower (v): To climb upwards orig, ME :tor>OF: tur>Lat: turris=tower

Train (n): The tail of a hawk, orig, OFr: tra iner= to drag behind

Travelling box (n): A box used to convey a bird from one place to another

Truss to (v): To bind to quarry in mid air orig> Ofr: trousser= to wrap

Tubing (n): Feeding a hawk liquids by means of a tube

Turn tail (v): To give up in mid-flight (see also refuse)

Variable (n): one of a range of insignificant prey items caught by the hawk

Varvel (n): An old-fashioned swivel, orig, OFr: vervelle = joint

Wake (v): To deny sleep to a hawk

Waking (n): Training vigil that denied sleep to a hawk to tame it

orign ME: waken=to rouse from sleep> OE: wacian= to become awake

Wait on (v): To reach a hunting position above the falconer

orig ME: waiten= to watch with hostile intent> OFr: guatier=to watch

Warble(v): To stretch the wings upwards, orig, ME werble= tune>OHG: werbel= to turn

Washed meat(n): Meat with the nutrients removed with water.

Weather (v): To put perching birds in the open air orig OE: weder

Weathering- pen (n): a mesh fronted covered shelter

Weathering-ground (n): An open area for allowing birds to weather

Webbing (n): The soft barbs on either side of a feather shaft, orig, OE> webbe=to weave

Wed to(v): When a hawk is united with a certain type of prey

orig, ME: wedde> OE: weddian= to pledge

Whistle, in (v): To call a bird to the glove or lure by means of a whistle

orig,OE: hwistlian=to whisper

Whistle, off (v): To call a bird from its perch by means of a whistle

Whistle, on (v) To call a bird to follow on, by means of a whistle

Whitewash (n): Large area of droppings

Wingover (n): A sharp 180 degree turn and dive on the wing

Wingtip oedema (n): Cold watery blisters at the wing tip as a result of frostbite

Winnow(v): To flap the wings without flying

Yarak, in (adj): Hawk in prime fitness and condition, orig. Pers: yarakhi= strength

Zip up (v): To close the webbing barbs of the feather with the beak