A Brief History of Falconry

Nowadays if we want a roast chicken or some meat for dinner it’s easy to simply go to the nearest butcher or supermarket and pick up the cuts you want. However, in times gone by many people had to rely on hunting to put their food on the table, and falconry was one way to drastically improve the chances of catching something.

Falconry is the ancient art of hunting wild birds or animals using a trained bird of prey as a tool. It’s most commonly associated with eras such as the Tudors, but in fact dates as far back as 1700 BC. Falconry is still around today, although its original purpose may have evolved slightly, but if you’d like to know more about this fascinating sport, then see a brief history below.

Early days

As mentioned, falconry has been around for thousands of years, and is thought to have originated in the far east. Records suggest that falconry was first practised in Mongolia, and was used during military campaigns for food and sport between battles.

Falconry spread in popularity throughout Japan and South Korea, and in China there are records dating back to 700 BC depicting the significant role falconry played in Chinese culture. It enjoyed Imperial patronage and was popular amongst the public and nobility up until the early 1900s.

The Middle Ages

Falconry didn’t reach Britain until around 860 AD, and it gained widespread popularity during the Middle Ages, when both the wealthy upper classes and labourers used hawks to hunt for food. The custom known as the Laws of Ownership also emerged during this time; all birds of prey were given a rank, and a man was forbidden to hunt with a bird of higher rank than him.

Tudor times

Falconry reached its peak in England during the Tudor era, with the Royal Falconer sometimes considered the fourth most senior member of the court. Its popularity was huge, and cut across all ages, genders and social classes. Educated nobles studied falconry with the same enthusiasm they would apply to other highly thought of hobbies, such as dancing, hunting and languages.


After the ‘Golden Age’ of the Tudors, falconry fell out of favour as gunpowder became the method of choice for hunting. Falconry enjoyed a revival in the UK during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and several books were published on the art.

Present day

Many of the techniques and equipment used by falconers nowadays haven’t changed in thousands of years. Leather gloves are worn for the birds to perch on, and they are trained to hunt and then return to their falconer with their prey. Popular birds of prey used include the Harris hawk, Peregrine falcon and the red tailed hawk.

Falconry displays are very popular during history reenactments or at historical tourist attractions, and modern day falconry can even be employed as a form of pest control.

If you need help with bird control in Scotland, consider a falconry response team as a holistic, unique and non-lethal way to remove pest birds from your property. At Eliminate Ltd, our highly trained team have years of experience dealing with pest species and their predators, and can put together a suitable plan to suit you. For more information, give us a call or visit our website today.