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Title: The Art and Practice of Hawking
Author: Michell, Edward B.
Language: English
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Transcriber Notes


Text emphasis is displayed as _Italics_. Whole and fractional parts of
numbers are displayed as: 7-3/4.



  THE ART AND PRACTICE
  OF HAWKING

[Illustration: _Falcons and Goshawk Weathering._]



  THE
  ART AND PRACTICE
  OF HAWKING

  BY
  E. B. MICHELL

  WITH THREE PHOTOGRAVURES BY G. E. LODGE
  AND OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS

  METHUEN & CO.
  36 ESSEX STREET, W. C.
  LONDON
  1900


  TO THE

  EARL AND COUNTESS OF WARWICK

  AND ALL OTHER LOVERS OF HAWKING

  THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

  BY THE AUTHOR



PREFACE


Notwithstanding the large number of books, both ancient and modern,
which have been written on the art of Hawking, it cannot be said that
the English-speaking people generally have more than a very vague idea
of the character of the sport, or the mode in which it was, and still
is, conducted.

Yet, in an experience of Hawking which extends over more than thirty
years, the author has found that a great and increasing curiosity,
and even a real interest in the subject, prevails, especially amongst
sporting men, who are in many notable instances beginning to believe
that hawks and their owners have been unduly disparaged, and that there
is more to be said in their favour than has for the last two centuries
been imagined.

There has not been space in this volume to discuss the much-vexed
question how far the use of hawks is compatible with the preservation
of game. But it may be said here, without any reservation, that
wherever experiments have been actually tried, Hawking has been found
not to spoil but to improve the shooting.

The object of the author has been to describe as briefly as was
consistent with clearness the birds now chiefly used in the chase, and
the manner of training and flying them. His hope is that some of the
sportsmen who read these pages may, in spite of the difficulties which
they will have to encounter, resolve to give this old and honourable
sport a trial.

The use of technical terms has been avoided as far as possible; and
those which could not be excluded have been explained in the text. When
the reader is puzzled by any word, a reference to the Index will direct
him to the page where the meaning of it is given.



CONTENTS


                                                                   PAGES
CHAPTER I

History and Literature

  Antiquity of hawking in China--Introduction into Europe--Royal
  and Imperial falconers--Decline of the sport--Survival and
  revivals--Modern falconers--Early writers--Leading
  authorities--Modern books                                          1-8


CHAPTER II

The Birds Used in Hawking

  Three classes--Long-winged hawks: Ger-peregrine, and kindred
  varieties, shaheens, barbary, saker, lanner, and desert
  falcons, hobby, merlin, and kestrel--Short-winged hawks:
  goshawks and sparrow-hawks--Eagles, golden, Bonelli's,
  etc., falconets                                                   9-39


CHAPTER III

Furniture and Fittings

  Jesses--Bells--Swivels--Leashes--The screen-perch--Blocks--
  Bow-perches--Hoods--Brails--The bath--The lure--Cadges--
  Gloves--Mews                                                     40-54


CHAPTER IV

Eyesses and Hack Hawks

  Taking from the eyrie--Feeding--Turning out to hack--The
  board system--Hacking to the lure, and to the hand--Learning
  to fly--Dangers and diversions of hack--Taking up--The bow-net   55-69


CHAPTER V

Passage Hawks

  Valk enswaard--Hawk-catcher's hut--The shrike sentinel--
  Handling the wild-caught hawk--The sock--The dark cell--Prison
  fare--Early discipline--Waking--Hooding--Carrying--Manning--
  Pegging out                                                      70-86


CHAPTER VI

Training and Entering

  Reclamation of wild-caught and hack hawks--Making to the lure--
  Calling off--The first quarry--Innocent deceptions--Making in--
  Waiting on--Stooping to the lure--Exercise                      87-100


CHAPTER VII

Rook-Hawking

  Good and bad country--Entering to rooks--Throwing off--
  Ringing flights--Shifting--Throwing up--Putting in--Riding
  to hawks                                                       101-114


CHAPTER VIII

Game-Hawking

  Eyesses and passagers--Teaching to mount and to wait on--
  Entering--Raking away--The pitch--The stoop--Pointers--
  Speed and cunning of grouse--Partridges, black-game--Some
  good bags                                                      115-129


CHAPTER IX

Lark-Hawking

  The hobby, ancient and modern--Daring larks--The merlin--
  Difficulties of training and flying--Making in--Fishing-rod
  trick--Good and bad larks--High flights--Double flights--
  Winter larks                                                   130-141


CHAPTER X

Gulls, Heron, Kite, Duck, etc.

  Double flights at gulls--The Loo Club--Kite-hawking--Wild
  ducks, magpies, plovers, woodcock, snipe, and other quarry     142-149


CHAPTER XI

The Goshawk

  Hawks of the fist--Training--Rewards for good conduct--Yarak--
  Pheasants, partridges, rabbits, and hares--The goshawk in
  covert--Variety of quarry--Some good bags--A famous goshawk    150-159


CHAPTER XII

The Sparrow-Hawk

  Vices and merits--A fine hawk for the bush--Partridge-hawking--
  Blackbirds, quail, and other quarry--How to manage a
  sparrow-hawk--A modern record                                  160-169


CHAPTER XIII

Home Life

  The falconer's establishment--Good and bad falconers--
  Hawk-houses--The falconer's day--Bathing--Weathering--
  Exercise--Diet--Castings--Tirings--Rangle--Bedtime             170-191


CHAPTER XIV

Hawks in the Field

  Hooding up--Accoutrements--Field tactics--Markers--Mounted
  men--Successful and unsuccessful flights--Putting in--Picking
  up--Consolation quarry--Disobedient hawks--A good quarry-book  192-212


CHAPTER XV

Lost Hawks

  Carelessness and imprudence--A kill out of sight--A night
  out--Search and recapture--Chance witnesses--Decoy hawks--
  Winding up--Snaring--A fresh start                             213-224


CHAPTER XVI

Accidents and Maladies

  Broken feathers--Imping--Broken bones--Diagnosis--Croaks,
  cramp, ague, apoplexy, frounce, inflammation, and fever--
  Corns, broken talons, blain, craye, and other maladies         225-243


CHAPTER XVII

Moulting

  Early and late moulting--Flying through the moult--Throwing
  into the mews--Diet and management--Bad moulters--Intermewed
  hawks--Physic and treatment                                    244-254


CHAPTER XVIII

Virtue and Vice

  Good and bad hawks--Temper, shape, size, and colour--Style
  of flying--Carrying--Soaring--Raking away--Checking--
  Perching--Hood-shyness--Screaming--Refusing--Running
  cunning--Seven deadly sins--Four cardinal virtues              255-274


CHAPTER XIX

Anecdotes and Adventures

  Lessons from the quarry-book--The old authors--Modern
  experiences--Peregrine and pigeon--A miraculous rabbit--
  Queer hiding-places--Wild _v._ tame hawks--Merlin-hawking
  with peregrines                                                275-284
X?



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


PHOTOGRAVURES

                                                             PAGE

  Falcons and Goshawk Weathering                   _Frontispiece_

  Death of the Rook                                           110

  Sparrow-Hawk and Partridge                                  168
      (_From Drawings by G. E. Lodge_)


  OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS

  Shape of Wings                                               11
      (_From a Drawing by Mrs. Sachs_)

  Trained Kestrel "Thunderbolt," owned by Mr. R. Gardner       30
      (_From a Photo by C. Reid, Wishaw, N.B._)

  Hawk's Furniture                                             40
      (_From a Drawing by the Author_)

  Blocks and Perches                                           46
      (_From a Drawing by the Author_)

  Hawk's Furniture                                             48
      (_From a Drawing by the Author_)

  Cadge with Peregrines                                        52
      (_From a Photo by C. Reid, Wishaw, N.B._)

  Falcon and Tiercel Weathering                                86
      (_From a Photo by C. Reid, Wishaw, N.B._)

  Pluming the Dead Grouse                                     127
      (_From a Photo by C. Reid, Wishaw, N.B._)

  Trained Merlin                                              132
      (_From a Drawing by Mrs. Sachs_)

  Trained Goshawk, "Gaiety Gal," owned by Mr. A. Newall       159
      (_From a Photo by Herbert Bell, Ambleside_)



THE ART AND PRACTICE OF HAWKING



CHAPTER I

History and Literature


IT would be easy to fill a large volume with dissertations on the
antiquity of the art which is now called Falconry, and with records
of its history in different countries during the many centuries that
have elapsed since it was first practised. In a treatise on practical
hawking, such as the present, there is no room for such matter; and the
omission will be the more readily excused when it is explained that
only a short time ago the antiquities of the art, and the literature in
which its records are embodied, were most carefully and ably explored
by Mr. J. E. Harting, the erudite Secretary of the Linnean Society,
whose catalogue of books on hawking contains a reference to every known
publication on the subject (_Bibliotheca Accipitraria_, London, 1891).
The actual origin of hawking, as of other old sports, is naturally
hidden in the obscurity of the far-away past. No one would suppose that
it was practised as early in the world's history as the sister sports
of hunting and fishing. But Mr. Harting's researches have resulted
in convincing him that it was known at least as early as 400 B.C.,
although its introduction into Europe must clearly be placed at a much
later date. It is remarkable enough that the Greeks, whose country
abounds in wild hawks, should have known nothing of their use in the
service of man. Homer, indeed, speaks of the mountain falcon as "the
most nimble of birds," ([Greek: êute kirkos oresphin, elaphrotatos
peteênôn], _Il._ xxii. 139); but Sophocles, in alluding to the triumphs
of man in taming and using wild creatures, omits all mention of the
training of hawks, which is certainly more worthy of notice than mere
bird-catching or the breaking-in of oxen (Soph. _Antig._ 343). Even the
later Roman authors refer to the use of trained hawks as an unfamiliar
practice, in vogue only amongst some of the barbarian tribes.

Until at least some centuries after the Christian era, China and other
countries in the Far East seem to have been the chief if not the only
homes of falconry. But the Lombards, when they settled in North Italy,
in the latter half of the sixth century, were acquainted with the art;
and before the end of the ninth century it was familiar to the Saxons
in England and throughout the West of Europe. Henry the Fowler, who
became Emperor in 919, seems to have been so nicknamed on account of
his devotion to this form of sport, which was already a favourite with
princes and magnates. The Saxon King Ethelbert wrote to the Archbishop
of Mayence for hawks able to take cranes. King Harold habitually
carried a trained hawk on his fist; and from the time of the Norman
Conquest hawking was a sport as highly honoured in the civilised world
as hunting. The greatest impulse that was ever given to the sport in
Western Europe was derived from the returning Crusaders, many of whom,
in the course of their travels to the East, had become acquainted with
the Oriental falconers and the Asiatic modes of training and flying
hawks. Conspicuous amongst such Crusaders was the Emperor Frederick
II., who brought back with him some Asiatic hawks and their trainers,
and who not only was himself an enthusiastic and accomplished falconer,
but even declared that falconry was the noblest of all arts. From that
time--early in the thirteenth century--for more than four hundred
years falconry flourished in Europe, as well as in the East, as a
fashionable sport amongst almost all classes. As in the case of hunting
and fishing, its attractions as a sport were supplemented by the very
material merits it possessed as a means of procuring food. While the
prince and the baron valued their falcon-gentle for its high pitch and
lordly stoop, the yeoman and the burgher set almost equal store on the
less aristocratic goshawk and the plebeian sparrow-hawk as purveyors of
wholesome delicacies for the table. Even the serf or villein was not
forgotten in the field, and was expected, or at least allowed, to train
and carry on his fist the humble but well-bred and graceful kestrel.

During this long period the example of Henry the Fowler was followed
freely by many of the most celebrated and powerful rulers in European
countries. Hardly a prominent personage amongst the great conquerors
and lawgivers in mediæval times was unacquainted with the art. Most
of them were as enthusiastic in their devotion to it as they were
to the more serious objects of their ambition. It would be wearisome
to recount the long list of royal falconers; and it will suffice to
merely mention a few of the most notable examples. Thus Edward III. was
accompanied on his warlike expedition with a whole train of falconers.
His father had been indulged in his imprisonment with liberty to go
hawking. Shakespeare has familiarised his readers with the hawking
parties of Henry VI. and his Queen (_2 Hen. VI._ ii. I); and few
people have failed to read the story of the broken leaping-pole which
precipitated Henry VIII. into a ditch as he was following a hawk. Louis
XI. and a host of French kings, including Francis I., were ardent
falconers, as were many of the kings of Castile and Arragon, Sardinia,
and Hungary. Henry of Navarre was excelled by few men in his passion
for this sport. James IV. of Scotland gave a jewelled hood to one of
the Flemings, because the latter had won a match in which his hawk
flew against the King's. And James I. of England enjoyed nothing more
keenly than a day's hawking, declaring that if a man had only patience
and good-temper enough to contend with the disappointments inseparable
from it, the sport would be preferable to hunting. Catherine II. of
Russia was as great at falconry as at most other things, and specially
delighted in the flight with merlins. Ecclesiastics, both great and
small, were not a whit behind the laity in their devotion to the sport
of the air. It was thought no scorn for a holy-water clerk to carry
a "musket" or male sparrow-hawk. Not only did Cardinal Beaufort fly
his falcons with those of the great Duke of Gloucester, but no less
a potentate than Pope Leo X. was constantly in the field at Ravenna,
and even incurs the blame of the great D'Arcussia for being in the
habit of too soundly rating his comrades during a flight. The hawking
establishments of all the earlier Bourbons were kept up in more than
royal style, and were supplied annually with rare falcons from many
parts of the world.

It was the invention of shot-guns that struck the first and most
deadly blow at the popularity of hawking. It was soon discovered
that wild-fowl, rabbits, and most kinds of game could be captured
much more easily and cheaply by the aid of "vile saltpetre" than by
the laborious and costly processes involved in the reclaiming and
moulting and conditioning of hawks. Economy, as well as novelty,
pleaded in favour of the new sport of shooting. At the same time, the
common use of fowling-pieces added a fresh and formidable danger for
the owners of hawks, already exposed to a thousand unfair risks of
losing their favourites. In the unsettled state to which Europe was
reduced by the innumerable wars consequent on the Reformation, it was
impossible for falconers to identify or punish those who recklessly or
deliberately slaughtered a neighbour's lost hawks; and although the
offenders were still liable to serve penalties, they could snap their
fingers at the protective laws. Finally, the more rapid subdivision
of the land, and its enclosure with fences for agricultural purposes,
spoilt, for the falconer's purposes, large tracts of country which had
formerly been the most suitable, and was especially hurtful to the
flying of the long-winged hawks, for which an expanse of open ground
is indispensable. On the Continent these various causes operated
surely but slowly to displace falconry in the public estimation. But
in England a special circumstance almost ruined it at one blow. The
outbreak of the Great Civil War interrupted rudely all peaceful sports,
and its disasters destroyed a vast number of those who were the best
patrons of hawking. From the blow then struck English falconry never
rallied in any general sense. Certainly it did revive, or rather
survive, to a certain extent. It would be wrong to suppose that the
sport has ever been extinct in the British Isles, as so many writers
are fond of reiterating. But its devotees have kept it up without
any of the pomp and show which once distinguished it, carrying on in
comparative privacy, and in the retirement of rather remote spots, an
amusement in which the difficulties always besetting the sport were
aggravated by a thousand new dangers and annoyances.

The annals of falconry, since it was deposed from its fashionable
place--in England by the Great Rebellion, and afterwards in France by
the Revolution--are obscure, and for the most part buried in oblivion.
Here and there the name of a notable falconer, professional or amateur,
emerges from the mist, showing us that the sport was still carried on
with vigour by a few. In the middle of the eighteenth century Lord
Orford flew kites in the eastern counties, and this sport, as well
as rook-hawking and heron-hawking, was successively carried on by
the Falconers' Society, the Falconers' Club, and the High Ash Club,
which latter existed from about 1792 to later than 1830, and included
amongst its members Lord Berners, Colonel Thornton, and other sporting
celebrities. In Scotland falconry has always been kept up. The life
of John Anderson covers the whole of the last half of the eighteenth
century, as well as more than a quarter of the nineteenth. This
accomplished trainer of hawks was for the first twenty years or so
of the present century in charge of the Renfrewshire establishment
kept by Fleming of Barochan, and flown chiefly at partridges and
woodcocks. During the early years of the same century, until 1814,
Colonel Thornton did a great deal of hawking on his own account, at
first in Yorkshire, and afterwards at Spy Park, in Wiltshire. From
1823 to 1833 Mr. John Sinclair flew woodcocks with success in Ireland.
In 1840 Lord O'Neill and Colonel Bonham took a moor in Ross-shire
for hawking; and in the following year the Loo Club was started for
heron-hawking in Holland, under the auspices of Mr. E. Clough Newcome.
This influential club continued to flourish till 1853. Its place was
taken, not many years after, by the Old Hawking Club, which, although
it has never undertaken the flight at herons, continues to carry on an
annual campaign against rooks and game with great credit and success.
In France a hawking club was started in 1865, under the title of the
Champagne Club, but was not long-lived; and several minor attempts
at organising new clubs have been made in England during the last
thirty years. There are at the present moment at least thirty private
establishments in England alone where trained hawks are kept and flown,
besides several in Scotland and Ireland. The names of several of the
leading amateurs now living will be mentioned in this and following
chapters.

Of professional falconers, the supply has sadly dwindled away since
the time when the office of Grand Falconer was something more than
the hereditary title of the Dukes of St. Albans. It was not, however,
until quite recent years that the supply became quite unequal to
the demand. At the death of John Anderson in 1832 there were able
successors to keep alive the best traditions of the old Scotch school.
Foremost among them was Peter Ballantine, of whom, as well as of Mr.
Newcome, excellent likenesses are published in Mr. Harting's fine work,
_Bibliotheca Accipitraria_. This accomplished trainer survived until
1884. Nearly contemporary with him were the brothers Barr, whose names
are frequently mentioned in these pages. While these and others upheld
the sport in Scotland, England, Ireland, and France--for John Barr
acted as the falconer of the Champagne Club--John Pells in Norfolk,
once falconer to the Duke of Leeds, attained to great efficiency and
repute; and the names of Bots and Möllen became celebrated in Holland
as the successful hawk-catchers and servants of the Loo Club. Later
still, John Frost acted for eighteen years as the energetic and skilful
falconer of the Old Hawking Club. He was succeeded by George Oxer,
who, with the Retfords (James and William) and the sons of John Frost,
is still living. There are at the present moment several very young
falconers who bid fair to attain distinction, though their training
is derived mostly from lessons imparted to them by the amateurs who
have brought them out. It is to be hoped that, now the facilities
for travelling are so immensely increased, some modern imitator of
Frederick II. will bring back from India a native falconer or two,
whose experience in the tropics would be invaluable, and thus infuse
new life into the professional world of Europe.

Of amateurs there has been for some years past no lack in England;
and want of space alone prevents the enumeration of the distinguished
falconers who still keep up in the British islands and dependencies
the best traditions of their art. Amongst these it would be unfair
to pass over the most conspicuous names, such as those of the late
Lord Lilford and Captain Salvin and Mr. William Brodrick, the first
named as justly famous for his acquaintance with hawks as for his
knowledge of ornithology. Captain Salvin first familiarised the modern
English people with the training of cormorants, and with the flight
with peregrines at rooks. Mr. Brodrick illustrated with his own
admirable coloured figures the handsome and useful book on falconry
which he published jointly with Captain Salvin. Another joint-author
with the latter was the Rev. Gage Earle Freeman, who for many years
most successfully flew, in a far from perfect country, peregrines
at grouse, merlins at larks, goshawks and sparrow-hawks at various
quarry. The small book which owes its authorship to these two masters
of the art has long been out of print. It is impossible to praise it
too highly as a handbook for beginners. Of living falconers, no one
can be compared in experience and general knowledge with Major Hawkins
Fisher, of the Castle, Stroud, whose game-hawks have for more than
fourteen years annually killed good bags of grouse at Riddlehamhope, in
Northumberland, and whose favourite peregrines, such as "Lady Jane,"
"Lundy," and "Band of Hope," have been a terror to partridges in Wilts
and Gloucestershire. Mr. St. Quintin, of Scampston Hall, Yorkshire,
probably the most successful game-hawker of whom we have any record,
has recently brought to a high degree of perfection the flight with
peregrines at gulls. The fine sport shown at rooks every year in
Wiltshire by the Old Hawking Club, is due chiefly to the ability and
energy of their secretary, the Hon. Gerald Lascelles. In flights with
short-winged hawk of both descriptions, Mr. John Riley, of Putley
Court, Herefordshire, is _facile princeps_. The late Rev. W. Willemot
did some good work with falcons at gulls before this branch of the
sport was taken up by Mr. St. Quintin; and the late Mr. T. J. Mann, of
Hyde Hall, Sawbridgeworth, was successful with rooks and partridges
in Cambridgeshire. Probably the most splendid establishment of hawks
in England during the last forty years was that of the late Maharajah
Dhuleep Singh at Elvedon. Falconry in India has been extensively
practised by many English officers quartered in that part of the
world, and notably by General Griffiths, and more lately by Captain
S. Biddulph, who has probably killed a greater variety of wild quarry
than any European now living, and whose portraits of trained hawks are
above all praise. Colonel Delmé Radcliffe, Colonel Brooksbank, Colonel
Watson, Captain Crabbe, the late Sir Henry Boynton, Mr. A. W. Reed,
Major Anne, and Mr. Arthur Newall, are all enthusiastic and successful
falconers. Colonel Ayshford Sanford, Major C. W. Thompson, of the 7th
Dragoon Guards, and the writer of these pages, have had considerable
success with merlins.

In France, the names of MM. Barachin, Sourbets, Arbel, and Belvallette
for the short-winged hawks, and MM. Pichot and Paul Gervais for other
kinds, require honourable notice; and in Russia that of the late M.
Constantine Haller will always be remembered. It is not many years
since the latter originated and carried into effect the scheme of an
International Hawking Congress, to be held near St. Petersburg. This
was attended by many Asiatic falconers, and one from England. But the
impossibility of finding suitable wild quarry in accessible places
sadly interfered with the success of the meeting; and the result was
not proportionate to the great trouble of organising it.

It will naturally be supposed that a sport so fashionable, so
prevalent, and so difficult as falconry, has been discussed at length
in many writings and in many languages. For the very extensive
literature treating of its art and practice in different parts of
the world, the reader is referred to Mr. Harting's _Bibliotheca
Accipitraria_, already mentioned, in which a full account is given of
no less than three hundred and seventy-eight works on the subject. Of
these, eighty-two are in English, and eighty-four in French. The German
publications number forty-six, the Italian thirty-eight, the Japanese
fourteen, and there are several in Spanish, Russian, Latin, Greek, and
Chinese.

The most notable works, besides those already mentioned, are the
Latin treatise written by the Emperor Frederick II.; _The Boke of St.
Albans_, by Dame Juliana Berners, 1486; the volumes published by
Turbervile in 1575, by Latham in 1615, and by Bert on the short-winged
hawks in 1635. Still more interesting are the books written in French
by Charles d'Arcussia, which date from 1598 to 1627. The nineteenth
century has produced several important works, including the small
treatise by Sir John Sebright, 1826, and the splendid illustrated
volume by Schlegel and Wulverhorst, 1853. The Badminton Library
contains half a volume on Falconry from the very able pen of Mr. Gerald
Lascelles; and the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ has an article on the
subject by Colonel Delmé Radcliffe.

To look for any real revival of falconry in Europe would be altogether
quixotic. Lucky indeed may the falconer of the future consider
himself if the art even survives. Already the goshawk, the ger, and
the golden eagle are almost extinct in England; sparrow-hawks have
become so rare that constant advertisements offering to buy one
remain without response; the harmless hobby and innocuous merlin are
ferociously persecuted, and have been exterminated in most of their
favourite haunts. A lost hawk has become almost a synonym for a
murdered hawk. Owners are beset with enemies on every hand, besides
being plagued and pestered by ignorant and impertinent intruders, if
ever they venture with their hawks into a public place. The country
becomes more and more unsuitable for hawking purposes. Upon many of
the most open spaces bricks and mortar intrude; upon other parts the
vexatious small plantations designed as shelters for game. Even when a
suitable grouse-moor or partridge-ground is found in want of a tenant,
obstacles may be raised. A baseless but deep-rooted prejudice deters
many lessors from allowing trained hawks to be flown over their land,
on the absurd plea that it will spoil it for subsequent tenants. In
short, the impediments with which the modern falconer has to contend
are too many and too great for any but a few very determined sportsmen.
These, when they have once mastered the initial difficulties, usually
persist in preferring the sport to any other. "Once a falconer, always
a falconer," is a maxim of universal truth. And the fraternal spirit
which animates most English falconers--and, for that matter, most
falconers throughout the world--is not the least agreeable feature
presented by this ancient and honourable field sport.



CHAPTER II

The Birds used in Hawking


Of the numerous birds of prey which are found in various parts of the
globe, a good many have been employed in the service of man as agents
in the pursuit of other birds and of four-footed animals, partly for
purposes of supplying him with food, and partly for sport. It is
more than probable that others might be similarly trained and flown,
especially some of the American and Australian hawks, which seem
suitable for the purpose, but which have never yet, as far as we know,
been thus taken in hand. It is not, however, proposed to describe at
length any members of the large family of Raptores, except such as are
known to have been used in hawking; and with regard to those which have
been flown only in remote parts of the world, considerations of space
necessitate a very brief reference.

It has usually been said that the list of birds used in hawking
includes only two main divisions--the long-winged hawks, as falconers
call them, known to naturalists under the name of "falcons"; and the
short-winged hawks, to which the men of science apply specially the
name of hawks. This ornithological classification of falcons on the
one hand and hawks on the other, is not a very happy one; for in the
general public estimation, as well as in falconers' phraseology, every
falcon is a hawk, although every hawk may not be properly called a
falcon. The one term is of classic, and the other of Teutonic origin;
and it was too late, when books about birds first began to be written
scientifically, to attempt to establish a hard-and-fast difference
between words which had already passed current for centuries as
meaning pretty much the same thing. Moreover, hawking, which, if the
naturalists' view of the matter were accepted, ought to be concerned,
like the French _autourserie_, with the short-winged hawks only, has
long been considered in England a mere synonym for falconry, which
also, if interpreted strictly according to the ornithological theory,
ought to be regarded as dealing with the long-winged species.

The two-fold division, however, no matter whether it is into falcons
and hawks, or into short-winged and long-winged hawks, seems to be
insufficient and unsatisfactory. For eagles, which have been, and still
are, extensively used in a sport for which the only English names are
hawking and falconry, remain unincluded in the two usually accepted
classes. No eagle can properly be called either a hawk or a falcon;
and in order to find a place for them amongst the birds trained and
flown at quarry, it seems necessary to institute a third class. What
order of precedence should be taken by such new class is a matter of
small consequence. In symmetry of shape, in its mode of flying, its
character, and its tastes, the eagle is as inferior to the true hawk as
the latter has always been deemed to be to the true falcon; and in this
work, as in others on falconry, the first place has been retained for
the long-winged hawks, and the second for the short-winged, leaving a
third place for what little it seems necessary to say about such eagles
as we know to have been flown at game.

The long-winged hawk is known by the following characteristics:--The
second primary feather in the wing, reckoning from the outside, is the
longest, or at least equal in length to any other, as in the merlin,
which has the second and third feathers very nearly or quite of the
same length. The upper mandible has on each of its sides, about a third
part of the distance from the point to the cere, a projection somewhat
resembling a very blunt tooth. The eye is dark brown. The wing is long
enough in the outer joint to come down, when closed, considerably more
than half-way between the end of the tail coverts and the end of the
tail itself, and in some cases, as in the hobby, as far as the tail, or
even farther.

In the short-winged hawks the wing is comparatively short in the outer
joint, and, when expanded, presents a rounded appearance at the end,
the fourth primary being the longest, and the first very short. That
emargination, or narrowing in, of the feather near its end, which is
observable in the first two primaries of the long-winged hawk, is still
more pronounced in the short-winged, and is conspicuous in the third
and fourth primaries also. The tail is long, and large when expanded.
The iris is of some shade of yellow, light or dark. The upper mandible
curves in a smooth line, without any projecting tooth.

[Illustration: WING of LONG-WINGED HAWK

WING of SHORT-WINGED HAWK

WING of EAGLE

SHAPE OF WINGS]

In the eagles the tail is shorter and stouter. The outer joint of the
wing is shorter than in the falcons, the wing deriving its power from
the feathers near the body rather than from the outer ones. The beak
is longer in shape than that of the other two sorts, and the legs are
proportionately stouter. The size of the smallest eagle is very much
greater than that of the largest falcon or hawk.

The differences which exist in the shape of the wing between the
three classes will perhaps be best appreciated by a glance at the
accompanying illustration, in which a characteristic wing of each kind
is figured.

The French have convenient terms (see Belvallette, _Traité
d'Autourserie_, Paris, 1887) which express in themselves, with great
perspicuity, though perhaps a little exaggeration, the different
methods of flying employed by the short- and the long-winged hawks.
The latter they describe as _ramiers_, or rowers, because their mode
of progression through the air resembles that of an oarsman, or
rather sculler, striking with repeated beats of his sculls; whilst
they describe the short-winged hawks (with eagles and all birds that
have rounded wings) as _voiliers_, or sailers, maintaining that their
impulse is gained by the pressure of the air against the wing, upon
which it acts as upon a sail. Many people may be inclined to call such
a distinction rather fanciful, and even question its truth; but the
mere fact that the two words have been accepted as correctly denoting
the two separate styles of flying, shows what a marked difference
between them has been generally admitted to exist. It will be seen that
the mode of flying the "rowers" and the "sailers" at quarry is also
very distinct.

In accordance with the three-fold classification above suggested, I
now proceed to mention the various birds used in hawking under the
successive headings of--(1) Long-winged hawks; (2) Short-winged hawks;
and (3) Eagles.


I. THE LONG-WINGED HAWKS (Falcons)[1]

[1] It should be observed that although the term falcon has an
established meaning among ornithologists as a name for the long-winged
hawks, it is used by falconers in quite a different acceptation. In
hawking phraseology it is applied, in contradistinction to the term
tiercel, to the female of the larger sorts of long-winged hawks, and
especially to the female peregrine. Thus when a falconer is described
as being possessed of "two falcons," or a hare is mentioned as having
been taken by a "falcon," the reader is expected to know that the
female peregrine is referred to, and not a male peregrine, or a saker,
lanner, or any other kind of hawk.

Perhaps the leading characteristic in the flying of this kind of
hawk is that it habitually captures its prey, or, as falconers term
it, "quarry," by making a dash or shot at it, technically called a
stoop, from some position where it can command an advantage in speed
and force. In many cases the bird is itself so conscious of this
natural aptitude for stooping in preference to mere following, that
it habitually places itself, when on the look-out for food, at a
considerable height, from which it can descend with great ease and
velocity upon any victim which may happen to be passing beneath,
using the principle of gravity to increase the force of its downward
flight; and in several departments of the falconer's art the trainer
endeavours to encourage the tendency of his hawk to mount and make the
most of the advantage so gained. The long-winged hawks are as a rule
trained to come to the lure, and not to the fist, although for the sake
of convenience it is sometimes found advisable to make them to both
practices.


Greenland Falcon (_Falco candicans_)

Female--Length, about 23 inches; wing, 16.5; tail, 9. Male--Length,
about 20 inches; wing, 14.5; tail, 8.

The general colour in the adult of both sexes is white, with more
or less faint bars of light brownish grey on the upper plumage, and
spots of the same colour underneath. The young birds of both sexes are
considerably darker than their elders, with a much larger allowance
of darker grey brown on the plumage both above and below. These dark
patches and markings become fainter and less abundant at each moult,
until in very old birds they almost vanish, leaving the hawk to appear
at a distance merely white. The bars on the back, shoulders, and wings
are often shaped like the two arms of an anchor; and the spots on the
breast are mostly tear-shaped, especially after the first moult. The
legs, feet, cere, and eyelids are bluish grey in the young birds, but
after the first moult become yellow, strengthening in colour at each
moult.

It will be seen by reference to the remarks on comparative merits of
falcons (Chap. XVIII.), that in proportions this species excels all
the other gers. It is also the most majestic in its appearance and
attitudes, and the most noble in the expression of its eyes and, if
the term may be permitted, of its countenance. It was not so much used
in the Middle Ages as the other gers, by reason of the difficulty of
obtaining it, but was probably the most highly valued of all. The late
Lord Lilford, who in quite modern times had a good deal of experience
with this species, opined that it was an excellent flier and stooper,
but a poor "footer," that it was the reverse of hardy, and difficult
to keep in condition. When observed in the wild state in Scotland
it was found to kill a great many rooks, and to be dreaded by the
wild-fowl, but not to be partial to game, though it was seen to make an
ineffectual stoop at a blackcock.


Iceland Falcon (_Falco islandus_)

Female--Length, about 24 inches; wing, about 17; tail, 9-1/4.
Male--Length, about 21 inches; wing, 15; tail, 8-1/4.

In young birds the upper parts are dark greyish brown or brownish grey,
each feather barred and tipped with a much lighter grey. The under
plumage is dusky white, splashed more or less profusely, especially
on the breast and flanks, with streaky spots and splashes of greyish
brown. At the first moult the brown tinge begins to disappear, and
the spots on the breast and flanks become more heart-shaped than
longitudinal, and less profuse. In subsequent moults the spots
become smaller and smaller, and the whole plumage fades to a lighter
grey, the bars on the upper plumage often softening gradually to a
greyish white. The sides of the head and lower nape are white, with
brownish lead-coloured shaft marks in the immature plumage, fading and
diminishing as the hawk moults. The moustachial streak is wanting in
this variety.

This species of ger was very highly esteemed in antiquity; and
individual falcons were occasionally presented by the kings of Denmark
to foreign potentates as a high compliment. In modern times it has been
found delicate, and difficult to keep in health. Mr. Newcome had some
which flew well at herons, but did not find them so generally effective
as peregrines. The late Maharajah Dhuleep Singh flew them with success
at hares. Lord Lilford, however, was unable to get them to fly rabbits
or hares, and found them liable to a troublesome affection of the feet.


Norway Falcon (_Falco gyrfalco_)

Female--Length, about 22 inches; wing, 16; tail, 9. Male--Length,
19-1/2 inches; wing, 14; tail, 8-1/4.

In the young the general colour of the upper plumage is a lead-coloured
brown, each feather tipped and margined with a somewhat lighter
brown or buff. The flight feathers are also similarly margined. The
lower back is sometimes tinged with grey. The tail is tipped with
white, and barred rather closely with a speckly buff. The breast is
profusely streaked with longitudinal blotches on a white ground, as
in the peregrine; but these markings are of a rather duller brown.
At the moult the markings on the under plumage diminish greatly in
size and number, especially on and near the chin, and become more or
less tear-shaped--this tendency to decrease continuing in subsequent
moults. In the upper plumage the brown is replaced by slatey grey,
barred with a lighter blue-grey, which in patches, especially upon
parts of the feathers which are habitually hidden, are nearly white.
The tail becomes slatey brown, with narrow bars of brownish grey. This
species has a broad well-marked moustachial streak, which is dark brown
in the immature and dark grey in the adult. The cere and eyelids are
blue-grey, and the legs and feet bluish lead colour; but all become
yellow in the adult.

This species is found not only in Norway, but also along the whole
expanse of Northern Europe and Asia. It is the nearest in colouring and
disposition to the peregrine, and the most remote from the Greenlander.
Lord Lilford considered that it was not so fast as the Greenlander,
and its shape is certainly not so indicative either of speed or of
strength. John Barr was sent over by Captain Dugmore some few years
ago to Norway, and brought back sixteen of these hawks. They flew
beautifully to the lure, turning more quickly than a peregrine, and
stooping with greater dash, but were of little use in the field, and
mostly fell speedy victims to the croaks or other maladies.


Labrador Falcon (_Falco labradorus_)

This is another species of the ger family, found, as its name imports,
in Labrador. It is of a much darker coloration than even the Norway
falcon, but not very different in measurements. It has not, as far as I
can learn, been trained for sporting purposes, though no doubt it very
well might be.[2]

[2] Although the name gyrfalco--the gyrating or circling falcon--is
now appropriated by most ornithologists to the Norway birds, all the
foregoing were included by the old falconers under the name ger, gyr,
or jer. They are all so styled, and very properly, by modern usage.
They are indeed little, if anything, more than climatic varieties of
the same bird, and although it has not been ascertained beyond a doubt
that they interbreed, this is highly probable. The lightest variety
of each one species is almost, if not quite, undistinguishable from
the darkest of the next; and the character of all is similar enough
to admit of their being trained and treated in the same way. From the
falconer's point of view, there will certainly be less difference
between one Iceland falcon and one of either of the two nearest allied
species than there may be between two individual specimens of _F.
islandus_. They will all therefore be dealt with in the remaining
chapters under the same general name of gers, unless when any special
consideration involves a more specific indication.

The difference of size between the two sexes in the case of these
splendid birds is, as it will be seen, considerable. But both are so
superior in speed and strength to any creatures at which they are at
all likely to be flown in England, that the list of quarry suitable
for the gerfalcon will, with a very few exceptions, serve for the ger
tiercel also. This list includes gulls of all kinds, herons, rooks and
crows, wood-pigeon, black-game, grouse, partridges, hares and rabbits,
wild-duck of all descriptions, Norfolk plover, and all the sea-fowls
found on the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, except swans, and
perhaps wild geese. The gerfalcon will also take these latter, as well
as kites and cranes, peacocks, ptarmigan, and bustards, at which the
best of them may be flown in countries where such birds are to be found
in sufficiently open places. It is recorded of Henry, king of Navarre,
that he had a gerfalcon which Scaliger declares to have struck down
in his sight a buzzard, two wild geese, divers kites, a crane, and a
swan (Sir Thomas Browne, cited by Harting, _Bibliotheca Accipitraria_,
xxvii.). The flight of the ger is marked by an appearance of power
suitable to its size and shape, and combines in an extraordinary degree
swiftness and the power of turning readily. When taught to wait on, it
does so in majestic style, often at a stupendous height; and its stoop
from that direction is so "hard," as the old falconers termed it, or
in other words so swift and impetuous, that the quarry is less often
clutched and held than struck down with a blow as the hawk passes, and
is often found either killed or altogether disabled by the violence of
the shock. So great, indeed, is the vehemence with which the ger flies
and stoops, that the old masters warned their pupils not to work them
long on any occasion, for fear of tiring them, and thus lowering their
"pitch," or impairing their powers of mounting.

Gers have not had a very fair trial in the hands of modern falconers.
They have seldom come into their possession under favourable
conditions. Greenlanders, especially, have for the most part been
brought to European shores by ships, upon which they were caught at
sea by men quite unacquainted with the proper mode of treating a
wild-caught hawk. Almost always their plumage has suffered badly; and
they themselves, having been kept alive on unsuitable or scanty food,
have been reduced so low as to permanently lose some of their natural
strength and vitality. The same thing may be said of several Icelanders
and Norwegians which have reached the hands of the falconer in pitiable
plight. Gers are very seldom taken on the passage in Holland, although
one tiercel, captured by Adrian Möllen in 1878, was acquired and
trained by the Old Hawking Club, and proved a fine performer at rooks.
Reference has already been made to the gers brought by John Barr from
Norway. Mr. Newcome, who in the treatment of peregrines was excelled by
no falconer of modern times, was dissatisfied with the gers which he
trained, and found them difficult to keep in condition.

D'Arcussia, who, of course, had many gers under his charge, declares
that their principal excellence was in mounting, whereas in the
downward stoop the peregrine might be awarded the palm. This opinion,
however, can hardly be reconciled with the more forcible and striking
words which he uses in another passage, where he tells us that having
trained some gers for partridges he took them out before a company of
experts, who, after seeing these hawks fly, were "disgusted with all
other hawks."


Peregrine (_Falco peregrinus_)

Female--Length, about 18 inches; wing, 14; tail, 7; tarsus, 2-1/4.
Male--Length, about 16 inches; wing, 12; tail, 6; tarsus, 2.

In young birds of both sexes the upper plumage is a more or less dark
brown, inclining in some individuals to chocolate colour, and in others
to black, each feather of the back, wing, and tail coverts tipped
with a lighter and more rufous brown. The chin, neck, breast, thighs,
and whole under plumage is more or less dull creamy white, streaked
plentifully with longitudinal blotches of dark brown, which are thin
and small at the neck, but become broader and bigger as they approach
the lower part of the breast, dying away again towards the vent. The
tail is greyish brown on the upper surface, tipped with more or less
rufous white, and barred with five or six rather irregular and rather
faint bands of darker brown. The under part of the tail is very faint
brownish grey, barred with a somewhat darker hue of the same colour.
The sides of the head and neck are dull creamy white, streaked with
very small dashes and markings of dark brown. On the under side of the
eyebrow, passing round the eyelids, is a patch or streak of very dark
brown, and a broad streak of the same colour or of black reaches like
a moustache from near the back of the upper mandible backwards for an
inch.

The legs, feet, cere, and eyelids vary from light blue-grey to greenish
yellow and pale ochre; beak, light bluish grey, darkening to black at
the tip; claws--called always by falconers "talons"--black, as in other
hawks of all kinds. In the first moult the brown of the whole upper
plumage is replaced by a slatey blue, each feather from the shoulders
to the end of the tail barred transversely and tipped more or less
distinctly with a lighter shade of blue-grey. The slate colour on the
crown and side of the head, including the moustache, is of a dark hue.
The under plumage, instead of being streaked longitudinally with brown,
becomes at the first moult spotted and splashed with markings of dark
grey, which are partly transverse and partly shaped like an arrow-head
or tear-drop, especially on the throat and gorge. At each successive
moult these spots and markings become more transverse and bar-like, and
also narrower and more sparse on the parts nearest the chin, until in
very old birds they disappear on the chin and throat, leaving a blank
surface of pure creamy white. Even before the first moult the feet and
legs begin to assume a yellow colour; and by the time the first moult
is over, they and the cere and eyelids have changed to a more or less
decided yellow, which as the bird grows old develops into a rich gold.

Both sexes undergo the same changes in plumage, but it should be said
that these hawks at all ages vary considerably in size and shape,
and still more in their colouring. It is not unusual to see an eyess
which has the head and parts of the upper plumage nearly black, while
the brown of others at the same age is as light as cocoa, with buff
edgings. Some detailed remarks as to the size and shape of peregrines
and other hawks will be found in Chapter XVIII., where it will be seen
that some are of much more prepossessing appearance than others.

Speaking generally, the peregrine may be regarded as the most perfect
type of combined strength, speed, and destructive power in birds. The
proportions are such as could not be altered with any advantage, and
adapt the hawk to a greater variety of flight than any other. This
reason, and the fact that it is to be found in almost all parts of the
habitable world, have always made it a favourite with falconers; and at
the present day it is more highly esteemed in Europe than any other,
even including the nobler gers.

The female--to which sex alone falconers allow the application
of the name of falcon--may be flown with success in this country
at herons, gulls of all kinds, ducks of all kinds, crows, rooks,
grouse, black-game, partridge, pheasant, woodcock, landrail, Norfolk
plover, curlew, and other sea birds of about the same size, magpies,
wood-pigeons, and doves. She may also generally, if desired, be taught
to fly at hares, and no doubt at rabbits. Occasionally she may take
plovers and snipe, jackdaws, kestrels, and smaller birds. In India her
list includes wild geese, cranes, bitterns, ibis, and bustard.

The male peregrine--always called a tiercel (tassel, or tiercelet),
because he is about a third smaller in size than his sister--may
be flown at gulls, teal, widgeon, partridges, woodcock, landrail,
starling, and the smaller sea birds, magpies, and doves; and when
exceptionally strong and courageous, will succeed to a greater or less
extent with rooks, crows, jackdaws, grouse, wood-pigeons, and kestrels.
In India and Eastern countries the francolin and the florican, and
several sorts of duck and plovers, may be added to the list.

The peregrine at different ages was described in old times by a
great variety of names, some of which are now little used, or even
understood. Thus, in the eyrie or nest, from the time when she was
"disclosed," or hatched, for a fortnight or three weeks she was called
an eyess (or nyas, from the French _niais_). When able to move about
on her legs she became a ramage hawk; and when she could jump or
flit from branch to branch, a brancher. After leaving the nest and
becoming fledged, as the term is for other birds, she was described
as a soar-hawk or sore-hawk (French, _sor_, from the Latin _saurus_,
reddish brown); and when her feathers were all fully grown down she was
said to be summed, whereas before this time she remained unsummed. The
period during which she could properly be called a soar-hawk lasted,
according to some eminent writers, from June 15 to September 15, when
the migrating time begins, and she came to be more properly spoken of
as a passage-hawk (or true _pélérin_). This designation carried her
down to the end of the year, when she assumed, according to the French
falconers, the title of _antennaire_; that is to say, a hawk whose
feathers, or whose whole self, belong to last year (_antan_). Many
of the English falconers, however, gave her no new title until at or
near the arrival of Lent, when they called her a Lantiner, Lentener,
or Lent-hawk, for as long as Lent lasted, that is to say, till near
moulting-time. The great similarity of the two names Lantiner and
Antennaire, given as they were to the same hawk at the same time of her
life in the two countries, suggests a strong doubt whether the former
was not a mere corruption of the latter. During the whole of this time
the unmoulted peregrine was known, from the colour of her plumage, as a
red hawk; and this term is still constantly employed. Many writers also
called her during the same period merely a soar-hawk, neglecting the
finer distinctions. It seems also that for a hawk which had been taken
in August or thereabouts, and kept in captivity, it was quite correct
to continue the name soar until her first moult was over. Passage-hawks
and lantiners were those only which had been caught in late autumn or
late winter; and these words could never be used for such as had been
caught before. As for the terms "gentle" and "slight," they seem most
properly to belong to peregrines which had been caught after they left
the nest, but before they began to migrate.

In spring or early summer the young peregrine naturally begins to
moult; and as soon as this tedious operation is concluded she becomes,
if wild, a "haggard," and if tame, an "intermewed" hawk. In any case
she is described as "blue," and not "red." There is some doubt as
to the meaning of the term haggard, many authorities, including the
lexicographers, deriving it from the Saxon _hag_, meaning hedge. A
more rational explanation seems to be that which traces it to the
Hebrew word _agar_ or _hagar_, meaning wild, as it is used in the Old
Testament. Wildness, indeed, is always regarded by Shakespeare and
other writers as the characteristic of the adult wild hawk, and not any
liking for hedges, to which no peregrine is very partial.

The language, or jargon, of falconry appropriated to the falcon, and,
by analogy, to other hawks, especially of the long-winged species,
special terms for various parts of her body and various movements and
conditions; much in the same way as several of the Oriental languages
describe the actions of royalty by special names. Thus her wings are
sails: the long feathers of them are flight feathers; and of these the
outer are principals; and next to them are the flags. Her tail is her
train; and the two central feathers of it are deck feathers. Her lower
leg is an arm, and her foot a hand, with petty singles instead of toes,
and talons instead of vulgar claws. Her nostrils are nares; her breast
feathers are mails; her lower intestine is her pannel; and her crop her
gorge.

A host of the commonest actions are dignified by more or less quaint
appellations. When a hawk sleeps she "jowks"; when she sips water she
"bowses." When she seizes her quarry in the air she "binds" to it; and
when her companion in the flight comes up and also takes hold, she or
he is said to "join." When she strips the feathers of the "pelt," or
dead body, of the quarry, she "deplumes"; and as she passes the food
from her crop downwards she "puts over." To "endue" is to digest;
to "feak" is to wipe her beak after eating; to "rouse" is to shake
herself; to "mantle" is to stretch out the leg in a sideways and
backward direction, and afterwards stretch the wing over it; to "mute"
is to evacuate; and to "cast" is to throw up the refuse feathers,
bones, and other indigestible matter which remains in her crop after a
meal has been digested. When a hawk is pushed or forcibly held down by
the hands she is said to be "cast" (French, _abattue_); and when she is
bound up in a wrapping, so as not to be able to move, she is "mailed."
When a silk thread is passed by means of a needle through the upper
eyelids and made fast under the chin she is said to be "seeled," and
the process of undoing these fastenings is called "unseeling." When she
stretches her wings upwards over her head she "warbles." When quarry is
put up for her, she is "served" with it. When she drives a quarry to
take refuge in covert she is said to "put in"; and when she rises in
the air over the place where the quarry has gone into hiding she "makes
her point." If instead of doing this she goes and takes perch on a tree
or other place of vantage, she "blocks." When her digestive organs are
brought into good condition she is said to be "enseamed."

Most of these words can be used indifferently for both long-winged and
short-winged hawks; but others are inappropriate for the latter. Thus
it is wrong to call the claws of a short-winged hawk talons; and a
goshawk or sparrow-hawk does not "mute," but "slice."


Black Shaheen (_Falco peregrinator_, or _Falco atriceps_)

This hawk is decidedly smaller than the true peregrine, the female
hardly exceeding a big tiercel in length or weight. It is distinguished
by the darker colour of its head, and especially of the sides and
moustachial streak, which may be called black. The under parts of the
body have a more or less pronounced rufous tinge; and the ends of the
wings, when closed, approach more nearly to the end of the tail.

The black shaheen is docile, and more easily reclaimed than the
peregrine; and is a great favourite with some of the Indian falconers,
although the many distinguished Europeans who have flown hawks in
that country express themselves less satisfied, and rather doubt the
courage of peregrinator in the field. The quarry is the same as that
of the peregrine, but it is only the strongest individuals which can
be expected to cope with such heavy birds as the latter can tackle. Of
the rapidity of its flight there can be no doubt; but Colonel Delmé
Radcliffe says that it is inferior to the peregrine in "ringing"
flights.

Red-naped Shaheen (_Falco babylonicus_)

Female--Length, about 17-1/4 inches; wing, 13; tail, 7-1/4.
Male--Length, 15-1/2 inches; wing, about 11-3/4; tail, 6-1/4.

This is another very near relation of the peregrine, also a favourite
with the Indian falconers, both native and European. It is slightly
smaller than the black shaheen, from which, as well as from _F.
peregrinus_, it is readily distinguished by the reddish chestnut colour
of the back of the head. The foot is smaller proportionately than
that of the peregrine, and shaped rather more like that of the desert
falcons. It is easily caught and reclaimed, and is said to develop a
sort of affection for its trainer. When trained it is a most useful
servant, and will fly with readiness and success at almost any of the
innumerable Indian birds which are anywhere nearly of its own size.
It excels particularly in the flight at wild ducks; and a specimen
which was brought to England not many years ago proved a first-rate
game-hawk. Latham asserts that it can be flown successfully at wild
geese, but should be followed closely by well-mounted men, who should
dismount quickly and secure the quarry, which may otherwise severely
damage the hawk with its long and strong wings. He appears to have
known a tiercel which flew rooks, and seldom missed as much as one
in ten flights. It is a better moulter than the peregrine, and can
sometimes be fully moulted by August.


Barbary Falcon (_Falco barbarus_)

Female--Length, about 13-1/2 inches; wing, 11-1/2; tail, 5-1/2.
Male--Length, about 12-3/4 inches; wing, 10-3/4; tail, 5.3.

This beautifully-shaped hawk is the smallest of those which have been
commonly called miniature peregrines; and the resemblance is hardly
so marked in either of the last-mentioned varieties. For the barbary
is even more powerfully armed and feathered than her bigger cousins,
having not only the wings conspicuously longer and more pointed than
_F. peregrinus_, but also distinctly larger feet and talons, and a
larger beak proportionately to her size. The colouring is the same
as that of the peregrine, except that the young birds are generally
lighter, especially about the head, which has a slightly ruddy tint;
and the feet are more usually yellow than grey-blue. In adults the
thighs are strongly marked with arrow-headed streaks. This hawk is
sometimes called the Tartaret. It is found in the southern portion of
the temperate zone, especially on the African and other shores of the
Mediterranean.

The falcons and strong tiercels will fly well at partridges, pigeons,
and doves. Quails, of course, are easily taken by them, as they are
exceedingly fast on the wing. If a cast of haggards could be trained
for peewit or snipe, and well entered, they would probably have as
good a chance as any hawk which could be selected for these difficult
flights.


Lesser Falcon (_Falco minor_)

This hawk very much resembles the last, but has longer legs, and a
slight rufous tinge on the plumage. It is found chiefly in South Africa.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Punic Falcon (_F. punicus_), the Javanese Falcon (_F.
melanogenys_), and the Chilian Falcon (_F. cassini_), all more or
less resemble the peregrine, but with variations in the colour of the
plumage, and of smaller dimensions.


Saker (_Falco sacer_)

The measurements of this hawk, as of a great many others, are given in
the so-called scientific books, even of highest repute, with hopeless
inaccuracy. One of the authorities which is most often referred to
gives the length of the female saker as 18-1/2 inches, or the same as
the peregrine, whereas every naturalist ought to know that the saker is
a very much larger bird. On the other hand, the _Royal Natural History_
(1895), coming much nearer the truth, says that "the female falls but
little short of 25 inches, and the male measures more than 18-1/2." The
proportions of this hawk, excepting the feet, do not differ greatly
from those of the ger, although the colourings and general appearance
are completely dissimilar. The weak point, from the falconer's point of
view, is the smallness of the feet and shortness of the middle toe, as
well as the poor quality of the feathers, which have about them none of
the glossy smartness so noticeable in the ger and the peregrine.

Young birds have the crown and nape buffy white, lighter on the
forehead and over the eyebrows, and in other parts profusely streaked
with dark brown. The upper plumage is a rather dull dark brown, with
fulvous and rufous buff edgings. The tail, excepting the deck feathers,
is marked with irregular oval spots, which range themselves into a
sort of band. There is a distinct moustachial stripe. The under parts
are buff-coloured, liberally streaked with splashes of dark brown,
especially on the flanks; but the buff colour grows lighter on the
upper parts, and at the chin becomes nearly white. The cere, legs, and
feet are pale bluish or greenish grey.

In adults the head becomes much lighter, and sometimes dull white, but
with a more or less rufous brown tint and streaks of darker colour. The
upper parts are dull and rather pale brown, the feathers margined, and
in some parts barred, with light fulvous buff. The flight feathers are
faintly barred with a lighter brown, and all the tail feathers barred
with light buff. The sides of the face, chin, throat, and breast are
nearly white, the latter being spotted rather than streaked with brown,
but not transversely barred. The moustachial streak fades away. The
cere, feet, and legs assume a more or less pronounced yellow colour.

The saker is a tolerably common bird throughout almost the whole
of Central and Southern Asia, and is there very highly valued for
practical purposes. It was also largely imported into Western Europe in
the Middle Ages, and later it was used even in France and England for
the flight at kites. It is for this fine sport that it is now chiefly
prized in India. The list of quarry taken by this very serviceable hawk
is extremely large, and includes, besides the various kinds of tropical
kites, hubara, or bustard, herons, black ibis, ducks, and a whole host
of smaller birds. The flight at the short-eared owl is especially fine,
and the quarry often rings, and attains to a very great height before
the saker can get up. The female saker will take hares well, and also
ravine deer.

The tiercel of the saker is more properly called a sakret, sakeret,
or sackeret. This hawk is the largest of those called desert-hawks or
desert-falcons.


Lanner (_Falco lanarius_)

Female--Length, 18 inches; wing, 13.3; tail, 7.2. Male or
"Lanneret"--Length, 16-1/2 inches; wing, 12; tail, 6-1/2.

The dimensions of this desert-hawk do not differ widely from those of
the peregrine, but the feet are much smaller, and the tail longer.
The feathers are of an inferior quality, and the light colour of the
head prevents all risk of confusion. The wings are slightly longer and
heavier. Young birds have the whole back up to the nape of the neck
and down to the tail coverts dark brown, each feather tipped with a
lighter and more rufous brown. Wing and tail feathers darker brown,
narrowly tipped with rufous buff. The deck feathers are plain, but the
others are barred with lighter brown on the upper surface, and with
dull brownish grey bands of two shades underneath. The crown of the
head is light greyish buff, with narrow streaks of light brown. The
lower plumage is more or less dull white, very variously marked in
different individuals, but generally with longitudinal splashes of more
or less dark brown. The change to the adult plumage is not very marked.
The breast markings do not change to transverse bars; but some old
birds have the brown markings so arranged as to appear like irregular
bars. These markings, however, generally become very sparse, and often
disappear entirely on the throat and upper breast. The upper plumage
alters to a slatey brownish grey, most of the feathers being barred
with a darker brown, and still tipped with a rufous line. The cere and
feet change from a bluish to a yellowish grey.

The lanner is common in North Africa, as well as in Central and
Southern Asia, and is very frequently trained and flown in all these
parts of the world. It was also formerly very largely imported into
England, and used chiefly for game-hawking. It enjoys, nevertheless,
anything but a good character. The old English writers describe it
as "slothful and hard mettled," and of an "ungrateful disposition,"
while the French characterise it as _vilain_ and _rebelle_. The Indian
and Afghan falconers get it, as well as the saker, into condition by
frequent physicking; and the list of drugs formerly used for it in
England is of portentous length. In modern times the dosing of this as
well as other hawks is imperfectly understood by European falconers;
and the lanner is consequently in most cases a disappointing bird. When
thrown off, she flies in a heavy style, and only after considerable
delay will begin to mount. Very often, too, she will not mount at all,
but go to perch on a tree, or even on the ground. She is apt to rake
away and check at pigeons, plovers, and what not, and to be dull and
obstinately slow at coming to the lure. To ensure obedience she must
be fed a good deal upon washed meat, and that in moderate quantities,
her appetite, like that of all the desert-falcons, being apt to grow
slack on the least overfeeding. The lanner is very partial to mice, and
in the wild state appears to devour lizards and other reptiles. She is
not, therefore, at all particular as to diet, and may be regaled with
coarser food than the nobler falcons.

Once properly conditioned, however, and "on her day," the lanner--or
for that matter the lanneret, as the male is called--is a useful and
deadly hawk. Both sexes will kill partridges freely, not waiting on
so often when the quarry has put in as taking perch on a neighbouring
tree, and waiting, like a sparrow-hawk, to start from there. The female
has also been known to take wild-duck well, and will wait on, when she
likes, at a stupendous height. For magpies the lanner would hardly be
quick enough. Pheasants can usually be taken by the females at the
first stoop. It is said that the Arabs fly the lanner at small gazelles
and a kind of bustard, which it stoops at whenever it takes wing, and
without actually striking it, frightens it on to its legs, so that it
can be run down with hounds. This bird has the faculty of ejecting a
slimy matter from its mouth and vent, which, if it reached the hawk,
would incapacitate her from flying. Ringing flights are flown at a bird
called the chakhah, resembling a golden plover; and the lanners which
excel at this fetch a price equivalent to £50 or £60. The Arabs also
fly the lanner at sand-grouse and francolin.

D'Arcussia declares that the sakers and lanners do better in stormy
weather and high winds than the peregrine. Neither of them bear the
heat well in temperate climates.

       *       *       *       *       *

The South African Lanner (_F. biarmicus_) and the Tunisian Lanner, or
Alphanet, are local species, having a more strongly rufous coloration
than _F. lanarius_.


Lugger (_Falco jugger_)

Female--Length, 17 inches; wing, 13.6; tail, 8. Male--Length, 15
inches; wing, 12; tail, 7.

An Indian hawk, rarely found out of the peninsula. It is much used by
the natives for a variety of quarry, and does a lot of useful work.


Eleonora Falcon (_Falco eleonoræ_)

Female--Length, about 15-1/2 inches; wing, 13.3; tail, 7.5.
Male--Length, about 13-1/2 inches; wing, 11.8; tail, 6.5.

This is a hawk of the hobby type, much darker on the under parts, and
with a good deal of black and rufous on the under surface of the wings.
The feet are at first pale yellow, developing later into orange. The
wings are long, but do not project, like the hobby's, beyond the tail.

This hawk is common on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. It was
observed and reported upon by Brooke in Sardinia, and Kruper in Greece,
which latter observes that it is "a noble falcon, and was in early ages
used for falconry." I have not discovered the chapter or verse in which
this use is mentioned; but the hawk is obviously quite big enough to be
flown at partridges, if willing to go. Both the above-named naturalists
maintain that its food consists principally of birds, and Dr. Kruper
declares that he found in its nests the remains of six different kinds
of bird, including quail and hoopoe. A specimen was trained by Lord
Lilford in 1868, who found it very obedient to the lure, but of no use
in the field.


Hobby (_Falco sabbuteo_)

Female--Length, 13 to 13-1/2 inches; wing, 11-1/4; tail, 6-1/4.
Male--Length, 11 to 12 inches; wing, about 10-1/2; tail, 5-1/2.

This very beautiful and graceful little hawk may at once be identified
by the exceeding length of its wings, which, when closed, extend a
full half-inch beyond the end of the tail. It is conspicuous also by
its very marked colouring, which is in young birds almost black on the
upper parts, each feather, however, being tipped with fulvous brown.
The lower plumage is creamy white, streaked profusely with dark brown
splashes, and tinted on the throat and sides of the head with a warm
buff. There is a broad black patch below the eye, and a black eyebrow,
with a small streak of buff above it. The moustache is broad and
strongly marked. The cere is greenish grey; and the feet, originally
of the same hue, develop gradually into light yellow, and later into
gamboge and bright orange. The deck feathers are plain, but all the
others are barred both above and below by about ten cross-bands of
lighter brown.

In adults the upper plumage changes to a uniform dark slate colour,
nearly black towards the head. The flanks and thighs, especially in
the male, assume a more and more distinct rufous colour. The feet are
proportionately small, and the legs decidedly weak.

There are strong evidences that the hobby, when commonly bred in
Western Europe, was used with success for taking larks, not only
by the process of "daring" referred to later on in the chapter on
lark-hawking, but in actual flight, and that the female was used for
taking partridges in the same way. The failure of modern falconers
to make any practical use of this elegant and prepossessing hawk, is
noticed in detail in the same chapter. Owing to its natural tameness,
the hobby is especially liable to fall a victim to persecution
by gamekeepers and naturalists, and has as a result been nearly
exterminated in England.

A wild hobby has been seen by credible witnesses to take a swift on the
wing in Bulgaria. A trained female has been known in England to take
house-pigeons.


Merlin (_Falco æsalon_)

Female--Length, 11-1/2 to 12 inches; wing, 8-1/2 to 9; tail, 5-1/4 to
5-3/4; weight, about 8 oz. Male--Length, 10-1/2 to 11 inches; wing, 8
to 8-1/4; tail, 4-3/4 to 5; weight, 6-1/4 to 6-3/4 oz.

Females and young males have the whole upper plumage a rich chocolate
brown, with reflections of purplish grey, each feather on the back and
upper wing coverts tipped with a somewhat lighter brown, and crossed
by a buff bar, which is usually not to be seen except when the plumage
is disarranged or ruffled. Each feather also has a black shaft, which
is conspicuous in strong lights on a close view. The primaries and all
the principal feathers of the wing are very dark brown on the upper
surface, barred with several patches of light brown or buff. The under
surface of the wing is very light silvery grey, with numerous bars and
spots of brownish grey, each feather having a dark grey shaft, which
is white underneath. The tail feathers on the upper surface are of a
slightly lighter brown than the back, and light grey underneath, barred
with more or less oblique bands, which are buff-coloured above, and
light grey-brown underneath, and are all tipped with white. The under
plumage of the body is creamy white, more or less tinged with light
buff, especially on the sides of the head and throat. It is liberally
streaked with longitudinal splashes of dark brown, which on the upper
throat are very small, but on the lower flanks are broad and large.
There is a facial patch and a moustache of dark brown, but these are
not so strongly marked as in the peregrine and hobby. The beak is
light blue, darkening to indigo, and at the tip to black. The cere and
eyelids, light bluish grey. The legs and feet vary from light greenish
or blueish grey to light yellow. The toes are long, thin, and flexible.

Adult females do not change, except that they lose much or all of the
purplish sheen of nestlings, and that the edging of the feathers is
less marked. Adult males undergo a very striking transformation. The
whole upper plumage changes from brown to a rich bluish slate colour,
deepening in the long wing feathers to greyish black. Instead of the
light bars on the tail, there is a single broad grey-black band nearly
at the extreme end. The breast at the same time assumes a warmer tint,
deepening from cream colour at the chin to a rich buff lower down, and
deep russet at the flanks. The cere, eyelids, legs, and feet assume a
deep golden or light orange colour. The wing and tail feathers have
a stronger and stiffer appearance than before the moult, and those
of the tail are generally somewhat shorter as well as stouter than
they were. Very old females occasionally, but not often, put on the
livery of the adult male; and this is the case sometimes also with old
female kestrels. In merlins of both sexes the third feather of the
wing is usually exactly equal in length to the second, and it is only
exceptionally that it is even fractionally shorter.

The name merlin is in orthodox phraseology reserved to the female
merlin only, the male being more properly spoken of as a jack. The
former, when exceptionally strong and courageous, may be flown with
some success at partridges, and will also take house-pigeons and
probably doves. They have been known to capture and kill wood-pigeons.
Both sexes may be flown at quails, and are more deadly at this business
than sparrow-hawks. In the wild state they kill blackbirds, thrushes,
starlings, and almost all kinds of small birds, and the trained birds
may be kept with more or less success to any one of these birds of
quarry. It has been thought that a good cast of merlins might take
snipe, and it is said that such a feat has been in former times
achieved. With tropical snipe in an overfed or moulting condition, it
is possible that this might still be done; but it is to be greatly
doubted whether any trained merlin or merlins could take fully-moulted
English snipe. The flight, however, for which merlins are usually
reserved, and for which they are renowned, is that at moulting
skylarks, and in this sport the jacks are very nearly as successful
as their sisters, as will be seen in the chapter on lark-hawking. The
merlin will follow her quarry when she can into covert; and when her
victim is larger than herself, kills it by strangulation, gripping it
tightly round the neck.


Indian Merlin (_Falco chicquera_)

This hawk, a little larger than the European merlin, is flown at much
the same quarry, but also at rollers and hoopoes, which latter afford a
fine ringing flight.

       *       *       *       *       *

The African Merlin (_F. ruficollis_) has the markings on the breast
closer together.


Kestrel (_Falco tinnunculus_)

Female--Length, about 13 inches; wing, 9; tail, 7. Male--Length, about
12 inches; wing, 8-1/4; tail, 6-1/2.

Females and young males have the upper plumage reddish brown,
transversely barred on the shoulders, wing coverts, and tail with
black; the flight feathers, blackish brown; the under plumage, very
pale fawn colour, streaked on the breast, and splashed on the lower
part with brown. Adult males have the head, lower part of the back,
and upper surface of tail, light slatey grey. The tail with a broad
black band near the end, and tipped with white; and the head with dark
shaft-streaks; the shoulders, upper back, and upper wing coverts, pale
chestnut, with small black spots of a triangular shape. The wings, dark
horn colour, with lighter edging. The under plumage, pale fawn colour,
becoming more rufous at the lower part and on the thighs; streaked with
dark brown splashes on the breast, and spots on the abdomen. The cere,
feet, and legs are pale greyish yellow in the young, and brighter in
the adult.

This little hawk has, structurally, all the characteristics of what
the naturalists call a true falcon--more so, in fact, than the more
highly reputed merlin. Its shape, indeed, but for a want of size in the
feet and a somewhat exaggerated length of tail, is very symmetrical,
and indicative of fine flying powers. It is the least shy and most
familiar of all European hawks, and survives in tolerably large numbers
throughout England, where, together with the owls, it is a chief agent
in keeping down the inordinate increase of mice. Its powers of flight
are very considerable; and it remains on the wing generally for a
considerable part of the day, not soaring so much as beating the ground
at a height of two or three score feet, and hovering from time to time
with its eye on any small creature that may be moving about or hiding
in the grass below. But notwithstanding its fine proportions, its
muscular power is not great, and its extreme pace is not to be compared
with that of the merlin. If pursued by a fairly good peregrine in a
pretty open place, it frequently succumbs.

In the field a kestrel is of no practical use. It will indeed generally
take sparrows and other small birds thrown up from the hand when it is
waiting on. And instances have been known where it has flown and taken
a few wild birds. There is even a story extant of an eyess kestrel
which was flown at a young partridge and took it. But these facts,
if true, must have been entirely exceptional. As a rule the trained
kestrel refuses all wild quarry, and it has never been known to
persevere in killing any. I am not sure whether a fair attempt has been
made to fly her at rats, which would probably afford the best chance.
But kestrels can be reclaimed and taught to fly to the lure in exactly
the same way as the proudest peregrine or the most majestic ger. They
will wait on beautifully, and stoop very prettily at the lure. And
while at hack their movements are exceedingly lively and graceful. Thus
for a beginner the kestrel is, in my opinion, undoubtedly the most
suitable hawk upon which he can try his hand. In the breeding season
eyesses may be procured pretty easily, and at an insignificant cost;
and throughout the year many of both sexes are captured in the nets of
bird-catchers, who would part with them readily for a few shillings if
they were notified beforehand that any amateur would give a fair price
for the captives. In reclaiming and manning a kestrel, in learning
how to keep her feathers unbroken and clean, how to hood her, bathe
her, house her, and weather her, and how to diet her, the tyro can
very easily and cheaply acquire all that elementary knowledge of the
difficult art of falconry which it is advisable that he should possess
before he attempts to succeed in training and flying a valuable hawk.
Whereas if, without any preliminary experience, he begins, as so many
writers advise him, with an eyess merlin, he is almost certain to
meet with a more or less discouraging failure. Far better to observe
the old maxim, "_Fiat experimentum in corpore vili_." Let the young
falconer not attempt to run before he can walk fairly well. When he has
taught his kestrel to wait on and stoop to the lure, and has either by
preventive care or by successful imping got her in perfect plumage, let
him feed her up and "whistle her down the wind" to shift for herself,
and then consider himself qualified to make a more serious attempt with
a sparrow-hawk, merlin, or peregrine.

[Illustration: TRAINED KESTREL "THUNDERBOLT"

OWNED BY MR. R. GARDNER]


II. THE SHORT-WINGED HAWKS

Regarded from the falconer's point of view, the short-winged hawk
differs essentially from her more honourable cousin of the long wings
in the following particulars. She cannot be taught to "wait on" in the
air. Although she will on occasions stoop from above at her quarry,
she does not habitually capture it by a downward stroke or blow, but
by following it from behind and "trussing" or "binding" to it. She
manifests her readiness to fly by a condition of body which is called
by the quaint, and apparently Oriental, name of "yarak," in which she
shows evident signs of eagerness and excitement, and is obviously
on the _qui vive_--attentive to every sight and sound which she may
suppose to indicate the presence of quarry or the hope of a flight.
She kills her quarry, when taken, by crushing it in her strong foot
and piercing it with her long and sharp claws, or pounces. She follows
her quarry, when it is possible, into covert; and when this is not
possible she takes stand readily on some convenient resting-place, such
as the branch of a tree, the top of a wall, or on her trainer's fist.
As a general rule she does not need to be kept to any one particular
quarry, or flown at any particular time of day, but may be thrown off
at anything, whether fur or feather, which she thinks she can take, and
will do almost any amount of work at almost any hour.

It will thus be seen that though, from the purely artistic and sporting
standpoint, the long-winged hawk deserves the more honourable place
which has always been accorded to her in the most civilised countries,
yet, taking the more material and matter-of-fact view of the matter,
and regarded as a "pot-hunter," the short-winged is at least equal
to her in merit. There is, it is true, in the flight of the latter
little of the grandeur and dramatic excitement which so often attend
the efforts of the former. No silent pause while the pointer stands
and the hawk mounts steadily to her lofty pride of place above him.
No spiral climbing of quarry and hawk into the distant blue sky. No
lightning descent, which in a second or two brings down the hawk from
hundreds of yards high to within a few feet of her trainer's head. But
there is plenty of excitement of a different and not less healthy kind.
The wary stalking of a shy quarry while the well-trained hawk on the
fist trembles with eagerness for the chase. The rush and bustle of the
start; the quick burst of riding or running to keep the chase in view;
the hurry and scurry when the quarry has to be routed out from his
place of refuge; the tussle for mastery when he has once been seized;
and, last but not least, the abundance and variety of the bag which on
a successful day is carried home.

One very great advantage attached to the short-winged hawk is that she
can be flown in an enclosed country, or at least in places which are
only very moderately open. Woods and forests are of course tabooed;
and any land which is very undulating or very steep should be avoided.
But the grass land and arable land which is commonly found in some
four-fifths of the area of England, and especially that part of it
which is not cut up into too small fields, is available, as well as
the downs and commons, even though an occasional spinny or small
plantation intrudes itself into the campaigning ground. Another merit
of the short-winged hawk is that she is less likely to be lost. Trained
as she is, or should be, upon missing her quarry, to come back to
the falconer himself, and remain with him until her quarry is again
actually on the wing, or, in the case of ground-game, on its legs,
there is little temptation either to "rake away" or to "check." Again,
the length of the flights, counting each separate bout in the pursuit
as a flight, is very much less; so that the falconer--or ostringer,
to give him his correct name--has a far better chance of keeping in
sight when the quarry is either taken or put in. Finally, neither of
the species of short-winged hawks usually trained and flown is much
addicted to the vice of "carrying"; and thus the risk of losing a hawk
or wasting valuable time by reason of this vexatious habit is much less
to be feared. It should perhaps be added that constant exercise is less
necessary for a short-winged than for a long-winged hawk, as the former
may be left idle for considerable periods, and when brought into yarak
again seems to have lost little if any of her speed or her merits.

At the same time, the temper and disposition of the short-winged hawks
are undeniably worse at the first than those of the long-winged.
Both goshawks and sparrow-hawks, whether eyesses or wild caught, are
naturally suspicious and mistrustful of mankind. They are easily
alarmed, and very ready to take offence, and, once alienated or
frightened, can with difficulty be conciliated. Savage and vindictive
by nature and habit, they are subject to almost ungovernable fits of
rage and sulkiness, which can only be subdued and guarded against
by the exercise of much patience and good temper on the part of the
trainer. They are jealous and cruel, and cannot, as a rule, be flown in
company with other hawks, even of their own species and sex. Once lost
for any considerable time they resort to their wild habits, and are
difficult to recapture. Unless carefully dieted they are very subject
to apoplectic fits. Their long tails, although flexible and elastic
under moderate pressure, will not always stand a very severe strain,
and are likely, in a serious struggle either with any big quarry or
with an awkward trainer, to be broken. The short-winged hawks should
generally be belled on the tail. They are apt sometimes to crouch down
on their quarry when taken, in which case a bell on the leg is hardly
sounded. Besides this, if flown when snow is on the ground, the snow
will choke the bell and make it useless.

Taking the whole world over, the families of the goshawks and
sparrow-hawks, which practically merge into one another, are very
extensive, comprising more than thirty species, many of which could
without doubt be pressed into the service of man. Only three of these
have, however, commonly been trained.


Goshawk (_Astur palumbarius_)

Female--Length, 22 to 24 inches; wing, 12-1/2 to 13-1/2; tail, 10 to
12; tarsus, about 3.5. Male--Length, 19-1/2 to 21-1/2 inches; wing,
10-1/4 to 12-1/2; tail, 9 to 10; tarsus, about 3.

Females and young males have the upper plumage a dull liver brown,
broadly margined and barred with much lighter brown; the tail, barred
with five broad bands, dark brown. The under surface of the tail is
pale whitish grey, with five bands of dark brownish grey. The rest
of the under plumage is pale or rusty cream colour, tinted more or
less faintly with salmon pink, and streaked irregularly on the breast
and flanks with longitudinal patches or splashes of dark brown. The
cere and legs are greenish yellow. The eyes are very light, and clear
yellowish grey, and so bright that the Greeks gave to this hawk the
name of [Greek: asterias ierax], the star-eyed hawk. Adult males have
a decided grey tint on the upper and under plumage. At the first moult
both sexes change the longitudinal streaks on the breast, thighs, and
flanks into more or less irregular bars of dark greyish brown; and as
they grow older the bars usually become narrower and more regular. The
tail is now barred on both surfaces with four broad bands of dark brown
or grey. The cere, legs, and feet become yellow; and the eyes change to
a deeper yellow, and ultimately to deeper and darker orange.

Goshawks vary greatly in size and strength. Those which are imported
from Norway are often exceptionally big and strong, while the specimens
from Germany and Central Europe have a reputation for weakness.
Although this hawk formerly bred commonly in England, it is now
practically extinct; but some nests are still annually found in France.

The list of quarry at which the goshawk may be flown is very
large, including, for the British islands, hares, rabbits, stoats,
weasels, squirrels, and rats; herons and wild ducks--flown as they
rise--pheasants, partridges, landrails, water-hens, jays, and an
occasional magpie or wood-pigeon. In fact, any moderate-sized bird
which gets up close in front of a goshawk must bustle himself if he
intends to escape the first quick dash of this impetuous and greedy
pursuer.

In India and other tropical countries the female "goss" will fly,
with a good start, at crows, neophrons, minas, florikin, francolin,
jungle-fowl, and even such big birds as kites, geese, cranes, and
pea-fowl. Even in England she was formerly flown with success at
cranes, wild geese, and other large water-fowl; and the old books
contain elaborate directions as to stalking these birds "with grey
goshawk on hand." In some parts of Asia goshawks are said to have been
flown at ravine deer and bustard; but this would probably be with some
assistance from dogs.

The male goshawk, much smaller in size than his sisters, is less
valuable to the sportsman, but is usually accounted rather swifter on
the wing. The best specimens will catch a partridge in fair flight; and
most of them, with a tolerably good start, will overtake a pheasant. A
very strong male will sometimes catch and hold a full-grown rabbit, and
the others may be expected to kill half-grown rabbits and leverets, if
kept to such quarry. Landrails and water-hens make a more or less easy
flight. Jays and magpies may sometimes be taken, as well as blackbirds.
Rats, weasels, squirrels, and "such small deer" are, of course,
available. Occasional specimens of the male goshawk are extraordinarily
fast and strong. Colonel Delmé Radcliffe had one which actually killed
grouse in Scotland, and another which took storks and geese in India,
as well as partridges.


Sparrow-Hawk (_Accipiter nisus_)

Female--Length, 14 to 16 inches; wing, 8-1/2 to 9-1/2; tail, 7-1/2 to
7-3/4; tarsus, 2.4. Male--Length, 11-1/2 to 12-1/2 inches; wing, 7-1/2
to 8-1/4; tail, 6 to 6-1/2; tarsus, 2.1.

The sparrow-hawk is remarkable for its very long and slender legs
and middle toe, and its small head. Young females have the beak and
upper plumage sepia brown, each feather edged with rufous brown; the
nape varied with white or rufous white. The wing feathers are dark
brown, with five bars of still darker brown on the outer primaries.
The tail rather lighter brown, with five dark brown bars. The under
plumage is dull white, more or less tinged with rufous, spotted with
irregular patches, streaks, or bars of greyish brown. In the adult the
brown of the upper plumage assumes a slatey grey hue, and the edgings
of lighter colour vanish. The breast and under parts are barred with
transverse markings of mixed fulvous and brown, and develop a rusty
red colouring on the abdomen and inner thighs. The legs and feet become
more distinctly yellow or gold colour, and the eye deepens in colour
to light and ultimately to dark orange. Males in the immature plumage
differ from females only in having a somewhat more rufous hue on the
lighter part. But after the moult this rufous colouring becomes still
more conspicuous, and spreads to the flanks and under surface of the
wings, as well as to the upper throat. In both sexes the bars on the
breast and thighs become narrower and of a fainter grey as the birds
grow older; and the eyes deepen in colour.

Female sparrow-hawks--very much bigger and stronger than their
brothers--may be flown at any bird of the size of a partridge, or
smaller, which is not very swift or quick in shifting. In the wild
state they undoubtedly kill a certain number of wood-pigeons, taking
them at some disadvantage, as, for instance, when they pass under a
tree in which the hawk is at perch. Probably the wild sparrow-hawk
also picks up an occasional peewit, snipe, or woodcock. She is fond
of young pheasants, which she will pick up from the ground when
insufficiently guarded by the mother or foster-mother. Young chickens
sometimes undergo the same fate under similar circumstances. The uses
of the trained sparrow-hawk, both male and female, are described in the
chapter devoted to this hawk.


Besra Sparrow-Hawk (_Accipiter virgatus_)

This species, considerably smaller than _A. nisus_, is very common in
the tropics, both in the wild and in the trained state, and is thought
by many to be quite equal, if not superior, to it in courage and
ability.

Other sparrow-hawks which may be trained include the large species
called the Levant sparrow-hawk (_A. brevipes_), _A. minullus_ and _A.
tinus_, from South America, _A. cirrocephalus_, from Australia, _A.
badius_, and the miniature _A. polyzonoides_.


III. THE EAGLES

In Western Europe no great use seems to have been made by the old
falconers of any kind of eagle. D'Arcussia in the early editions of his
book makes no reference to them as objects of the trainer's care, and
some of the early English authors expressly speak of them as useless
to the falconer by reason of their great weight, making it impossible,
as they believed, to carry them on the fist, and also their powers of
fasting, which, they supposed, precluded all chance of reducing them to
proper obedience. In the East, however, they have from time immemorial
been trained with success, and flown at a great variety of quarry
suitable to their size and strength. For the far greater part of the
knowledge which we now have about flights with eagles, we are indebted
to Mr. J. E. Harting, who obtained much valuable information on this
subject from the late Mr. Constantine Haller, an enthusiastic falconer,
and president of a Russian falconry club which had its headquarters at
St. Petersburg in 1884-85. Notwithstanding the efforts of these two
very competent authorities, it is still exceedingly difficult to say
with any certainty what sorts of eagles are now employed by the Kirghis
and Turcomans and other Asiatic peoples, and what other sorts are
regarded as unserviceable. As to the golden eagle and Bonelli's eagle
there is no doubt; but the evidence as to the others below-mentioned
cannot be said to be at all conclusive.

The speed of the eagles in ordinary flying is inferior to that of the
hawks, though superior to that of any quadruped at his best pace.
Their usual mode of capturing their prey when in the wild state, is
by soaring and scanning the ground below, and, when they see a good
chance, dropping with a powerful stoop on to the back or head of the
victim. In training they cannot be made to wait on, and must therefore
be flown from the fist, so that winged game of all kinds is usually
able to show them, if not "a clean pair of heels," at least a clean set
of tail feathers. Consequently their quarry consists almost entirely
of four-legged creatures. Large birds of various descriptions might
be flown at when they are on the ground, and might be taken before
they had time to get fairly on the wing; but such masquerades of real
hawking can hardly be called flights.

The golden eagle, and most other eagles, are naturally more or less
ill-tempered, and require the exercise of considerable patience on the
part of the man who undertakes to reclaim them; but the method employed
differs in no material respect from that applied to the short-winged
hawk. Only, when a goshawk or sparrow-hawk is once properly reclaimed
and manned, she generally says good-bye to her bad temper. The eagle
is said to be sometimes apt, even when fully trained, to become so
enraged, either at missing her quarry or by some other _contretemps_,
that she will attack the men of the party, and perhaps have a flight at
a native just by way of a relief to her outraged feelings.

Eagles are carried to and in the field on a crutch, which is formed
of an upright pole with a cross-bar at the top, the lower end of the
apparatus being fitted into the saddle, and the staff of it attached by
a strap to the rider's girdle. The lure, to which they are called when
they do not come back to the crutch, consists of the stuffed skin of an
animal made to resemble the quarry at which they are meant to fly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following are the eagles best fitted for training:--


Golden Eagle (_Aquila chrysaetus_)

Female--Length, about 35 inches; wing, about 27-1/2; tail, about 14;
tarsus, 3.8. Male--Length, about 32 inches; wing, 24-1/2; tail, 13;
tarsus, 3.7.

The plumage is generally of a ruddy brown or fawn, inclining in parts
to dark brown, and in others to dull brownish gold. Adult females
become very dark, and males also assume a more dusky hue as they grow
older.

Of the fact that the golden eagle is now and has been for centuries
commonly trained and flown in Central Asia there is no manner of doubt.
Many excellent authorities maintain that it is the species used by the
Kirghis and other tribes subject or tributary to Russia under the name
of Kholsan. This was also the opinion of M. Paul Gervais, who became
the owner of a veritable Kholsan, imported into France by M. Maichin,
who purchased it from the Kirghis for £40 and a gun. This trained
eagle, which was a female, would take foxes well, and after binding to
them was accustomed to grip them by the fore part of the mask, thus
obviating the chance of a dangerous bite. In Central Asia the Kholsan
is flown at bustard, hare, fox, and antelope; and the females will
tackle such heavy quarry as wild goat, wolf, and even wild boar.


Berkute (_Aquila nobilis_)

About the identity of this species there is even more doubt than about
the Kholsan. Mr. Harting inclines to the view that it is no more than a
golden eagle in a different phase of its plumage. Others suppose that
it is the imperial eagle, and others again regard it as Bonelli's
eagle. It appears that in the Russian provinces of Asia it is still
more commonly used than the Kholsan, and at much the same quarry, which
would suggest the conclusion that it is not at any rate a larger bird
than _A. Bonellii_.


White-Crowned Eagle (_Haliætus leucoryphus_)

A specimen was owned by a Russian falconer, who found it worth while to
keep it over two moults, and must have taken a favourable view of its
merits.


Spotted Eagle (_Aquila clanga_ or _nævia_)

This large eagle is trained by the Kirghis, under the name of Kara
Gush, _i.e._ black eagle.


Imperial Eagle (_Aquila imperialis_)

This is a smaller eagle than _A. chrysaetus_, the female measuring
about 32 inches and the male about 31. It appears to be susceptible of
training, and is thought by many to be included in the list of eagles
commonly used in Turkestan. It is found throughout the greater part of
Asia, and occasionally in South-Eastern Europe.


Steppe Eagle (_Aquila nipalensis_)

This bird is described by some naturalists as a hawk-eagle. It is of a
taking and sportsmanlike appearance, the eyes of old specimens being
of a fiery yellow, though in young birds they are dull grey. Colonel
D. Radcliffe obtained several specimens in India, both eyess and wild
caught. He says that in the wild state it takes pine martens and also
the musk deer.


Bonelli's Eagle (_Aquila Bonellii_)

Female--Length, 26-1/2 inches; wing, 18-1/4; tail, 11-1/2; tarsus, 4.
Male--Length, 24-1/2 inches; wing, 17-1/2; tail, 11-1/4; tarsus, 3.9.

This small and rather long-legged eagle is probably the easiest to
train, and the best for purposes of falconry in Europe, as it is of
a more handy size than the bigger species, and strong enough for
all practical purposes. A trained specimen was kept and flown by M.
Barachin in France at hares and rabbits. It is described by Canon
Tristram as a more dainty feeder than most of the eagles; and Mr. Hume
says that in the wild state it kills many water-fowl. The tail is
barred. The weight of the male hardly exceeds 4 lbs.

In concluding the list it must be observed that several birds which
might have been comprised in it are omitted. The Chinese and Japanese
falconers of bygone times undoubtedly trained hawks which are figured
in their books, but cannot now be identified. Falconry is extinct
in Japan, and nearly so in China. The hawks themselves, which were
once highly honoured in their country, will probably before long be
exterminated by the ever-increasing horde of skin-collectors.

Some readers may be surprised at the exclusion from this list of some
such birds as vultures, buzzards, and even some owls. These I have
designedly omitted. I find in a work called the _Natural History
Picture-Book_ a statement by Mr. Wood, that the kite (_Milvus regalis_)
"has even been trained for purposes of falconry, and found to perform
its task to the satisfaction of its owner." Either the owner must have
been very easily pleased, or the kite must have changed very greatly
in disposition and habits within the last few centuries! With shrikes
the case is different, for it appears that they were actually trained
to fly at small birds. D'Arcussia tells us plainly that amongst the
numerous hawking establishments kept up by Louis XIII. was one of
shrikes, and relates a very quaint story of one of these little birds
owned by the king, which would fly up to a heron on the wing and
whisper in his ear!

Several of the falconets might certainly be utilised in the field, and
amongst them especially Feilden's falcon, which is very common, very
bold, and very tame. Indeed, some of the Malays are said to train these
little hawks. Davison says that he has seen the black-legged falconet
(_Hierax fringillarius_) stoop at a rock-thrush, and killed one on a
partly-plucked swallow. Other likely varieties are the white-legged and
red-legged falconets (_H. melanoleucus_ and _H. coerulescens_).

There can be little doubt that such birds as fly-catchers could be
trained and flown at butterflies; and possibly, when the naturalists
and Cockney sportsmen and egg-collectors have succeeded by their united
efforts in exterminating all hawks, our descendants may resort to this
form of sport as their best substitute for falconry as we now know it.



CHAPTER III

Furniture and Fittings


Before the intending falconer takes any preliminary steps even towards
becoming the owner of a hawk, he must make himself thoroughly familiar
with the necessary appliances which he will have to use, and first of
all with the hawk's furniture, or articles of attire and daily use.

The "jess" (or jesse) by which the hawk's feet are secured is a strip
of leather fastened round the leg, just above the foot. It is, of
course, of a different length, width, and stoutness, according to the
size of the wearer. For a peregrine or ger the same stuff may be used
as for strong riding or driving gloves; and the softer and more pliable
it can be, consistently with strength, the better. For a gerfalcon 8
in. is not too long. For a peregrine tiercel 6-1/2 in. is long enough,
and for hawks of intermediate size the length may vary according to
their proportions. In the case of the smaller hawks, from the female
sparrow-hawk to the tiny jack-merlin, the length for ordinary purposes
should be from 4-1/2 in. to 6-1/2 in. But when a jack-merlin is flying
ringing larks late in the season, or indeed at any time, and it is
important that he should carry the very smallest possible amount of
extra luggage, his jesses may be made out of a thin kid glove, well
stretched and greased, and need not be more than 3-1/2 in. long, by
1/4 in. wide, bulging out to 1/3 in. at the place where they encircle
the leg, and at the other end, where they are hooked to the swivel. In
all cases the jess is attached in the same way. After it has been well
stretched and greased, a short slit is made near the broader end of the
leather (see Fig. 1), and another a little farther down. The distance
between the two slits should be about the same as the circumference of
the hawk's leg--not greater, nor much less. This part of the leather
between the two slits is applied to the hawk's leg, and the shorter
end, being brought round the leg, is pushed through the second slit as
far as it will go. Then the longer end is in its turn passed through
the first slit and pulled tight. Some falconers pass the long end of
the jess through both slits before pulling it tight; but the reason for
this extra precaution has never been made plain. After the long end has
been pulled through--or before, if preferred--a hole is punched in the
leather at a short distance from the tip, and another and larger slit
is made for the purpose of attaching the jess to the swivel. But if the
hawk is destined, immediately after the jesses have been put on, to be
turned out to hack, this end slit is not required, and should never
be made, as it is possible that it might loop itself round some thorn
or other peg-like object, and hang up the hawk, causing her death or
some irreparable injury. Whenever a jess is released from the swivel,
it is a good plan, when there is time, to twirl up the end, rolling it
between the finger and thumb, so that the slit does not form a loop.
It is then less likely, in case of the hawk being lost, to lead to a
misfortune of the kind referred to.

[Illustration: HAWK'S FURNITURE, I.

1. JESS 2. BELL 3. HAWK'S FOOT WITH BELL AND JESS ATTACHED 4. BELL FOR
TAIL OF SHORT-WINGED HAWK 5. BEWIT 6. RING SWIVEL 7. SPRING SWIVEL
8. LEASH, SWIVEL AND JESSES 9. FALCONER'S KNOT 10. ATTACHMENT OF LEASH
TO POLE, PERCH OR CADGE]

Trained hawks always wear jesses. As soon as one pair is worn, and
shows signs of weakness, another pair should be put on; and after
they are attached, the old ones may be cut off with a sharp knife or
scissors and thrown away. Valuable hawks have been lost by the owner's
neglect to renew the jesses. Of course it usually happens that one of
a pair wears out before the other, and the breaking of the weakest
gives warning before the other has given way. But when one jess has
become so dilapidated as to be on the point of breaking, his fellow
will not be in a much better case, and a jerk caused by suddenly bating
at the block, especially when sitting there after a bath, may liberate
the hawk when you feel least prepared for such a mishap. The old
falconers seem to have almost always attached the ends of the jesses
to "varvels," which were small rings of silver, or other metal, upon
which often the name and address of the owner were engraved. Possibly
the jesses so used were very short, so that the risk of "hooking up"
did not arise. But the practice has long been abandoned by European
falconers.

Bells for trained hawks are of the greatest possible use. They betray
the whereabouts of the wearer, and save an infinity of time and trouble
when she has killed out of sight; and besides this, they proclaim to
every stranger who sees a lost hawk on the wing that she is private
property, and not wild. They are, practically, no impediment to the
hawk's flight, except in the case of the very smallest species; and
their sound probably augments the terror inspired in the quarry by a
stoop that has only just missed its mark. Bells have been used in all
countries from time immemorial. The best are now made in India; but
for the larger hawks, those supplied by Mr. Möllen, at Valkenswaard,
in Holland, are good enough, and very cheap. The European bells are
spherical, with a plain flat shank (Fig. 2), and those of Indian
manufacture are of the shape shown in the illustration (Fig. 3).
Anciently, silver was much used for bells for the more valuable hawks,
but the metal now used is chiefly brass. A good bell should be capable
of being heard distinctly on a still day more than a quarter of a mile,
even if lightly moved. The bell is attached to the hawk's leg by a
"bewit," which is fastened on in the same way as the jess. The bewit
is a small strip of leather shaped as in Fig. 5. It is pulled through
the shank of the bell until the latter is at the place indicated by
the dotted line near the middle. The shank is applied to the hawk's
leg above the jess, and the end (A) is passed round the leg and pushed
through the slit (B). Then the thicker end is pushed through the slit
at the thin end, and pulled till the ears or jags at the side have
come through the opening. These then act as barbs to prevent the end
slipping back, and the thin part of it can be cut off. Hack bells are
used not only to give notice where the hawk is, but also to serve as
a weight to handicap her when, at the end of her time of liberty, she
begins to chase chance quarry. They are therefore much bigger, in
proportion to the size of the wearer, than the bells used in the field.
A falcon's or tiercel's bell will not be too big for a merlin or jack.
Sometimes hawks' bells are even loaded with lead. A merlin which is
flying ringing larks does not wear bells, for it is impossible to get
any which are sufficiently light, and at the same time loud enough to
be of any use.

Short-winged hawks should generally be belled on the tail, and for this
purpose the bewits should be of a different shape, as in Fig. 4. The
aperture on each side of the bewit should be made to encircle the shaft
of one of the "deck" feathers, that is, the central feathers of the
tail, near to its base; and the double ends (C, C) should be lapped or
tied together with waxed thread, so that the fastening cannot slip from
its place.

Of course when it is intended to put on new jesses or bewits, the
hawk must be "cast," or held. And some considerable attention is
required to cast a hawk properly. To seize an unhooded hawk, especially
short-winged, and forcibly thrust her down on her breast would
constitute, in her eyes, a deadly and perhaps unpardonable offence. To
meddle with her when she has a full crop would be a great mistake. A
time should be chosen when she has little or nothing in her crop. She
should be hooded and held on the fist, while on the "operating table"
is placed a cushion and the apparatus required, including tweezers and
a sharp penknife. Then a silk handkerchief, once folded, can be thrown
over the hawk's shoulders, and the falconer's assistant, standing
behind the hawk with his hands over her back, the thumbs close to her
back-bone, will, with a quick steady lowering of the palms, grasp her
firmly round the body, with the fingers enclosing the sides of her
wings and thighs. Lifting her off the fist, he must deposit her on
the cushion, holding her down steadily on her breast. A man should be
employed for this purpose who is not likely to be nervous or flurried.

The jesses are made fast to the swivel when the hawk is not intended to
fly; and swivels are of two kinds. The safest (and the most troublesome
to put on and take off) is the ring-swivel (Fig. 6), consisting of a
double ring in the shape of a figure 8, each end working freely on a
pivot which keeps the two rings close together. It is made of brass
or iron, and very good and cheap ones are to be had from Mr. Möllen,
of Valkenswaard, in North Brabant. To attach the ring-swivel to the
jesses, pass the end of one jess from right to left through one of the
rings, and, after it is through, pass both rings through the slit in
the jess, and pull tight. When the first jess is fast, pass the end
of the other jess through the same ring upon which the first jess is
fastened, but in the opposite direction, from left to right, and then
pass the two rings through the slit as before. The second jess will
pull up tight over the first, and both will be fixed firmly at the
outer end of the same ring.

To get the ring-swivel off, the extreme end of the jess which was last
put on must be pulled until that jess becomes slack enough for the two
rings to be passed through it, or, in other words, for the opening in
the leather to be pulled over the rings, and, this being done, it will
come away at once. After releasing one jess, take care to hold it tight
between the fingers of the left hand while freeing the other jess.
Otherwise, if the hawk is fidgety and jumps off, she may jerk the other
jess out of your hand, and go off bodily, leash and all, into the next
parish.

Spring-swivels (Fig. 7) are very handy contrivances for use in the
field, but not so safe for a hawk when sitting unhooded on the perch
or at the block. They are shaped like the swivel by which watches are
usually attached to a watch-chain, and must be so made as to turn
quite freely on the pivot. To attach them to the jesses, nothing more
is required than to press the side with the thumb-nail, making the
spring yield, and then hook the curved end through the slit in both
jesses, after which the spring is released, and the jesses remain
encircled by the metal. Only, if the spring is stiff or does not work
properly, there will be disasters. The unhooking process is of course
even more easily and quickly effected.

The leash can now be attached to the swivel. And leashes, again, may
be of two kinds. The orthodox leash for peregrines and big hawks is
a strip of tough leather, about half an inch wide, and a yard long,
provided with a stout button at one end, which is made in the following
way:--In cutting the leash, three inches or so at one end are cut
rather broader than the rest of the strip. This broad end is then
rolled up tightly by doubling it over and over upon itself. After the
broad part has been rolled up, a hole is punched right through the
roll, and the other end of the leash, which is tapered to a point, is
pushed through and pulled tight. A sort of square button will thus be
formed at the thick end of the leash (Fig. 8); and if the thin end of
it is passed through the outer ring of the swivel--that ring to which
the jesses are not attached--it will run right through until the ring
encounters the button, which is too big to get past. The whole length
of the leash is then available for the purpose of tying up the hawk to
her block, or to a peg in the ground.

There is a right and a wrong way about even so simple a matter as tying
up a hawk. Blocks and pegs ought always to be provided with a ring or
staple, round which to tie the leash; and it should be tied in what is
called a falconer's knot, which can easily be negotiated with one hand.
To begin with, pass the thin end of the leash through the ring. Then
make a loop in the part which has gone through the ring, and pass the
loop round that part of the leash which has not gone through the ring.
Pull tight, and the leash will assume an appearance resembling that
shown in Fig. 9. Next pass the end (A) through the loop (B), and again
pull tight. It will be impossible for any strain upon the leash at C
to undo the knot. And when it is desired to undo it, the end (A) can
easily be picked out with the fingers through the tightened loop (B),
and a simple pull upon A will then undo the whole fastening.

For attaching hawks to the screen-perch, a sort of double falconer's
knot is required for fastening the two ends of the leash round
the pole. But it is learnt with the greatest ease. Nothing more is
necessary than to take the two ends of the leash--the thick and the
thin--and pass one over and one under the pole. Then tie them together,
just as if you were tying a black necktie, except that you make only
one bow instead of two. Let this one bow, when the knot is pulled
tight, be about four inches long; and through the loop formed by it
pass the two ends of the leash, which will naturally be found on the
reverse side of the knot (Fig. 10). When the hawk is carried on the
fist, the ends of the jesses, the swivel, and button of the leash will
often lie in the palm of the left hand. The leash will hang down for
some inches, perhaps a foot, and then, forming a loop, be gathered up
to the little finger, round which the lower part, a few inches from the
thin end, is wound for the sake of extra security.

Smaller leashes in the same style, but made of less stout leather, can
very well be used for the smaller hawks, and usually are so. But when
these hawks are doing a great deal of flying, as they should, and doing
it twice a day, the trouble of constantly unfastening the ring-swivel
from the jesses and fastening it on again becomes very tiresome, and
even vexatious; and it is a common practice to use spring-swivels
permanently. The outer ring of these (unless they are made specially)
is too small to admit the passage of a flat leash; and it will be found
more convenient to use thongs shaped like a porpoise-hide boot-lace.
In fact a long leather boot-lace makes about as good a leash as can be
wished for. The function of the button is fulfilled by a simple knot
tied in the end of the lace. Or in order to save still more time, the
lace may be permanently attached to the spring-swivel in the manner
shown in the diagram (Fig. 25). By making the knot an inch or two away
from the ring of the swivel, instead of close up to it, enough length
of tether is left, when the leash is tied round the pole, to enable a
merlin or sparrow-hawk in short "racing jesses" to shift about a bit on
the perch.

The proper place for a hawk, when not out of doors, is the screen-perch
(Fig. 23). The bar on which the hawk stands may run from wall to wall
of the hawk-house, or, if this is not convenient, it may be supported
on arms or brackets reaching out from the wall to a distance of not
less than 30 in. for a big hawk, or 2 ft. for a little one. Where this
arrangement is also impossible the bar may be supported at each end on
a post or tressels so securely fastened or weighted that they cannot
be upset or moved out of place. Round the bar, which should be of
wood, is wrapped a padding of baize or other soft stuff, and over it
a covering of canvas stretched very tight. The canvas may be nailed
to the pole, or stitched together, on the under side. A screen, or
curtain, of canvas must be attached to the under side of the perch, and
hang down from it for more than two feet, to form a sort of ladder, by
which any hawk may climb up again as often as she bates off and hangs
by her leash and swivel. The ends of this screen may be kept down with
weights attached to it, or stretched by a sort of guy ropes from the
lower corners, so as to keep the whole flat and taut. In perches for
small hawks, the same canvas which is rolled round the pole is often
allowed to hang down and form the screen. In this case slits or holes
are made in the canvas just below the pole, through which the leashes
may be passed when fastening the hawks to the perch. A space of at
least 2 ft. should be left between each big hawk and that which stands
next her on the perch; and 18 in. between each of the small ones; and
there should be rather more space between the end hawk and the wall or
the bracket of the perch, whichever it is.

Underneath the perch must be spread a good thick layer of sand or
sawdust, extending in the case of peregrines and gers for a good yard
on each side of the perch, and about 18 in. in the case of the smaller
long-winged hawks, to catch the mutes. As for short-winged hawks, the
layer must be very much farther extended, and in the case of goshawks
should reach at least three yards from the perch. And if the perch is
near a wall, the wall itself must be protected by a shield of paper,
or other cheap material which can be changed every other day, for
these hawks "slice" to a very great distance almost horizontally. The
sand or sawdust must either be removed daily, or at least freed from
the mutes which have fallen into it. In or near it will also be found
the "castings," or pellets of refuse feathers and other indigestible
matter thrown up by the hawks. These castings should be looked for
every morning by the falconer, and each one should be examined before
it is thrown away, as it is by the appearance of them, as will be seen
later on, that the state of health of each hawk is to a large extent
ascertained. Both castings and mutes, with the sand or sawdust adhering
to them, should, when collected, be immediately removed from the
hawk-house. A dirty or ill-smelling room is not only a disgrace to the
falconer, but injurious to the inmates, which, though possessed of no
sense of smell, require the purest possible air to breathe.

[Illustration: HAWK'S FURNITURE, II.

BLOCKS AND PERCHES

11. PLAIN BLOCK FOR LONG-WINGED HAWK 12. BLOCK FOR SAKER, MERLIN, ETC.
13, 14. IMPROVED BLOCK FOR LARGE AND SMALL HAWK 15. SPIKE FOR BLOCK
16. RING PEG 17, 18. BLOCKS WITH CORK TOP 19. FIELD BLOCK 20, 21.
BOW-PERCHES 22. CRUTCH-PERCH 23. SCREEN-PERCH]

For out-door service, blocks are used for the long-winged hawks, and
bow-perches for the short-winged. Blocks are of various shapes, as
shown in the illustration. The simplest are made of mere chunks of
tree or sapling sawn off level (Fig. 11), and having a staple of iron
or brass driven into the top or at the side, to which to attach the
leash. They should be from 8 inches to a foot in height for a peregrine
or ger, and for all other hawks of such a height that when the hawk
is standing on them her tail may just clear the tops of the blades of
grass. A high block is not good; for then the leash, if it is not to
catch in the shoulder, must be a long one, and when the hawk bates she
will be brought up with a too sudden jerk as the leash tightens. For
the smaller falcons--hobbies, merlins, and kestrels--as well as for
sakers and lanners, the block should always be larger at the top than
at the bottom, so that it may not be fouled on the sides with the mutes
(see Figs. 12, 14). It is a very good plan to have a groove made round
the body of the block, and to have a metal ring fitted round it, so
that it will run freely in the groove. This hoop of metal may be looped
out into a smaller ring on one side, to which the leash may be tied
(see Figs. 13, 14). As the hawk jumps off to one side or the other the
ring will run round; and thus all risk is avoided of the leash getting
hitched up or wound round the block. A spike (Fig. 15) is firmly fixed
into the middle of the base of the block to hold it fast in the ground.
Of course a block which is larger at the base than on the top may be
used without a spike, and without any ring or staple in it, if the
leash is fastened to a ring-peg (Fig. 16) in the ground. But even if
this peg is driven in on the windward side of the block, that is, on
the side towards which the hawk is pretty sure to bate off, the risk
of entanglement is not wholly avoided; and a hawk so attached should
not be left alone for long. The top of the block should be covered with
cork (Fig. 17), or it may be padded and covered with leather. But in
the latter case it must not be left out in the rain. Wood is too hard
for hawks to stand on for any length of time, and is apt to give them
corns or sore feet. No hawk should be allowed to stand on a wet block.
A simple and not a bad plan for making merlins' blocks, is to saw off
a chunk from a pole or tree branch, about 2-1/2 in. in diameter and 5
or 6 in. long. Into one end insert a spike, and on to the other nail
a 4-in. or 5-in. bung (Fig. 18). A 4-in. metal curtain-ring, measured
from outside to outside, can be placed on the ground and the spike
driven into the earth in the middle of the ring, which will run freely
round the block when the leash is attached to it. Care must always be
taken to drive the block well home to the ground, or the leash may
get jammed under its lower edge, and cause a dire mishap. Fig. 19 is
a little field block which I use for merlins. It can be carried in a
side-pocket when out on the open downs. After one of these little hawks
has done her day's flying, or before her turn comes, instead of putting
her, hooded, on the pole cadge, her leash is made fast to the looped
creance, which comes from a ring in the top of the block. The spike is
driven into the ground in a sheltered spot, and the hawk is deposited
on the top of the pigmy post, where she will sit, if not exactly "like
patience on a monument," at least more comfortably than if merely
pegged out on the prickly grass or still more uninviting stubble.

Bow-perches for goshawks and sparrow-hawks may be made by simply
bending a length of yew or other tough wood into the shape of an arch,
and sticking the two sharpened ends into the ground (Fig. 20). A more
elaborate apparatus made of iron, with three spikes and a padded top,
is shown in Fig. 21. In any case it is proper to pad the uppermost part
of the arch. The ring for the leash runs loosely on the outer frame of
the perch. The crutch-like perch shown in Fig. 22 is simple, and has
its merits. Probably for an eagle it is the best resting-place that
could be provided. When fixing up bow-perches or crutch-perches care
should be taken that they are placed broadside on to the wind, so that
the hawk as she takes perch on them may directly face the wind. It is
perhaps needless to say that for an eagle the spike should be very
long, and hammered deep into the ground.

The hood, or to speak more exactly, the hood proper, is an article of
attire with which every educated person is vaguely familiar. The exact
shape is shown in Fig. 24. It is made of stiffish leather, fashioned
on a wooden block made of the size and shape of the hawk for which
it is intended, and stitched together. Some amateurs have arrived at
a certain proficiency in making their own hoods. Captain Salvin, for
instance, could manufacture very good ones. But such excellent hoods
can be obtained from Mr. Möllen, for all sorts of hawks, at so small a
price, that it is scarcely worth while to be at the trouble of making
them. The hooding of hawks is an art in itself, and will be referred
to in a later chapter. When the hood is well on the hawk's head and
the beak well through the opening in front, the longer and thinner
of the braces at the back (A, A) are pulled apart, and the back of
the hood is thus drawn tight, so that it is impossible to remove it.
The shorter and stouter ends are pulled when it is desired to slacken
the fastening, so that the hood can be taken off by lifting the plume
forwards. Usually each of these operations is performed with the aid of
the right hand and the teeth. As the hawk stands on the falconer's left
fist with her tail outwards over his knuckles, he takes hold with his
right finger and thumb of the brace which is on the hawk's left side,
and then catches hold with his front teeth of the brace which is on the
hawk's right side. A sharp pull brings the ends apart, and the hood is
braced up or slackened, as the case may be. Before any hood is ever put
on, the falconer should remember to look inside it to see that no dust
or dirt or stray feathers or anything else has found its way in, and it
is as well to blow a puff of air into it to clear it of any particle of
dust.

[Illustration: HAWK'S FURNITURE, III.

24. HOOD-PROPER 25. SPRING SWIVEL AND LEASH FOR SMALL HAWK 26, 27.
DOUBLE RING LEASH 28. BRAIL]

The rufter-hood is made of much softer leather, with no plume, and a
simpler fastening. It is used for newly-caught hawks, and hardly need
be described in detail, as before the beginner has occasion for it
he will have learnt more about hoods than can be taught in any book.
Indian hoods are also made of softer leather, with a different and
smaller plume. They are fastened by braces which run round the lower
side, passing in and out of the leather and working by friction.

This completes the list of ordinary hawk's furniture. But there are
a few other appliances with which the beginner must become familiar
before he can undertake to train, or even to keep, a hawk.

A brail (Fig. 28) is a sort of manacle for an unmanageable hawk, which
keeps on bating and fidgeting with her wings. It consists of a narrow
strip of fine soft leather, having a slit two or three inches long
down the middle. Into this slit is inserted the pinion joint of the
hawk's closed wing. The upper end of the brail will then of course
extend upwards over her back, and the lower will hang downwards by her
side. Now take the upper end and pass it down under the under part of
her wing between it and her ribs. Pass the lower end in the contrary
direction upwards under the under side of the same wing. The two ends
will now be pointing in the opposite direction to that first described.
Next bring them together on the outside of the wing, and tie in a
plain bow-knot, making the bows very short and passing the single ends
through them. The hawk will be unable to open the wing, which will be
to all intents and purposes as useless to her, as long as the brail is
on, as if all the flight feathers in it had been cut.

A bath must always be offered to a trained hawk at least twice a week,
and oftener in fine and warm weather. And it is not a thing which
can always be improvised very easily. The best baths are sunk in the
ground, so that there are no upstanding sides round or under which a
leash can get entangled. But of course, unless great care is taken,
the ground round the edges of such a bath is apt to become slushy and
dirty, if much used. Whenever it is impossible to sink the bath in the
earth it is necessary that some person should be at hand when the hawks
are bathing, so that if the leash gets entangled he may come to the
rescue.

Many hawks have a tiresome way of jumping on and off the sides of the
bath, and running round it--in fact, as Winchester boys say, "funking
on the bank"--in complete oblivion of the fact that they are thereby
hitching up their leashes. For such hawks it is best to take off the
leash and substitute a creance three or four yards long, attaching the
end of this to the block on which they are deposited at the side of the
bath. All baths should be of a sufficient size. For gers they should be
nearly a foot deep at least, and well over a yard in diameter. For the
smallest jack-merlin they should be not less than four inches deep. A
hawk will not fully enjoy her bath unless she can wade into it, if she
chooses, up to her shoulders and over. In shallow water she is more or
less uncomfortable. Like Alexander the Great, in the small world of
antiquity, _æstuat infelix angusto in limite_; and her back and the
nape of her neck are never properly wetted, however much she may splash
about in the endeavour to throw the water over them. The bath should be
tilted up, so that it is shallower at one end than the other, and the
bather may get in, if she chooses, at the shallow end, and wade out as
far as she likes towards the other. According to immemorial custom a
few pebbles should be thrown in to lie on the floor of the bath. When
the weather is very cold, a cup or two of hot water may be added, to
take off the chill; and if the water used is taken from a deep and cool
well it should be allowed to stand for some time in the sun before
being put out for the hawks. Cemented basins in the ground make, of
course, capital bathing-places. But they are troublesome to keep clean,
and even to empty; and the surrounding edges are likely to become
small quagmires. Perhaps the most serviceable bath is a common flat
bedroom bath, sunk into a cavity in the ground, and removable at will.
A pretty tall block or for short-winged hawks a bow-perch, should be
placed near the bath, so that the bather, having finished her ablutions
may at once jump on to it.

In some places it is possible to indulge the hawks with a natural
bath. When there is in the neighbourhood a stream of clean water with
a sandy or gravelly bottom and shelving banks, the hawk may be carried
down to a suitable part of the bank, the block set up, and the creance
attached. She may be left on the block while the falconer retires to
a short distance, and will come back, when bathed, to her post. After
the bath, every hawk should remain out, bareheaded, for about an hour,
in the sun, if possible. She will busy herself first in spreading her
feathers to the sun and wind, and then in pluming and arranging them--a
work exceedingly agreeable to those hawks which are particular about
their own appearance.

The lure will be more particularly referred to later on. It may suffice
to say here that it is a rough imitation of some bird--or, if the hawk
is to be trained to ground-game, of some beast--used as a bait to which
the hawk is taught to come for food. It is attached to a strong cord
or thong a yard or more long, and sometimes to a swivel. It is the
invariable companion of the falconer in the field, though never allowed
to be seen by the hawk, except when she is required to come to it. The
lure should be a sort of magnet, operating to draw the hawk towards it
as surely as iron will attract a magnetised needle.

A cadge is a most necessary apparatus when a man is the possessor of
more than one hawk. The orthodox and historic cadge--such as one sees
in representations of _As You Like It_ on the stage, or, as once I
remember, at a Lord Mayor's Show--is a circular or square or oblong
frame of wood, three or four feet across, having straps by which it
can be suspended from the shoulders of a man, who in classic phrase
is termed a "cadger," and who stands or walks in the middle, with the
frame surrounding him. At each corner of the frame is a small jointed
leg, which can be hooked up when the cadge is being carried, and let
down when it is to be deposited on the ground. The bars which form the
body of the frame are padded on the top, and on these stand the hawks,
hooded of course, and fastened by their leashes to the frame. The man
with the cadge (whom in these days you will not address by his right
title, unless you wish him to give you a month's notice) will, if he
is a sharp fellow, so carry the cadge that all or most of the hawks
upon it face the wind. On windy days--and at rook-hawking time it is
mostly pretty windy--the cadge should be rested as much as possible
under the lee of some shelter, generally a rick. All hawks very much
detest a wind; and should not be unnecessarily exposed to it. In fact,
trained hawks must be, in this and in all other things, whether at home
or in the field, subjected to as little vexation and annoyance as can
be. Like other creatures, they have tempers of their own--sometimes
very queer ones; and they have enough to put up with, as it is, when
trained, without any extra trials that can fairly be spared them. A
cadge is shown in the illustration.

A still greater luxury for the field, especially in rook-hawking, is
the hawk-van, which is a sort of omnibus, fitted with screen-perches,
and hung on very easy springs. In it are conveyed the hawks which are
not for the time being in use, and also spare lures and other furniture
and properties, not forgetting the luncheon-basket. Such a vehicle
will be too pretentious, as well as too costly, for most private
individuals, but it is used successfully by the Old Hawking Club, whose
excellent arrangements and methods of training and managing hawks will
be repeatedly noticed in these pages.

The box-cadge is a very simple apparatus used for the transport of
hawks by train or other wheeled conveyance. It is nothing more than a
frame resembling the body of a box--very often a box itself--without
the lid. The four upper edges of the sides are padded to form perches.
Holes are bored in the sides an inch or two below, through which the
leashes can be passed and made fast. In the bottom of the box is
sawdust to catch the mutes; and the hawks are put on, as naturally they
would be, facing outwards, with their tails towards the inside of the
box. You will be surprised, if you have never seen it tried, how small
a box will accommodate six or eight great big hawks sitting in this
simple fashion. By the bye, the box-cadge should be heavily weighted,
to prevent upsetting or jolting, in case any hawk should unluckily bate
off.

[Illustration: CADGE WITH PEREGRINES]

The writer of these pages has invented an apparatus which may be called
a pole-cadge, and will attempt to describe it, because in his own
experience he has found it very useful and handy, especially for small
hawks. It consists of a plain pole--a broom-handle does very well--over
which a single or double fold of green baize is stretched and fastened.
About nine inches from each end of the perch thus formed, stout wire
is firmly twisted round it, and the ends of the wire are allowed to
project at an angle of about 90, from one another downwards. When the
perch is being carried, it is simply grasped by the middle in one hand;
and when it is desired to put it down, the four ends of the wire are
rested on the ground, or pushed into the earth if it is soft enough.
The hawks are, of course, attached by leashes tied round the pole, as
if they were on the screen-perch; and four can be accommodated with
the greatest ease on a short stick--one near the bearer's hand on each
side of it, and one near each end of the pole. A long stick would hold
six or eight hawks. There is no reason that I can see why a stouter
pole should not be used for big hawks. The advantage of this over the
ordinary and time-honoured cadge is that all the hawks, if properly
placed, must necessarily face the wind, and need never stand sideways
to it. The pole-cadge can also be picked up and set down much more
quickly. And for carrying hawks when driving in a dogcart or riding on
a bicycle--a not impossible feat in these days--this form of cadge is,
I think, unsurpassable.

Hawking-gloves, for wearing when a big hawk is on the fist, are
gauntleted half-way to the elbow, and made of buckskin or very strong
leather. They should, of course, be kept clean and dry. For the smaller
hawks a two-button dogskin glove is strong enough, and preferable. Some
hawks, when they are very sharp-set, or fidgety and in a bad humour,
will pick and tear at the glove or perch in a tiresome way, and even
tear it to pieces after a while. A cure for this is to rub the exposed
part of the glove or perch with onions or a solution of alum, the taste
of which will generally soon disgust the offender with that bad habit.
Very often, however, it is good to provide such a hawk with a very
tough piece of "tiring," such as the bare pinion of a goose or fowl,
upon which to expend her superfluous energy. Worn gloves should not be
patched or mended, but replaced by fresh ones. A glove which has once
become thoroughly greasy or sodden should be regarded as spoilt.

Mews, or hawk-houses, are more particularly described in Chapter XIII.
They should be absolutely free from draughts, and not liable to get too
hot in summer or too cold in winter. The doors should fit well, and
be kept locked as a rule; and the windows should all have well-fitting
shutters. They should be ventilated at the top, and be kept bare of
furniture and rubbish of all kinds, and scrupulously clean. The windows
should by preference face towards east and north. And in hot climates
there should be a verandah outside, and double roof above.



CHAPTER IV

Eyesses and Hack Hawks


Eyesses, or young hawks taken from the nest, should not be taken until
the latest possible day. If the captor can defer the moment until they
are able to fly a little, so much the better. He may then possibly
snare them by some means or another. But this is an exceedingly
difficult job, as the newly-fledged hawk is for a considerable time fed
by her parents, and does not prey for herself. Consequently, she will
not come to any live lure or baited trap, and, being very distrustful
of men, cannot easily even be approached. Thus it is rarely that even
an experienced falconer can lay hands on a wild hawk after it has once
left the eyrie. The next best thing to be done is to catch the eyesses
when they are branchers, that is to say, when they are able to run and
jump about on the branches of a tree, though not yet able to rise on
the wing from the ground. In short, the longer they can be left in the
natural nursery under the care of their natural guardians, the better
they are likely to turn out, not only in their bodily condition, but
in temper and disposition. Very often, however, the young birds will
come to their trainer when there is a good deal of the white down of
their infancy still clothing their unwieldy bodies, and only partially
replaced by the brown feathers of their first plumage. At any rate
the flight feathers of the wing will not be nearly down to their full
length. The outer ones will still have some inches to grow; and those
of the tail will be short soft things, with flabby shafts, and not much
shape or strength.

It is for many reasons desirable that the trainer should go personally
to the place where the eyrie is, and either himself assist in taking
the young birds, or at least be ready to receive them within a few
hours, and give them their first feed. Unfortunately, most hawk-dealers
and many gamekeepers have a rooted objection to this plan, and prefer
to muddle about with the hawks themselves, not sending them off to
the purchaser until they have already unwittingly done them more or
less injury, in one way or another. They either are, or pretend to be,
unable to understand or to believe that an eyess delivered immediately
into the trainer's hand is worth at least 25 per cent. more to him than
one which has been messed about by unskilled hands, and racketed about
in a train for several hours. This stupid prejudice of the captors
and vendors is often productive of the deplorable blemish called
hunger-streaks, which weakens every important feather in the hawk's
body, and to some extent checks and stunts her whole bodily growth and
energy, just at the time when it is most desirable that they should be
steadily maintained and developed. A hunger-streak is caused whenever
a young hawk has been allowed to grow unreasonably hungry. The result
is that that part of the whole web and shaft of each feather which
is growing out of the body at the time is deformed through want of
proper nourishment, and bears on it ever afterwards a cross line like a
blight, so that the feather looks as if a sharp razor had been passed
lightly across it. As the feather grows down this line comes down with
it, and may be seen in all its hideousness, after the hawk is summed,
if any big feather is examined carefully. A fast of more than fifteen
hours--in the daytime--will generally cause a slight hunger-streak;
but the night hours do not count for much; so that hawks which have to
travel far before getting into the trainer's hands should be taken late
in the day and started at once, so that they may be met as soon as they
arrive on the following day.

If the falconer cannot attend personally at the capture of the eyesses,
he should at least send to the captor a suitable hamper in which to
pack and send them. This should be roomy and round in shape, having
its sides and top lined inside with sacking, matting, or other soft
material. In the bottom of it a good thick layer of straw should be
lightly strewed, for the hawks to rest upon; and the lining should
fit well enough to exclude almost all light. Even with all these
precautions there is some risk of breaking feathers, and still more of
bending them and deforming them with dirt. On railways the guards may
generally be cajoled into taking special care that the hamper is not
turned upside down or banged about. But I have more than once known of
valuable hawks arriving dead from a short sea voyage--killed by the
evident ill-treatment to which the padded hamper has been subjected on
the way.

Once arrived at the trainer's quarters, the hamper should be opened
in a darkened room, with doors and windows closed, in which has been
got ready another straw-lined hamper, this time of an oblong or square
shape. Each hawk in her turn will be gently taken out of the soiled
travelling hamper, of which the lid can be shut down between the
times of removing the several inmates. Unless these are very young,
a rufter-hood can be slipped on the head of each one, and the jesses
and bell at once attached to her. If they have come far, a few morsels
of food may be given even before the new-comer has been deposited in
the second hamper. But, if too young to be able to move about much,
they can all be transferred directly to the new quarters, and the
lids left open. In every case the operation of feeding should be at
once undertaken. And a much more troublesome thing this operation is
than the unlearned may suppose. In the first place, there must be in
readiness a good store of fresh, tender beef or sheep's heart, cut into
small strips and slightly warmed. And of this the new-comers must by
some means or other be induced to swallow at least a small quantity.
If care has been taken from the very first not to alarm them, they may
possibly take the morsels of meat quietly and naturally, when offered
to them gently on the end of a small stick. If so, an important point
will have been gained. But it is much more likely that at the sight of
their new and awful-looking foster-parent--when a subdued light has
been let into the room--they will draw back their heads, open their
mouths, and hiss indignantly. Still, if the meat is very slowly and
quietly obtruded towards the open mouths, there is always a good chance
that one of them, bolder than the rest, will strike at it, half in
anger, and half with the idea that it may be good to eat. And, if such
a youngster should happen at the first shot to catch hold of the piece
she aims at, she is quite likely to swallow it, in which case the rest
of your task becomes easy. If things do not go quite so smoothly, and
a hawk which has seized the meat flips it scornfully away, there is
no need to give up the attempt. She may do this a dozen times, and at
the thirteenth time of asking may swallow the food and begin feeding
readily. Or, whilst pupil number one is thus making a fool of the
teacher, number two may take heart and come up to the attack, with a
more practical result. Even at the expense of much time and patience,
it is worth while to get the youngsters to conform from the first, and
take their rations willingly and amicably. As soon as one has done this
the others will follow suit, some quickly and others grudgingly. If
all such efforts fail, or if the hawks, being nearly grown up, bate
and begin to dash about, you must, of course, use rougher measures.
To starve them is worst of all. There is no harm, if all modes of
persuasion fail, in "stuffing" a young hawk. Let her be held firmly,
and as she opens her mouth in defiance at the meat offered, let the
falconer push it inside her beak, and then, if she will not swallow
it, push it down with the small stick into her throat. I have known
an eyess hobby which had to be "stuffed" with all her meals for eight
days! And afterwards she became a fine hawk and a very strong flier.

When all the hawks have taken a half-crop or so, they should be left
in peace in the darkened room for two hours at least. It is a good
thing, by the way, to put on each of them different-coloured jesses,
so that from the first they may be easily known apart. Brown, yellow,
white, orange, and black are perhaps the best colours--not red, or
pink, or green. Notes may also be made from the first in a hawk-book or
falconer's diary. As, for instance, "June 10--Eyess peregrines arrived;
No. 1: small falcon; fed readily, and had nearly a full crop; seems
strong and active; outer wing feather about half down; brown jesses and
hack bell. No. 2: big tiercel or small falcon (uncertain); fed with
difficulty; half a crop; seems timid and rather dull; black jesses." Of
course, if the hawks are to be turned out as soon as they can fly, no
slits will be made in the outer end of the jesses. Another thing which
may very probably have to be done is to clean the hawk's tail-feathers,
and possibly the tips of the wings, if soiled during the journey. This
is done with warm water, soap, and an old toothbrush. If the dirt is
allowed to get hard on the feathers it will be almost impossible to
get it off without fraying the web. The feet of each hawk should also
be well washed and brushed with soap and warm water; and it is always
as well to do the same with the nares, or else brush them and the beak
with a brush dipped in a solution of tobacco. A fresh feed should be
given at intervals of not more than five hours between sunrise and
sunset, _i.e._ three at least in the day. In fact, young nestlings
can hardly be fed too often or too much, when they seem ready to eat.
But the food should not often be as heavy as beef. Young pigeons,
young chickens, bullock's heart, and rabbits may be given to the big
hawks; small birds--fresh-killed always--and sheep's heart to the
small ones. Old pigeons are rather too heating, and old fowls are too
tough. Whenever butcher's meat is given, it should be slightly warmed
first, but not dipped in water. The hawks must be kept quite dry, and
in a moderately warm but airy place, away from all draughts. Very
young sparrow-hawks must be kept in a specially warm and well-sheltered
place, or they are pretty sure to develop a fatal attack of cramp.
Whenever it may be necessary to move a young hawk or meddle with her,
the room should be made as nearly dark as possible.

After a few feeds, administered quietly and patiently, the young hawks
will begin to lose their distrust of their new surroundings; and
first one and then the others will begin to take their meat eagerly,
stretching their necks out, and perhaps pushing their way towards the
feeder's hand. When this is the case they may be indulged with a few
tit-bits on the fist or on the lure. If the lure is used, the pieces of
meat should be merely laid upon it, so that at first the hawk may pick
them off quite easily; and by degrees they may be made to walk towards
it from their artificial nest along a causeway roughly constructed for
that purpose. If it is preferred to get them to feed on the fist, as
it probably will in the case of short-winged hawks, they must first be
made to pick pieces off the gloved hand. Then hold in the gloved fist,
between the outer part of the thumb and the end of the forefinger, a
very tender piece of meat or wing of a small bird. As the hawk takes
hold of it, and finds that it cannot be taken up without a pull, she
will, at once or after a while, give a tug at it, and afterwards
probably put out a foot and seize the glove, using her foot as a
leverage, just as an oarsman uses his stretcher. A little encouragement
will make this easy for her; and by a little management it can be so
arranged that she gets both feet upon the fist. Thus by degrees she
will be induced to stand on the back of the hand, and in that position
tear up her food. The next step is to raise her slowly up on the fist,
while busy at her meal. In like manner, when pulling at the lure, she
may be lifted bodily on it, and thence shifted adroitly on to the fist,
while the garnished part of the lure is still kept under her.

With a little luck this stage of the young bird's education may have
been reached at almost the same time when the feathers are nearly down
and they are ready to fly. In such case the sooner they are turned out
to hack the better. When they have grown so accustomed to feeding on
the lure or on hand that they will run to it as soon as they see it,
they may be let loose in the hack field, with a man to watch them,
having a lure with him to entice them if they stray away. Most of the
popular books dealing with hawking complacently assume that here no
difficulty arises. Unfortunately for the beginner, such difficulties
will occur, even in the best-regulated establishments. For instance,
the hawks may begin to fly the very day after they arrive, and before
they will feed willingly. What is to be done in such a case? Well,
each hawk must be made to the lure or the fist before she is turned
out. She may be brailed and kept in a spare room, with or without her
sisters and brothers. Or she may have slits cut in her jesses, and
be attached by a leash to a block, for all the world like a trained
hawk, and thence enticed by degrees to run to the lure for her food,
until she is keen for it. She should at least know what the lure means
before being let entirely loose. But it is generally sufficient that
one of a lot which came from the same nest should be made to the lure.
The rest, when turned out, will find their way, when hungry, after her
to the feeding-place. Some special caution should be observed with
hobbies. I know of two which would come to the lure in an outhouse, but
only reluctantly. They were turned out one morning to hack in a quiet
place, and, though they had never flown more than a yard high before,
went up into tall fir-trees. And there they remained, staring at the
well-garnished lures which were laid out underneath, declining to go
down, taking short flights from tree to tree, and cruising about in the
air. This state of affairs continued for about three days, after which
it was discovered that the two youngsters--who had never been seen
to chase anything, far less to kill it--had become wild hawks! Some
falconers habitually carry their eyesses, break them to the hood, and
partially reclaim them, before turning them out to hack. But the more
natural and promising system is never to confine them at all until they
are taken up at the end of the period of hack. The youngster, when thus
treated, has become, by the time she has to be put in training, as like
a wild hawk as a tame one can be. And, as the haggard is better than
the red passager, and the passager than the soar-hawk, so by analogy
it may be assumed as a rule that the hack hawk which has never been
handled is superior to the eyess which has. Sir John Sebright's plan of
putting out the young hawks in a hamper hung against a tree-trunk, with
the lid of the hamper turned down as a platform by day, and fastened up
at night, will answer with orderly, well-behaved hawks. But it will be
wise to keep a close watch upon the artificial nest, in case of a hawk
jumping off when it can run but cannot fly. It might stray for ever so
far, and hide in bushes, or be devoured by a cat or fox.

We suppose now that the eyesses are at hack. Even yet their outer wing
feathers will not be fully down; and the sails, even of those which
will ultimately be the longest winged, appear rounded at the ends,
like those of a sparrow-hawk. But they will very soon learn to fly
quite well, with a rather gliding movement, the tips of the feathers
bending upwards as they strike the air. They will not go far from the
spot where they are turned out. What sort of place should this be that
is chosen for the hack ground? That depends upon the facilities which
the trainer enjoys for selecting a country. None perhaps is better
than a large park, with fir-trees in it, or an open moor with a few
stone walls. If the falconer is nervous about turning out a whole
nestful at once, he may tether one of the most backward at a block in
the middle of the hack field, with a "tiring" to amuse her, and place
some garnished lures on the ground near to her, to which the liberated
hawks may come when they like. There should also be spare blocks put
out in the field, upon which the hack hawks may jump if they like after
feeding. Of course, if the weather is very wet, the commencement of
hack should be deferred till it is more settled, and the hawks brailed
and let loose in an empty room or loft. If they have been "manned"
pretty well before they are turned out, and will allow themselves to be
taken up when feeding on the lure, they may be taken in under shelter
the first night or two. But if it is fairly warm and fine they will be
better left out. They will generally at or soon after sunset go up into
pretty tall trees to roost. If they stay too long on a block or a gate
or post, it is as well to drive or take them off, and see that they are
perched up somewhere aloft, out of harm's way. By the bye, hawks, as
a rule, should be turned loose in the early part of the day, after a
light feed, so that they may be sure to get hungry again by the middle
of the day. Jubilee, the best hack hawk I ever had, when he was let
loose at 7 a.m., having never before flown two yards, spread his wings,
and at the first start flew softly but steadily away across a small
river, and, rising easily, took perch 300 yards off on the top branches
of an elm 70 feet high. He afterwards flitted about from one high tree
to another within a range of 500 yards, and only at midday came down to
his sister, who was eating her luncheon at a block in the hack field.
He spent that night in a tall elm, not far off, and did not go more
than half a mile from the hack field until he was taken up nearly a
fortnight later.

If the falconer can hack his own hawks, so much the better. He will
learn during the process much about their individual characters
and aptitudes. Often he will name them in accordance with their
peculiarities or the adventures which each may meet with. It is,
however, generally possible for him to get his hawks hacked by some
other person, or to purchase fully-hacked hawks after they have been
taken up. The worst of it is that unless you know a good deal about the
deputy hawk-master, you have no guarantee that the month's hack which
they are supposed to have had is real or imaginary.

On the first or second day of hack the falconer should make up his mind
whether he will hack his hawks to the lure, to the fist, or to the
board. For short-winged hawks the fist or the board is preferable. For
gers, peregrines, and hobbies, the board or the lure. For merlins, the
lure and the fist, combined in such proportions as seems to be most
suitable; generally more of the lure than of the fist. Each of the
systems has its merits, and each its defects.

If the board is chosen, it must be substituted at once for the lure
which was used on the first day. It consists of a plank or log of
wood, the lower side of which rests on the ground, while to the top
side is attached the food for the expected guests. One ration should
be provided for each hawk out--at intervals of two feet or so all
along the board. It is very important that the meat should be so
attached that it cannot be pulled off and carried away, but must be,
strictly speaking, consumed on the premises. When the feast consists
of rabbits' legs, fowls' wings, or the like, it can be firmly tied by
the bone. But, when meat is given, much care and ingenuity is required
to make it fast. Perhaps the best plan is to tie the piece tightly by
the two opposite corners. If it is possible for a hawk to bolt with a
substantial piece, she is quite likely to do so. And, having done so
once, she will try to do it again, especially if she happens to be a
shy hawk, and afraid of her stronger sisters who are beside her at the
board.

It must be confessed that hawks at hack exhibit a good deal of
perversity in their dealings with the hack board. Theoretically, each
of them ought to come down punctually at meal-time, and take her place
at the _al fresco_ table, where she can eat up in peace and quiet
the portion set out for her, without interference by or with her
neighbours. But, as a matter of fact, I regret to say that, instead
of adopting this rational and orderly course, hack hawks are often no
better behaved than an American traveller at a roadside feeding-place,
or a dowager at a ball-supper. As soon as the first comer has settled
down to that part of the board to which chance or choice has brought
her, the next comer will make straight for the same spot, taking no
notice whatever of the dainty morsels with which the rest of the board
is bedecked. Thereupon, of course, squabblings and bickerings, and
probably a scuffle, in which the weaker or less greedy of the rival
gluttons is driven off. Sometimes there will be three hungry young
ladies at the same piece, and a sort of battle ensues. Fortunately
the quarrel does not end in blows, nor in broken feathers, unless the
edges of the board have carelessly been left square and sharp at the
upper edges. The disadvantages of the board-school system, as it may be
called, are thus considerable. It leads to rivalries and jealousies,
and sometimes to free fights, among the school-children. These are not
birds which, in the words of Dr. Watts, "in their little nests agree."
Moreover, one bad habit at least is very likely to be learnt. It is
impossible always to fix on the rations to the board so that they
cannot be pulled off until finished. Suppose, now, that a tiercel,
having eaten half his ration, finds that the remainder has come loose.
And suppose that one of his sisters, having made a joint meal farther
down the board with another falcon, happens to want some more. She may
turn a covetous eye towards the tiercel's portion. Upon which exit the
latter, food in hand, closely followed by his big sister, who gives
him a hot time of it, chasing him about the hack field, and probably
catching him. Then follows a tooth-and-nail encounter, in which the
male, or unworthier sex, as it is with hawks, gets the worst of it.
Few things can be more conducive than this to the tiresome vice of
carrying. It is for this reason that, in the case of merlins, which are
especially addicted to this fault, I do not much believe in the board
system. On the other hand, it has its advocates and its advantages.
Hawks which are so hacked soon become much wilder than when treated in
another way. And wildness, at this period of a hawk's life, is a thing
to be desired. Board-school hawks, when taken up, are found to more
nearly resemble a wild-caught bird. They seldom or never scream. They
have none of the namby-pamby, molly-coddle habits of the fist-fed or
lure-fed eyess. They do not hang about round the trainer, or follow
him like spaniels. On the contrary, they often will not come down
to the board unless he retires to a respectful distance. They are
unapproachable by any louts or strollers who may come in sight, and,
being shy, take wing very readily, and generally get more flying, and
at a better pace.

If the lure system is chosen, the trainer goes to the hack field at
feeding-times with as many lures as there are hawks at hack. Each lure
must be so heavy that the hawk cannot move it at all, and the food
must be attached so that it cannot be pulled off while uneaten. To the
first hawk which comes up the first lure will be thrown out; to the
second comer another; and so on till the last is served. Fighting will
occur, no doubt, as it is impossible to prevent two hawks from coming
down to one lure. But, then, the master of the ceremonies is at hand to
separate the combatants, and keep each to her own lure, whereas at the
board they have to just fight it out.

It is much the same thing with the fist-feeding system. But this can
hardly be attempted with success when many big hawks are at hack
together. As the trainer comes to the hack field, the hack hawks will
come up, taking perch on his hand, his head, his shoulder, or wherever
they can find a place. Two or three may generally be accommodated on
the left forearm and fist. From his meat-box or feeding-pouch the
trainer will take out with his right hand the prepared mouthfuls of
food, and distribute them impartially among the hungry claimants. But
if there is more than one hawk out, it will be found almost necessary,
and certainly convenient, to use lures as well. After a few morsels
have been distributed, these lures can be thrown down for all the hawks
except one, which may finish her meal on the fist. One day one hawk may
thus be retained, and another day another may take her turn, so that
all keep up their habit of feeding freely there. Sparrow-hawks which
are to be hacked on this system may be coped a little before they are
turned out, for they have a way of digging in their claws to any soft
place. But a goshawk can only be hacked to the fist if she or he is
the only one out. The spectacle of a falconer (or ostringer, to use
the correct word) with a goshawk's claws firmly fixed in his head or
shoulder would be a rare subject for a serio-comic portrait!

Meal-times for the hack hawks should be pretty punctually observed.
Otherwise the hawks will become irregular in their habits, and the
falconer will be compelled rather to dance attendance on them than they
on him. The food may be left out on the board for an hour each time,
and then removed, before it has become fly-blown or soaked with rain
or frizzled in the sun. 6 to 7 a.m., noon to 1, and 6 to 7 p.m., are
very good hours. And each time when the board is garnished and the food
in readiness, the trainer may blow a whistle, or ring a bell, or sound
a gong, to give notice from afar. At each meal there must be "calling
over"; and if there is any absentee a mark must be recorded against his
or her name.

A bath or two must be set out in the hack field. From about 9 to 11
a.m. it should be kept pretty full of clean fresh water; but it should
be removed or emptied before noon. Most hawks are very capricious about
bathing; and hobbies, which want it most, will seldom bathe at all.
The others should be accustomed to bathe early in the day, so that
when they are old they will not depart from this godly habit. Plenty of
blocks should stand around, on which the bathed hawks may stand to sun
and air themselves.

The longer the period of hack can be safely protracted the better for
the hack hawk and her trainer. All the while she is learning to fly.
During the latter part she is also learning to chase and to stoop. Here
it is that the danger comes in. For in that ardour of youthful chase
what kills may come! At first the random shots made from tall tree-tops
at passing swallows will be wide enough of the mark. Even the young
missel-thrushes or wood-pigeons which have frequented the hack ground
will make light of the clumsy efforts made to cut them down; and the
house-pigeons from the nearest dovecot will treat with supreme contempt
the well-meaning but awkward stoops made at them. But every day finds
the young hawks more expert, as well as stronger on the wing. The
long feathers are now all down. The shafts harden, and no longer bend
perceptibly as the wing-tips strike the air. Presently the flights at
wild birds are no longer mere child's play. The fugitives have to exert
themselves to save their skins. Very likely the young hunters of the
air are not at first altogether in earnest. Secure of their food at the
hack board or lure or fist, and trusting to it for their subsistence,
they are merely "having a lark" with the intruders on what has begun to
be their domain. But it is increasingly difficult to know how much of
their endeavours is play and how much real business. Be sure, however,
that when any stoop, whether playful or not, proves successful, and the
unfortunate victim is in the pursuer's clutch, there will be no more
play; and on some lonely patch of ground not fifty miles from the hack
field there will be left a litter of feathers, the mortal remains of
the first quarry killed by hawks of the year.

Let me here quote from my hawk diary: "12 noon; out to hack field,
and follow a blackbird down Butt's orchard hedge. Nearing the corner,
blackbird (young cock) takes across the orchard. Drop him, winged, as
he goes over the front hedge; and he falls in the hack field. Jubilee
[eyess male merlin] is on a block in the middle of it, 90 yards off. It
is his third day out. As the blackbird falls, he starts, and, stooping
at it as it runs, takes it, kills it, and begins to plume it like a
wild hawk before I get up." Pretty sharp work this for a little hawk
that had never used his wings till the day before yesterday. But this
capture of a winged bird was not counted as a "kill"; and Jubilee was
left out for a good eight days more, and might probably have been left
a few longer. Hack hawks know no sentimental scruples about taking
their prey on the ground. Here is another extract from a hawk diary:
"6.30 a.m., out and fed hack hawks on lure. 'She' not visible. At 7
saw her on wire fence, half-way across park. As I got near with lure
she started, and, flying low over the ground away from me, turned
suddenly, and dropped on some bird in the grass. Was pluming it, when
heifers came right up to her. Then lifted, and carried into the lower
belt. Quarry looked like a missel-thrush." The same day "She" was taken
up. It is a risky thing to leave hawks out after they have once begun
serious and successful chasing. Yet it is a thousand pities to take
them up too soon, just when they are improving most rapidly. Peregrines
may be left out, with heavy hack-bells, for four weeks or occasionally
more. Merlins seldom more than three weeks. If the hack place and its
neighbourhood are very open, and the wild birds about are few, there is
less danger, and less need for hurry. But when the trees and bushes are
well stocked with wood-pigeons, thrushes, and small birds, beware.

It is now that the advantage will be seen of putting distinctive jesses
on the hawks. The trainer must watch the board carefully. He may not
be able to get within 80 yards of it. But from his hiding-place, be
it far or near, he must tell over the number of his charges every
morning, noon, and evening, so as to see that all have been down. A
field-glass may be necessary to identify each visitant. Brown-jess may
come down at 6 a.m., take a light breakfast, and be off. White-jess
may not appear till 12; and even then no signs of Black-jess. The case
begins to look serious. But at 12.50 at last a hawk comes down. Is
this the truant? Or is it Brown-jess again, with her luncheon appetite
come on? The glass will tell you quickly if the colour of the jesses
worn corresponds to the one name or the other. But if both hawks wore
the same coloured jesses, you could not say. If the last comer is
Black-jess--only delayed till so late by mere want of appetite--she may
be left out, perhaps for some days longer. And the extra days' exercise
will undoubtedly make her a faster and stronger hawk. But if you cannot
tell one hawk from another, it will be impossible for you to know when
one has missed two successive meals or not. If Black-jess absents
herself all day until the evening repast, the inference is strong that
in the morning she killed something for herself. If she keeps away for
a whole day, that conclusion becomes almost a certainty. She must be
taken up when the first chance occurs. Here, however, arises a fresh
difficulty. If it is a tiercel who so absents himself--especially a
small tiercel--the presumption that he has killed for himself is pretty
well conclusive. But what if it is a falcon? Her brother may have
chased and killed; and the sister--a slow hawk who could not catch
anything for herself--may have seen the flight, or seen the tiercel
pluming his dead quarry, and then come up, and by her superior strength
driven him off, and pirated the spoil. You, wrongly inferring that it
was she who killed the quarry, will take her up the next day, quite
prematurely, and leave the real captor, who is much more worthy of
bonds and imprisonment, to remain in dangerous liberty. The same doubt
may arise when the absentee is an extra strong and extra greedy bird of
either sex. That she or he has breakfasted or dined out is, of course,
equally clear. But was it the captive of her own wings and talons
that she devoured, or that of a weaker, but cleverer, hawk? These
are questions impossible to answer, unless some person has actually
seen what occurred. The safest plan, though not the most magnanimous,
when such evidence cannot be got, is, when one hawk has clearly been
killing, to take the whole lot up.

Hack hawks are as various in their habits at hack as they are at all
other times. Some are lazy, some active, some both by fits and starts.
One will be playful, and find a childish delight in chasing butterflies
or falling leaves. Others, surly and ill-tempered, ready on slight
provocation to make vicious stoops at their brethren or sisters.
Some will sit for hours sullenly on a post; others will fly long
distances for their own amusement, and soar aloft to a good height.
These are the most promising. The falconer, if he keeps his eyes
open, will have learnt before hack is over pretty well the relative
speeds and particular dispositions of his wards. Rarely are these
early indications falsified in after-life. But a backward hawk is not
necessarily a bad hawk. During quite the last days of hack a hawk which
had seemed rather dull and slow will sometimes wake up, and put on pace
in an astonishing way, until from being a member of the awkward squad
she comes to rival the leaders of the whole school in activity and
speed. But a sulky and moping hawk seldom turns out first-rate.

Speed is the great desideratum in a hawk. It is like the "big
battalions" in an army; like a good eye to a cricketer. When people
complain about bad-tempered hawks, it is often the trainer who is to
blame. But in the matter of speed, as shown at hack time, the trainer
is hardly, if at all, responsible. Bad temper is a nuisance, no
doubt, and a difficulty. But want of speed is worse. It is incurably
destructive of good sport. And here, speaking of the relative speeds
of hawks at hack, I will ask leave to relate two anecdotes. Queen, a
powerful and speedy, but not very brilliant flier, went off with a
rabbit's head, pursued by her sister and two brothers. Winding about
along the side of a long hedge, now one side and now the other, she
evaded all their stoops, and, after reaching the end of the hedge,
where there were some elms and oaks, dodged rapidly in and out among
them, loaded as she was, throwing out all the pursuers, and finally
conveying her booty to a safe corner, where she discussed it all by
herself in peace.

On his eleventh day of hack, Jubilee, the male merlin already referred
to, was sitting with his two sisters and one brother in the branches of
a fallen tree in the hack field, under which I was seated, garnishing
the lures for their delectation a little later on. Suddenly the little
hawk started at his best pace right down the field. I supposed that he
was after some blackbird in the far hedge. But before reaching it he
turned, and began mounting as he came back towards me. I looked round,
and for the first time saw that a wild kestrel had come over into the
field, and was dodging the stoops made at him by the remaining merlins.
Now this kestrel was one of a brood which had been flying at hack under
their parents' care in a neighbouring field. They were already strong
on the wing before the merlins were turned out; and I had been rather
fearing, when I discovered their near presence, that they might do the
young merlins a bad turn. No encounter had, however, as yet occurred
between the two families. The kestrel had at first little difficulty
in eluding the stoops of the three merlins, who seemed not much in
earnest. But when Jubilee came over, at some height in the air, there
was a different tale to tell. With his first stoop he made the wild
hawk cry out; at the second he almost feathered him, and made him
shuffle off to the orchard near at hand, where, swirling round the
tree-trunks, he threw out his assailant, and made off to a tall elm.
Here, no doubt, he fancied he was safe, especially as the other hawks,
on Jubilee's appearance, tailed off. But not a bit of it. Throwing
himself well up above the elm, the little jack dashed down at the enemy
in the tree, dislodged him, and with a back-handed stoop drove him down
to the ground, hunted him all across a meadow, grazing him at every
shot he made, and lost him in a big orchard farther on. The pace of
the wild hawk was very poor in comparison with that of this half-tame
lure-hacked merlin. It seemed as if the latter could have given him
ten yards in a hundred. In straight-ahead flying, in mounting, and
in throwing up, the kestrel was completely outpaced. Yet before now
trained merlins, as I have heard tell, have been outflown and chased by
a wild kestrel. I should not like, and do not ever expect, to own such
a trained merlin.

The day comes--all too soon--when the falconer dares to keep the hack
hawks out no longer. The decree goes out for one to be taken up. If
this one has been hacked to the fist the proceeding is simple enough.
As she stands complacently breakfasting on the fist, the jesses are
grasped in the fingers of the left hand. A couple of snips with a
sharp pair of strong nail-scissors make a slit in the two jesses. And
through these a spring swivel is deftly slipped. Attached to the swivel
is a leash, the end of which is wound round the little finger, while
the button of it is grasped in the palm of the left hand. As the hawk
proceeds with her meal she is taken quietly to a darkened room, where a
rufter hood is slipped on her head. Five minutes' carrying, and she is
placed on a mound of turf, food and all, while the leash, unwound from
the little finger, is fastened to a peg strongly planted in the ground.
If the hawk has been hacked to the lure or to the board, the process is
a little more complicated, but presents no real difficulty. A bow-net
must then be used. This instrument is more fully described in the
next chapter. It consists of a hoop of metal on which a light net is
stitched. The ends are fixed down; and the hoop is so set that a pull
on a long string will bring the rim up and over any object which may be
near it on the near side. The object, of course, in this case will be
the lure, or the piece of food with which the hack board is garnished.
When the hawk is feeding, the string is pulled. The net swings over,
encompassing both meat and hawk. Up runs the falconer, to secure the
captive, who is made fast, hooded, and taken home.

Even if a hawk has begun to prey for herself, she can still often be
captured with a live lure, that is, a live bird attached to a light
cord. Once find the hawk, and let the live lure fly, and she is pretty
sure to take it. Then she may be snared in one of the ways described in
the chapter on Lost Hawks.

A hack hawk, once taken up, is treated in very much the same way as a
wild-caught hawk. The process of reclamation begins at once. And this
process will be found described at length in the succeeding chapter.



CHAPTER V

Passage Hawks


All big hawks captured after they have begun to prey for themselves
are now commonly called passage hawks, although the name, strictly
speaking, may not be at all correct. Wild-caught is a more inclusive
term; and it is often used in the case of sparrow-hawks, merlins, and
hobbies, when casually caught by bird-catchers or gamekeepers, and not
killed in the process. We have seen that passage hawk means properly
a hawk caught during the period of her first migration southwards. It
is, however, of course, possible to capture her either in early autumn
before the migration has commenced--in which case a peregrine is more
properly called a slight falcon or slight tiercel--or late in the
winter, when she has become a lantiner, or in the spring migration,
when she is travelling north. But if she has begun to moult before she
comes into man's possession, she is correctly described as a haggard.
If gamekeepers were a little more alive to their own interests they
would often catch sparrow-hawks, and sometimes merlins and peregrines,
alive, and dispose of them at a very remunerative price, instead of
killing them, often in a most barbarous way, by means of pole-traps
and other snares, which destroy or cripple them after hours of
torture, and render them almost valueless. But for generations past
no systematic attempts have been made in this country to snare wild
hawks in an uninjured condition; and if a falconer should be able to
obtain any hawk so taken he may consider himself exceptionally lucky.
Several such hawks have indeed been caught in England, and, getting
rather accidentally into good hands, have turned out very excellent
performers. Occasionally a sparrow-hawk or merlin is saved alive out of
the nets of a bird-catcher; and these, if heard of before their plumage
is ruined, are prizes for which many a falconer will gladly give
something like their weight in silver.

But, as a rule, the full-grown hawks which come into the market
are captives which have been taken on the autumnal passage by the
professional hawk-catchers of Valkenswaard, in North Brabant. The sons
of Adrian Möllen, formerly falconer to the famous Loo Club, still carry
on this business of snaring peregrines on the great open heath, which
for many centuries has been resorted to for a like purpose, and which,
of course, takes its name from its renown as a place over which the
migrants must often pass. Anyone who wants a wild-caught peregrine
should write beforehand to one of these gentlemen, who will probably
not fail to send him what he requires. They go out every year, in
the months of October and November, and lie in wait daily in their
cunningly-constructed huts until they have secured as many captives
as have been ordered in various places. A dozen or more are annually
required for England, and sometimes a few for France. The variety most
in demand is the red falcon, that is to say, the female peregrine
in the nestling plumage, not yet moulted. But blue falcons are also
sometimes wanted, and of late years there has been some considerable
demand for tiercels, both red and blue. Merlins, sparrow-hawks, and an
occasional goshawk may be taken, and, still more rarely, a ger. The
price for a falcon is four to five pounds, and of a tiercel from three
to four. But a special apparatus is required for catching the smaller
hawks, which will not usually come to the same lure as a peregrine. If
the captured hawk has to be kept for any length of time in the captor's
hands before being fetched or sent away, an extra charge is made for
her maintenance.

The device whereby the wild hawk is caught in Holland is somewhat
elaborate. It has more than once been described in print, and may be
briefly noticed here. A hut is first built up with sods of turf in
an open part of the plain. It looks from outside like a mere knoll
or rising in the ground. A nearer inspection shows a small opening
in front, through which a man, or at a pinch two men, can crawl. It
is fitted with a low seat inside, and at the back, behind and above
the seat, is an aperture something like the small port-hole of a
cabin, which can be opened by pulling out a sod of turf, and closed by
replacing the same. This is to enable the hawk-catcher to spy out at
a hawk which is coming up from behind his back. Outside the hut and
in front of it is a sort of small altar or table of turf, on the flat
top of which is pegged down, by means of a short creance and jesses, a
butcher-bird or shrike. Scraps of meat are set out for the delectation
of this feathered watchman, who is also indulged with a miniature hut
of his own, into which he may retreat when terrified, as it is hoped
that he soon may be. The eyesight of this tethered spy is so keen that
he can descry his enemy the hawk at an incredible distance in the sky.
Whenever one is approaching, though far out of range of the sharpest
human eye, he begins to exhibit signs of alarm. As the hawk comes
nearer he fidgets more and more, glancing nervously--or pointing, as
they call it--in the direction of the foe. If the latter still comes
nearer, he will cry out in his terror, and finally run cowering under
the shelter of his hut.

Meanwhile the falconer has not been idle. Snatching the turf shutter
from the little window behind him, he takes a look through his
field-glass in the direction to which the shrike is pointing, searching
for the coming hawk as an astronomer does for a lost star. If, on
espying it, he judges that it is a peregrine, he sets to work seriously
about the main business of the day.

At some distance from the hut is fixed up a pole with a line--we will
call it A--running from the top of it to the hut. To this line, at
some yards distance from the pole, is attached a branch line, after
the manner of the paternoster used in angling, at the end of which is
a live pigeon in jesses. When the line A is slack, the pigeon rests on
the ground, or in a hut to which he is at liberty to resort when he
likes. But if, by a pull in the falconer's hut, the line A is pulled
taut, up goes the pigeon in the air, and flutters about at the end of
his branch line, conspicuous from afar. Often there is a second pole at
a like distance from the big hut, but in a rather different direction;
and to this a second line, B, is attached, with a tame tiercel or
peregrine of some sort, rigged out in the same way as the pole-pigeon.
This hawk may have a handful of straw or worsted fastened to one of his
feet, so that he may look as if he had some dead quarry in possession,
and serve the better to attract the wild passager. As the shrike
points, and the wild hawk is coming up, the falconer works with a will
by the two strings A and B at the pole-hawk and the pole-pigeon. But
as soon as the passager is nearly overhead, and the shrike has hidden
himself, it is time to let loose the pole strings and let the very live
lures attached to it also bolt into shelter.

We now come to another component part of the Dutch hawk-trap. A third
line, C, leads from the hut to a small ring-peg in the ground sixty
or eighty yards away, passes through it, and a few feet farther on,
but at the side, is attached to a live pigeon in a box, out of which
it can be pulled by drawing the line. One more particular, and the
whole apparatus is complete. On each side of the ring-peg, and about
two feet from it, are pegs which hold down the hinges of a bow-net,
something like that which was used for catching up the hack hawks.
The usual and best way of making a bow-net is to take two equal
lengths of strong wire, five or six feet long, and bend each into a
nearly semicircular arch. The two ends of each hoop are twisted up
into a ring, and the two hoops are joined together so that a sort of
easy hinge is formed at the ends. A net of fine but strong string is
stretched over the whole circle formed by the two hoops. When it is
set, one-half of it is pegged down flat on the ground and the other
is folded back over it. To the middle of the upper hoop is attached a
fourth long line, D, by which it can be pulled over, so that when the
line is taut the hoops form a circle, with the net covering all the
space between the hinges. This will explain how the falconer, ensconced
in his hut, can, by a pull at the long line D, passing through a ground
peg to the arch of the bow-net, pull it over the ring through which
the line C passes. Thus there are four lines of which the ends lie in
the floor of the hut, each marked with a different colour, and each
requiring to be worked with prompt and accurate skill at the eventful
moment.

We can now understand the whole process of entrapping the passage hawk,
and shall find that it includes the following movements:--(1) Pointing
of the shrike; (2) removal of the turf shutter, and observation of the
coming hawk through the field-glass; (3) pulling of the lines A and B,
by which the pole-pigeon and the pole-hawk are made to flutter or fly
about and show themselves; (4) slackening of these lines and escape
of the pole-pigeon, pole-hawk, and shrike, under their respective
places of shelter. By this time the wild hawk ought to be close at
hand, and eagerly looking out for the pigeon which has so mysteriously
disappeared. Then (5) tightening of the line C, by which the hitherto
unseen pigeon is pulled out of his box, and displayed to the expectant
hawk above; (6) capture of this pigeon by the hawk. Next (7) a much
stronger and steadier pull is given to the line C, by which the far end
of it is dragged--pigeon, hawk, and all--towards the ring between the
horns of the bow-net. As soon as the pigeon, with the hawk upon it, has
got to this ring, a piece of tape or ribbon fastened on to a particular
place on the line C will have been pulled to a certain place within the
hut, and will warn the falconer that he need pull it no farther, as all
things are now ready for the next and most critical move. Then, holding
the line C still tight in one hand, the operator (8) will, with a quick
well-sustained effort, tighten the line D, and pull the net over hawk
and pigeon. All that remains now for the falconer to do is (9) to
make fast the end of the line D round a peg fixed in the hut for that
purpose, and then (10) to run out, with his best leg foremost, and take
the captive out of the net.

The reader may think this rather a needlessly elaborate and complicated
device; but it is a very sure one, when the operator does not bungle.
It has stood the test of many centuries, and is as good now as it was
in the days of Alfred the Great. There is no doubt that by means of
such an apparatus--slightly simplified, perhaps--wild peregrines might
be taken on the Wiltshire and Berkshire downs. Lord Lilford once had
a hut or huts out in England with some success. A similar apparatus,
with a less elaborate hiding-place, would enable keepers or shepherds
to catch many a sparrow-hawk and some merlins. For the former there
is almost always a good demand. So far is it from being true, as many
books assert, that "sparrow-hawks are easy to procure," there are
always half a dozen falconers in England who are vainly wishing that
they could lay hands on one.

To extract a wild hawk of any kind, but especially a ger, peregrine, or
goshawk, from the bow-net is sometimes no laughing matter. To set about
it with thickly-gloved hands involves much awkwardness, and is not
unlikely, in the case of an inexperienced man, to end in the loss of
the hawk. There is also the danger of breaking feathers, or even a bone
in the wing or leg. On the other hand, to go to work with even one hand
ungloved exposes you, unless you are adroit beyond the average of human
beings, to some particularly painful punctures and gashes. There are
eight talons or claws, each as sharp as a needle, awaiting your attack,
and it will not be the hawk's fault if she does not maul you with them.
As for the beak, it is well-nigh sharp and strong enough to nip a piece
clean out of the back of your hand. Yet the prisoner must be got out
somehow, and moreover must be held quiet while a pair of jesses and
a hood or sock are put on. A sock is an article of unpretentious but
sterling value to the hawk-catcher. Sometimes it is not a real sock,
but a strait-waistcoat of more artificial kind made to serve as an
improved imitation of the homely article of clothing originally used
by the old falconers. But the common and unimproved sock is quite good
enough for the hawk-catcher's purpose. It is turned inside out, in
the way familiar to washerwomen, so that at the heel there is an open
end, while the toe and top of the sock form the other end. Into that
open heel is pushed the head of the captured hawk. The sock itself is
then drawn bodily on to and over the hawk's shoulders. The beak, being
hooked downwards, will not interfere with the operation. The soft
covering is pulled down right over the back, chest, and thighs of the
victim, until nothing but the tail and the tips of the wings protrude.
If it fits tolerably, the hawk will be effectually strait-waistcoated,
and may be laid down on its back like an overturned turtle. A man's
sock, big or little, fits a falcon or tiercel fairly; and a boy's or
child's sock may be used for the smaller hawks. Before the sock is used
a couple of tapes may be sewn across it, one three or four inches from
the toe, and another five or six inches farther back, so that when it
is on the ends of one tape may be tied--not tightly, of course--round
the throat of the captive hawk just in front of the shoulders, and the
ends of the other tape round the back, just above the tail. The toe of
the sock may then be cut off, so that the hawk's head is left free.

The first captive, once reduced to quiescence for the time being, will
be laid out on the floor of the hut or near it, while the falconer
returns to his watch-place. For there is no reason why he should not
effect another, or even more captures, in the same day. Climatic
influences or mere chance may have ordained that for a week or more he
should have had no chance, and yet now the hawks should come fast and
furiously to the decoy. Long-winged hawks, unlike woodcocks and many
other migratory birds, travel with the wind in their faces; and they
by no means hurry on their way, pausing, sometimes for some days at
a time, at any place where quarry is abundant, where the bathing is
good, and where, perhaps, there are other attractions which we dull,
earth-treading mortals cannot understand or appreciate. As night comes
on, the captives are carried home in their socks, and a rufter hood is
put on, after which the socks are cut off, and they are set down on a
hillock of soft turf, or, if they show no signs of violent uneasiness,
on the screen-perch, the leash having, of course, in either case been
attached and made fast. From this moment the person for whom the hawk
is intended should by rights assume the ownership and charge of her.
It would be absurd to suppose that the hawk-catcher, however good a
falconer he may be, should act as trainer too, when he has to go out on
the morrow, and perhaps for many days afterwards, to entrap other hawks.

Before bedtime, in the long evening of late autumn, a grand attempt
should be made to induce the newly-caught hawk to eat. If she was
caught early in the day, and had not already breakfasted, it is
possible that the attempt may succeed, especially if she is of a placid
and philosophic turn of mind. But do not think that success will, even
then, be easily achieved. You may very likely have to wait a long
time. Different men, of course, have different methods of persuading a
newly-caught hawk to feed; but all agree that it is a very difficult
job. Many of the books advise the drawing of meat across her feet as
she stands on the fist, and repeating this until she begins to pick
at it. Perhaps I have never sufficiently tested this plan. I do not
think I can honestly say that I have ever drawn the seductive morsel
of meat more than a hundred times successively over the feet of the
unwilling feeder. But I must confess that the process, even when
protracted to this moderate length, is a little tedious. For my own
part I have found that, if she is touched lightly on the shoulder with
a finger of the right hand, she will generally strike out with open
beak in the direction of the offending finger--not, of course, with any
idea of eating anything, or even any very defined intention of biting
her assailant, but in a mere spirit of anger and defiance. If, then,
between the moment of touching her and that when the blow with the
beak is struck you can substitute in the place of the finger a juicy
slice of raw beef, there is quite a good chance that she will seize
it. At the first trial she will not swallow it. Probably she will bate
off and make a scene. Nevertheless, a certain taste of very delectable
food will linger in her mouth, and when peace is restored she will take
note of this. At the second trial she may possibly retain the meat a
little longer, and make less ado. By and by a small scrap of it may be
torn off before she gets rid of it; and this, if it is at all sticky,
and cannot be flipped off with a shake of the head, will be swallowed.
Now, if everything is done very gently and quietly, there is a chance
that she may strike out again with some real notion that there is food
to strike at. Directly she takes the meat and gives anything like a
pull at it, let a morsel come off. If the meat is really quite soft it
will be easy to manage this. By degrees she will, if hungry, begin to
take more kindly to the lesson. As often as you can get a small morsel
seized by her, however unwittingly, she will, if only to get rid of it,
pull it with her tongue down the natural lane where it is intended to
go. And at length she will voluntarily pull through the hood the viands
which are so very ready at her service.

Let her then take as much as ever she will. It is not likely to be very
much. Keep her either on your own fist or on the fist of some assistant
all through the first night, without allowing her to sleep a wink. And
until she has fed keep on at times tempting her to do so. Wild-caught
hawks may quite well be kept nearly twenty-four hours without food.
Eagles may be kept even for two or three days without much injury; and
goshawks for a day and a half. But twenty-four hours is too long for
a very small hawk, which must have been already hungry when she came
to the decoy. And if you can feed any hawk soon after her capture, so
much the better. Anything like starvation is now completely tabooed by
falconers pretending to any knowledge of their art. To reduce a hawk
while in process of reclamation is no more than you will be obliged
to do. For it is hopeless to expect to keep a passager, or indeed
any trained hawk, in quite such high condition as a wild hawk keeps
herself. But a thin hawk is a disgrace to the trainer. If you cannot
reclaim your hawk without submitting her to such hunger as will make
her weak and poor, you had better abandon falconry and try some less
difficult form of sport.

Possibly before your hawk will feed, and while you are carrying her,
you will find that she wants to cast. With her last meal eaten in
freedom, she is pretty sure to have swallowed some castings. Ten to one
she has thrown these up before she came to your decoy pigeon. But it is
possible she may not. Moreover, if the first hood she wears is an easy
one, well cut away at the beak opening, she may cast through the hood.
But if she is seen making efforts to cast, and is prevented by the hood
from doing so, take her into a nearly dark room or passage. Remove
the hood with the fingers and teeth, and, when she has thrown up her
casting, slip it on again. Otherwise she may possibly choke herself in
the vain attempt to cast. Of course you will not dream of allowing her,
for days to come, to eat anything anywhere except on the fist.

If a wild-caught hawk is so rampageous from the first that she will not
stand on the fist at all without jumping off, she must be left on the
turf mound, but by no means be allowed to go to sleep. An attendant
must be at hand who will effectually prevent this by touching her
whenever she seems to be dozing off. A few hours of this stirring-up
will make her ready enough to keep quiet on the fist when she has a
chance. And a few hours more will make her willing enough to stand
still there, even when the fist is moved unsteadily about.

We will suppose now that the passager has at last fed moderately but
unstintingly through the hood upon the fist; that she can be carried
about on it without much risk of bating off; and that she has had no
sleep since she was brought in. She may now be stroked gently with
an uncut pencil or short stick, first on the back, then on the breast
and legs. Some writers advise doing this with a feather; but the stick
is far preferable. The time has now arrived for releasing her for a
while from the hood. But before this is done, she must be taken into a
room which is nearly dark, so that on the removal of the hood she can
hardly see her way about. The time chosen should also be when she is
sharp-set; and a tempting piece of food should be under her feet at
the time. As she pulls at it, more light may be let in; and possibly
she will keep at her meal quietly until it is nearly or quite broad
daylight in the place. But most falconers first unhood their hawks by
candlelight. Then one candle may be first lighted at one end of a long
room, when hawk and man are at the other. If all goes well, a second
may be lighted, and then the man, keeping a sharp eye on his hawk, may
walk slowly towards them into the fuller light. Thus by degrees, taking
care not to proceed too fast, or ever alarm the pupil, she may be made
tame enough to feed bareheaded even in the open air.

The old falconers used to "seel" their wild-caught hawks, stitching up
the eyelids so as to make them blind; and anyone who is neat-handed
enough to be able to seel a hawk without causing her any pain or
injury may find it a good plan now to adopt this system. Then, suppose
there are four stitches in each eyelid, on the first day of unseeling
the pair nearest the beak may be removed, and one more pair on each
succeeding day, till the whole eye is free. But seeling, as a matter
of fact, has now gone quite out of fashion in this country. Many
modern amateurs also seem to disbelieve in the expediency of waking
wild-caught hawks, _i.e._ preventing them from sleeping. And true it is
that this expedient is not absolutely necessary. But one may safely say
that a hawk which is waked well directly after it is captured will be
reclaimed three or four times as soon and as easily as one which is not.

I have spoken of slipping the hood on and off a hawk as if it were a
thing that the falconer, whether experienced or not, could accomplish
without bungling. But it must not be inferred that the operation is
easy. Probably it is the part of a falconer's first duties which is
more difficult than any other. Even amongst expert falconers it is not
altogether common to find a really good hooder. The knack of hooding
is only to be acquired, like other fine arts, by long and assiduous
practice. For this reason, if for no other, every beginner should try
his 'prentice hand on a kestrel before he aspires to a peregrine or
merlin. If he can by any means make acquaintance with a graduate in the
art of falconry who is known to hood well, let him observe minutely
his method and manner, and after each lesson practise on the _corpus
vile_ of the "knave's hawk" to acquire the same facility which he has
seen his senior to possess. Example in this case is more valuable than
precept. But do not, by any mistake, become a pupil of a bad hooder!
In the hands of a bungler no hawk can well be good-tempered, whereas
in the hands of a first-rate master she will stand to the hood as
if she rather liked it. When Adrian Möllen was with the Loo Club in
Holland one of the king's brothers came to him for a fortnight, for
an hour every day, simply and solely to learn how to hood. There are
various manners of putting the hood on. Some hold the base of the plume
between the right forefinger and thumb, and, passing it slowly up the
breast of the hawk, pop it on quickly over the beak, and with a tap on
the forehead push it back into its place. Others hold the hood by the
plume between the fore edge of the palm and the inside of the base of
the thumb, and, presenting the palm of the hand right in front of the
hawk's face, push it forwards, and cause the beak to pass through the
opening, raising the wrist afterwards so as to force the back of the
hood down on to the nape. In any case there must be an appearance of
quiet deliberation about the movements made, combined with a certain
amount of actual quickness.

The hood used in learning to hood should be an easy one, very much cut
away at the beak opening. And the hawk herself must be first so far
manned that she will allow the intending hooder to pass his hand over
the crown of her head, and to stroke her on the back without making any
objection, or exhibiting any uneasiness. She should be accustomed to
the sight of the hood, and have often been allowed to pick nice little
morsels of meat from the outside of it. Then she may be allowed to pick
a clean piece or two from the inside of it; and from the beak opening,
under which, as the hood lies upside-down in your hand, you hold the
seductive morsel. If a hawk is so treated as to become the least
_afraid_ of the hood, it will be a work of dire difficulty, and almost
impossibility in awkward hands, to break her to it, or cure her of the
vice. And hawks are sometimes to be seen so mismanaged by their owners
that they get into a "state of mind" at the mere sight of the obnoxious
head-dress. A hood-shy hawk is not only a nuisance, but a discredit to
her trainer.

When the hawk has once gone so far as to dip her beak into the hood
in search of a scrap of food, it requires no great dexterity to slip
it over her head. While doing so the knuckles of the left hand should
be turned slightly outwards, so that the hawk's head is naturally
projected forwards towards the hood, and cannot easily be drawn back;
whereas as soon as the hood is on the same knuckles should be turned
a little inwards so that the head is held up. The braces can then be
seized, one in the right finger and thumb, and the other by the teeth,
and pulled tight, before the wearer can jerk or shake it off. Merlins
are of all hawks the most difficult to hood, owing to their extreme
vivacity and the quickness with which they discern and anticipate any
movement of the trainer. But then their amenability to kind treatment
is also so great that they can be handled, like a horse or dog, without
offence, if a little patience is exhibited. And, once well broken to
the hood, they will stand to it as well as peregrines or goshawks. Gers
have a reputation for often being hood-shy; but perhaps the proper
treatment of them, in this as in other respects, is now imperfectly
understood.

The early steps in the process of reclaiming passagers were so well
described four centuries ago by Turbervile that I cannot do better than
quote, on this subject, his exact words. After giving instructions
for seeling the captive, and putting on of bells, jesses, and swivel,
he continues: "Being thus furnished you shall go about to man her,
handling her often gently, and both to avoide the sharpnes of her beake
as also the better rebuke her from biting and nipping, you shall have
a straight smoothe sticke, as bigge as your finger, and halfe a foot
long or more, with the which you shal gently stroke your hawk about the
pinions of her wings and downwards athwart all her train. And if she
chance to knap or byte at the sticke let her bite hardly, for that will
rebuke her thereof, whereas your hand being twitched away fearfully
would make her proceed the more eagerly. To man her well you must watch
all the night and keepe her on your fist, and you must teach her to
feed seeled; and having a great and easie rufter hood, you must hood
and unhood her oftentimes, seeled as she is [here we see the advantage
of seeling], handling her gently about the head, and coying her alwayes
when you unhood her, to the end she take no disdayne or displeasure
against her keeper. And also to make her plume and tyre sometimes upon
a wing, and keepe her so on the first day and night without perching
of her, untill she be wearie, and suffer you to hoode her gently and
stirre not; and correct her of her ramage toyes, especially of snapping
and biting, stroking her evermore as before said with your sticke.
But if it happen (as it doth sometimes) that your chance be to have
a Falcon so ramage and shewde-mettled, that she will not leave her
snapping and biting, then take a dose of Garlicke cleane pilled, or a
little aloes cicatrina, and when she byteth or snappeth at your hand or
stick, offer her the Garlicke or aloes, and let her bite it, for either
the strong sent of the Garlicke or the bitter taste of the aloes will
quickly make her leave off.

"And here I thinke good to expresse mine opinion, that hee which
taketh in hand to be a Falconer, ought first to be very patient and
therwithall to take singular delight in a Hawke, so that hee may seeme
to bee in love (as it were naturally) with his Hawke. For hee which
taketh not that delight, but doth rather exercise it for a pompe and a
boast, in mine opinion, shall seldome prove a perfect Falconer, but a
mar-hawke, and shall beare the bagge after a right Falconer.

"When your Hawke, being so seeled, doth feede well, and will abide the
Hoode, and to be handled without striking or biting at your hand, then
in an evening by candle light you shall unseele her, and when you have
hooded her take her on your fist, and holde her so all night untill
day appeare againe, doing off her Hoode oftentimes, and handling her
gently with your hand, stroking her softly about the wings and the
body, hooding and unhooding of her and giving her sometimes to feede,
a morsell or twain, or sometimes tyring or plumage. But above all
things you must watch her on the fist so many nights together without
setting her downe on any pearch, that shee may be wearie and suffer you
to hoode and handle her gently without any manner of resistance, and
untill shee have altogether left and forgotten her striking and byting
at your hand; but some hawkes will be long before they leave that
fault, as the more coy or ramage that they be, the longer they will
retain all those ill tatches, and will not peradventure be wonne from
them in three, foure, or five dayes. When she is well reclaymed from it
then may you let her sit upon a pearch to rest her. But every night you
shall doe well to keepe her on the fist three or foure houres, handling
her and stroking her gently and causing her to tyre or to plume,
alwayes making much of her, and hooding and unhooding her oftentimes,
as before said. And the like you may doe also by daylight but in a
chamber apart where she may see no great light, untill she feed surely
and eagerly without dread.

"If your Hawke be thus in foure or five dayes manned so that she begin
to feede eagerly and boldly, then you shal first begin to make her
know your whistle or the chirping of your mouth, and afterwards your
voice." And he goes on to advise the giving of a live pullet in a place
where there is just enough light for the hawk to see it, and then to
"chyrpe with your voyce and use those other sounds which Falconers
do to their hawks"; and recommends for the ordinary feeding of the
haggard falcon, while being reclaimed, "pullets not very old, and
calves' hearts, weathers' hearts, and hogs' hearts," and, if she is not
eager for her food, to wash the meat either in cold water or wine, and
occasionally to give her, fasting, "as much sugar candy as the quantity
of a small nut."

The duration of the process of manning varies greatly, according to the
breed and individual character of the pupil. Wild-caught merlins can be
reclaimed by a skilled man in a few days, whereas if you can reclaim
a haggard peregrine in less than a month you will have something to
boast of. Short-winged hawks, if not well waked at the first, generally
require a long time, although this is not invariably the case. Every
falconer is familiar with the story of Sir John Sebright's historic
sparrow-hawk, which killed a wild partridge on the tenth day after
it was caught. But some few sparrow-hawks are as good-tempered, if
skilfully treated, as others are rebellious and obstreperous. Waking
will enable the most unamiable pupil to be manned in much less than
half the time which would be otherwise required. A judicious use of
the hood is also essential. While the hawk is still feeding freely,
unhooded, and with a good appetite, she should be hooded up before
she begins to be at all satiated. For "bating on a full crop" is to
be particularly avoided at all times. The remaining part of the meal
can be pulled through the hood. When a hawk eats readily on the fist
indoors, she is not yet more than half reclaimed unless she will do the
same in the open air. There is a vast difference between the one thing
and the other. First take her out a little way in the twilight, or in
an ill-lighted place at night, with food in her foot, on the fist. Then
in the same place when there are men about. By degrees she will begin
to think it natural enough to feed on the hand; and a tiring, tougher
and tougher every day, may be substituted for the succulent viands by
which her attention at first had to be kept up. Beware at the first,
however, of carrying a hawk bareheaded, unless she has something to
amuse herself withal. The chances are that you may rather make her more
wild than more tame, if she feels that nothing but the jesses and leash
confine her to her new perch.

Throughout this period and during all the early stages of training,
the grand secret of discipline is carrying. It would perhaps be
difficult to say why the mere transporting of a hawk, hooded or
unhooded, upon the glove from place to place should have so great an
effect; but the experience of centuries has shown that it does, and
this ought to be enough for the beginner. When he has carried hawks
for some hundreds of hours, he will acknowledge the truth of the old
theory; then possibly he will be able to explain it to others or to
himself. In the meantime he will do well to take it on trust, and
adopt the practice without question. If, as he walks about or rides or
sits--for the ambulatory part of the process is not compulsory--he is
amongst other people, it will be all the better. The sound of the human
voice, naturally and instinctively trying to all wild creatures, will
by familiarity with it become less alarming. And with the diminution
of the uneasiness originally caused by the voice will come a lessening
of the distrust felt for the man who owns the voice. It is almost
needless to say that the falconer's voice, especially at times when the
hawk is unhooded and in sight, should be soft and soothing in tone. We
modern trainers do not use the voice much, as the old falconers did, in
educating and directing our pupils. And therein, probably, we make a
great mistake. But, however incredulous anyone may be as to the charms
of the "falconer's voice" for which Juliet so prettily sighed, it is at
least natural to suppose that the harsh tones of an angry or peevish
man must give any intelligent animal a bad notion of his character,
and, by analogy, of that of the whole human race.

The actions of the trainer should, like the voice, be gentle and
conciliatory. In fact his whole behaviour, when in his pupil's
presence, must be, as Turbervile recommends, friendly, lovable, and
free from offence. "Sit procul omne nefas: ut ameris, amabilis esto!"
And the hawk should not only like the trainer, but also respect him
for his equanimity and self-control. Do you not want to convince your
disciple that you are wiser as well as stronger than she? and yet that
you are ready to pay respect to her own pride, and even some of her
prejudices? "Maxima debetur _falconi_ reverentia"; and if you exhibit
petulance and ill-temper yourself, how can you expect that she will
be amiable in return? Rough and sudden movements must never be made
in the near neighbourhood of an unhooded hawk. Nay, they must be very
watchfully guarded against, or they are nearly sure to be involuntarily
made. Has a gnat got into your eye, as you are walking about with
an unhooded hawk? Your natural impulse is to raise the right hand
quickly to brush it away. But that abrupt movement, so natural and
almost instinctive on your part, is not at all expected by the hawk,
as she stands close by. A catching of the breath and a half-spreading
of the wings, if nothing worse, will very likely show you that you
have made a mistake; and, if the hawk is a shy one, you will be lucky
if the little incident, trifling as it may appear, does not lead to
a bout of bating and a feeling of resentment and suspicion for the
future. When walking along with an unhooded, half-broken hawk, be on
the look-out for everything that may by any chance cause alarm. Women
are more to be dreaded than men; children more than women. Dogs are the
worst of all, especially if they bark and rush about. Steer clear of
them all at first; and in passing them keep them always on your right
hand, so that they are never behind the hawk's back. Getting over a
gate or stile, be careful how you step down. The sinking of the left
hand always annoys the hawk standing upon it. Very naturally; for she
feels that her perch is, as it were, dropping away from under her.
Do all descents, therefore, even down an easy flight of steps, with
as few jerks as possible. When riding or driving with a hawk on the
fist, accommodate the whole left arm to the movement of the horse or
the vehicle. A skilled falconer will hold his hand almost still while
his whole body is being jogged about in a jolting dogcart or wobbling
railway carriage. Just as you may sometimes see a hawk with her eye
fixed steadily on some spot, and her head in the same place, like a
fixed star, while her whole body is moved up or down by an independent
action. Beware also of getting near any obstacle against which your
hawk may by any sudden movement strike the tip of a wing. In passing
through a gate or door, for instance, or under a small archway, give
the gate-posts and walls a wide berth. Never wear a hard-brimmed hat
yourself, nor go near any person who has a stiff hat or anything stiff
about his clothing. In short, never risk the accidental breakage of a
feather.

Carrying is therefore not quite such a simple matter as it at first
appears to be. But it must be persevered in without any intermission
until the hawk is thoroughly manned. For, all the time the hawk sits
contentedly on the fist, she is learning a lesson that must eventually
be taught her. Hawks are amongst the creatures most easily taught. They
learn any lesson skilfully and diligently taught them with an ease
that often astonishes the trainer himself; and, having once learnt it,
they are in no hurry to forget. The artificial habit, once grafted on
their nature, becomes almost a component part of it. But, as they learn
quickly to do well, so they also learn quickly how to do otherwise. If
you do not make a friend of your pupil, she will soon begin to regard
you as an enemy. And then farewell to any hope of making a good servant
of her.

"Manning" includes, of course, habituating her to the company not only
of men, but also of dogs, horses, and all other animals and things
which she is at all likely to meet with in her artificial existence of
the future. She must be gradually introduced into society; and, like a
young lady of fashion, her début will probably be made at nighttime.
Streets more or less frequented may be visited with advantage by
gaslight, or under the rather weird rays of the electric light. The
extent of the publicity courted must be graduated according to the
progress made by the débutante. If the main street is found too noisy
or exciting, walk away down the side street. If that is too monotonous,
stroll into an inn-yard or a billiard-room. When my lady shows signs
of shying at an approaching object, sheer off a little, and create a
diversion of some kind, perhaps by giving a pull at the meat under
her foot, or by stroking her gently on the breast with the forefinger
or a stick. If she strikes at the finger, do not snatch it away, but
let her see that no harm is meant. You may even tell her so in a
reassuring voice. She will partly understand. Then, when she can be
taken without trouble through a pretty well-filled street, or amongst
a group of people, she may be brought out by daylight. She may be
carried through the stables and across a courtyard in which dogs are
chained up. Then past a group of stable-boys, and along the side of
a kennel. Meal-times are the best for all these early lessons, which
must be advanced by easy stages. First the under-falconer will stand
by, perhaps with another hawk, as the pupil takes her dinner. Next day
he may be accompanied by a horse or a hound--of undemonstrative and
unemotional temperament. On the third day a group of children may be
playing at a short distance. Then the tutor himself may be mounted when
he takes off my lady's hood and produces the day's ration. At each sign
of real alarm the irritant object should be eliminated. If the stable
is found too trying, step aside into the harness-room. If the children
make too much noise, or begin to stare too impudently at the scornful
beauty, get away to a safer distance. Tempt her forbearance as far as
you safely dare, but not an inch farther. _Festina lente_ is a capital
maxim for the impatient trainer.

Should a half-trained passage hawk ever be pegged out at the block?
Many falconers will answer Yes. But I am of a different persuasion. A
man who is over-hawked, or has too few assistants, may think it almost
a necessity to weather his hawk at the block. But even in such a case
I would advise to weather her in her hood. The proper way, however, to
weather a hawk, when she is in course of being manned, is surely on the
fist. If a man has so many hawks and so few falconers that he cannot
spare one of the latter to carry each of the hawks for some hours every
day, he is going about his business in an unbusiness-like way. What
good can a passage hawk possibly get from standing as a prisoner on
a block of wood, tempted continually to jump off, and jerked back as
often as she does so by a rude pull on to a damp plot of grass? The
fashion now so prevalent of pegging hawks out on the lawn by themselves
seems to me, if the truth is to be told, to have originated in the
laziness of the falconer or his subordinates. It is manifestly much
easier and simpler to tie a hawk to a block, than to roam about with
her on the fist. But is it equally beneficial? Is it even advisable at
all? It is argued that a hawk, while so pegged out, is breathing the
fresh air and getting manned, if there are, as there should be, people
passing to and fro before her eyes. But, on the other hand, she is
all the time plagued by a feeling of discomfort and discontent, which
cannot be good for her. Her position is not natural to her. It is not
the one she would choose of her own accord. Every bird which flits
across within her field of view, every cloud which passes over head,
almost every breeze which whispers in the tree-tops, suggests to her a
longing to take flight. A dozen places invite her to leave her humble
perch and go to them and obtain a better view. Four out of every five
wild-caught hawks, unless their spirit has been half broken by fasting
or persecution, will be found to bate off constantly when pegged out.
And bating off cannot do them any good. It must remind them painfully
that they are now captives and slaves. Moreover, it is impossible to
properly arrange their surroundings. Either there will be too many or
too few people about. And whoever there is about, whether man, child,
or dog, will either be too near or too far away. The background will
not arrange itself with a due regard to the happy medium between
distant reserve and vulgar familiarity. On the whole, there are very
few passage hawks that I should like to peg out bareheaded before they
have arrived at a much later stage of their education than we have yet
reached.

[Illustration: FALCON AND TIERCEL WEATHERING]



CHAPTER VI

Training and Entering


We have traced the history of the wild-caught hawk from the moment of
her misadventure in the bow-net to that in which having been introduced
under good auspices to the society of her new friends she has learnt at
least to tolerate their presence, if not to rejoice in it. She can be
taken amongst men, women, and children, dogs, horses, and carriages,
without feeling uneasy. She has, in fact, now been manned. When we
took leave of our eyesses they had not yet arrived at this stage. They
were only just taken up from hack. But the manning of the eyess is
accomplished in no different way from that of the passager, except that
the more vigorous parts of the discipline may be omitted or modified.
Waking is not necessary for eyess merlins, hobbies, or kestrels. It
may often be dispensed with altogether with eyess peregrines, even
after a prolonged hack. Carrying and handling are with them, as with
their wilder brethren, the simple but laborious methods whereby they
are tamed. But manning is only the first step in the reclamation of a
hawk. She must be made also to come to the fist, at least to a certain
extent. If, indeed, she is a short-winged hawk, this lesson of coming
to the fist may be considered the principal part of her training. But
all hawks should be taught and accustomed to jump a short distance on
to the fist, whenever it is held out invitingly towards them. Nor is
there any great difficulty about this, if a right beginning is made. As
the falconer stands with his hawk bareheaded on the glove, he should
get her first to reach forward with her head when he offers a morsel of
food on the end of his short stick. Then by degrees he may induce her
to step an inch or two sideways towards his wrist for the same purpose.
Next, to walk a little way along the screen-perch. And, when she will
do this, he may set her down on the perch, and, touching it with the
open fingers of the gloved left hand, invite her to step on to them
and to the knuckles. The next short step is to get her to jump from
the perch to the hand. When once she will do this, even if the jump is
one of an inch only, the distance can soon be made much greater. But
in order to succeed with this lesson she must not be tantalised. It is
no good to stand for five minutes with the left hand outstretched and
a piece of meat on or near it within six inches of your hawk, when she
is in no humour to make the leap which seems to her so perilous. When
she will not come, humour her, and put the meat nearer, so that she can
get it without jumping. Sooner or later she will find that the meat so
placed before her is not a trap or a sham, but really meant for her
delectation, and that she can get it a little quicker if she chooses
to go for it. There is no use in telling her the story of Mahomet and
the mountain, but you can illustrate the theory by a sort of practical
dumb-show. If a more advanced pupil is placed on the perch next to the
slow learner, the latter will see how much quicker her sister gets the
proffered delicacies by jumping for them. As soon as she will come a
little way from the screen-perch, try her from a block, and then from
a gate-post out of doors. Keep her at this exercise for some days, but
do not make a toil of it to her; merely let her know that if she comes
for it, she will get the tit-bit at once, whereas, if she does not, she
will get it all the later.

Next comes the lure. Passage hawks are notoriously and naturally bad
at the lure. Nothing in their previous experience at all leads up to
it; and you have to teach them an entirely new lesson. Consequently,
you must take pains about it, and be prepared for disappointments
and delays. The lure is as important to the falconer as a hook to a
fisherman, or a bridle to a rider. To take a long-winged hawk out to
the field without a lure would be almost as silly as to go out shooting
without any cartridges. When first introduced to the pupil the lure
must be well garnished with attractive and palatable viands. It is
by no means enough to throw down a freshly-killed pigeon in front of
the hungry hawk. She is quite likely, if a passager, to stare at it
absently, and apparently without any very defined belief that it is at
all good to eat. After a minute or so she is not unlikely to look the
other way, and pay no more attention to your well-intended bait. But
you must not then be surprised, or begin exclaiming at her "stupidity."
If the passager will not come to the dead pigeon, take a lure and cover
it with chopped meat. Give her pieces off this, and presently let
her pick them off it. Then let her walk towards the lure to get the
pieces, as she has already learnt to go to the fist. When once she has
walked even three inches to it she can soon be made to fly to it right
across the lawn.

Prolong these lessons, therefore, till your hawk is well "made to the
lure." Each day at feeding-time make her come a longer and longer
distance to it for her dinner. After a while she will be flown to it in
a creance, that is, a line attached to the end of the leash, or, better
still, to the swivel, from which the leash has been detached. The best
way to give the lesson is to get an under-falconer or assistant to hold
the hawk on his fist in an open piece of ground, and then, going a
little way off, to show her the lure, on which she knows by experience
that her food is fastened. In the case of eyesses which have been
hacked to the lure they are of course well habituated to the business
in hand. But all hawks, if properly treated, will after a time learn
to look with some eagerness, at the dinner hour, for the appearance of
the lure. Peregrines and all the bigger hawks will be hooded up before
going out; and when the hood is taken off they will glance around in
search of the trainer. As soon as they discern him swinging his lure,
they should jump off and fly towards it, and, when it is thrown on the
ground, alight on it. Merlins and sparrow-hawks may generally be set
down on a post, and lured from it by the same person who took them
out, without the need of an assistant. Or, when they know the lure
sufficiently, it may be attached to the far end of the creance, and,
after being swung once or twice, thrown to a short distance, and the
little hawk thrown off at the same time, when she is pretty sure to
go straight to it. These exercises at the lure should be continued
till there is no longer any reasonable doubt that the pupil will come
as soon as she has the chance; and, in order to make sure, the length
of the creance may be increased from a few feet to at least a hundred
yards. It will be a proud moment when first you trust your passage
hawk entirely free, and, detaching the swivel from her jesses, abandon
for the moment all actual control over her. On this occasion you will
probably take extra precautions, making sure that no intruder will
interrupt the operations, and that your hawk is undeniably sharp-set.
But in order to make certain of this, do not dream of starving her;
merely put off the feeding-time for an hour or so. Hawks in captivity
should commonly be fed, as will be seen later on, at about 11 a.m. When
you first fly your passage hawk free, wait until past noon. The small
extra delay will have put an edge on her appetite. If all goes well she
will not notice or suspect that anything unusual is occurring. Very
likely, if a light line has been used, she may have supposed for days
past that she was flying free. Possibly she has never once suspected
the existence of the creance.

It is well to make all hawks to the lure, even if afterwards you should
have no use for it. A lost goshawk will very often come to the lure
when she will not come to the fist. As a rule, it will be seen that
short-winged hawks in the field should not be called to the lure; they
are "hawks of the fist," and should be taught to come to it whenever
they have the chance, in default of wild quarry. It requires some faith
to believe when the wild-caught sparrow-hawk is first taken in hand
that she will ever do this. Nothing will seem much more unlikely than
that this fierce, restless creature, a feathered termagant, would ever
so lay aside her innate wildness as to come contentedly out of the free
air, and, disdaining all other resting-places, take perch by preference
on the hand of her once detested captor. Yet so it is. Goshawks and
sparrow-hawks can all be brought to come habitually to the fist, and
remain there willingly at all times except when there is quarry to be
pursued. In their case the calling-off to the hand in the open field is
only a prolongation and extension of the early lessons in which they
were taught to jump to it from the perch, as already described. After
the creance is no longer necessary each kind of hawk should be called
off for two or three days at least, the one to the lure and the other
to the fist, one man holding the hawk, while the other swings the lure
or holds out the fist. And here ends the early drudgery of reclaiming
the wild-caught hawk.

The education of the eyess, whether flown at hack or not, must, of
course, be brought down to the same stage. If they have had no hack at
all they will have been manned very early in life and habituated to
come to the fist. If they have been well hacked, they will have become
in many respects very like wild hawks--possibly "more so." Anyhow, they
will be full summed and full grown in all respects before they come to
be put in actual training for the field. We took leave of our eyesses
in the third chapter, soon after they had been taken up; and we must
now assume that by a modified application of the régime prescribed for
the haggard they have been manned and taught to come to the hand or the
lure, or both. The time occupied in this process will of course have
varied according to the disposition of the individuals. A well-natured
eyess merlin hacked under the lure-and-fist system will be manned in
two or three days. A goshawk, or a peregrine of an independent turn of
mind, hacked at the board, may resist for the best part of a fortnight
the best-intentioned efforts to subdue her wild instincts. It will be
well in all cases, and will save an immensity of time and trouble, to
reduce the eyess to some extent as soon as she is taken up. For my
own part I incline to doing, even at this early stage, a bit of mild
physicking. Half a Cockle's pill for a peregrine or one-eighth for a
merlin will do no manner of harm. At all events the allowance of food
must be cut down. Hack hawks, when taken up, should be as round as
balls and as bumptious as undergraduates. They know not what it is
to be really sharp-set; and unless dosed they make quite a favour of
eating at all during the first two or three days of real captivity.
Continue feeding them at the rate they have been accustomed to, and
you will lose patience before you can bring them under any sort of
control. In fact, you will not do so at all. Yet I do not mean that
they should be made thin. There is, it is true, no longer any fear of
hunger-traces, but a thin hawk is a weak hawk, and sometimes even a
spoilt hawk. Her small feathers lose their gloss; her flight feathers
grow weak and brittle, and are ready to break on slight provocation;
her nares lose colour, and begin to harbour mites. In short, a thin
hawk is an abomination and a disgrace. She must therefore not be either
overfed or underfed, but just made hungry enough before each meal-time
to be really keen after her food. And as she has accumulated during
her probationary time of adolescence more or less internal fat, the
quickest and easiest way to get rid of it is to give her a mild dose
or two of purgative medicine, and some rangle, as recommended in the
chapter on ailments. Hack hawks and all other eyesses must be taught
to jump and fly to the fist. If long-winged, they must be made to the
lure. And in all cases they should be thoroughly broken to the hood.

Thus we have arrived at the same stage with our eyesses and with our
wild-caught hawks; and the subsequent stages are very nearly the same
with each. Carrying (on the fist--I do not mean the vice of that ilk)
is still a _sine quâ non_. No hawk can have too much of it. I have
read in some hawking books a reference to hawks being "too tame." The
phrase, as applied to a trained hawk, is not very well chosen, and
might mislead a beginner. Some of the most deadly hawks ever flown
have been as "tame as parrots." When a very tame hawk flies badly it
is not, as a rule, because she is too tame, but because she is too
fat, or, more likely still, because she is not properly sharp-set at
the moment of flying. Some remarks on the conditioning of hawks will
be found later on. In the meantime let not the beginner be afraid of
getting his hawk too fond of him. She should "rejoyce in him," as the
old falconers expressed it, and at sight of him be all excitement to
come to him, not only for food, but for the chance of a flight, which
she will soon begin to think that he alone can procure for her. Even
wild hawks will sometimes wait on upon their known enemy, man, on the
chance of his putting up game, and so "serving them," as the saying is.
How much more should a trained hawk do, who is beginning to know that
the falconer is a good friend?

Our charges must now be classified in a different way. The distinction
is not now so much between eyess and passager, as between long-winged
and short-winged--between those which are to be flown at one or other
sort of quarry. Thus, short-winged hawks of both kinds, eagles,
merlins, and all the long-winged hawks which are to be flown at rook,
heron, kite, or gull, are flown from the fist, whereas hobbies and all
the long-winged hawks which are destined to fly either at game or duck
are allowed to mount to their pitch before the quarry is sprung, and
from thence descend upon it. We may first speak of the first-mentioned
category, premising that as far as safety is concerned the flight from
the fist is preferable.

We assume that the hawk will come readily to the lure or the fist
as soon as she has a chance. Now contrive, if you can, that your
assistant, having her hooded on his fist, shall stand on an open
ground at a distance from you of some two hundred yards, and that
somewhere between you there is a live bird or beast of a suitable kind
on the ground, or in a very small bush. In the case of a merlin a
wild lark may very possibly be marked down in such a position. So may
a blackbird for a sparrow-hawk, or a rabbit for a goshawk, or even a
young partridge for a peregrine, ger, or lanner. If you cannot manage
to make this arrangement with a wild creature, you must employ a bagged
one for the nonce as a substitute--a poor one, no doubt; but it may
serve the turn, if used in the way to be presently described. Now let
the assistant unhood the hawk; and make sure that somehow or other you
can put up that marked quarry when you like. As soon as the hawk has
had time to look round and has looked towards you, let the man walk in
the same direction, and walk in yourself to put up the quarry. When
you are close upon it and are sure that it is about to rise, you may
show the lure for a moment, quickly hiding it again. And, as the hawk
starts towards you, put up the quarry with a shout. If you are quick
enough, it will rise just as the hawk is approaching the spot where it
was, and the temptation to her to pursue it will be strong. If the
hawk yields to the impulse, you are in luck. She is already "entered."
If she takes it you are still more fortunate, for the hawk is "made"
at the first trial. But very possibly she may refuse. No matter,
take her down to the lure, and try her again another time--perhaps
an hour later. Possibly you may possess or borrow a make-hawk which
is already _au fait_ at the quarry--a sister or brother of the tardy
learner, which has already taken more kindly to the business--maybe
a last year's hawk, which is now coming into action again. If such a
pupil-teacher is thrown off as the quarry starts, the force of example
will pretty surely lead to imitation. Rook-hawks are very often entered
in this way. But the plan is advised for the nobler races only, for
short-winged hawks must not be slipped together, for fear of "crabbing"
or fighting.

_A propos_ of bagged quarry, which are an abomination to all
right-minded falconers, it should be said that whenever they are turned
out great care should be taken to deceive the hawk into the idea that
they are not bagged. With this intent dig a small hole in the ground,
just large enough to accommodate the bagged quarry comfortably. Over
the top of the hole and the quarry inside it place a flat board of the
same colour as the surrounding surface, green, brown, or as it may
be. Let the board be sufficiently heavy to prevent the captive from
escaping, as long as it remains over the hole. Then attach a string
of the required length, and coloured like the board, to one of its
corners. When you want the quarry to bolt, pull the string and thus
uncover the hole. When the liberated prisoner comes forth, the hawk
will be too intent upon looking after it to inquire why or wherefore it
appeared on the scene. If, on the contrary, you throw it up out of the
hand, or let it out of a bag, the case will be different. Most likely
the hawk will see that it is no chance quarry, but is expressly thrown
out as a sort of animated lure, and pursue it as such. When afterwards
you try her at a really wild quarry, she may refuse, just as if you
had given no bagged quarry at all. Hawks, like other creatures, are
averse to hard work when they think it unnecessary; and when they are
accustomed to easy flights--such as are always afforded by birds thrown
up from the hand--they are apt to shirk the more difficult job of
catching a wild bird.

Many hawks are, of course, entered without any such manoeuvring as
above described. An eyess, for instance, which has begun to chase
birds freely at hack may often, when properly reclaimed, be taken
straight out into the field, and thrown off at the sort of quarry
which it is ultimately intended to pursue. Perhaps two out of every
three eyess merlins may, in skilful hands, be thus dealt with. But
they will perhaps not begin at once. I remember well the first day
when Princess was taken out, as the first of a nest of four merlins
intended to be entered. It was on the open down, where the larks were
very strong. She refused eight in succession, merely making a pretence
of following, and sometimes not even that. But at the ninth, which got
up very near her, she flew with the utmost pluck and skill, and, after
at least half a dozen good stoops, put it into a potato patch, where
it could not immediately be found. She then refused three more, and
ultimately, thinking perhaps that it was long past dinner-time, caught
the thirteenth lark in good style. Another year Colonel Sanford and I
took out two jack-merlins--the advance-guard of the hack hawks--very
early in the season, to be entered at the same time. We threw them off
at the same lark. The hawk which was nearest to it refused: the other
went on and killed the quarry. Sparrow-hawks will generally fly, if in
yarak, without being entered artificially. With peregrines there is
generally more difficulty. As for those of them which are intended for
game or duck, they belong to the other category, and will be referred
to later as hawks of the mountee. But passage peregrines, coming to the
falconer as they do late in the autumn, will first be flown at rooks or
gulls from the fist. With each of these quarry there will probably be
trouble. For the wild hawk does not, as a rule, fly at rooks, unless
when hard driven for food, nor is she much addicted to gulls, except
at breeding-times, when she has many mouths to feed. If, when the time
comes for her to be entered, she is started straight away at a rook or
gull, without a make-hawk as companion, she is almost sure to refuse,
or take no notice at all of it. Possibly, if she is first flown at a
white pigeon, in the same place and way as afterwards a gull is sure to
be found, and flies well at the pigeon, she will afterwards go for the
gull. But for entering rook-hawks, where no make-hawk can be used, a
bagged quarry or two is generally found necessary.

When once a hawk has taken one of the quarry at which she is intended
to be flown, she may be allowed to eat it if it is to her taste. But if
its flesh is not of an appetising or palatable kind--as, for instance,
rook or gull--a ruse should be adopted to induce her to believe
that the prize is more valuable than it really is. A freshly-killed
pigeon, or part of one, should be smuggled under the hawk's foot as
she is pluming the dead rook or gull. There will be no difficulty in
practising this innocent deception. Hawks, while pluming their quarry,
keep a firm hold of it with the inner talon of one foot, and often of
both. But it is easy to contrive that the outer talons of one foot
shall get hold of the pigeon, and afterwards to shift the inner talon
on to it. Then, as she goes on feeding, the other foot can be shifted,
and the real quarry stealthily withdrawn from underneath. As there is
nothing that peregrines like better than pigeon, your newly-entered
hawk will, after a meal presented to her in this fraudulent fashion,
take a new view of the merits of a hitherto despised quarry.

It remains now to warn the beginner in the process of entering to
beware of the hawk's carrying, that is, lifting or bolting with the
quarry. Unless you have very good reasons to suppose that she will
not do this, you should specially guard against it from the first.
When bagged quarry is used, attach a short light string to it, such
as will not materially impede its flight. After the hawk has made a
capture allow her to come with it quietly to the ground. This she will
do if accustomed always to feed on the lure upon the ground. You will
also, of course, be in a place where there is no temptation, and, if
possible, no reasonable chance, of her taking it up into a tree. Then
approach her very gently and cautiously until you are near enough
to take hold of the end of the string. Having secured this, you can
prevent all attempts at carrying. Do not, however, on that account
hurry up. There is much art in "making in," as it is called. You will
have plenty of time; for the mere plucking or depluming of the quarry
(always nearly completely finished before the meal is begun) will
last several minutes at least. Still holding the string, go up very
slowly, advancing a few inches when my lady is intent on her booty,
and stopping when she looks up. Above all things avoid staring at her,
which hawks greatly dislike. Look any other way than towards her, and
walk rather obliquely towards her than in a direct line. When you are
nearly within arm's reach bend down. You may kneel or even crawl along
like a snake. When you begin to reach out your hand towards her let it
be garnished with a well-looking piece of food. Get it gradually within
reach of her; then close to her feet; then near enough to touch the
real dead quarry. When you have hold of this you have gained another
point. But be patient and wary still. If you alarm the hawk, even a
little, it will throw you back terribly in your progress towards making
her. It may lead to the abominable vice of habitual carrying, than
which nothing is more annoying and more dangerous. If by mishap the
hawk should bolt, hold on gently but firmly to the string, and give
her still more time before again approaching her. The art of "making
in" should be studied and practised from the first. You will afterwards
be amply repaid for all your trouble. See the important remarks made on
this subject in Chapter IX.

When you have secured the quarry, keep down for at least two or three
minutes more, and let the hawk begin feeding at her ease on it, or on
the pigeon which you may have substituted. Help her to find the best
pieces. You may talk to her in encouraging words, if such is your
habit, while she is eating. Then slowly get up, lifting the food, and
the hawk upon it, without any haste or jerking. Let her have nearly a
full crop--the reward of good behaviour--and subject her to no chance
of annoyance or interference all the rest of the day.

These instructions may seem lengthy and needlessly minute. If they
are, it is a fault on the right side. You are at a critical stage
now in your pupil's education. You are "making" her to the business
which is henceforth to be the business of her life; and a little extra
precaution is justifiable in order to ensure that the lesson you are
teaching shall be well learnt. As the hawk finds by experience that you
approach her with no predatory intentions, but rather to help her and
add to her enjoyment of her meal, she will gain confidence, and be less
and less inclined to misbehave herself by bolting. And as her mistrust
diminishes so will your trouble be lessened, until at last you will be
able to make in without any of these precautions and delays. Whereas,
if you are negligent or over-confident at first, you may end by not
being able to make in to her at all, and may have the mortification
of having been for some weeks the owner of a fine hawk which could
fly admirably, but which, after one of her first few flights at wild
quarry, literally "vanished into thin air."

The training required for hawks which are to "wait on" is different. It
has already been said that merlins and the short-winged hawks cannot be
taught this accomplishment. A merlin which will wait on even for half
a minute is rather a phenomenon. I have had such an one, it is true,
but only one. The thing is not impossible in all cases, but so rarely
practicable that it is needless to speak of it. Nor is it advisable to
teach the art of waiting on to any hawk which is intended to be flown
at rooks, gulls, heron, or the like. But all long-winged hawks intended
for game should wait on well. The whole race of peregrines and their
cousins, gers, hobbies, sakers, lanners, and the humble kestrel, can
all be made to wait on beautifully. Soaring (to which waiting on is so
nearly similar) is the natural exercise of all these hawks. In the
wild state they spend hours almost daily at it. But if they are to wait
on in the rather artificial style required by the falconer, nature must
be aided a little. When they are keen at coming to the lure, you should
call them off, and, as they approach, jerk the lure away off the ground
in front of them. When they have missed it, their impetus will carry
them on beyond the place where it was, and they will rise in the air,
partly turning round to see what has become of it. Then after a very
short delay you may throw the lure down again, and let them have it. At
the second lesson it may be hid for a longer time, and the hawk allowed
to make one or two circles in the air before it is produced. At each
fresh lesson make the interval of waiting longer, hiding the lure as
long as the hawk is circling round within a short distance of you, but
producing it when she strays away, or gives signs of being tired out.
By this means she will soon learn that patience is not only a virtue,
but a profitable, and even a pleasant one. For if the wild hawk soars
from choice for the mere pleasure of stretching her wings, it must be
natural for a trained hawk, which has so much fewer opportunities of
doing this, to take a delight in it. Eyess peregrines are very unlike
one another in their aptness for waiting on. Some are very slow to
learn it, and can hardly, by the greatest efforts, be got to go up any
height, or even to keep on the wing at all. Some few, on the other
hand, take to it quite readily, and, after a few days, of their own
accord mount to a great height. Of course the higher a hawk can be
induced to go, the better game-hawk she will turn out.

As for passage hawks, you must remember, when teaching them to wait on,
that there is much more danger than there is with eyesses. The longer
they are kept on the wing, and the higher they go, the more chance
there is of their espying some bird passing--perhaps some old familiar
quarry, of which they have struck down scores for themselves--and
making off after it. The very fact of being in the air, and feeling
the free breeze as it lifts their wings, must remind them forcibly of
old days of liberty, and slacken the ties which bind them to their
new master. Be extra careful, therefore, in the case of all passage
hawks, and most of all with the haggard, to watch for any signs of
returning native wildness. Fly her in a country where chance quarry are
not likely to appear. If she "rakes away," or wanders far from you in
making her airy circles, call her back before it is too late. Fly her
always when she is quite sharp-set, even if you have to give her little
or no exercise on some of the intermediate days between one lesson
and the next. You may diet her now upon "washed meat." This is meat
washed in cold water and squeezed dry, so that a part of the nutriment
originally contained in it is lost. It is, of course, less palatable
and less sustaining. But it should be used in moderation. The old
falconers seem to have given it much more often than we do now. But for
some reason or other the nineteenth century hawk, if at all habitually
dieted on this distasteful food, seems to lose pluck and power as well
as weight.

There is another mode of flying hawks to the lure, which is a sort
of combination of the first-mentioned process of "calling off" and
the last-mentioned "waiting on." This is the practice of "stooping
to the lure," which is certainly an excellent means of exercising a
hawk, although some very good falconers object to it on other grounds.
For merlins and kestrels, however, it may be recommended without any
reservation. To teach it, begin, as before, by calling your hawk off
to the dead lure, and jerking it away from the ground in front of her.
But instead of afterwards encouraging her to mount and wait on, produce
the lure, and repeat the same trick by jerking it away. In order to
make the most of this exercise you should rig up a soft lure, which
can be struck in the air. Take a stout bag, padded on the inside, and
into it put a smaller bag, with as much sand or shot in it as will
three-quarters fill it. Sew up the mouth, and attach to it a strong
leash or cord. The whole apparatus must weigh about two-thirds as
much as the hawk which is to be flown to it. At the juncture of the
leash and the bag attach on each side the wing of a bird, choosing
by preference for each hawk a bird of the kind which is to be her
particular quarry--a rook for a rook-hawk, a lark for a hobby, and so
on. These appendages will have to be often renewed; and it is well to
keep a stock of old ones, pickled or peppered to keep out the moths.
There will be strings, of course, as in an ordinary lure, for attaching
the food; and particular care is required in garnishing this kind of
lure, as with the hard usage to which it is subjected, any food which
is at all insecurely fastened on may come off; and if the hawk bolts
with it a terrible disaster may be the result.

At this padded lure the hawk may be allowed to strike freely in the
air as it is swung. Gers and merlins are all very clever at this work,
and often seem to enjoy vastly this opportunity of exercising their
muscles and their intelligence. Some of them are amazingly clever in
getting hold of the lure. Not only do they foresee exactly where the
swing you are giving to the lure will bring it the moment when they
pass; but, if you are in the habit of interrupting that swing by
giving it a particular jerk or twist in another direction, they will
discount, as it were, this trick, and anticipate your little plan.
Considerable adroitness is required on the part of the falconer also.
By the employment of some cunning, he can encourage his hawk to great
exertions, and can very greatly increase both her speed and her footing
powers. If the stoop is very narrowly eluded by this dead lure, working
under your guidance, the hawk is not unlikely to think that it was her
own slowness of flight which made her too late. If you can encourage
this idea, she will strive to improve her pace, and fly to the lure
almost as hard as she would at a wild quarry. I have repeatedly seen
merlins with their mouths open after five minutes of this work. The
best plan is to let the hawk touch the lure whenever she specially
distinguishes herself, whether by a very hard down stoop, or a high
throw-up, or as it may be. Let the lure be as small as it can be,
consistently with sufficient weight and softness, and whenever the hawk
touches it, whether by your leave or without it, immediately let it
fall on the ground; and let the hawk come down to it, if she did not
bind when she touched. This is a very important particular in the case
of eyesses. It teaches them that a swift stoop which even grazes the
quarry is better than all the slow ones which miss it. As for passage
hawks, they need not to be taught this. But for them, in consideration
of the hardness of their stoop, I have sometimes found it well to use a
modification of the soft lure. I have diminished its weight and bulk,
so that it can be struck without any fear at all of hurting the hawk's
feet; and at the end of the cord or leash to which it is attached, I
have fastened the solid weight which is necessary to prevent carrying.
This weight may be held in the left hand, while the lure is swung by
the right; and when the successful stoop has been made, both can be
allowed to fall on the ground.

I have said that some great authorities disapprove of this method of
exercising hawks. They say that in the case of game-hawks it spoils
them for waiting on, and that in the case of rook-hawks and gull-hawks,
the habit of looking for the lure makes them less keen at sighting
their wild quarry. There is a great deal in these objections; and I
shall not presume to decide between the advocates and opponents of
the practice. As regards game-hawks, however, where a hawk has once
taken to mounting well, I should certainly not advise any stooping to
the lure, for fear of spoiling her pitch. As regards other hawks, I
think some part of the force of the objections is removed if the place
where the hawks are stooped to the lure is altogether different from
any place in which they are likely to be flown at wild quarry. In
lark-hawking it is certainly very essential that the hawk should get
sighted at once. But though I have habitually made my merlins stoop at
the lure in the early morning, I have not found them in consequence
slow in starting at quarry in the afternoon. It cannot be denied that,
as far as the hawk's condition is concerned, stooping at the lure is
a grand resource. If you were always quite sure of giving your hawk a
hard flight at wild quarry every day, that would doubtless be the best
thing for her. But who can be sure of this? Bad weather, scarcity of
quarry, and several other causes make it only too certain that there
will be many interruptions. But even when you cannot give your hawk a
real flight, you can generally stoop her to the lure, and ensure that
she has at anyrate had a "breather" during the day. It is very rarely
so windy during a whole day that a trained hawk cannot be put on the
wing. A peregrine in good condition ought not to be excused by anything
short of a whole gale from daily exercise, even if it amounts to no
more than calling off or stooping three or four times at the lure.

It is a good thing, even after a hawk is fully made and is flying
wild quarry daily, to call her off occasionally to the lure, though
you have no need to do so. Sometimes a hawk will have a long run of
kills without a miss. I have known such a run to last with a merlin
to over thirty. During all the time while such a score is being made,
there will have been no occasion to use the lure, except perhaps when
a quarry has put in and has had to be routed out. She runs a risk,
therefore, of forgetting all about that humble apparatus, to which a
few days ago she trusted so confidently for her food. Let her memory,
therefore, be refreshed occasionally, by interpolating a fly to the
dead lure amongst the long series of uniformly successful flights.
Otherwise, at the first unsuccessful one, you may find that the once
loved object has lost all its attractions.



CHAPTER VII

Rook-Hawking


Eyesses, as well as passage peregrines, may be flown at the rook; but
this quarry is more suitable for a falcon than a tiercel. Mr. O'Keefe
used eyess falcons for this flight, and once killed with them on the
Curragh of Kildare as many as 117 in three weeks. William Barr had
an eyess which, when entered to rooks, took as many as seven in nine
flights. Comet, belonging to Mr. Brodrick, took many rooks. It is
only rather exceptionally that a tiercel can be got to fly them. But
Mr. Newcome's passage tiercel, Will o' the Wisp, took them very well.
The difficulty which is generally experienced in entering falcons to
rooks is much greater in their brothers' case. And the superiority of
the passage hawk over the eyess is more marked in this flight than in
game-hawking. Besides peregrines, several other kinds of long-winged
hawks may be trained to take this quarry--gers of both sexes, lanners,
and perhaps some lannerets, and the shaheen falcon, both black and red.
No doubt the saker of both sexes would afford excellent sport with
rooks. I am not aware that the training of any of these hawks for such
a flight differs from that recommended for the peregrine.

For a rook-flight very open country is required. It would be no use to
attempt it in what is called a well-wooded district, or where hedge-row
trees grow as they do in the far greater part of cultivated England.
A single tree, or even tall bush, will ruin a whole square mile of
otherwise suitable ground. Nor is it sufficient that the land should
be clear of trees and buildings. Many other obstacles, such as tall,
stiff hedges, wire railings, and even sheep-folds, full or empty, are
detrimental to the sport. A flock of sheep, a drove of pigs, or even a
herd of cattle being driven along, is quite enough to utterly spoil a
good flight. Thus in all England there are but few places where you
can carry on this sport with success. Amongst them are parts of the
Berkshire and Wiltshire downs, and some of the South-downs, though
these are usually too undulating. Parts of Norfolk, especially near
Lakenheath, are good; and so are portions of the fen country, where
there is not too much water. In the North of England and in several
counties in Ireland there are moors and open spaces which do well.

It must not be supposed, however, that the passage peregrine, or any
other of the big long-winged hawks, any more than the eyesses, take
kindly to rook-flying. Some have so little fancy for this unattractive
quarry, that they can never by any skill be induced to fly them with
any zest. Generally it is necessary to use either a make-hawk or
bagged quarry for entering the beginners. The way in which such quarry
are used has been sufficiently explained in the last chapter. But,
as everyone does not know how to catch a rook, a few hints borrowed
from the sister art of bird-catching may not be out of place. The
commonest way of entrapping a rook is to send a boy up to the top of
a tree in a well-frequented rookery with the end of a string, with
which he can make a noose or nooses, and set them on the old nests to
which the birds resort before roosting for the night. At the moment
when the noisy crowd come back to the rookery and settle on their
accustomed perches, a simultaneous pull at several lines connected with
properly-laid nooses will generally secure a victim or more. Another
plan by which a rook is made to look even more foolish is to go round
with a plough in a field where rooks come to pick up the worms which
it turns up. The rook-catcher must be provided with a number of paper
hoods made like large extinguishers, and these he will place upside
down in the furrow with a tempting bait--grain, worm, or meat--in
their inside. The rest of the inside of each cap is well smeared with
bird-lime or some other very sticky matter; and the rook, in picking
at the food, may be hoped sometimes to hood himself. Then while in his
astonishment he struggles to get rid of this blinding fool's cap, he
may be picked up and carried off into captivity.

When the newly-entered hawk has taken his bagged rook, you must get up
as quickly as you can and make in at once. Then seizing the "pelt," or
dead body of the quarry, you must contrive so that the hawk, instead
of breaking in upon that unsavoury morsel, shall proceed by mistake
to begin her meal upon a pigeon which you have just before killed,
and which you surreptitiously substitute for by holding it side by
side with the dead rook. The object, of course, is to induce in her
ladyship's mind the belief that she is eating what she has killed,
and finds it uncommonly good. Eyesses are naturally deceived very
easily into this fallacious notion. As for passage hawks, it is quite
possible that many of them have no more idea than eyesses what a rook
tastes like. Unless they have ever been hard pressed for a meal, it
is more than probable that they have never condescended to dine off a
rook. Anyhow, they will not be at all unwilling to lend themselves to
a deception fraught with such gratifying results. "Dear me," may be
the haggard's inward reflection, "what a goose I have been all this
time never to pay any attention to these vulgar black birds! Why,
they taste as good as pigeon!" And the next time she has a chance of
paying attention, she will. This "personation trick" is invariably
used by Indian and Asiatic falconers in kite-flying with sakers. It
is necessary, or at least advisable, in entering hawks at herons,
gulls, and other coarse-fleshed birds. In the case of rooks it may be
discontinued after a short while, if it is found on a cautious trial
that the hawk will eat rook with any relish. Many falcons, when flying
rooks almost daily, are habitually fed upon the last victim they have
killed in the day. But it is not to be supposed that any hawk will be
very fond of such coarse viands; and some will not eat them at all.

Supposing now that the rook-hawk is safely entered, and a suitable
country found, the next thing is to also find a wild rook in a suitable
part of that country. And this is not altogether an easy matter. In
some very excellent districts, where the rooks are flown at every year,
they become excessively wary, and quite clever at avoiding the chance
of a good slip at them. The old birds, who have been spectators of
many a battle in the air in which one of their comrades was worsted
and lost his life, or who have perhaps even themselves done battle,
and escaped with great difficulty, become suspicious of all mounted
men. They remember very well and with a fluttering heart the appearance
of the little squadron of horsemen which once brought with them Lady
Long-wing, who made such a dreadful example of poor papa Caw-Caw. Who
can say that they do not remember the very faces and the green uniforms
of the murderous men to whom Lady Long-wing belonged? Anyhow, as they
strut on the hillside or pick about along the furrows, they are on
the alert directly a detachment of irregular cavalry comes in sight,
which looks at all as if it might be accompanied by hawks. Very often
their sentinels incontinently give the signal of alarm, and the flock
scuds off summarily to safer feeding-grounds. At all events they do
so long before they can be approached within what a beginner would
consider a reasonable distance. The result is that in order to get
within reach of such quarry it has sometimes been found necessary to
resort to stratagem. Rooks have been stalked by a falconer on foot
creeping along behind the shelter of a waggon, or actually disguised as
a farm labourer. Sometimes the hawking party will lie concealed under
the lee of a rick, waiting for a distant rook to cross within range,
or to be driven by mounted beaters in the direction of the ambush. And
after all precautions have been taken it is often useless to wait for a
short slip. The distance at which good passage hawks are now thrown off
at Wiltshire rooks will astonish a person who has never seen anything
better than a moderate eyess. A quarter of a mile is not considered
at all too long a start when a hawk is a fast one and in good flying
order. But the longer the start the better the country must be if you
are to score a kill.

A falconer on the look-out for rooks will often have to get over a
good deal of ground in the day. Twenty miles--without counting in the
flights--is probably rather under than over the average distance when
any considerable number of hawks are to be flown. It is, of course,
almost a necessity to be mounted; and it is well to have a horse under
you which is not new to the business, especially if you are to carry a
hawk yourself, or may be called upon to take one up. A horse which has
never been out with the hawks before is likely to be very much put out
by the ringing of the hawk's bell, and still more if she also flutters
her wings in a high wind. While following a ringing flight your eyes
will naturally be directed more towards the realms above than to the
ground over which you are galloping; and, as many of the downs on which
this sport is most often pursued abound in ant-hills, if your animal
stumbles over one of these obstacles you are likely to pay for your
inattention by a severe cropper. If it falls to your lot to take up the
hawk after she has killed, you must, of course, dismount. To enable you
to do this and devote your whole attention to it, a special apparatus
is provided. To the outside of your saddle will be attached a pocket,
within which can be fitted a leaden weight secured by a leather, the
other end of which can be attached to the horse's head, so that by
merely throwing the weight on the ground he is at once tethered. No one
of course presumes to take up another man's hawk unless it has been so
arranged beforehand, or in case of urgent necessity, as for instance
if the owner is not in sight, and there is danger that the hawk may be
attacked on the ground by some deadly enemy. Of course rook-hawking
may be attempted on foot. But unless markers are posted skilfully at
the places where a hawk is likely to go out of sight, there is great
risk of losing her. Moreover, it is impossible to see much of the best
flights. A great deal of time will be wasted in moving about between
each flight; and still more in shifting the markers from place to
place, as well as in finding the hawk after a long flight which has
ended in a kill. The rook-hawker on foot comes back footsore, and very
weary. And he is lucky if these are the only ills of which he has to
complain.

Rook-hawks which have been brought out to fly, but are not for the time
actually engaged, either because their turn has not come, or because
they have already flown and been fed up, are either carried about by a
cadger on the cadge, or made fast to a field-block in a well-sheltered
place, or consigned to perches rigged up in the inside of a van, which
can be drawn by a cart-horse. The latter plan is adopted by the Old
Hawking Club, by which more hawks are usually taken out than could be
accommodated on one cadge. It has the great merit of serving to protect
the inmates from the bitterly cold winds which often prevail in the
rook-hawking season, and also from the rain. Such a van should be well
provided with springs. Otherwise the jolting, while it passes over
rough ground, as it needs must, would do almost more mischief than the
wind or rain. In any case, whether you go singly with a single hawk on
your fist or with a whole cadge full or van full of hungry peregrines,
the hood will be worn. Nor will it be removed until the moment arrives
when the wearer is to be thrown off. But when any hawk is being carried
with a view to a flight the swivel will be detached from the jesses and
the latter held tightly in the fingers of the left hand. Some falconers
who use ring swivels in the field, take them off directly the hawk is
taken on the fist for the purpose of being flown, and then slipping
the leash through one ring of the swivel and afterwards through the
loops in the two jesses, are ready to pull it out quickly when there
is a rook in sight and it becomes possible that they may have to throw
off at any moment. Some also, when a flight is pretty sure to begin
shortly, loosen the hood's braces without taking it off, so that there
may be no delay in whipping it off at exactly the right moment. No one
has ever been able to explain how it is that peregrines can emerge
suddenly from utter darkness into the full glare of daylight, with
eyesight as good as ever, ready in the very first moment to catch sight
of a distant rook and to begin the chase. That they have this faculty
everyone knows who has ever seen a rook flown by a trained peregrine.
Fortunate for the falconer that it is so, as he can choose his own
moment for the throw-off.

If you are intending to fly a hawk for the first time at a wild rook,
get some other person who is out with a made hawk to be also ready
with her. Then, if the first chance at a rook is not an easy one,
let that other person throw off his hawk and keep yours for a less
difficult flight. Wait, if possible, until you can find a quarry which
is not too far off and not high in the air. If you can get up within
a hundred yards or so of one on the ground to windward of you, so
much the better. The moment he jumps up, off with the hood, and with
a steady movement of the left arm forwards, something like that of a
left-arm slow bowler, launch your hawk into the wind. Use whatever cry
of encouragement you like, or use none at all; at anyrate, not any cry
which you may have used in calling off. And if, in the excitement of
the moment you should not throw away the hood, but stuff it into your
pouch or pocket, that will also be satisfactory. If you drop it you are
not likely to find it on the open down without some hours' search, if
at all. Such presence of mind is, however, I am aware, rather too great
to expect.

A rook with any self-respect about him will begin to mount as soon as
he is aware that he is being pursued. And of this fact he will not
be long in ignorance. Seldom does a trained hawk make half a dozen
strokes of her wing before the quarry espies her and knows exactly
what she means. With this knowledge the black-a-moor of the air wakes
up, and then, if never before, he is on his mettle. Few people know
how a rook can fly until they have seen him in front of a peregrine
which means business. His wings are broad and strong, and not much
worse shaped than a hawk's. His muscles are good; and by reason of
much daily exercise in all weathers he is in good condition--better
far, perhaps, than your passage hawk, which was cooped up inactive for
weeks, and only during the last fortnight or so has had a modicum of
exercise while flying to the lure. The two birds will breast the wind
as they mount; but not necessarily taking the same line. Sometimes the
two lines will diverge so much that from your point of view behind, the
birds seem to be flying away from one another. Generally speaking, the
better the hawk the less slavishly will she follow the course taken
by the quarry. She flies "with her head," and, trusting for victory
to the long, powerful stoop, concentrates her efforts on attaining to
a position from which she can deliver it to best advantage. Thus if,
the wind being north, and the safest shelter west, the rook shapes
his course to the north-west, the falcon may very probably steer due
west. By doing so she makes sure that she will soon be almost between
the quarry and that desirable place of refuge. To make it he must come
right past her and under her. Or else he must keep away and make for
another covert, and in that case he will have a long way to go; and
there will be time to catch him up, and get between him and that other
haven. To passage hawks, especially haggards, this finessing is the
A B C of scientific flying. Moreover, an experienced hawk does not
always choose to stoop exactly up-wind, but prefers, for some reason
of her own, to come at her victim sideways. There are mysterious laws
and principles of aërial steering, which no man understands, but which
sometimes make a stoop more telling when made in a direction unexpected
by the riders down below. Eyesses are generally some time before they
learn the art of utilising the wind to increase the force of their
stoop, and of using their heads to help their wings. Some, it is true,
seem to be born good tacticians, or at least to have instinctively
learnt to be so while flying at hack. But these are quite the
exceptions. Not only do eyesses as a rule begin with an inferior style,
but very few of them ever attain to the perfection of form which long
practice in all weathers at all sorts of different quarry has taught
the old wild hawk.

As the two birds mount, the hawk naturally gains on the rook. She is
the quicker flier; sometimes, perhaps, by a hundred per cent., but
generally much less than this. Going down-wind there is not so much
difference between them, when both are at the same height. But the
start at a rook should always be up-wind. To throw off at a down-wind
rook is bad falconry. When a rook means to "keep the air," or beat
the hawk in fair flying, he will, after a while, begin to ring, that
is, to ascend spirally in circles. Why he should do this, instead
of continuing in a straight line, no one, I think, has properly
explained. But the road upwards for most birds when they are exerting
themselves--be they kites, herons, rooks, or larks--is in spiral
circles more or less regular, a very obliging dispensation of nature
for those who want to look on at a high flight! For while the ringing
lasts the horsemen down below need not hurry themselves. Only, if there
is anything of a wind they should always keep moving, so as to be
well to leeward of the flight, shifting their ground to right or left
according as the circles seem to tend in one or the other direction.
The higher the quarry goes the faster and farther will be the headlong
dash down-wind if he is beaten in the air. After a while, if the hawk
perseveres, her superior flying powers will take her above the quarry.
At what time and height this desirable result is brought about depends,
of course, partly upon the speed of the one bird and partly on the
speed of the other. There is a saying among falconers that a good hawk
makes a bad quarry, meaning that a rook or other bird which might give
a fine flight when only a moderate hawk was behind him very often
makes quite a poor show against a first-rate performer. It may also
be said with some truth that a good quarry makes a bad hawk, inasmuch
as hawks which have flown many a good flight and killed many a fairly
fast-flying rook may sometimes find themselves pitted against such
exceptionally strong ones that they seem unable to get above them, and
give to the stranger an appearance of being slow themselves.

A good and experienced falcon or other rook-hawk will not be content
with merely getting above her quarry before she makes her first stoop.
She will go on ringing until she is so far above that the first stoop
will be a good one. That is to say, that she may be able to get such an
impetus upon her in the dash downwards as to rush up to the rook hand
over hand, or, as the racing men say, as if he were standing still.
And, having so run up to him, that she may, if she misses him, utilise
the remainder of her impetus in shooting up again in preparation for
a second stoop. The rook, on his part, when he finds the falcon above
him, has to choose between two courses. Either he will persevere in
trying to keep the air--and in that case must trust to quick turns and
twists to elude the foe--or he will adopt the less valiant but almost
equally dangerous alternative of a race to the nearest covert, with
the necessity of eluding a certain number of stoops on the way. In
the first case the flight will become a sort of improved version of
coursing. Improved, because a bird has so much more varied chances of
throwing out his pursuer than the hare, which can turn only either to
the right or the left. He must always be on what the mathematicians
call the same plane. The rook, on the other hand, may, if he likes,
double simply to right or left. But he may also, if he prefers it, duck
downwards or shoot upwards, allowing the hawk to pass over him or under
him. Or he may turn partly upwards or downwards, and partly to either
side. Thus there are an unlimited number of angles at which he can
swerve away to avoid the stroke.

The art and science of "shifting" is indeed one of the most elaborate
that is possessed by the dumb creature. Almost all birds cultivate it
to a certain degree. Instinct suggests it to them; but many birds
improve upon their natural powers by frequent practice. Who has not
seen one rook chasing another, either in sport or in a petulant
humour, and the fugitive evidently enjoying the fun of throwing out
his persecutor? In the tropics there is nothing that a crow likes
better than stooping at kites; and nothing that the kite takes greater
pride in than showing how easily he can elude the shots so made at
him. I have seen pigeons, when a slow or lazy peregrine is in the air,
deliberately hang about within reach of her for the express purpose of
enjoying the amusement of successfully shifting when she makes a dash
for them. Indeed, it will be seen in Chapter XIX. that I saw this game
played rather too rashly by a house-pigeon with a trained ger-tiercel.
It has been said that the rook in full plumage is no mean flier. He
has also a good head on his glossy shoulders, and he shifts cleverly
enough while his lungs and muscles hold out. He does not often lose his
head, in the metaphysical sense. Sometimes, when particularly close
shots graze him, or even feather him, he is frightened into wasting a
little breath in an angry complaining croak. But this is almost the
only piece of stupidity that can be alleged against him. Usually,
however hard pressed, he keeps all his wits about him; and when he is
beaten in the air, it is oftenest from sheer want of speed and want of
wind. The violent effort required to escape by shifting a good stoop of
a first-rate peregrine takes it out of him terribly. The whiz of the
falcon as she rushes by is enough to make the stoutest heart quail. But
cowardice is not the weak point of the rook, who, for the most part,
has a determined and fair struggle for his life.

Of course the stoop takes it out of the hawk also. But then the hawk
has two great advantages. She is the faster bird, and she is better at
the "throw up." This is the counter-move by which she responds to the
shifts of the quarry. A good long-winged hawk, after an unsuccessful
stoop, immediately shoots up to a great height above the place where
the stoop was intended to take effect. She rebounds, as it were,
from the rapid descent, glancing upwards with wide open wings to a
new position of advantage. And herein she has the advantage of the
greyhound. The farther the dog is thrown out, the more laborious is
the work of getting into position for the next attack. But a falcon
may come past her quarry with as much way on as ever she can command.
That impetus need not carry her away to a disadvantageous position,
but, on the contrary, to one where she is still admirably placed for a
fresh stoop. By throwing up well and with good judgment, and sometimes
a little luck, a good hawk after once getting well above her rook will
keep the command of the air for the rest of the flight. The quarry may
throw up too; but if his pursuer makes the most of her first advantage,
he will always find her above him after he has done so. It may be that
she will be very wide of him. But distance calculated in mere length
counts for comparatively little. It is the distance in height from the
earth below that makes all the difference.

Consequently, if the rook persists in trying to keep the air, and
Lady Long-wing has the pluck and the condition to keep up the chase,
the time comes sooner or later when the shift is not strong enough or
not quick enough. Then as you watch the two birds--or the two little
specks, as they may by that time have become--the lines along which
they are moving will be seen to converge and not separate again. There
will be a shout of jubilation from below. "Who-whoop": it is the
death-cry. One of those eight sharp talons which, half hid by feathers,
arm the lower side of the hawk's body has hooked itself into some bone,
or at least some fleshy part, of the victim's body. Then from the under
side of the slim falcon, as she spreads her wings and sinks nearer into
sight, will be seen hanging a confused mass of black shiny feathers. As
the two birds--victor and vanquished--come down to earth, the former
will sometimes be seen tightening her grasp or catching hold with the
second foot. At anyrate, within less than a second after they have
reached the ground, the deadly clutch of the conqueror will be on the
head of the conquered. In another second or two the point of her beak
will have broken the victim's neck at the top of the vertebral column.
No man can encompass the killing of a rook so speedily and neatly as
can a peregrine. Within a marvellously short time after the last stoop
was delivered, the head of the captured bird droops inert from the
dislocated neck, and life is completely extinct.

[Illustration: _Death of a Rook_]

Such is the finish of a ringing flight flown out on both sides with
unflagging courage--the sort of flight which every true sportsman would
like to see often in the hawking-field. But much more often the rook,
when getting the worst of it in the air, abandons the hope of beating
his foe in fair mounting and fair manoeuvring. Taking advantage of some
moment--perhaps after an ineffectual stoop--when his foe is a trifle
wide, and on the side farthest from a covert which he has marked as
a possible place of refuge, he turns tail, and makes off--down-wind
if possible, or if not, across the wind--to that seductive shelter. A
wood or spinny is what he would prefer, but a tree of any kind will
do--the taller the better. A farmyard or a flock of sheep, even a
hedge or an empty sheep-fold, or a waggon--anything behind or around
which he can save himself from the dreaded stoop. In any, even of the
least effective refuges, there will be at least a respite. And if that
very poor stronghold is found untenable, he can begin a fresh retreat
to a more promising place, with recovered wind, and perhaps better
luck. Often a rook will make for a rather distant plantation, with a
nearer shelter of an inferior kind in view as a _pis aller_. The hawk,
of course, knows as well as he what he is after, and follows at her
best pace. Now is the time to ride hard. Even with a moderate wind
the birds will be travelling over a mile a minute. Ride as you will,
they will be over your head long before you are near the covert, if it
is at all distant. Lucky if you are even in time to be near when the
first down-wind stoop is delivered. The down-wind stoop of a peregrine
is terrible. It is often avoided, no doubt, but the impetus, if she
misses, carries her on right ahead of the rook, over the place where
he must pass if he goes on. And there she is, blocking the way to
the desired haven. She can poise herself steadily for the next shot,
choosing her own time for it, and will have every possible advantage
over the rook, which has to run the gauntlet of those eight dagger-like
talons. The last stoop before reaching covert is very often fatal.
The hawk knows that probably it is her last chance of catching hold,
whereas in the open she is aware that a very fast stroke, though not
quite accurately aimed, will do a great deal towards taking the nerve
and strength out of her quarry, and make him easier to hit later on.

If the rook once makes a plantation of any size, he is safe. No human
power can drive him out. Peregrines, of course, will not go into cover
after their quarry. Now and then a young hawk at hack will try to do
something vague in the way of cutting down or dislodging a bird which
has put in; but such attempts are dismal failures, and are hardly ever
even thought of by "grown-ups." If the rook has put in to a very low
tree or a tall hedge, he may often be dislodged by throwing sticks
and stones at him, or sending a boy up. Sometimes snapping a cap on a
pistol, or cracking a whip, or making any other sudden and loud noise,
will put him on the wing again. But before going far, he is only too
likely to put back to the same place, or to a neighbouring tree, if
one is near, or to another part of the hedge. Even when the shelter
is only a low line of hurdles, it is quite difficult to hustle out a
rook so that the peregrine, waiting on above, may have a fair shot at
him. A big tree is generally a safe refuge. If you send anyone up, the
refugee will only shift his quarters to another branch. And all the
time while you are trying to get him out, the hawk will be circling
above--if, indeed, she does not get tired of waiting, and start after
some other quarry. With a passage hawk which has not long been at work,
you cannot risk keeping her long in the air on the chance of your
routing out a rook that has put in. She may check at a passing pigeon,
or at a quite distant flock of rooks, or any other bird which she was
once wont to kill, and then, even if you are well mounted, you will
have great difficulty in keeping her in sight. If, therefore, you are
hawking with a passager, and cannot get your rook out quickly, take her
down with the lure, and have a try later on at another rook in the open.

If the hawk kills, the falconer will get up at once, and "make in" in
the manner described in the chapter on Entering. There is not much
danger of any attempt to carry when the quarry is as big a bird as a
rook. But caution should be observed, nevertheless, as, if you are
rough or in a hurry, you may induce in the hawk a disposition to carry,
which on some future occasion may cause no end of trouble. Do not even
now let your hawk feed upon the rook, unless you are quite sure that
she likes such food. Take care that from the first she shall be well
pleased with having taken this quarry, which is not the one she is
predisposed to fancy. If in doubt about her liking for rook's flesh,
substitute a pigeon. And it is as well to be contented with one kill on
the first day. A fresh flight might not end so happily, and would then
partly annul the good effect of the one that has succeeded. Besides,
you want to reward your hawk for her victory by giving her a good feed
at once, which of course you could not do if you intended to fly her
again. Be well satisfied, therefore, that the first step has been made
towards making a good rook-hawk. After a few more flights, if even a
moderate percentage of them end well, your pupil will begin to take a
delight in the business. Sometimes she will become so keen at it that
you can freely let her feed upon the last rook she kills in the day.
Only do not give her too much of this food. It would be a thousand
pities if, after having acquired a liking for this flight, she should,
for the sake of a small economy to her owner, be allowed to become
disgusted with it.

Rooks may be flown as soon as the passage hawks are trained. Old
peregrines can of course be flown at any time (except when there are
young rooks in the nests). But the winter and early part of the year is
the best time, as later on the young crops preclude the possibility of
riding over arable land; and it is impossible to ensure that the area
of a flight shall be confined to the open downs. It is on some broad
expanse of turf, however, that the quarry should be found, if you are
to enjoy a good gallop and a proper view of the flight; for if you have
to jump fences, you must needs take your eyes off the birds, and it
may then be difficult to catch sight of them quickly again. You should
not fly at a rook if there is any tolerable covert within half a mile
down-wind, or a third of a mile on either side. The distance up-wind to
the nearest covert need not be so great. When a rook is just rising off
the ground, you can of course give him more law than when he is already
on the wing. For, as has been said, height in the air counts very
much more than distance along the flat. Even the small elevation from
which a hawk starts as you carry her on horseback gives her a certain
advantage over the rook which is only just off the ground. Rook flights
often end more than a mile in a straight line from the start. But
generally this is equivalent to saying that the distance flown has been
more than double as much, by reason of the doublings and up-and-down
dashes which both birds have made. In following a flight, it is best to
keep about a quarter of a mile to leeward, or as near this as you can
get, while keeping a good view of the scene. As the rook gets higher,
still keep well to leeward, until you are pretty sure what covert the
rook will ultimately make for. A little practice will generally enable
you to make a pretty good guess, although perhaps for a while the rook
may be heading a different way. If you are wrong, and find yourself
thrown out, perhaps the best plan is not to ride hard in the vain hope
of getting nearer, but take out your field-glasses, and watch the
flight from about where you are. Each man out who knows enough about
hawking to be able to take up a hawk, should carry a spare lure, so
that, in case of a lost hawk, he may try for her in his own direction,
while others are engaged on the same task in theirs. Agree beforehand,
however, with the owner of the hawk, that if you find her you may take
her up.

Falcons are generally flown single at rooks, except at the time of
entering them with a make-hawk. In a double flight I think that the
rook is as a rule a bit overmatched, that is, if the hawks are in
proper fettle. But for entering a backward hawk, or encouraging one
which does not take kindly to this flight, it is very useful to use
a make-hawk, that is to say, one which is already keen in the cause.
Most hawks are very strongly influenced by example; and a young eyess
particularly, recognising as she does the superior style of a haggard
or passager, will readily imitate her, and join in a chase upon which
she sees that the other has embarked. A double flight is very pretty,
and very effective. The way in which the two hawks assist one another,
waiting each for her turn to stoop, and making her plans so as to
profit by the action of her comrade for increasing the force of her own
strokes, is interesting even to the most careless observer of animal
life. But the double flight is better reserved for such more arduous
undertakings as the pursuit of kites, herons, and gulls. A few words
will be said in a later chapter about these quarry and the sport they
afford. But in all the main particulars it resembles that which has
been here described. The rook flight is at once the commonest and the
most typical form of sport when the hawks are flown out of the hood;
and he who has successfully trained a peregrine to this business should
have no great difficulty in making any other of the large long-winged
hawks to such other quarry.



CHAPTER VIII

Game-Hawking


Partridges, pheasants, and other game birds may be killed with
several kinds of hawks. In ancient times it seems that the former
were taken in England with the jerkin, or male ger, and occasionally
with the gerfalcon,--though this was mostly reserved for much bigger
quarry,--with the peregrine falcon and tiercel, the lanner and
lanneret, the barbary falcon and tiercel, the male goshawk, the female
sparrow-hawk, and sometimes even the tiny merlin and almost equally
diminutive hobby. In our times most of these varieties have been almost
disused for the flight at game birds, for various reasons, the chief
of which is that peregrines are found to be more useful at it than the
other sorts. It is true that goshawks have been flown quite lately both
at partridges and pheasants, and with some success; and it will be seen
in treating of the sparrow-hawk that she has also done some execution
amongst the denizens of the swedes and stubbles. Even merlins have been
found occasionally to take a young partridge in September. But goshawks
and sparrow-hawks are seldom speedy enough to catch many full-grown
partridges, unless they can be approached nearer than is usually the
case nowadays. Probably not more than one merlin in fifty could be
induced to fly partridges with any zest; and not one in a hundred could
hold a full-grown one on the ground without great difficulty and risk
to the tail feathers. And, as merlins will not wait on, the flight with
them at partridges, if it were to be accomplished, would lack the chief
attraction of game-hawking, and not be much worth seeing. The lanner
and the barbary, as well as the ger-tiercel, would still certainly
show good sport with game; so would the two kinds of shaheen, and very
possibly the saker. But the supply of these hawks is extremely limited;
and the climate of England does not suit them so well as the peregrine.
Moreover, the mode of training and flying them does not materially
differ from that of the commoner and hardier bird. It may be assumed,
therefore, for the purposes of the chapter, that game-hawking means,
what falconers generally understand by it, the flight with peregrines
at grouse, black-game, or partridges. Pheasants, snipe, hares, and
woodcocks will be dealt with in another chapter.

Grouse and black-game hawking differ in no important particular from
partridge-hawking; and, generally speaking, what is to be said about
the latter may be said with equal truth of the other two. It should be
mentioned, however, that falcons, from their superior strength, are
much to be preferred for the flight at the bigger quarry. Although
there have been cases where tiercels have done well at grouse,
these are exceptional. Usually they are averse to tackling so heavy
a quarry, and, of course, still more reluctant to take the field
against blackcock. They are, however, perfectly equal to the flight at
partridges. Some falconers have even professed to prefer them for this
flight to their sisters. This, however, was not the view taken in the
classic age of falconry; and if a fair comparison is made the falcon
will be found to be at least as good for the stubble-fields, while
vastly superior on the moors. Here again the method of training and
working, whether the one sex or the other is used, is identically the
same.

In game-hawking, the eyess is much more on even terms with the passager
than in the flight out of the hood at rooks and larger quarry. In fact,
some of the very best and deadliest grouse-hawks in modern times have
come from the nest to the falconer's hands. The records of the Old
Hawking Club show a quite exceptionally brilliant score made by one of
their eyesses, Parachute, who took no less than fifty-seven grouse in
one season, heading the list of that year's performances on the Club
moor. In the same year, 1882, Vesta, an eyess of her first season,
killed as many as forty-three grouse. Yet it must not be inferred from
this that every nestling is as likely to kill grouse or partridges
as well as a passage hawk. It is rarely that the latter does not fly
at least creditably, when trained, whereas with eyesses the general
rule is rather the other way. A really first-rate performer is amongst
eyesses the exception, however well they have been hacked and trained.
On the other hand, the making of the eyess to this flight is beset by
few of the difficulties which trouble him who would train a wild-caught
hawk to it. It has been said already that a passage hawk, waiting on at
any height, must naturally be more apt to check at passing birds than
an eyess. The latter has been, or ought to have been, reserved, from
her youth up, for the one flight for which she was specially destined
by her owner; whereas the other, from her youth up, until captured, has
been accustomed to fly at whatever happened to be most ready to hand.
There is, too, generally a special reason why the passage hawk should
be apt, when expected to wait on for game, to check at any rook which
may be in sight. As a rule she has come into the trainer's hands in the
late autumn, has been deliberately entered by him at rooks in early
spring, and has flown them with his entire approbation for some weeks.
No wonder, then, that if on the twelfth of August a rook comes past she
should think it her duty to go for him.

Let us, however, speak of the eyess first, and we can see afterwards
what modifications are to be made in the case of the older hawk. When
your pupil will come well to the lure do not keep her long, if at all,
at work in stooping at it. On the contrary, let the interval between
the time when she is thrown off and the time when she is invited to
come down on the lure be as long as possible. Keep her on the wing
as long as you dare. But you must not at first go too far in this
direction. If you wear out her patience she may go to perch, either
on the ground or perhaps in a tree half a mile away. Take her down,
therefore, if you can, before she is too much tired. But if you should
make a mistake, and the inapt pupil goes to perch, do not hurry after
her, unless there is any special reason for doing so. Stay where you
are if she is well in sight; or, if not, move to a spot where she can
easily see you, and do not have the air of pursuing her. Make her
understand that, in this case, it is she who must come to you, and not
you to her. When she finds after a long sojourn in the tree or on the
ground, that after all, she has either to trouble herself to come or
else go without her food, she will be less likely to be troublesome
next time. She will think to herself, "What was the use of all that
delay? I might as well have kept on the wing and had my dinner sooner."
Such reflections are very salutary. You do not want to be beat by your
pupil, but your pupil to be beat by you, and to learn that your way
of doing things is the best both for her and for you. She will learn
it, too, if you go the right way to work and persevere. With an eyess
you have the whip hand. She cannot easily feed herself without you;
and she knows it. For weeks she has been indebted to you, directly or
indirectly, for her daily rations. Even in her wildest days at the
end of hack, when she would let no one come near her, she was often
watching you with eager eyes as you put out her meat on the hack
board, and since that, have you not always either given her her food on
the lure, or at all events taken her to a place where she could fly and
kill a quarry which you had put up for her?

Have patience with her, therefore, and induce her by slow degrees to go
up higher and higher. You must use all imaginable devices to accomplish
this main object. Try to make her understand that the higher she goes
the more chance there is of your producing the lure. Thus, suppose she
has made three or four circles without going more than forty feet high,
and in the next goes to fifty or sixty feet, bring out the lure and
let her have it. Here is another device. Two men go out, each having
a lure. One stands on higher ground than the other. Then call off the
hawk alternately, each man showing his lure in turn, and hiding it as
the hawk comes up. But let the man on the upper ground never indulge
her with any success. When she is gratified let it be when she comes
from above. She is not unlikely to associate the idea of success with
that of toiling upwards and then coming more swiftly down. This is,
moreover, a view of the matter to which the minds of all hawks are
naturally prone. The flesh is weak, particularly in eyesses, but the
spirit knows that the proper way to earn a living is to mount and then
stoop down.

It is not good to defer needlessly the moment when you give your hawk
a flight. Flights at quarry, even if it is bagged quarry only, almost
always improve the mounting of a hawk. Why? Because first nature and
then experience teaches her that from a height she has more chance
of catching a live bird. It is not a bad plan, if your hawk mounts
badly, to start for her (from a place of concealment, of course) a fast
house-pigeon at a distance of five or six hundred yards up-wind from
a thick covert. She will have plenty of time to make a stoop or two
in the open. But she will almost certainly fail, and the pigeon will
get off easily into shelter. Then if your hawk comes back to you at a
good height, give her a much worse pigeon, which she will have a good
chance of taking. If she comes back low, take her down to the lure, and
save the second pigeon. The next day you may take out two pigeons--a
good and a bad. If your hawk mounts better give the bad pigeon; and if
not, give her again the one which she will not be able to catch. These
are not infallible methods; but they may succeed, and they are worth
trying, when a hawk is averse to mounting naturally. In the lone hours
of darkness, when her hood is on, such a hawk may fight her battles
over again, and inquire seriously of herself what was the cause of her
ill-success. And, reflecting on the experiences of hack, she may very
likely conclude that she could have done better if she had started in
pursuit from higher in the air.

The old falconers had a device which is not often adopted now, but
which seems to have been effectual, at least, in some cases. They
"seeled" (see Chap. V.) the bagged quarry,--usually a duck or a
pigeon,--and the effect was that, when so blindfolded and let loose, it
flew upwards, like a towering partridge, avoiding the risk of striking
against obstacles which it could not see. The hawk flown at such quarry
was naturally induced to keep high when waiting on. The objection to
any such flight is that the quarry has not a fair chance of shifting
from the stoop when it comes.

The giving of bagged quarry is not a thing to be encouraged or
continued for any length of time. Bagged game never fly well, seldom
passably even; and they demoralise a hawk. Bagged house-pigeons fly
admirably; but then they are not the quarry you want your hawk to
pursue. On the contrary, you are particularly anxious that as your
hawk is waiting on for a covey to be put up she shall not start off in
pursuit of a chance pigeon. Be very stingy, therefore, with your bagged
pigeons; and if you give any at all, leave off directly your hawk has
begun to mount at all decently.

Eyesses of all kinds are often given to raking away, _i.e._ wandering
away from the falconer to inordinate distances, when they ought to be
waiting on nearly over his head. And these aberrations are generally in
a down-wind direction. It is fortunate, therefore, that in game-hawking
the quarry is usually put up by walking down-wind. Otherwise many
young hawks would have little chance of coming up with them. For it
is a curious thing that, as compared with game birds, the speed of a
peregrine is greater when going down-wind, whereas in rook-hawking she
gains more rapidly when both are flying up-wind. On the troublesome
habit of raking away, some observations will be found in the chapter
on "Vices." Practice is usually the best remedy. A hawk generally has
gumption enough to see that by constantly waiting on down-wind she
puts herself at a great disadvantage for killing her bird if it goes
up-wind; and when she has come to understand that the bird is going to
be put up by you, and not accidentally, she will begin to place herself
willingly in such a position over you as to be ready for the stoop when
the birds are flushed. "Why-loe!"--a cry with a rather Chinese sound
about it--was the shout used for calling in a raking hawk. Of course,
while flying her at the lure you may do something towards habituating
your eyess to keep up-wind, by rewarding her when she stoops from
there, and not from the other side. So also, in actual flying, keep
still, and let the game lie, while she is wide; and move on when she is
in her proper place. If she can get a kill or two from a pitch over the
falconer's head it will be better for her than any number of kills made
when she was waiting on wide.

The glory of a falconer who goes in for game-hawking is "a falcon
towering in her pride of place"; and her "place" is some hundreds
of yards above her master's head. A high pitch is the beauty of a
game-hawk. It is what enables her to kill, and to kill well. The best
game-hawks go up until they look quite small in the sky. A thousand
feet is often attained. When a peregrine is as high as this, it matters
comparatively little whereabouts the game gets up. She can come down
upon them nearly as easily at an angle of 70° or 80°, as at an angle
of 90°. Sometimes even more easily. The time occupied in coming down
is a mere nothing compared with the time which would be occupied in
flying along the level to the same spot. When once, therefore, you see
your hawk at a good pitch, use every effort to get up the game. When
she sees the men running she will very likely be all the more ready to
keep in a good place. After a week or two's practice she will know well
enough what the whole show means, and will play her part in it _con
amore_.

If your hawk will not mount properly, but potters about in a useless
way at a mean height, you may try other plans. You may call her off
half a mile or so from the lee side of an open moor, and, as she comes
across it up-wind, let beaters from each side try to drive grouse
inwards towards her line of flight. If you can once enable her to take
a grouse there are hopes of her yet. You may even fly her from the
fist at a grouse if you can get near enough to one to make it at all
likely that she will catch it. I have seen this done with a backward
young falcon, which would not wait on. There ensued a stern chase all
along the ground for at least half a mile, both birds flying at almost
exactly the same pace. The sight was ridiculous enough; but in the end
the falcon managed to catch the grouse, and was allowed to take her
pleasure on it. The success, small as it was, saved the hawk at anyrate
from being disgusted with grouse-hawking, as she would otherwise
very soon have been. It is wonderful what good is done to a young
hawk by catching a difficult quarry by her own unaided efforts. The
encouragement she derives from it is occasionally so great that she
seems suddenly to develop her latent powers beyond all expectation.

You must not, however, expect that every young falcon will be a good
grouse-hawk. Indeed, you must not expect many to be so. The quarry is a
difficult one, and until you have trained a good many partridge-hawks
you are not likely to make one for grouse. In partridge-hawking no very
great speed is wanted, if only the hawk will mount well and throw up
well. Partridges can be flushed much nearer, as a rule, to the hawk
than grouse. Although they are fast, especially up-wind, they are not
as fast as grouse, nor as wild. Nor perhaps, I may add, as perverse in
getting up at the place and time you like least, though both are clever
enough at choosing their time for making off. In an enclosed country,
if you do not kill your partridge at the first shot, he will often put
in at the next hedge, and there you may mark him and get him out. But
on an open moor the grouse generally go so far before putting in that
you cannot mark the place near enough to get them out quickly. Thus out
of a hundred eyess peregrines, probably more than 70 per cent. will,
in good hands, fly partridges very fairly, whereas out of a hundred
eyess falcons--leaving tiercels out of the account--you will not find
anything like fifty which are really good at the bigger quarry. Of
tiercels it would be rash to say that even 1 per cent. would fly well
at grouse. Of the falcons which fail some appear to be too lazy, and
others too slow. A good deal depends on the first few flights. If a
hawk has good luck on two or three occasions when she is first taken
out, and a young grouse gets up well within reach, the young hawk
will take heart, and, feeling assured that she can take the quarry,
will try hard and will improve. Choose, therefore, for a hawk that is
of doubtful courage the flights which seem likely to be the easiest.
Remember that an immense deal depends upon the conditions under which
you call upon your hawk to make her first flight at a grouse.

There are still some places where you can shoot grouse over dogs. If
it be your good fortune to have access with your hawks to a moor where
this can be done, you are in luck. As soon as there is a steady point
(you are, of course, on open ground), unhood and throw off your hawk,
which has already learnt to wait on. As long as she is moving upwards,
making each circle a little higher than the last, stand still and let
her go on, or, if the point is far off, walk steadily towards it. The
grouse will have seen the hawk, and be in no hurry to move while she
is mounting; but presently they will be aware also of your approach.
Then there will be a small debate in their minds--or rather in that of
their papa--whether it is best to keep still and eventually be shot
at, or to start off at once and at once be stooped at. The nearer
you approach, and the farther the hawk rakes away, the more does the
decision incline towards making a bolt of it; but papa grouse is not
going to make a fool of himself by bolting at the moment which you
would prefer. Your programme, of course, is to wait till your falcon
is heading in towards the dog, and then rush in upon the hesitating
assembly. Unfortunately, this plan does not fit in with the views of
the worthies in question. They have also been waiting till the hawk's
head was turned away, and now, as she is near the outer part of her
circle which is farthest from the quarry, up they get, and off they go,
whizzing along the top of the heather.

At this stage of the proceedings the modern falconer does, for once,
find the use of his voice. He shouts loudly to call the hawk's
attention and to cheer her on. "Hey, gar, gar, gar!" or "Hoo, ha, ha!"
are old-fashioned cries for encouraging a falcon to stoop from her
pitch, and are still often used. There can be no doubt that a shout of
some kind, or a blast on the horn, if you prefer it, has an inspiriting
effect on hawks, and that not only when they start for their first
descent, but at each successive stoop. I almost fancy that I have
actually seen them cheer up as they heard a loud "Bravo" come from the
field far beneath after a brilliant stoop or a masterly throw-up! It
is with grouse and black-game, more than with any other quarry, that
you see at once when they get up the immense advantage of a high pitch.
When the falcon is some hundreds of feet high she commands a wide area
below. At the height of a quarter of a mile it matters little whether
the range of her circling flight takes her a hundred yards to one side
or the other. She can come down with equal ease upon any one spot in an
area of thirty acres.

No one knows how the speed and force of a falcon's stoop are gained.
All we can say is that it is the fastest movement made by any living
thing in the world. It is not flying, and it is not falling, but
a combination of the two, with some other impulse which we do not
understand. Mere weight must be at least a most important element, for
a heavy hawk seems always to come down quicker as well as far more
forcibly than one of the same species which is lighter. But weight is
only one factor in the agglomeration of influences which make the stoop
of the peregrine and the ger so swift. It must be seen to be believed
in. There is no conceivable way of measuring its speed, but it is
such that the momentum of it alone carries the hawk with half-closed
wings right past a grouse at his best pace, making that pace appear
absolutely slow by comparison. The descent from above is often made
so that the hawk is at the end of it a few feet or yards behind the
grouse, and nearly on a level with him. Hence the course of the pursuer
bends forwards horizontally, but with such deviation from the straight
line as is necessary to correspond with the flight of the pursued. It
is so regulated that it may pass through that part of the air where the
quarry is expected to be. Of course the expectation may be falsified.
The hawk may suppose that the grouse will swerve to the right, whereas
he may swerve to the left. But, just as a fine fencer will divine by
some subtle skill whether his adversary is going to parry in _carte_
or _tierce_, or to make a single or double disengagement, so the good
game-hawk judges from some slight movement or attitude where the grouse
intends to be at the moment when she rushes past. This power is not
so surprising in a haggard, but some eyesses seem to be instinctively
gifted with a share of it. Others acquire it rapidly both in stooping
at the lure and in their actual flights. But with eyesses it is rather
the exception to be really good footers, whereas with haggards and many
red passage hawks it is almost the rule.

Passage peregrines are, of course, much more likely to succeed with
grouse and black-game than eyesses. Out of a dozen falcons skilfully
taken in hand, and kept specially for game-hawking, it would not be
unreasonable to expect that eight or nine would take their quarry well.
By rights a passager which is intended to be flown principally at game
should be captured in the spring. There is no use in keeping her all
the while idle from November to the next August. If taken in April she
would be well fit for flying on the twelfth of August. There would,
it is true, be some trouble about the moult, but this might often be
deferred till very much later than it can be with eyesses. According
to modern practice, which is to catch no wild peregrines in spring,
the passager has almost always been more or less flown at rooks in the
early part of the year. She has accordingly to unlearn a good deal
that she learnt then, and be introduced to the much more risky and
artificial accomplishment of waiting on. That she should take kindly
to this habit is not a thing to be anticipated. It would be going
rather too far to expect her to moon about overhead humbly waiting
till the falconer below pleases to throw out for her a morsel of cold
and uninviting food. You will generally find it best to employ with
her rather different tactics from those which served for the eyesses.
Thus you may call her off to the lure from the other side of a wide
moorside, and, as she comes across the heather, contrive that there
shall get up out of it a very fast pigeon. On the first occasion it is
ten to one that she will start at this from the very moderate height
at which she was flying towards you; but whether she takes the pigeon
or not, she will know very well that she ought, for her own advantage,
to have been higher when he got up; and the next time you call her off
at a similar place and in a similar way, the odds are that she comes
to you higher in the air. A third trial will probably find her higher
still, and you may let her make a circle or two before starting the
pigeon. When she has once flown a grouse in a somewhat similar way the
effect will be still more marked. Do not now dream of lowering her
pitch by ever letting her stoop to the lure. Indeed, after the passager
is once made to the dead lure, it need scarcely be used at all, except
to call the hawk back after unsuccessful flights.

For the first twelve months you must still be mistrustful of your
passager. Some of the old writers advise not to try her at waiting on
until she is intermewed. But when once she can be trusted she will
do better than almost any eyess. To begin with, she can kill from a
much lower pitch than the latter. She is swifter on the wing; she is
a better footer; and she knows much better how to play her cards. And
one of the best cards of a game-hawk is a high pitch. Why should she
not play it? Has she not already done so to perfection long before you
had the honour of her acquaintance? How often, in far northern lands,
has she from above the highest mountains come down like a thunderbolt
upon the fast-flying ptarmigan or shifty rock-pigeon? Does she not
know that it is this altitude which gives power and success? When she
has begun killing grouse she will soon enter into the spirit of the
thing. Every bird--and a hawk not least--knows that what has happened
once or twice may happen again. She was thrown off; she saw no lure,
no rook. (For we took care, did we not, that none was in sight?) After
a while you put up a grouse for her. And now, on another occasion, to
the same beginning will there not be the same end? She will almost
certainly think it well to be prepared for such a contingency; and the
only way to be prepared is to get up a bit, and to remain pretty near
the falconer. As soon as her pains have been rewarded she is "made."
The mischief of it is that you cannot, with grouse, make sure of giving
her these fair trials just when you wish. Grouse are such "contrairy"
birds, that you cannot always find them when you have the best right
to expect that you will. You must, however, do your best; and I, for
one, verily believe that the hawk knows when you are doing your best.
Otherwise, what is the moral of that pretty story, so well told by
"Peregrine," of the falcon which, finding the pointer rather slow in
putting up the covey, made a stoop at him by way of a gentle hint, and
then got up to her pitch again?

Black-game are still more difficult to take than grouse. An old cock
will hardly be taken unless from a good pitch and under favourable
circumstances. Grey-hens, however, have a way early in the season of
sometimes lying very close; and when this happens, and the hawk happens
to be waiting on near, she will cut the poor wretch down easily. With
black-game the first stoop is generally the most deadly, but it must
be made from a high pitch. A gerfalcon or tiercel stooping at an old
blackcock in a really open place is the perfection of game-hawking, and
from certain points of view--that of mere speed, for instance--the _ne
plus ultra_ of all hawking.

Partridges, on the other hand, are easier in all respects--easier to
find, easier to approach, easier to kill. The _modus operandi_ is
exactly the same as for the larger game. If you can work with a pointer
or setter, so much the better; the hawk will generally know after a
while what the dog means and where the birds are likely to get up. An
old game-hawk will often display marvellous intelligence in waiting on
in the right position. When this is the case, and the country is good,
the bag fills rapidly. No sooner is there a point than off goes the
hood. After a short delay the hawk is at her pitch, and you can walk
or ride in. Any partridge must be clever which avoids the first stoop
of an old peregrine. Even if he does, except in a country where there
are thick covers, the fatal blow is merely deferred. Putting in at a
thin hedge is only a temporary escape, for you can mark the place. The
hawk will mark it also, by making her point, _i.e._ throwing up into
the air over the spot, and she will wait on while you beat. A spaniel
or retriever will generally rout out the fugitive. The orthodox cry for
encouraging the hawk when the game is so routed out is "Howit! howit!"
Sometimes the partridge which has put in is, as an old author says,
"so surcharged with fear" as to be caught by the dog or picked up by
the hand. It should then generally be thrown out for the hawk to take,
especially if she is a young one, and the dog admonished by the cry of
"Ware, hawk! ware!"

If you use no dogs, mark down a bird or a covey, and put your hawk on
the wing to windward of the place, then, as she waits on, walk or ride
down-wind towards the spot. If the hawk flies wide make a halt till she
is coming up, and then go on at full speed again. As long as she is
facing the birds, and not down-wind of them, you have a good chance of
a kill. When you are quite sure that there are birds on a ground you
need not wait to mark any down, but beat the ground down-wind, keeping
the men in line, with the hawk in the air. When the birds are wild this
is often the only way in which you can get a flight. The worst of it is
that the first bird which gets up may get up a quarter of a mile ahead,
though there are plenty of nearer ones on the ground. Of course the
hawk will go at the first which gets up, and there will be a long stern
chase, with small chance of a kill, and perhaps a long delay before the
hawk is got back. If you have to go down-wind after her--which ought
not to be the case, but often is--you must make a dead beat in coming
back so as to get up-wind again, and begin afresh to drive to leeward.

Such, as far as the aërial part of it is concerned, is game-hawking.
A much more complicated affair than rook-hawking, as the hawk has to
be trusted all alone to mount to her pitch, and stay there sometimes
for many minutes without raking away, and, above all, without checking
at other quarry. The hawk, moreover, is not the only actor in the
play. You must arrange your beaters and markers properly, even for
partridge-hawking, and much more for moor-game. If you intend to hawk
over dogs, which you should certainly do if you have the chance, the
hawk, while being manned and entered, must be induced to make friends
with them and they with her. In the nature of things a hawk mistrusts
a dog, even if she does not actively dislike him, and you must get rid
of this mistrust. Your pointer or setter, and your retriever too, or
whatever dog you intend to use for any purpose, must often be present
while her ladyship is being fed and carried. First, of course, at a
respectful distance, but by degrees nearer and nearer, until the pair
of them are on quite good terms with one another. A few raps over
the nose will teach Ponto not to be too familiar; and a nice wing of
chicken offered to Stella within a foot of that same nose will do
wonders in reconciling her to its proximity. A long step will have
been gained when you can let the dogs play about on the lawn while
the hawks sit still on their blocks, watching with contemptuous eye
movements which are clownish and undignified as compared with their
own in the air. But the real triumph will come when they have all been
out for a day together; when, with Ponto standing at the point, Stella
has glittered high above him in the sunshine, circling gracefully
with expectant eye turned down; when Ponto, down-charging humbly,
has seen the lightning-like stoop a hundred yards ahead; when the
partridge, shifting cleverly, has put in to a hedge; and when Pompey
the retriever, tugging at his leash, has been led up to the spot and
has enjoyed the felicity of putting out that same partridge for Stella
to finish off with another dash from the sky. Then it will be a pretty
sight, if you have time to enjoy it, to see the hawk, with the pride of
victory in her eyes, pluming the dead quarry on the ground, while the
two dogs, stretched at length close by, look on contentedly, conscious
that part of the credit for the whole performance is due to them.

[Illustration: PLUMING THE DEAD GROUSE]

Even if there are no dogs, the falconer must have a watchful eye on his
company in the field, especially if it includes new hands at the now
unfashionable sport. These must be warned mildly, or it may be reminded
sharply, to maintain that repose of demeanour which befits the sport of
kings. To keep still as the falcon mounts is quite as essential as to
press on when she has got to her pitch. If a kill occurs it is lawful
enough to join in the death-cry, but not to hurry up. Such ill-timed
zeal might cause an infinity of mischief, and even, in the case of a
falcon or ger, the loss of her then and there. Everyone present should
stop fifty or more yards from the fatal spot, except the one man who is
authorised to take her up; and while he makes in, no noise or violent
movement should disturb the solemn scene. Cigars may be lighted, and
the incidents of the flight may be discussed; but it is only when the
falconer, rising from his knees with the victor on his glove, gives the
signal to come on, that curiosity may be gratified by a good look at
the vanquished.

There is some variety in the mode employed by hawks in taking game. In
rook-hawking they all "bind" to the quarry, that is, they clutch it in
the air, and retain their hold as they come down to earth. I think I am
right in saying that when a hawk strikes and does not hold a rook, it
is almost always either accidentally or because her talon has not held
fast. Many peregrines--perhaps all eyesses--begin by binding to grouse
and partridges. But the tremendous speed of the stoop in game-hawking
often carries the stooper so fast up to her quarry, and onwards after
it is struck, that the talon will not hold. Something in the body of
the victim gives way--the skin, or maybe a bone or two. Moreover, the
strain upon a falcon's foot, if she dragged along with her a heavy bird
flying only half as fast at the moment as herself, might be painful and
even dangerous. Consequently a hawk which has a very "hard" stoop, as
all passage gers have and many wild-caught peregrines, will sometimes
not endeavour to catch hold or bind. They then "strike" in the truest
sense of the word. They deal a blow, either downwards or forwards,
using the two hind talons for it, and either break some bone or knock
all the wind out of the victim struck. The jar of the blow as they rush
by tells them that it has come home, and instead of throwing up high,
as they would if they had missed, they check their flight quickly, and,
swinging round in the air, descend rapidly on the panting or dazed foe.
Instances have been known when a stoop has cut the head clean off from
a grouse, and one of Mr. Freeman's falcons cut through several ribs of
a partridge as she hit it down. And yet the ger's stoop is accounted
much "harder" than the peregrine's.

Game-peregrines, when well entered, may very well be flown four or five
times a day. Some of them, when in good fettle, more. Six kills in one
day is a decided feat for a peregrine; though it has been accomplished
in modern times, and probably surpassed occasionally. But it is unwise
to overdo the thing, and so tax the hawk too severely. If you have a
very high-mounter, you may as well remember a piece of advice upon
which D'Arcussia insists. This is to fly her not many times in any one
day. Her high mounting is such a grand thing in itself, he says, that
it is better to maintain it, even if your bag and your score suffer,
than by letting her kill more--which she could undoubtedly do--to
run the risk of lowering her pitch. If, however, a hawk has had bad
luck, and still seems "full of flying," you may go on after several
unsuccessful flights in the hope of rewarding her at last. It is a
very good thing in all sorts of hawking to "leave off with a kill."
Accordingly, if the third or fourth flight is successful, the wise
falconer will often feed up and leave well alone. I should like to go a
little further, and say that at any time after a very hard flight, in
which the hawk has triumphed over exceptional difficulties and greatly
exerted herself, it is a wise thing to feed up. "Oh, do fly her again,"
is a seductive cry which some friend is likely to raise. But though
next time she could not fly better, she might perhaps fly worse. I
should be inclined to tell such enthusiastic friend that I would wait
until the morrow. I would let that hawk go to rest with the memory
of that one big flight in her mind. It will be a pleasant memory,
embittered by no thought of subsequent failure. One really severe
flight, after a good bout of waiting on, is a fair day's work for any
long-winged hawk, unless she is owned by a mere pot-hunter. It may be
the first flight of the day, or it may be the fifth--perhaps the sixth
or seventh; but I think it will be well to finish up with it.

I am glad to be able to give here some actual records of the
performances of game-hawks, which have been most kindly given me by Mr.
St. Quintin, whose skill in this department of falconry, as in many
others, is second to none.


1881

           _September 24_           |          _September 30_
                                    |
               Partridges  Pheasant |                Partridges  Rook
  Belfry           2          ...   | Aide-de-camp       1        ...
  Butcherboy       2          ...   | Belfry             1        ...
  Parachute        3            1   | Butcherboy         2        ...
  Vanquisher       1          ...   | Heroine          ...          1
  Mosstrooper      1          ...   | Parachute          3        ...
                                    | Vanquisher         2        ...
                                    | Mosstrooper        1        ...
                 ---          ---   |                  ---        ---
                   9            1   |                   10          1


1882

         _August 16_         |      _August 19_       |      _August 25_
                             |                      |
                Grouse  Hare |               Grouse |               Grouse
                             |                      |
  Parachute        1      1  | Parachute        5   | Parachute        4
  Angela           2    ...  | Angela           2   | Angela           1
  Creole           3    ...  | Aide-de-camp     1   | Aide-de-camp     3
  Aide-de-camp     1    ...  | Amesbury         2   | Amesbury         2
  Amesbury         2    ...  | Vesta            2   | Vesta            2
  Vesta            1    ...  |                      | Virginia         1
                 ---    ---  |                ---   |                ---
                  10      1  |                 12   |                 13

In the season of 1882 Mr. St. Quintin and Colonel Brooksbank, on a moor
which they took in Sutherland, took with the hawks 200 grouse, besides
three blue hares, killed by the eyess Parachute, and one wild duck.
After returning to England, Parachute killed no less than seventy-six
partridges, besides five pheasants.

On the same moor, in 1884, the same gentlemen killed in one day (August
18) five grouse, four black-game (greyhens and young blackcock), and a
hoodie crow; and on another day (August 20) eleven grouse.



CHAPTER IX

Lark-Hawking


The merlin, the lady's hawk, has always been the hawk _par excellence_
for larks. Hobbies, no doubt, have taken them in the old days, though
they were used more often for "daring" them by waiting on above, which
so terrified the larks that they could be picked up by hand. They take
them now constantly in the wild state. But when reclaimed, they have
for many years past proved complete failures in the hands of our modern
amateurs. The late Lord Lilford made several attempts to get work out
of them, but with hardly any success. Mr. George Symonds obtained a
large number when he was in Italy, but out of the whole lot could only
get one to fly wild quarry. The writer has twice attempted to train a
male hobby for larks, and on the second occasion enjoyed the advantage
of valuable assistance and advice from Colonel Sanford, who was at the
same time training a brother of the same bird. Great pains were taken
with both of these hawks, which were in perfect plumage and condition,
and had been well hacked by no less able a falconer than Mr. Newall.
They were well broken to the lure, and thought nothing of waiting on
for a quarter of an hour or more at a vast height. Yet it was found
impossible to induce either of them to make any serious attempts at a
flight. I started mine on one occasion at least twenty times at various
small birds, sometimes putting them up underneath the hawk as he was
waiting on, and at other times throwing him from the fist at them.
These were skylarks, woodlarks, pipits, and other small frequenters of
the turnip-fields. When they were put up under the hobby, he seldom
took the smallest notice. When thrown off at one, he would generally
make a show of pursuing, but give up before he had gone fifty yards.
One lark put in in front of him to a small heap of hurdles. But instead
of being "surcharged with fear," and allowing himself to be picked
up, he seemed to have as much contempt for his pursuer as the latter
deserved, and went up briskly again before there was any chance of even
trying to pick him up.

The other hobby, which I trained some years before, did a little
better. He once made two or three rings after a wild lark. The rings
were very pretty, and the style of flying most correct. But there was
one thing wanting, the pace was insufficient. To tell the truth, it was
poor; and at the risk of being denounced by all ornithologists and most
falconers, I venture to express a doubt whether the hobby is really
a fast hawk. To support the common theory that he is exceptionally
fast we have, no doubt, the fact that he kills swallows and swifts.
But then he has the advantage of them, owing to his habit of constant
soaring at a great height. From this vantage-point, if he killed one
swallow out of a hundred aimed at, it would not be a conclusive proof
of any great speed in flying. Much more difficult to explain are the
passages in Latham and other old writers to the effect that hobbies,
and especially female hobbies, have "plenty of courage," and will well
repay the trouble of training. Blome, in the _Gentleman's Recreation_
(1636), is especially loud in his praises of this hawk. After declaring
that she is very amiable, bold, and daring, and will make a hawk of
great delight, he adds that she may be left out in the field after
being fed up, and will come back home to the place where she was hacked
(except at migration times); and ends up by affirming that she is "in
all respects, according to her capacity, as bold and hardy as any other
hawk whatsoever." Either the training of them has become a lost art, or
the hobby has changed his nature entirely since he was thus eulogised.

Very different is the account to be rendered of the merlin, so inferior
in external appearance, so vastly superior in courage and energy.
This, the smallest of the true falcons, has not yet been persecuted
out of existence in England with gun and snare, though the days of
its disappearance are doubtless not far distant. Of this little hawk
I speak perhaps with undue enthusiasm, having made them an object
of special care. But the merlin has had admirers amongst some very
illustrious persons. Louis XIII. kept hundreds of big hawks. He could
have a good day's hawking whenever he liked at cranes, kites, or
herons. Yet he did not disdain, amidst all these temptations, to devote
a whole morning to lark-hawking with merlins, and was overjoyed at
killing one lark with a cast of them. It is true that this was a winter
lark, but it was only a lark for a' that! One of the greatest falconers
that modern times have produced, Mr. E. C. Newcome, declared that after
heron-hawking, already extinct in England in his day, the flight with
the merlin at larks excelled all others in this country. Catherine II.
of Russia was also an ardent admirer of this diminutive squire of dames.

The training and entering of the merlin, eyess or wild-caught, differs
in no important particular from that of the peregrine which is to be
flown at rooks. Only the reclamation is much more speedily effected.
Often it can be completed, even in the case of an adult jack, in less
than a fortnight--with the exercise of diligence, of course. An eyess,
well hacked, can be manned in less than a week. This, however, does
not mean that they can be trained to larks in that time. Writers on
falconry sometimes inadvertently lead their readers astray by declaring
that the merlin is easily trained. What the writer means is probably
that they are easily manned and made to the lure. This is so; but the
preparation for flying in the field, at least at larks, is quite a
different matter. Merlins, like all other hawks, differ greatly in
temperament. Occasionally you will find a whole nest of them quite
free from vice. Such hawks are all easily trained for the field. But
more often these little creatures are imbued from the first with a
disposition to carry. And to fly a merlin at larks before she is cured
of this weakness is to involve yourself in endless trouble. Eyesses are
as bad as haggards--often worse. Consequently, when the hawk is manned
and made to the lure, more than half your work is still before you.
A non-carrying merlin can be trained in less than a week after being
taken up from hack, whereas a determined carrier will hardly be safe to
fly in double that time.

[Illustration: TRAINED MERLIN]

There is another respect in which doubts may be entertained as to the
truth of the opinion that merlins are easy to train. If by training
is meant merely the qualifying them for driving moulting larks into
covert, and killing them there, the saying is true enough. You may
go to an enclosed country full of moulting larks. You may put one up
and start the hawk. The lark, after a short flight, will go into a
hedge; and there, if the merlin does not take him herself, you can
either pick him up with the hand or drive him out for the hawk, which
has taken perch on the fence; and he will be counted in the bag. But
if by training you mean making the hawk fit to take ringing larks in
open ground, the case is different. To do this a merlin must be in the
pink of condition--quick, long-winded, persevering, and a good footer.
How will you make her so? She will not wait on; no exercise is to be
got that way to bring her into condition. If an eyess, she has had no
practice at footing. How is she to learn that art? Then the dieting
is a matter of extreme delicacy. If you give butcher's meat, she will
become dull and heavy; pigeon's flesh will give her a sort of fever;
in sheep's heart, the food which most amateurs recommend, there is but
poor nourishment; and she must be strong enough to go up half a mile,
if required! Again, how are you to measure out the exact quantity that
is good for her? If you give a peregrine or a goshawk an ounce too much
or too little, the mischief done is slight. But give even half an ounce
too much or too little to a jack-merlin, and he is straightway wrong
in his condition. A big hawk is fed only once a day; there are about
twenty-four hours on an average between each meal. If you fly the big
hawk on a fast of twenty-two hours or of twenty-six, it matters little.
But between the feeding-times of a merlin there is only an average of
twelve hours. Therefore it matters a good deal whether you fly her
early or late. She may be either too hungry or not hungry enough to do
herself full justice.

The trainer who aspires to make a good score with ringing larks, and
not to be content with mere hedge-row pot-hunting, must work pretty
hard. He must not make many mistakes. He must observe very strictly the
instructions already given for guarding against the besetting vice of
carrying, never allowing a piece of food to be negligently fastened to
the lure, or giving any bagged quarry that can be taken into a tree. He
must find freshly-killed small birds almost daily for every merlin, so
that her digestion and strength may be unimpaired. And in order to keep
his hawk in wind, he must give her plenty of exercise. He can hardly do
this without stooping her often to the lure. Ten minutes of this work,
if the hawk is going all the time at her best pace, means a good many
miles flying. Then the merlin must be taught to look principally to
the fist for food. When feeding on the lure, whether it is garnished
with a newly-killed sparrow or with a tiring, she must be provided with
tit-bits from the hand, until, instead of fearing the approach of the
falconer, she looks for it with pleasure. She must constantly be called
to the fist. If there is a good-sized spare room available, she may be
exercised there in coming often from one side of the room to your fist
at the other. Some falconers advise keeping merlins loose in an empty
room, where blocks and perches have been placed; and this is, no doubt,
a very good plan when you have or can build for yourself the right
kind of room. The sort of place recommended later on for moulting
purposes will sometimes do well enough. I have found that the roof or
ceiling is the great difficulty, as the hawks, constantly flying round
just underneath, rub off the outer web of the long flight feathers. Of
course the windows must be guarded with vertical bars, upon which the
little hawks can find no foothold.

For the worst cases of carrying I must refer the reader to the chapter
on "Vices." But even with a well-behaved merlin the trainer must be
constantly on his guard, at least for a fortnight after the hawk
has begun work in the field. He must beware, when she has killed,
of shepherds' dogs, of wandering crows or rooks, and of the fowls
which are now often found colonising the open fields, far away from
a village or farmhouse. All or any of these may attack the hawk, and
by inducing her to carry away the lark, sow the seeds of the vile
habit. "Once a carrier, always a carrier," is not an entirely true
maxim, but it is not far from the truth. I have known merlins carry
badly, and afterwards abandon the practice; but such cases are not
common, and the trouble involved in effecting the cure is sometimes
more than the merlin is worth. Prevention is many miles better than
cure; good, honest miles, too, measured over the stony hillsides of
Wilts! As you approach your merlin on the ground, remember not to stare
at her, and to give her plenty of time. On the first few occasions
you must exercise the patience of a veritable Job. She is now, after
her victory, more apprehensive than ever that her hard-earned meal
may be ravished from her. As you walk about, pretending to look at
anything rather than her, she is all the time wondering whether your
intentions are honourable or the reverse. Instinct tells her that they
are base. Her previous experience, on the other hand, is reassuring
to her. Your attitude, as you stroll about, is indicative of no
sinister design. "When in doubt do nothing," is a hawk's maxim, as
well as a diplomatist's. Meanwhile there is the quarry to be plumed.
So with many lookings round, and many pauses, and with a rather
misdoubting mind, she falls to at the work of picking off the feathers.
Not greedily--unless she is a greedy hawk, or too thin--but with a
provoking deliberation, and with intervals that seem interminable. At
last the feathers are off; and the warm food--the best she has ever
had--begins to engross more of her real attention. Now she is ten times
easier to approach. If, thinks she, you had been going to claim the
quarry for yourself, surely you would have interfered before this.
When she is fairly busy, you may by degrees get nearer, but keeping a
keen look-out, and on the least show of alarm retreating quietly, but
quickly. At length you will be able to get your hand, well garnished
with a tempting morsel, within reach of her.

With a troublesome merlin you may employ, if you are sure of not
bungling it, a very admirable device. You may resort to what may be
called the "fishing-rod trick." You will take with you into the field
two joints of a fishing-rod, not including the top joint. On the thin
end of the thinner of these joints, which must be stiff and stout, you
will have fitted a brass hook or tooth, with its sharp point standing
out an inch or so at right angles from the rod. This apparatus is
sometimes invaluable. You may use one or both joints, as you find you
can get nearer or less near. When you begin to be afraid to go any
nearer, slide the thin end of the rod along the ground as you kneel
until it is quite close to the dead quarry. If your hawk has had any
decent manning at all, she will not be alarmed at it, even if she
notices its stealthy approach. Having got the point on the lark's body,
steering clear of the hawk's feet, turn the point downwards on it, and
firmly but gently press it down and in. If you bungle, and the point
slips, you are probably done; but if it holds you are safe. Proceed
then with your making in, just as if there was no rod in the case.
Always endeavour to take up the hawk with the hand alone, retaining
your hold by the rod only as a last resort, in case of mischief. Each
time that you can take her up without any trouble occurring, the easier
the job will become. And even an attempt to bolt, which your firm hold
with the rod renders unsuccessful, will tend to convince the evil-doer
of the futility of her proceeding. Beware particularly of making in if
a bagged lark is the victim. With bagged larks, easily taken, hawks are
always inclined to bolt. On the other hand, if the lark has flown well,
and the hawk is winded, there is less to fear.

When you have taken up your hawk, if you intend to fly her again,
contrive that the body of the lark is held in the palm of your hand,
and the neck alone protrudes between the forefinger and the base of the
thumb. Then, when the brain has been eaten, and you have thrown away
the beak and as much of the rest of the head as you conveniently can,
let her think, or try to think, that there is no more to be had. If, on
the other hand, you intend to feed her up, let her eat the rest of the
lark, or almost all, and, as she finishes it, slip on the hood, and let
her pull through the last few mouthfuls. Or, as the remains of the lark
may be too bony to pull through easily, you may substitute a morsel
of sheep's heart, which she can more easily dispose of. A jack which
has had half a lark in the morning, and three or four heads already
in the afternoon, will be generally too much gorged if allowed to take
the whole of his last lark. And some female merlins may, under like
circumstances, be considered to have had enough before they have quite
finished their lark. I have generally found that about a three-quarter
crop in the evening is as much as it is wise to give.

Larks should always be flown up-wind; that is to say, when they get
up to windward, and not to leeward of the hawk. A down-wind slip is
very seldom satisfactory. If the lark is good you see nothing of the
flight, and are dependent on your markers for finding the hawk, if she
kills. The time lost is also often regrettable. It is not likely that
with the first lark flown by any trained merlin you will have a kill.
Only twice, I think, do I remember such a thing to have occurred. But
the escape of several larks at first will do you no manner of harm.
Even if your merlin refuses, you need not be at all discouraged. One
of the most deadly merlins I ever had, when first taken out, refused
seven larks in succession, and did not kill till her twelfth flight.
But after that first kill she never refused again. If a trained hawk
persists in refusing, or leaving the good larks, in hopes of getting a
bad one, the case is serious. Possibly the reason may be that she is
out of condition. But if it is her pluck that is wanting, you cannot
expect to make much of her. In any case physic her, and give her two
days' rest. And the next time, if you can, fly her in company with a
better merlin. If you should lose such a hawk for three or four days,
and then take her up again, you may take her up cured. But you may take
her up confirmed in her bad habit. When I took up Ruy Lopez, after
three days out in a gale, he would not fly any but bad larks.

If, in the early days, your merlin puts in a lark, mark the place very
exactly with your eye. You must consider whether you will drive him out
for her or not. If the place is a thick hedge or big bush, I should be
inclined not to attempt it. But if it is a place where you have a good
chance of a second flight, as under the side of an isolated rick, or
under a hurdle where there are no sheep, I should gratify the hawk by
assisting her in the moment of need, when you can be so useful to her.
If you can see the lark crouching and hiding himself, do not pick him
up with the hand, but drive him out with your foot or the end of your
rod. And do so when the hawk, from the top of the hurdle, or rick, or
wherever she has taken perch, is looking the right way. A kill on such
occasions will encourage her to wait on another occasion till you can
help her in the same way. The form shown by a lark that has been put
in and routed out is generally not so good as before he put in. But
there are many exceptions. A lark got up in the open down before Eva,
probably the best hawk I ever had. But before she could get to him, he
fell without a blow, right in the open. Eva was then young, and rather
fat, and wanted a hard flight, so I was in two minds whether I would
not leave this weak-spirited lark, and go on and find a better one.
Either the lark got up of his own accord before I had decided, or else
I resolved to fly him; anyhow, when he started for the second time
he went right up into the sky. There was a ringing flight of immense
height; and after a great many stoops the lark was bested, and came
down into a field where there were stooks of wheat. Eva sat on the top
of a stook with her mouth open; the lark underneath, doubtless in no
better plight. I might have walked miles and not found a lark which
afforded me so much sport, and the hawk such a lung-opener.

The first time your merlin puts in a lark, do not take her on your
fist, unless she goes away from the spot. Let her take perch close at
hand. Be very careful indeed to drive out the fugitive towards her,
so that she sees it go away. By this means she will see that there
is no deception; that it is really the same lark; and that you have
done her the service to rout it out. But on subsequent occasions it
is best always to call the hawk to the fist before you put up the
quarry. Otherwise he may very possibly go off when she is not looking,
especially if the hawk is on the ground, as she will be if the lark has
put in to a tuft of grass, or in clover, or, as they will when hard
pressed, in stubbles. _À propos_ of putting in, remember always that
the country for lark-hawking must be, if you are to have good flights,
even more open than that necessary for rooks. It requires so small a
shelter to conceal a lark. Even the high grass which often fringes a
road across the downs, a patch of nettles or thistles, an old stone
wall, or a waggon, will tempt a faint-hearted ringer to come down. He
comes down to almost certain death; for the man is there, in alliance
with the hawk. But the ringing flight is spoilt; and that is what you
do not want to occur. The better the hawk, the more ready the lark is
to put in. So that the mere length of flight does not prove much as
to the excellence either of pursuer or pursued, unless you know from
experience what is the ability of the former.

Larks, for hawking purposes, may be divided into three kinds. First
there is the "ground" lark--generally deep in moult--who does not
mount at all, but makes off as hard as he can fly towards the nearest
place where he thinks he can save himself. These larks are sometimes
pretty fast, and take a good deal of catching, dodging the stoops by
shifting to right or left, and sometimes avoiding a good many. But more
often, especially in an enclosed country, they are wretched creatures,
taken easily by a fast hawk, either in the air or by being driven
into insufficient cover. These are the sort of larks that beginners
are sometimes very proud of killing. The true falconer detests them
as a sad nuisance. It is true that when they are fast and clever,
they improve the hawk's footing powers, and give her a sharp burst
of hard flying. Such a flight serves as a short gallop at full speed
does to a horse in training. But from the sporting point of view it is
objectionable. Fortunately, on the open down, it is not common.

Secondly, there are the "mounting" larks, which go up and try to keep
the air. The original ambition of these larks is to fairly out-fly
the hawk, and never let her get above them. But at moulting-time
they can seldom hope to accomplish this if the hawk is a fast one
in really good condition. Sometimes, going wide of them, and making
an upper-cut, she will bind to them at the first shot. But this is
rare. Generally there are several stoops; and the whole business very
accurately resembles a coursing match. The stoops are made from all
sorts of distances,--short and long, upwards and downwards, with the
wind and against it. I have seen a stoop by a trained merlin--a jack,
rather--which was 300 yds. long, measured along the ground, to which
must be added something for the height. Very often, when the lark has
escaped one stoop by a hair's-breadth, and feels a conviction that
next time he will not escape at all, he drops headlong towards a place
of supposed shelter, with the hawk close at his heels. The harder he
is pressed, the more indifferent will be the hiding-place with which
he is fain to be content. Before a first-rate hawk he will go to a
bare hurdle, a flat-sided rick, or a tuft of grass, whereas if he has
less trouble in shifting, he will pass over all these attractions, and
continue to throw out the pursuer--though with exhausting efforts--till
he can get to a thick hedge or a substantial spinny. With this kind
of lark you may have more flights, more running, and more excitement
with a moderate merlin than with those of the very first quality. The
latter are a bit too good for the work, and make the flight too short.
Strangers who come out hawking and see a mounting lark so taken, are
apt to say: "What a bad lark to be caught so soon!" It is often not the
badness of the lark, but the goodness of the hawk, which makes short
work of the flight. The mounting lark would always be a ringer if the
hawk was not fast enough to get above him quickly.

The third sort of lark is the veritable "ringer." With the start he
has, he keeps ahead of the hawk, climbing up in spiral circles. Why not
in a straight line? I believe no one can tell the reason. Possibly he
finds that he can get on more pace by having the wind now in front, now
at the back, and between whiles at the side. The curious thing is that
the hawk adopts the same tactics. The one bird may be circling from
right to left, and the other in the contrary direction. Neither seems
to guide the direction of his rings by any reference to those which the
other is making. It is now a struggle which can get up the fastest. And
it is astonishing to what a height such flights will sometimes go. Not
in a bad country; for there there will always be cover available after
the quarry has gone up a little way. And he will not be such a fool
as to stand the racket of a shot in the air, when by dropping into a
stout hedge or plantation he can make sure of his escape. As soon as a
lark is 800 ft. high, he can drop, almost like a stone, into any covert
within a radius of 200 yds. from the spot just under him--allowance
being made, of course, for the effect of wind. But 800 ft. is not high
for a ringing flight. At least there is nothing at all unusual in it.
A lark does not go out of sight until he is much above that height;
and it is no extraordinary thing for him to do this. I have heard it
said that merlins go up after larks till they are themselves lost to
sight. But it is very seldom that any man is directly below the hawk
at the time when she is highest. I know one case, however, in which a
jack-merlin came right over the markers as they were running down-wind,
more than half a mile from the start. He must have been very nearly
over their heads when he went up out of their sight. But that hawk was
never seen again. It is, of course, quite possible that such a thing
should occur. But I have never seen any country in England where it is
at all likely. For from such a height--nearly half a mile high--there
would always be a safe place into which the quarry might drop. And if
hard pressed, he would do so. When a lark keeps up as long as this, it
is generally because he knows that he is the better man of the two. And
before that time the hawk will also have found this out.

Larks are in moult from the beginning of August, which is the earliest
time that an eyess merlin can fly, till the middle of September--in
some years till nearly the end. During this time, easy ones will
mostly be found in the stubbles from which the corn has just been
carried. Stronger and older larks may be found on the open down, but
not in any great numbers. In years of drought, many will get to the
fields where roots are growing. At these moulting larks, a merlin may
be flown six or eight times in an afternoon. But what was said in the
chapter on "Game-Hawking" about leaving off with a hard flight and
a kill, is still more applicable to merlins than peregrines. These
little hawks can in addition be flown in the early morning. But though
I have done this occasionally, I doubt its being a good practice, and
should prefer, if the weather is settled, to give stooping at the lure
before breakfast, and wait till past midday for the field. But when the
weather is bad you must go out when you can. The biggest score that
I know to have been made in a day, flying both morning and evening,
is ten, which Colonel Sanford killed with one of his merlins. I have
myself killed ten in a day with a single hawk; but one of them was
taken by her in a double flight, and therefore counts only for a half.
Each of these hawks was a specially good-tempered and well-mannered
hawk. For any merlin to take six larks single-handed in one day is a
decided feat. The most I have known to be killed in any one year by
a merlin single-handed is 106, the score of Jubilee in 1897; and the
highest average I have known made is fifty-nine out of sixty-five
flights--a percentage of more than 90 per cent. This was achieved by
the merlin Sis, which made the extraordinary score of forty-one out
of forty-two successive flights, the one miss being a ringer at which
she was thrown off when the head of another lark was hardly down her
throat--before she had shaken herself, or had time to look round.

As soon as the larks have moulted, they become practically all ringers.
Such larks have never yet been taken regularly. Usually the merlins
begin to refuse them in the latter part of September. The latest lark I
have killed was on a 7th of November. To take winter larks it would be
necessary to have a cast of very first-rate merlins, which had never,
upon any pretext, left a moulting lark. With these it is possible
that a few might be taken; but after very long flights. And what of
the unsuccessful flights? They would go so far that I fear the hawks
must certainly be lost. A merlin which is good enough to take even one
moulted lark is good enough to find her living anywhere; and I doubt if
she would trouble to come back after a long unsuccessful flight for any
reason, sentimental or otherwise!

Double flights at larks are very pretty, and also very deadly. If
you throw off together one merlin which mounts quickly, and another
which is a good footer, you will rarely be beaten during the moulting
season; and when you do meet with a first-rate ringer, will see as real
a bit of sport as man can imagine. Occasionally you may have a double
flight without intending to do so. Eva had made two stoops at a very
high ringer, and brought him down some yards, when a wild female merlin
joined in. Stoop for stoop they alternatively played their strokes,
as if they had been trained together. After some twenty of these
alternative shots, the lark was taken, high in the air. But not until
we picked up Eva on the dead lark, half a mile away, did anyone in the
field know whether it was she or the wild hawk that had made the fatal
stoop. In other years I have had many joint flights in the same way;
and on one occasion two wild merlins joined forces with a trained one,
and the lark ran the gauntlet for quite a long time of the three chance
allies. I confess, however, that there are objections to the double
flight with merlins. It may be from stupidity, but I have never been
able to keep the peace between the partners. After the take, but before
you can possibly get up, there is a scrimmage on the ground, even if
there has not been a chevy in the air, which is not only undignified,
but also most trying to the temper of the hawk which has footed the
lark. Of course when you do come up you can separate the combatants,
and reward the one which has been worsted in the squabble. But in the
meantime, how much mischief may have been done to the feathers? In
heron-hawking, where two falcons are always flown, the empty-handed one
is taken down to the pigeon, and, with good management, she accepts
the situation pretty cheerfully. But merlins in high condition are
exceedingly hot-tempered, and often violent. No doubt the double flight
can be accomplished with them by the aid of patience and tact. Mr.
Freeman was able to fly his merlins well in casts. And it is only with
a cast that winter larks could be attempted. Any falconer who could
succeed in taking them right through the winter would have accomplished
a greater feat than that of which Louis XIII. was so proud.



CHAPTER X

Gulls, Heron, Kite, Duck, etc.


The flight at gulls is so similar to that at rooks, although much more
difficult, that I should be tempted to say no more concerning it, were
it not that I have been favoured by Mr. St. Quintin, who is the great
authority on the subject, with some most interesting details of this
sport. There can be no doubt, I think, that of all flights in which
peregrines can now be flown out of the hood in England, gull-hawking
is the best. It requires a cast of hawks; and these must be of special
excellence, and in the height of condition, if any success is hoped
for. Tiercels may be used as well as falcons; eyesses as well as
passagers; but of course the probabilities of success are less with the
smaller and less-experienced hawks. In the case of the herring-gull,
indeed, the quarry falls so heavily, when taken, that a small hawk is
apt to be badly shaken, and may thus become disgusted with the whole
business.

Of the three kinds of gull, the largest, the herring-gull, is also the
least difficult to take. He makes something of a fight of it on the
ground when taken, and can, of course, bite hard if the hawk gives him
a chance. Next to him in order of difficulty comes the common gull; and
last in order is the black-headed gull, which will hardly be vanquished
except by a cast of very first-rate hawks, and then on a calm day.
All gulls have a great advantage when the wind is high, and usually
escape, so that it is best not to fly them at such times, for fear of
discouraging the hawk. Peregrines must be entered at bagged gulls, and
fed after a kill on pigeon, or some very palatable food. It is also
very advisable to use a make-hawk when available. On a very still day
it is possible that a single hawk in good practice might take a common
gull at the first stoop, if she had a good start; but if that failed,
the quarry would most likely escape.

The best idea of gull-hawking will be given from a few quotations from
the diary of Mr. St. Quintin, who considers it a very good day's work
to kill two such quarry. On one occasion an old tiercel, Destiny (who
was flown for no less than eight seasons), was taken out with a very
fast eyess tiercel called Kismet. Thrown off at a gull "on passage,"
that is to say, passing on the wing, the hawks rattled off high in
pursuit, when a flock of starlings got up under them, and Destiny,
turning over, picked up one, while Kismet, getting above the gull,
killed him at the first stoop. Later on Kismet was flown single-handed
at a flock of gulls with a long slip, and again managed to kill with
his first stoop. Destiny was also slipped single at a gull, but, after
putting in stoop after stoop for at least three-quarters of a mile,
was fairly beaten, the quarry apparently reaching the river Derwent.
As the party hurried after him he came back quite flown out, and was,
of course, not flown again that day. These hawks were at the time
in first-rate condition. Another year, Gulliver, a very fast eyess
tiercel, belonging to the Old Hawking Club, was taken out to be flown
with Starlight, who had more experience and was a very high flier.
The gulls were spread along a long furrow, and the two hawks went
for different ones. After Gulliver had fetched his quarry and put in
two stoops, Starlight, leaving his gull, came to the assistance of
the other hawk, and went at the quarry with a smashing stoop. This,
however, the gull avoided; and a long bout of good stooping followed,
the eyess sticking to the work pluckily, but showing signs of fatigue,
while the other hawk mounted high for a decisive shot. This, however,
also failed, and the gull, showing once more above both hawks, went off
scathless, leaving them both with "bellows to mend." Destiny and Kismet
on another occasion were thrown off together at a mixed flock of gulls.
They again divided, Kismet singling out a very large but immature
herring-gull, which he hit hard several times, and finally brought down
almost on his owner's head, while Destiny took after a common gull,
and killed him three-quarters of a mile down-wind. In the winter of
1889-90 Mr. St. Quintin was so successful as to take forty-three gulls
in seventy-seven flights.

Heron-hawking is a subject which, as far as England is concerned,
belongs rather to history than to practical falconry. A great deal of
nonsense, as well as a good deal of truth, has been written about it,
but those who feel interested must be referred to the excellent account
given in the work, already referred to, by Schlegel and Wulverhorst,
of the proceedings of the Loo Club in Holland.[3] I have talked with
Mr. Adrian Möllen, the falconer of that club, and heard from him that
the sport differed in no respect from rook-hawking, except that the
heron was always flown "on passage," when already high in the air, and
that two passage falcons were flown together. He told me that he had
very seldom found any real difficulty in entering a passage falcon, and
never lost one of his own training by any accident except once, when
the mischief arose in a strange way. The hawks were mounting, when the
heron disgorged a good-sized fish. At this one of his falcons stooped
as it fell, took it, and made off to an inaccessible place, where she
devoured almost the whole of it, and afterwards died of indigestion.
In India heron-hawking is still practised, but there is not the same
enthusiasm about it as there was in Europe some centuries ago, or in
the days of the Loo Club.

[3] This famous society was started by the Duke of Leeds and Mr.
Newcome, with the assistance of the Dutch falconer Bots, and had as
its president Prince Alexander of the Netherlands. In 1843, with forty
falcons it took about two hundred herons, almost all of which were
released with rings round their legs.

A much more favourite and exciting sport in India and other parts of
Asia is the flight at kites. In England the fork-tailed kite was flown
from very early times, and it is not a century ago since one afforded
a flight six miles in length in the Eastern Counties. For this very
fine flier gers were commonly used in the Middle Ages; and the kite
was enticed within range by turning out an owl with a fox's brush tied
to its feet. In India the Brahminy kite and the brown kite are both
very common, and are taken with sakers, as well as peregrines, and
occasionally by shaheens. I hear that eyess sakers are preferred, and
that they are never allowed to fly any other quarry until they are
slipped first at bagged kites. It is also necessary to make sure that
the hawk shall never taste the flesh of the kite when taken; as if once
this has occurred the saker is useless ever afterwards for this quarry.
It appears, however, that not many sakers are good enough to take the
kite, even when physicked and flown two together; and when they have
been made to it they command a very high price.

We must also now go to foreign countries, and especially to India,
to see duck-hawking, which was formerly so favourite a sport in the
British Islands. Duck are not now plentiful enough in England to
induce one to keep a hawk for them alone, although occasionally one
is taken by a game-hawk during the season. Hawking "at the brook,"
as it was called, was conducted on very much the same principles as
game-hawking in our own times. The hawk was thrown off and waited on
at a high pitch, while the duck were put up by water-spaniels working
in the water in concert with beaters on the bank. Much pains were
taken to drive the quarry in the right direction. The first stoop
would of course be the most dangerous to the rising duck, and if he
avoided this, there would often be a fine chase, as the duck, when
once fairly on the wing, is very swift, and severely taxes the powers
of the best peregrine. Peregrines are very keen after this quarry,
and indeed in some countries are commonly known by the local name of
"duck-hawks." In India the peregrine and the shaheens are both used for
this flight, which is highly esteemed, and, no doubt, quite as good as
grouse-hawking. It is certain that it was also a favourite sport in
China and Japan, where it may still be had by any adventurous sportsman
who travels so far.

A very lively and amusing flight is that at the magpie, which was
largely practised in Ireland until the middle of the nineteenth
century, and is still occasionally to be seen. It partakes of the two
characters of sport described in Chapters VII. and VIII. In fact, just
as the magpie is a parti-coloured bird, neither all black nor all
white, so the pursuit of him is neither wholly by flying from the fist
nor wholly from the pitch, but by a combination of the two. The magpie
is seldom to be found in very open country. You must therefore get
at him as you best can. A cast of hawks is flown; and often it is an
even chance that their wide-awake quarry will get off to some shelter
before either hawk has even had one shot at him. Then both hawks will
wait on, when they have become _au fait_ at the game, so as best to cut
off his retreat to another covert. The falconer meanwhile has to use
his best exertions to dislodge the fugitive from his place of rest. He
should be assisted by a large field, which must hurry up with all speed
to the spot, and by every imaginable device endeavour to rout out the
quarry. Sticks and stones are discharged. Hunting-whips are cracked.
Pistol-shots are even brought into requisition, and boys are deputed to
climb the trees. The tiercels--for tiercels are most commonly used for
this flight--wait on knowingly in advantageous places,--one sometimes
close to the covert, ready for a sharp, quick stoop; and the other at a
higher pitch, hoping for a long shot. The magpie is not a fast flier;
but he uses his head as well as his wings, and is ready whenever a
chance occurs to get back to covert. The beaters have often more to
do than the hawks, with shouting, running, pelting, and contriving by
their joint efforts to make the fugitive take to the open, where one
of the hawks can get a fair shot at him. But the latter must be staunch
at waiting on, good footers, and quick to take advantage of the efforts
made by their friends below. There is not much in this business of
what may be called the nobility of the noble sport,--none of the long
dashing stoops out of the clouds which you see in grouse-hawking, or
of the laborious mounting and ringing which you had with the gull or
rook. It rather resembles the hedge-row driving described later on
in the chapter on Sparrow-Hawks. But for those who like bustle and
excitement, and hard exercise for the legs and voice, few things will
beat magpie-hawking. And few things will demonstrate more clearly the
marvellous adaptability of the peregrine to the exigencies of the
case. A wild hawk would have no chance with a magpie, unless he caught
him unawares, crossing from one bush or plantation to another. But
the trained hawk, knowing that the men are working with him, joins
his efforts with a good will to theirs, and does exactly that which
you want him to do, and which it is best for him to do. As an example
of co-operation between man and hawk, a magpie-worry is not to be
excelled. Neither of the actors in the scene is any good without the
other; and if either fails to do the right thing at the right moment,
the whole play is spoiled, and both players disgusted. Tiercels, well
assisted, and well worked at their quarry, make very good bags. Mr.
St. Quintin and Colonel Brooksbank, with two tiercels, Meteor and
Buccaneer, killed forty-five in one campaign; and several other capital
scores have been made within recent years.

The green plover is such a common bird, and so easily found in open
ground, that it is a pity, in one sense, that he cannot be flown. The
unlearned may ask, Why not? The answer is, Because no hawk is good
enough to take him. By which I do not mean that no peewit is ever taken
by a peregrine. The wild peregrines take them not unfrequently; and
trained ones have now and then succeeded in cutting one down. But the
attempt to make trained hawks take them regularly, or even fly them
for any length of time, has always failed. John Barr, amongst others,
trained some picked tiercels specially for this quarry. When I saw
him some time after he had made this experiment, he assured me that
to kill peewits with trained hawks was impossible. Of course plovers
of all kinds are not more exempt than other creatures from the ills
that flesh is heir to. In fact, to judge from the tone of their cry,
and considering the way they have of sitting in wet feet without
changing their stockings, it may be supposed that they are often out
of sorts. Sometimes, doubtless, like other birds, they are infirm and
old. When labouring under any such disadvantage, even if it be only
rheumatism or a cold in the head, a chance peewit may be cut off and
reckoned in the hawk's score. Otherwise these birds are too clever
for even the best trained hawks. I have seen even bagged peewits make
such a complete fool of a falcon that she was ashamed of herself. They
did not exactly "fly round" the hawk, as the saying is, but they did
almost as much. They made rings underneath her as she was ringing up,
keeping in exactly that position where she could never get her head
towards them at all. Then if the hawk did manage to put in a stoop they
would face about so as to avoid the shot, and, with a great flop of one
wing, start away like phantoms in an unexpected direction. If the hawk
contrived to get at them from behind, they would take a sort of header
downwards, and, making a kind of somersault in the air, come up behind
the hawk with a manifest smile on their usually daft countenances.

On the downs in Wilts and Berks you will sometimes see a rook-hawk, or,
for that matter, a game-hawk, when coming back from an unsuccessful
flight, make a dash at a lapwing as he flounders about below. But the
creature generally shifts from the stoop with almost contemptuous
ease. Only in rare cases is he too slow. Mr. E. C. Pinckney once took
a lapwing with a very young eyess tiercel; that is, the hawk put him
in after a good flight, and he was picked up. But I do not think that
tiercel ever took another. There is therefore a chance for anyone who
wants to beat the record in the matter of plover-hawking. With two very
first-rate passage tiercels, or perhaps, better still, two shaheens,
the attempt might be made again. Whoever succeeded would thereby have
carved for himself a prominent niche in the falconer's temple of fame.

The Norfolk plover may be taken with a falcon or tiercel, generally
without great difficulty. Golden plovers would, I think, always escape,
unless they could be put up just under a hawk waiting on. Curlews and
several of the common sea-fowl might also be taken, if found at a
sufficient distance from the sea. The wild goose was formerly flown
with success in England by gers. Landrails, if they can be got to
rise, will, of course, fall an easy prey, and quail can also be taken,
though the sparrow-hawk or the merlin is the right hawk for them. They
are fast, but do not shift well. The jackdaw is faster than the rook,
and a better shifter. He is sometimes killed by a rook-hawk, and may
afford a very good flight. Pheasants, of course, will be caught by a
falcon when they get up in open ground. Colonel Sanford knocked down a
full-grown pheasant with a tiercel; but the little hawk could not hold
him on the ground.

Woodcocks have been flown with a great deal of success in comparatively
recent times, and have shown very excellent sport, requiring quite a
first-rate peregrine to take them well, and that usually after a long
and often high flight. Between 1823 and 1833 Mr. John Sinclair flew
woodcocks regularly in Scotland, and captured in one season as many as
fifty-seven with a falcon. Before this the Renfrewshire Subscription
Club did good execution with the quarry, and Colonel Thornton also
had some splendid flights. Sir Thomas Brown (cited by Harting, _Bibl.
Acc._ p. 27) says that a hawk, probably a peregrine, made a flight at
a woodcock nearly thirty miles in one hour. The mention of so long a
time suggests the inference that the quarry "put in" several times, and
was routed out. A famous account is extant in print of a woodcock very
well killed after an unusually high flight by one of Major Fisher's
peregrines.

Snipe are occasionally taken by peregrines that happen to be waiting
on when they rise. The first stoop is, of course, dangerous for the
snipe, but if he eludes that, a cast of the best tiercels will hardly
catch him. I have seen a female shaheen hawking at snipe for her own
pleasure, and saw her knock one down very close to me in the long
grass, but she could not find it. Waiting for me to serve her, she
remained for a while very near over my head, and even took a dead snipe
which I threw up for her, but finding it cold dropped it after a yard
or two's flying. Mr. St. Quintin once flew a snipe hard with a good
game-tiercel of his, which bested it in the air, but it got off by
means of continually putting in to a deep ditch.

Many other birds are taken occasionally by peregrines when they get
up under the hawk, either while waiting on or coming back from an
unsuccessful flight. I saw a male kestrel taken in this way--and very
easily too--by an eyess game-tiercel of Major Fisher's. Larks, too, are
now and then taken when the dog stands to them, and they are put up.
Major Fisher had a long flight once with a peregrine at a wild merlin,
which was very hard pressed, and at last put in to a thick hedge.

In some Oriental countries peregrines are commonly flown at hares; but
the sport is not one which would ever be popular in highly civilised
countries, for the falcon, or falcons, do not bind to the animal like a
goshawk. They deliver repeated stoops at the head of the unfortunate
creature, which is, of course, no match for them in speed, and thereby
in the long-run deprive it of what little wits it had to start with. In
course of time this repeated buffeting reduces it to a state of utter
bewilderment and exhaustion, so that it can be held by the falcons,
or seized by the dogs which sometimes follow the flight as their
allies. In England, of course, a hare may be put up by accident, and a
falcon, waiting on, may stoop at it instinctively. Parachute, the very
excellent eyess falcon already named, killed three hares in 1882. At
one of these she was flown intentionally, to show what she could do
with him. She kept striking him on the head till he was so exhausted
that she thought she could safely catch hold. But when she did so a
rough-and-tumble occurred, as it will in hawking with the goshawk;
and before it was ended, the very steady setter which was out thought
it time to run in and give the _coup de grâce_. These were all Scotch
hares; and the last-mentioned of them weighed a full 6 lb.



CHAPTER XI

The Goshawk


No distinction was made when we were talking about hack and the manning
of hawks between the different species to which they happen to belong.
Nor is it necessary to insist much upon the distinction even down to
the time when they have been reclaimed and are on the point of being
entered. But whereas all those which we have been considering are
"hawks of the lure," we have seen that the short-winged hawks, which
remain now to be dealt with, are "hawks of the fist." Let us see what
modifications must be made in the system of training when it is the
latter that we are preparing for the field.

In the first place, some authorities question altogether the utility
of hack for eyess goshawks or sparrow-hawks. Others maintain that it
is quite sufficient to let them loose in a shed or empty room until
their feathers are strong. This latter plan seems a very poor sort of
compromise between hack and no hack. The eyesses so turned loose get
no real liberty, and nothing at all like the amount of exercise which
they would if they were in the open. Yet as compensation for what they
thus lose they get no advantage that one can easily understand. Without
pretending to decide the point in question, I may perhaps venture to
say that any hawk's muscles and eyes, as well as her general health,
are more likely to be improved by a free life in the open air than in
a sort of big cage. If they are not hacked at all they may of course
be very early made to the fist and the hood, and will be manned and
in flying order much quicker than hack hawks. Whether this will be of
advantage or not, circumstances alone can decide; but a short-winged
hawk can generally be allowed a fairly long hack, and yet be ready
for her trainer's use as soon as the latter requires her services.
Of course it is not safe if there are other hawks out at hack to let
goshawks out anywhere in the vicinity; and I should be very doubtful
about the expediency of hacking sparrow-hawks in the same place as
merlins or kestrels. In fact it is not safe even to peg out a goshawk
in any place where hack merlins can come. I remember an unfortunate
jack--the smallest I ever saw--to whom his owner had given the not
very classical name of Jones. This hawk was out at hack in a rather
promiscuous way, killing sparrows for himself occasionally, and at
other times coming to the lure. I think he knew we laughed at him, and
thought that life in general was a sort of joke. But one day the fancy
seized him to go and fraternise with a big young goshawk which was out
on her bow-perch, duly secured by the leash. The owner was absent at
the time; and when he returned there was nothing left of poor Jones
other than the feet and a sad litter of pretty brown and white feathers
round about the bow-perch.

When your short-winged hawk has been taken up from hack, or at anyrate
when she is to be taken in hand, her trainer must set to work very
seriously and very promptly at the business of reclamation. This is
not, it is true, different at first in character from that required
for the long-winged hawks. But it is often different in degree; for
personal attention and almost perpetual care are a necessity. Unless
you can contrive to have her "waked," you will have a tough job with
her. Anyhow, she must be carried almost all day. Whether eyess or
wild-caught, she should be treated very much like a haggard peregrine.
Almost superhuman efforts will be required in some cases before she
can be manned; yet manned she must be, and that more thoroughly than a
long-winged hawk, before you can hope to do much with her. It required
a Sir John Sebright to kill a partridge with a sparrow-hawk ten days
after she was caught; and it would be still more difficult to kill a
blackbird in that time. That is, at least, to first kill it, and then
take up the hawk! For carrying is a vice to which the short-winged
are naturally disposed, though they are not so bad in this respect as
merlins or hobbies. In manning a short-winged hawk it will generally
be found better to work very hard for a few days than to work only
moderately hard for a much longer time. In fact, a less amount of
attention, if concentrated upon the pupil at first, will do more than a
much greater share applied to her in smaller doses.

It is not usual to hood sparrow-hawks much after the time when they
are being reclaimed. But they should be kept, like all other hawks,
accustomed to being hooded, and not by any means allowed to become
hood-shy. And while the business of reclamation lasts it is a good plan
to tie the tail. This is done by making a half-knot round the shaft
of the outer feather, nearly half-way down, passing the ends over and
under the tail, and making a double knot of them on the shaft of the
outer feather on the other side. When the hawk bathes the thread is
nearly sure to come off; and when she is dry you can put on another.
If it stays on, no harm is done. This simple device ensures the tail
feathers against any accident which might otherwise occur while she is
being handled by the trainer, and perhaps by more or less incompetent
assistants. Later on it will be tried hard enough! Some falconers--and
good ones, too--despair of saving it for long; but you need not
sacrifice it sooner than you have any real occasion. The tail is just
as much--or as little--use to the hawk while she is being manned--or,
for that matter, when she is flying to the fist--whether it is tied up
or not; and in the former state it can come to no harm. Let the hawk at
least take her first quarry with undamaged feathers. A moderate degree
of coping will be found permissible for short-winged hawks, although it
is hardly orthodox to say so. No doubt blunt claws would be detrimental
to these hawks in the field; but between bluntness and the needle-like
sharpness of the uncoped claw there is a world of difference. The
uncoped goshawk not only ruins the best glove in double-quick time, but
sometimes in starting from the fist does not completely disengage all
eight needles immediately from the buckskin, and so is impeded, and
flurried, and vexed in that short temper of her own.

The strength of a goshawk's beak and feet is almost incredible; and,
this being so, it is well to be provided with good store of useful
tirings. Heads and necks of fowls will be acceptable; and the more
elderly and bony these creatures are the better for the purpose. For
during the long process of carrying you will want to give your goshawk
plenty of hard morsels to pull at; and none but the toughest will
withstand for long the attacks of her sharp-pointed beak. The frequent
discussion of bony tirings will wear down that sharpness a little,
but I think not quite enough. Goshawks should not be allowed to get
at all thin, far less weak; on the other hand, they should not be too
freely fed. Half a crop a day of beef or good fowl, or a little more
of rabbit, is a very fair allowance, if she has once a week, or rather
oftener, a good gorge, with plenty of castings, and the next day very
short commons. As soon and as much as possible she must be made to
work for her food. That is, she must earn it by showing every day some
improvement in her behaviour. If yesterday she bated off twenty times
in ten minutes, you may call it an improvement to-day if she bates off
only ten times in the same space of time. So when she has walked even
two inches for her food, it is an improvement when she will walk four
or five. Step by step you must coax her to do more for you, rewarding
her the moment she has given way. And all the time you must be making
friends with her. Stroking with the stick or a feather is always to
be recommended. But you must be able also to stroke her with your
hand as you like without any remonstrance or fear on her part. It is
a troublesome job, do what you will, the manning of a short-winged
hawk. But the harder you work, and the more patience you can exhibit,
the better and quicker you will succeed. It is best to be content at
first if very slow progress is made. In the later stages, if you make
no mistake, there will be days of much quicker improvement, such as may
even sometimes surprise your too desponding mind. Thus though it may
be days before you can get her to exchange her walk to the fist for a
jump, yet this feat once accomplished, you may have quite a short time
to wait before she flies to you the length of the room. On the other
hand, a hawk which has come well to you indoors will perhaps not come
a foot, or even look at you, when first called off in the open air. Of
course for all the early out-door lessons the hawk will be secured by
a creance. It is well even to be a little extra-cautious in dispensing
with this safeguard, for if a goshawk when only half trained does once
make off, it is rather a chance if you ever come up with her again.

In time your goshawk will be manned, and at least partly reclaimed.
She will look gladly on you when you come near, and jump or fly to
you on small encouragement for a small reward. If you tease her with
a morsel of meat, she will perhaps make that quaint crowing sound
which sounds like a mild protest against your hard-heartedness. When
you hold out your fist temptingly with a nice piece of food in it,
she will fly fifty yards to you at once. If now you have carried her
sufficiently throughout the process of reclaiming, she will not need
much to bring her into "yarak"; that is, into a state of eagerness for
killing quarry. A small dose of purgative medicine may be given, and
after twelve hours' fast, a small feed of very good food, without any
castings, and on the next day she may be entered.

Female goshawks are now usually trained chiefly for hares or rabbits.
Males should always be tried first at partridges or pheasants; and
if they are not good enough for such quarry, may be degraded to
water-hens and the like. The bagged quarry for entering should, in the
one case, be a rabbit, and in the other, a partridge or house-pigeon.
When a rabbit is used, a short, tough cane may be attached crosswise
to the end of a very short creance, which will serve to prevent the
quarry from disappearing bodily down a burrow. The partridge or pigeon
should not, of course, be a first-rate flier; or, at least, he may have
a longer creance to carry. Let the hawk take her pleasure on the first
live quarry killed; and next day give a very light feed, not later
than noon. On the third day she may be flown either at a better bagged
quarry or at a wild one. She should have a very good start for her
first real flight, and in a country free from burrows or impenetrable
covert. Then, if she only starts, she ought to kill in the case of a
rabbit. Nothing is more bloodthirsty than a young goshawk in yarak;
nor, in proportion to its size, has so much strength in its grasp. When
once the four long daggers with which each of her feet is armed are
imbedded in the head or neck of a rabbit or leveret, it is generally
all up with that unlucky beast. He may jump and kick and roll over
in his frantic efforts to escape. He may by the latter tactics force
the hawk to let go for a time, though this is by no means always the
result even of a complete somersault. But if the grip is thrown off,
the respite is short. Before the quarry can make use of what wits are
left to him, the pursuer is on him again--this time probably with a
still firmer hold than before. Though a rabbit is fast for a quadruped,
and the goshawk slow for a hawk, yet the advantage in pace is always
with the latter; and though she may be thrown out again and again by
the doubles of the quarry, yet in an open space speed must tell, if the
pursuer is in condition.

Nevertheless, as it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to find
rabbits in open places, it is advisable to let the first flight for
your beginner be as easy as you can. When she has taken an undersized
rabbit or leveret, she may be advanced to a full-grown rabbit, and
thence, after a few kills, to a full-grown hare, if your ambition is
to fly hares. Very possibly it may be necessary to throw her off at
the quarry and not expect her to start of her own accord. She may also
refuse more than once, and yet be in the mind--that capricious and
wayward mind of hers--to fly. I have seen a young goshawk, only just
trained, taken out and thrown off at three or four hares in inviting
places, and have seen her refuse them all; and yet, ten minutes later,
I have seen her go at one like a whirlwind, and have it down and
helpless within sixty yards from the start. The flight at hares rather
overtaxes the powers of any except the strongest female goshawks; and
many people think that the flight at rabbits is preferable, even in
the quality of sport afforded. In fact, the difference between the two
is not so much one of speed as of brute strength; and in quickness the
rabbit will be found generally superior. A goshawk which will take
hares is the more valuable; but it is doubtful if she shows any better
sport. Gaiety Girl, whose portrait is given, changed hands at £20,
and was well worth the money. This hawk, trained by Mr. A. Newall on
Salisbury Plain, killed no less than fifty-five hares in one season,
besides other quarry. Of course if goshawks are to be flown at hares,
they must be left strictly to this quarry as far as possible, and not
encouraged to ever look at a rabbit.

The goshawk has one great advantage over her nobler cousin, the
peregrine; she need not necessarily stop when her quarry has gone into
covert. Provided only that the covert is thin enough for her to see the
quarry, and to get along, she will stick to him there as pertinaciously
as in the open. She will naturally not be so likely to succeed; trees
and bushes will impede her stoops, and give the quarry a far better
chance of doubling out of the way. But it is astonishing how clever
even an eyess goshawk can be in threading her way through covert,
and choosing the moment when a dash can be made. The hare is not as
well able to use her natural cunning in front of a hawk as in front
of a hound. The whole affair is so rapid, and the danger behind is so
pressing, that there is hardly time to devise, and still less to put in
practice, those tricks which are so successful in hare-hunting. If one
could only see it all, possibly the flight at a hare in a thin covert
would be better worth seeing than a flight in the open. At any rate,
the skill exhibited by the hawk must be greater. For she not only has
to keep the quarry in view, and to make straight shots at him, but also
in doing so to avoid breaking her wing tips, or even her neck, against
an intervening tree.

The wild rush of the falconer--or ostringer--and his friends after a
flight at a hare in covert is also a thing to be seen. It is unique
of its kind. In magpie-hawking there is a lot of hurrying up, much
tumbling about, much laughter, and any amount of shouting and noise;
but there is not the same necessity for headlong racing through the
thicket. If you want to be "in it" with a goshawk, you must go at a
break-neck speed over or through all obstacles; you must be able to
see through screens of interlacing boughs, and dash through almost
impervious places. You must cut off corners by instinct and follow
by inspiration. There is something in the impetuosity of a goshawk
which is contagious; and the ostringer, who has perhaps not marched at
the double for years farther than the length of a platform to catch
a train, may sometimes be seen tearing along with his very best leg
foremost, through bramble, thorn, and quagmire, in hope of being in
at the death. The whole sight is certainly worth seeing. Artists are
fond of depicting the goshawk as she stands with outspread wings and
half-open mouth with the hare paralysed in her terrible foot. No better
personification could, indeed, be found of the pride of victory. The
hare weighs commonly three times as much as his captor; yet the victor
hawk must not only vanquish the hare, but also hold him fast. It is
almost as if a strong man were expected to hold a wild zebra in his
clutches. But the strength of a goshawk's grasp, like that of the
eagle's, must be tested by experience to be properly understood.

The female goshawk, besides being flown at ground game, may be trained
to take many other quarry, both big and little. At pheasants she may be
expected to do good execution. Partridges will sometimes be captured
in fair flight when a good start is made. Herons may be caught before
they have gone any distance on the wing. Wild geese, wild duck, and
wild fowl of various kinds in the same way. Land and water rails are
available; and water-hens are perhaps the favourite objects of pursuit
by a hawk that is not quite first-rate. Stoats, weasels, and squirrels
may be taken; and the harmful, unnecessary rats will be picked up
almost as fast as they can be driven out. When ferrets are used there
is a danger that one of them, emerging from below, may be nailed
and finished off by his winged ally. In the old days goshawks were
generally assisted by spaniels; and it was pretty to see how eagerly
and cleverly the dogs backed up the chief actor in the play, while she
in turn trusted to them to drive the quarry in the right direction. The
conditions of modern game-preserving do not lend themselves much to the
use of spaniels; and perhaps they are not so often of service to the
gos, but they are frequently used. A good retriever is often useful,
especially if you are flying pheasants, and the hawk should always be
on the most amicable terms with him.

Male goshawks are thought by some to have more speed than their
sisters. When they are good, they will take partridges, with a good
start, but not otherwise; and many of them will tackle a pheasant. It
is said that in some countries quails are taken with the male. Very
strong males will sometimes hold a full-grown rabbit; but the effort
is rather beyond their strength. The flight of a gos is very peculiar.
After a few fast flaps of the wing she often spreads them a moment
or two, and sails along, giving to the falconer, who is accustomed
to long-winged hawks, the appearance of having left off. Almost
immediately, however, she begins moving her wings with greater vigour
than ever, and, gaining quickly this time on the quarry, comes at him,
sometimes with an upper-cut, if it is a bird, before you think she can
have had time to reach him.

Goshawks may be flown repeatedly the same day. In fact, it is almost
difficult to say when they have had enough flying. But in this, as
in all kinds of hawking, it is well to remember that an extra good
flight with success means an extra good reward. If, therefore, after
some indifferent or unsuccessful flights, the hawk has flown hard and
killed cleverly, I should advise feeding her up, and not flying her
again merely for the sake of making a bigger bag. Under this system she
may go on improving indefinitely; and you will be rewarded for your
pains and labour at the beginning by possessing a hawk which perhaps
for years will give a good account of herself. I have said that a
goshawk which is intended for hares should be kept to them alone. So,
likewise, a male which is meant for partridges should not be thrown
off at pheasants or anything else. But, as a general rule, there is
no such necessity with the short-winged hawks, as there is with the
long-winged, of keeping them from checking at odd quarry. The bag of
a goshawk has often been known to include four or five very different
items, such as a rabbit, a rat, a weasel, a pheasant, and a water-hen.
These sanguinary creatures are not particular as to what they kill when
they are in the humour for killing. They commit murder, as foxes do,
for the mere pleasure of it; and this you may easily prove if you put
out a number of fowls where a gos can get at them. If you keep one in
the same room where other hawks are, and by any mischance her leash
comes unfastened, she is as likely as not to go round and massacre the
whole lot.

Live fowls should never be given on any account to a goshawk. If you
can, you should prevent her from ever supposing that they are good
to eat, otherwise she may take a liking to poultry, and seize every
opportunity of helping herself to the hens and chickens of your
neighbours. The attraction of poultry-yards is a great objection in
places where there are many of them, and some very good falconers have
actually felt themselves obliged on this account to discontinue keeping
hawks.

I am indebted to Mr. John Riley, of Putley Court, Herefordshire, for
the following most interesting records of scores with trained goshawks,
and the notes which are annexed. They illustrate this department of
hawking in the most vivid and practical way:--

Enid (eyess female goshawk)--

  In 1888-89, took 82 rabbits.
   " 1889-90,  "   59 rabbits, 1 pheasant, 1 water-hen.
   " 1890-91,  "   67 rabbits, 1 water-hen, 1 partridge,
                     1 stoat, 1 mole.
   " 1891-92,  "   52 rabbits, 1 mole.


Isolt (eyess female goshawk)--

  In 1885-86, took 110 rabbits, 2 pheasants, 13 water-hens,
                     5 ducks, 1 rat.
   " 1886-87,  "   130 rabbits, 1 pheasant, 4 ducks, 3 water-hens,
                     1 stoat.
   " 1887-88 (to 26th Dec.), took 70 rabbits.


Sir Tristram (eyess male goshawk)--

 In 1886-87, took 26 partridges, 10 pheasants, 16 rabbits, 5 landrails,
 12 water-hens, 1 stoat.


Geraint (eyess male goshawk)--

 In 1888 (to 4th Oct.), took 11 partridges, 5 pheasants, 2 landrails.


Tostin (haggard male goshawk), caught 15th July, flown 9th September--

 In 1891 (to 17th Oct.), killed 21 partridges, 3 pheasants, 1 landrail,
 1 leveret, 1 wood-pigeon, 1 water-hen = Total, 28 in 38 successive
 days.

[Illustration: TRAINED GOSHAWK "GAIETY GAL"

OWNED BY MR. A. NEWALL]

Mr. Riley trains his own hawks, and, for convenience and for saving
time in an enclosed country, has sometimes used a lure. He keeps them
as hard at work as he can. He has much difficulty in finding enough
quarry for them, and is much troubled by poultry. But for these causes
the bags made would have been even much larger than they were. He has
a great preference for haggards, whose style of flying he considers
very far superior to that of the eyesses. Tostin, especially, used to
shoot up some feet when he left the fist; and this seemed to have a
demoralising effect on the partridges. He hit them so hard that the
blow could be heard a long way off. When he was unsuccessful, instead
of coming straight back, he would throw up two or three hundred feet,
moving his head from side to side as he flew. Sometimes he would come
down upon partridges on the ground, so as to put them up all round him,
and then, if there was no friendly hedge at hand, he was pretty sure to
have one. It was no doubt a great feat to get him fully trained in so
short a time after his capture as fifty-six days. Pity his brilliant
career was so soon ended by death! Almost all the partridges taken,
by one hawk or the other, were captured in fair flight, without any
routing about in hedges or other covert.

To show what goshawks will do when well worked, I may mention that Mr.
St. Quintin's falconer (now the head falconer of the Old Hawking Club)
took out his female goshawk in November 1885, and gave her seventeen
chances at rabbits lying out in the grass. She caught them all, but
being a bit blown, let the last one go. Sir Henry Boynton's goshawk,
Red Queen, on 2nd December 1895, killed as many as twenty-four rabbits
in one day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The illustration is a portrait of "Gaiety Gal," the goshawk which,
while she was owned by Mr. Arthur Newall and flown by him, killed in
one season fifty-five hares, nineteen rabbits, two pheasants, one
partridge, one wood-pigeon, one Norfolk plover, one landrail--total,
eighty head. This fine hawk was afterwards sold for £20; and the vendor
always considered that he had been a loser by the bargain.



CHAPTER XII

The Sparrow-Hawk


There is so little difference between the training of the goshawk and
that of the sparrow-hawk, that it is unnecessary to give any special
directions for the latter. But, just as the merlin is a more delicate
feeder and a more delicate subject than the peregrine, so it must be
remembered that the diet and treatment of the smaller short-winged
hawk must be more _recherché_ than that of the larger. This is more
especially true of the musket, or male sparrow-hawk, which is very much
smaller than his sister, and is in many respects a kind of miniature
hawk. Nothing in the shape of hard or tough meat must ever be given
to him. No long fasts, no hardships. He must be always something of
a spoilt child. And after he has once been manned, the more he is
petted and pampered the better in most cases he will become. As far
as my experience goes, he has a better temper, and is more easily
reclaimed than his bigger sisters; but I have heard other falconers
express a contrary opinion. Both the ladies and gentlemen, however,
excluding exceptional cases, are, for a time at least, about as
troublesome creatures as ever wore a good pair of wings. For the first
few days after they are captured, or taken up from hack, it seems
quite impossible to make anything of them. The beginner, unless he is
of a most sanguine temperament, may be excused for despairing of the
prospect of ever reducing them to obedience, and far more of ever using
them profitably in the field. And, to tell the truth, if he has had no
previous experience with a more docile kind of hawk, he seldom does
succeed.

Yet an old hand will tell you that, when taken properly in hand, the
sparrow-hawk becomes as trusty and hard-working a servant as man can
well wish to have. She will combine the tameness of a parrot with the
courage, and even ferocity, of a tiger, and will learn to treat her
master to the amiable side of her character, and the quarry to the
other. She will go on flying almost as long as you like to fly her, and
start at one sort of bird almost as readily as another. She will work
in any kind of country to which you introduce her; and if she does not
make a good bag it will not be for want of will on her part, or for not
doing her best. It seems almost that in proportion as the difficulties
of training are great, so is the result the more gratifying when they
have once been overcome. Mr. Riley, who has flown both goshawks and
sparrow-hawks with the greatest ardour and success, is of opinion that
from the point of view of mere sport, the latter are even superior to
the former.

In the good old days partridges seem to have been taken pretty commonly
with the female sparrow-hawk. But when I say taken, I do not mean
that many old birds were actually caught in the air by the hawks.
This would imply that the old-fashioned sparrow-hawk was faster and
stronger, as well as better trained, than those of our own time. What
often occurred was no doubt that the partridge was pursued by the
hawk, and taken by the men or dogs. For the sight of this hawk, when
she really means business, is quite enough to take all the courage out
of even a bold partridge, and induce him to lie close in the hedge
or thicket into which he has been put, when he can be grabbed by a
spaniel or retriever, or even sometimes picked up by hand. I make no
question that the old-fashioned falconers, by the aid of their drugs
and nostrums, kept their hawks of all kinds--and especially hobbies--in
better condition than we do. But even then it would probably have been
considered quite a feat to take old partridges on the wing with a
sparrow-hawk. And now, when the stubbles can only be called covert by
courtesy, and to get within fifteen yards of a bird is a rare thing,
it is certainly more difficult for us than it was for them to get a
fair start at one. But a time often comes in a day's shooting when
the birds, having been shot at a good deal, and scattered like sheep
without a shepherd, lie very close in a patch of clover or thin roots.
This would be the time for one of the guns, who had brought out his
falconer with a sparrow-hawk in reserve, to call the latter forward.
The rest of the guns--or some of them at least--would probably be
glad enough to see so unusual a sight as a flight with a sparrow-hawk
at a partridge. Anyhow, the interruption to the business of the day,
while the little hawk was flown, would be very slight. Of course a
sparrow-hawk which is intended to fly partridges should be kept, as
Turbervile recommends, as much as possible to "big fowls." And there
would always be more or less a risk, unless the hawk was in first-rate
condition,--in what is called "screaming yarak,"--that she would refuse
at the critical moment the carefully marked bird, and put her owner to
an everlasting shame. A falconer who is afraid of this, however, is
not the sort of man who will ever do much good with any kind of hawk
nowadays.

The quarry _par excellence_ of the sparrow-hawk is a blackbird. Every
female which is sound in wind and limb, and also most males, ought to
be able to take blackbirds, whereas it must be an exceptionally strong
and bold female which will be good enough for the much more difficult
flight at partridges. The hawk referred to in the _Merry Wives of
Windsor_ seems to have been an eyess musket. Unless, therefore, the
falconer is particularly ambitious and confident in himself and his
hawks, he had better lay himself out for blackbirds as the _pièce de
résistance_, with the chance of a few thrushes, starlings, water-hens,
and small birds to make up the bag. Peter Gibbs the falconer told me
that he had taken thirteen head of quarry, varying in size from a
partridge to a wren, in one day with a female sparrow-hawk.

One advantage of the flight at blackbirds is that the quarry is easy
to find. Few enclosed countries in England are without a good supply
of them; and it is seldom that their haunts are so secure that they
cannot be dislodged so as to afford a flight. Only a man must not go
out blackbird-hawking all alone. He should rather get as many people
to join in the business as he can. There is nothing unsociable or
exclusive about a blackbird-hawking expedition. The gardener, and the
gardener's men, as well as the keepers, the boys home for the holidays,
and in short everyone who is available, should all be encouraged to
volunteer as beaters, and help in the campaign against the plunderers
of the raspberry bushes. Formerly this sort of hedge-hunting was a
very popular amusement. Although in the fantastic apportionment of
hawks to different ranks and degrees, the sparrow-hawk and musket
were appropriated to ecclesiastics, it was a common thing for yeomen
and small landowners to keep and fly this familiar and serviceable
little creature. When Mr. Page says that he has a "fine hawk for the
bush" (_Merry Wives of Windsor_, Act iii. scene 3), he means that he
has a sparrow-hawk which will afford sport for a whole company of
country-folk; and when he and his friends go out the next morning after
breakfast "birding," they may safely be supposed to get a morning's
sport very much of the sort that is now to be described.

Ruby looks very murderous as she sits with her thin yellow fingers
gripping the arch of yew which forms her bow-perch on the lawn. The
warm autumnal sun lights up her feathers in their true colours of
slatey brown on the back, and barred white on the breast. Very keen
and pitiless is her yellow eye as it turns quickly towards each spot
where the slightest unusual movement attracts her notice. Presently,
however, all her attention is concentrated on one object, as her master
steps across the lawn. In a moment she is on to the outstretched fist,
where a well-known reward is almost always found. The leash is untied;
we are beckoned to come on, and we start at once, accompanied by the
terrier Sandy, with a knowing look on his shrewd face. It is a warm
still day, and we go straight to the big meadow, where in the bottom
hedge we put out a thrush. Ruby is off the fist like lightning, and
gains fast on the quarry. Just as he turns to get into the hedge the
hawk makes a dash, which very nearly succeeds, but the thrush has just
managed to swerve out of the way, and, running along and through the
hedge, escapes on the other side, while Ruby betakes herself to a tree
hard by. Before she is called down a blackbird is sighted near the
same tree, and we form a line so as to drive him towards the hawk.
This, however, does not accord with the views of our black friend in
the bush, who resists our well-meant endeavours, and tries to work
his way past us away from the tree. Fortunately there are enough of
us to frustrate his efforts, and prevent him from shirking along the
hedge. He is obliged to take a line across the field, and as soon as
he is well away from the fence Ruby is up to him. In shifting from the
stoop he dashes himself against the ground, and even by this violent
effort does not wholly escape, as the hawk hits him hard as she passes
overhead. He picks himself up at once and makes for the hedge, but is
just too late, as Ruby grabs him just as he is entering.

Passing on to another long hedge we soon get a flight at another
blackbird, which puts in before the hawk gets up. Ruby will not wait,
but goes on to an oak at the end of the hedge. We beat on, with a view
to drive him towards the hawk, and find that there is more than one
blackbird in front of us. One of these is driven out, and Ruby makes a
fine stoop at him out of the tree, but fails to hit him, and he puts
in. After several tries he is persuaded to fly out into the open, and
make for some bushes that are not far off, but as he goes the hawk
knocks him over with a severe cut, and though he gets up again and
staggers on, she has him well before he can reach the bush. With the
next blackbird we have no end of excitement under and round a tree in
the fence, the fugitive several times baffling us as we are driving him
along towards a bare place in the hedge, and compelling us to hark back
and begin driving him up again. Once he comes out a yard, and whips
back again instantly. The hawk goes again up into an oak-tree near the
gate. Now we drive on furiously, hoping that at the gate, anyhow, he
will take wing. Some time before we get there he loses patience and
ventures a flight across the field. Ruby gets a poor start, but the
blackbird makes a bad use of his chance, allowing the hawk to recover
lost ground rapidly, and makes such a weak attempt to get inside a
brake that he is taken on the top--perhaps dazed with all the noise and
hustling in the fence.

The next is a very plucky young cock, found in a short piece of hedge
by a wire fence. In and out of the wire fence he shifts very cleverly,
and only just saves himself in a holly bush. Here he establishes
himself in a nearly impregnable fortress, made up of an earth-bank,
with some tangled roots, and an infinity of quickset, wild rose, and
bramble. The yapping of Sandy, the shouts of the beaters, and the
howls of an under-gardener, who in the ardour of pursuit has torn his
cheek open with a briar--all are unavailing to storm the citadel until
someone with a well-directed thrust nearly pins him by the tail. Then
at last he is off in real earnest towards a thick brake. Before he
can get there Ruby compels him with a knock on the back to drop down
on the ground, and though he gets up and shuffles into the brake, he
is evidently the worse for wear. It takes ten minutes' hard work to
dislodge him again, and even when dislodged he dodges back after going
a few yards. At last, as it is getting dark, he happens to go out just
under the spot where the hawk is sitting, and she collars him above the
ditch, dropping into it with him. A flight of half an hour, "including
stoppages," and hard work all the time--for the men!

Another day we are out with Lady Macbeth, a young eyess with broad
shoulders, large feet, and a very small head. The luck is against us
at first. We are foiled by a blackbird and outflown by a thrush, and
have failed to find any water-hens. At length a blackbird is marked
down in a field of swedes in the open, and we adjourn there, full of
hopes. The tactics adopted by this blackrobed gentleman are simple,
but ingenious and effective. They consist of flopping down, as the
hawk gets quite near, into a thick bunch of turnip leaves, and, when
once on the ground, doubling round the stalks so as to elude the hawk,
which, of course, dives into the damp covert at the same place where
the quarry disappeared. Then when the hawk's head is safe behind the
leafy screen of verdure, the chance comes of jumping up and slipping
off unseen. Twice does Lady Macbeth detect him in the act of thus
slinking off; but she is thrown out again by the same stratagem, and
on the third occasion the fugitive gets off unseen by his persecutor,
though in full sight of us, and also of Sandy, who yelps demoniacally,
either from pure vexation, or perhaps in the hope of attracting the
attention of his friend and ally. Well, of course, we lose that fellow,
who goes off joyously over the hedge and the next field, glorying,
like Ulysses, in the success of his wiles. More valuable to magpie and
blackbird than the rather limited allowance of wing-power with which
Nature has provided them, is the considerable supply of brains by which
the balance is made up.

At last, however, we get a bit of luck, which indeed makes it rather a
red-letter day for Lady Macbeth, for as we beat along one of the least
likely-looking hedge-rows, more for the sake of doing the proper thing
than with a hope of finding anything, there is a huge flurry and bustle
almost under the feet of our falconer, and up gets a single partridge,
beating the air noisily with broad, round wings as he gets clear of the
overgrown ditch. When he is once fairly on the wing he will soon put
on a pace nearly, if not quite, equal to any that our hawk can attain
to. That is, he "would" rather than he "will," for we have not been
idle all this time. On the contrary, Lady Macbeth, somewhat startled
at first, spreads her wings, and at once shoots upwards, as if with
a view to see what is the matter. Then, pulling herself together as
she takes in the situation, she makes a sort of half-turn in the air,
comes down in a slanting course, half stooping and half flying, and
before the partridge has gone forty yards, strikes him full on the
back with both feet. One, at least, of the eight sharp claws hold, and
down they come with a whack on the brown earth of the ploughed field,
where they seem almost to roll over one another in the excitement of
the fray which has still to be fought out. For a real set-to it is, of
the rough-and-tumble order. The hawk's claws, long and sharp as they
are, do not penetrate to any vital part of the partridge as they do
when a sparrow is the victim. Nor do her long spindle-like legs look
as if they could do much service in a wrestling bout, when opposed to
the short, stout, and very muscular understandings of the other. But
Lady Macbeth makes play with her wings and tail as well as her feet and
legs, otherwise she could be upset and shaken off in no time. Half a
dozen long feathers pressed down into the ground on each side prevent
her from being thrown to right or left; a dozen almost equally long and
elastic feathers behind steady her still further, and act as a sort
of drag if the struggling partridge tries to rush forward and so free
itself. So, though the encounter is fierce, as the two feathered bodies
sway about spasmodically over the rough surface of the furrow, the
assailant keeps the upper hand; and soon the allied forces come up in
support. The trainer, joyous at the tardy success which has crowned his
afternoon, gets hold of one of the partridge's wings and holds it down,
so that the kicks and scratchings to which he now resorts are wasted
on the insensible clods beneath. The hawk now shifts one foot from the
shoulder to the head; two claws imbed themselves in the face and neck.
A third, sad to say, pierces the falconer's unguarded thumb; but though
he moans with the pain, he does not withdraw his hand till he has
cleared it from the hooked claw. Then, with sharp knife, he severs the
partridge's jugular vein, and, opening the skull, allows the hawk to
pick out the brain. Lady Macbeth will now be fed up; she has had some
work and some encouragement, and we shall next time try to find her
another short start at a partridge.

One of the merits of "birding" with a sparrow-hawk is that everyone out
is always busily engaged. Everyone thinks that he has marked the exact
spot where the fugitive put in, and can lay his hand at once on the
place where his cunning head is hiding under the ferns or leaves. And
yet when the hedge is reached these boastings are all falsified, and
the hiding-places seem all to be bare. "He never stopped in the hedge
at all," says one. "Yes he did. He doubled down to the right." "He
climbed up into the middle." "Hark, there! I heard him flutter." "You
make such a confounded row with your argumentation; no one can hear
anything." "There he goes!" "No; that's Sandy." "I see him now." "To
the left!" "Keep him back." "Cut him off." And so the chase goes on.
Lady Macbeth, or Ruby, sits quietest of all on the commanding bough,
though her yellow eyes glitter with excitement, and her legs and wings
are ready for a start the moment that a black feather shows itself. It
is equally hard to grab an old cock blackbird in the hedge, or to drive
him out of it far enough to give the hawk a chance of a fair shot. As
for the thrushes, they seem to puzzle a sparrow-hawk more even than the
wiliest of their black cousins. They have more wing-power, too, and
are apt to distance her in fair flight. A starling is, I believe, not
an easy bird to take if he has anything of a start. Wood-pigeons, when
taken by wild sparrow-hawks, must probably be caught unawares.

A small wiry-haired dog which is not afraid of thorns will often
be useful. Sandy is not without his honours in the hawking-field.
Many a blackbird has he snapped up in his mouth within a yard of his
formidable ally, in whose presence the quarry thinks that almost
anything is preferable to a flight across the open. Then the victim is,
of course, taken from him--often unhurt--for Sandy is too well bred
and too well trained to injure it if he can help doing so; and with
the orthodox cry of "Ware, hawk! ware!" is thrown out to the hawk.
Water-hens are a rather favourite quarry for the female sparrow-hawk,
as well as for the goshawk, when she is not a very distinguished
performer. A water-spaniel which knows how to work with a hawk is in
each case very useful. Landrails would afford a capital flight if they
were plentiful enough, and could be induced to give themselves a fair
start, instead of waiting to be kicked up when the hawk is close upon
them.

But perhaps the best flight of all, next to partridges, is at the
quail, and it is one in which the musket can be employed as well as
his sister. The Italian authorities, upon whom Turbervile draws for
the chief part of his treatise on falconry, speak of the quail as the
special quarry of the sparrow-hawk, and give minute directions for this
flight, which could, of course, be had in perfection in the Egyptian
paddy-fields, and in other parts of the East. It is said that some of
the tribes tributary to the Grand Turk, who had to pay their tribute in
quails, used to provide themselves by means of sparrow-hawks alone with
the necessary number of birds. The African falconers, when in pursuit
of quails, take the sparrow-hawk round the body in their right hand,
and as the quarry rises throw her at them like a round-hand bowler,
thereby giving her an initial impetus, of which she seems fully to
understand the advantage. In some places they surround the neck of the
hawk with a _halschband_, or linen collar, which serves to steady the
flight. The Besra sparrow-hawk, as has already been said, is used as
well as the common species.

A quotation from the last-named author will here, perhaps, be found to
the point. "Set your sparrow-hawke," he says, "every morning abroade in
the sunne two houres, or neare thereabouts, and set her to the water
twice in a weeke at the least, and especially nyasses, for they covet
the water more than the rest. Soar sparrow-hawks should not be flown
withal too soone in a morning, for they soare willingly. Take your
sparrow-hawke from the pearche alwayes with somewhat in your hand, to
make her love you, and be fond of you, for that is a thing of no small
importance and consideration. And also to make your sparrow-hawke foot
great fowles, to the end that she may not learn nor be accustomed to
carrion. And as touching mewing of a sparrow-hawke, some use to put
her in the mew as soon as they leave fleeing with her, cutting off
both her bewits, lines, and the knots of her jesses, and leave her in
the mew until she be cleane mewed. But if you will have her to flee at
partridge, quail, or the feazent poult, then you must draw her in the
beginning of April, and have her on the fist till she be cleane and
thoroughly enseamed. And they which delight in haggarts must take great
heede that they offend them not, but rather coy them as much as they
can, with all devices of favour and cherishing. For they will remember
favor or injurie much better than any kind of hawke. And he which hath
a haggart sparrow-hawke must above all thinges take paines in weyning
her from that vile fault of carrying: and that shall he do by serving
her often with greate pullets and other great traines, the which she
cannot carry, and thereby she will learne to abide upon the quarry."

[Illustration: _Sparrow-Hawk and Partridge._]

Mr. Riley has given me some extracts from his hawking diary, in which
the following scores are recorded:--

  Blanche (eyess female), 1885-86--44 blackbirds, 13 thrushes, 1
       partridge, 2 small birds.

  Lady Mabel (eyess female), 1887-88--56 blackbirds, 5 thrushes, 4
       water-hens, 3 partridges, 1 pheasant, 2 small birds.

  Faerie (eyess female), 1889-90--64 blackbirds, 3 thrushes, 4
       water-hens, 1 partridge, 4 small birds.

  Ruby (eyess female), 1894-95--106 blackbirds, 1 partridge, 1
       starling, 1 small bird.

  Princess (wild-caught female), 1895-96 (Nov. 11 to March 24)--39
       blackbirds, 1 thrush.

Of these the wild-caught Princess, though injured in the leg by a trap,
was very superior in her style. Ruby at the end of the season flew
very like a wild hawk. This Ruby was wonderfully fast and clever, and
an excellent footer. The number of blackbirds she killed stone dead by
stoops out of trees was astonishing. In size she did not exceed the
average. Speaking from an experience of a great many years, and with an
authority which everyone must acknowledge, Mr. Riley declares that "no
sport with a female goshawk can touch that to be got with a good female
sparrow-hawk."



CHAPTER XIII

Home Life


Probably the commonest fault in young falconers of the modern school
is that of keeping too many hawks. Almost every writer on the subject
has warned them over and over again against this rage for being
"over-hawked"; and yet it is still the cause of endless failures,
disappointments, and disasters. "Don't you know, if I lose one I like
to have another to fall back upon." Such is the excuse, and a very
bad one it is. If a beginner can manage to keep one hawk of any kind
in flying order he may consider himself exceptionally clever; and the
sole charge of a cast of hawks is quite as much as any amateur ought
to undertake, unless he is blessed with a great deal more leisure
time than is usually the case. An experienced professional falconer,
with a boy to help him, and with nothing else to occupy his time, may
manage an establishment of three short-winged hawks, or about five
long-winged, or one of the former and three of the latter, short-winged
hawks, when in flying condition, requiring about twice as much
attention as their nobler cousins. But if it is desired to keep up a
larger establishment, there should be, counting in the head falconer,
one man, or at least one boy, to every two hawks.

A falconer who attends properly to his charges will find that they
monopolise a very large portion of every day--at anyrate from the
time when the eyesses arrive, in early summer, to the end of the
rook-hawking season in spring. His duties may be divided into those
which we may call normal or permanent, and which relate to the hawks
which are already in flying order, and only require to be flown and
kept in working condition, and exceptional or special duties, such
as the hacking of eyesses, and the manning and reclaiming of hawks
which are newly caught, newly taken up, or newly removed from the
moulting-place. Thus, as in other professions, there are times of
extra pressure, when every hour in a long day has its full complement
of busy work, and times of comparative rest, when the labour is a good
deal lighter. But at all times the falconer, if he is to excel, must be
possessed of certain qualifications, either innate in him or carefully
acquired, which will enable him to become a favourite amongst his
winged pupils and servants.

Among such qualities the foremost is prudence. A moment of
carelessness, or even inattention, may almost every day entail the loss
of a valuable hawk. A knot insecurely fastened, a door inadvertently
left open, a leash or jess that has become unsound,--all these are
examples of small imprudences, some one of which many a falconer will
bitterly remember to have been the cause of a catastrophe. Cleanliness
and tidiness are virtues none the less desirable in a professional
falconer because they were, and still are, a little rare. It is not so
easy a matter as it may at first be supposed to keep a hawk-house clean
and neat; and the very first aspect of many such places speaks volumes
for the character of the owner or his servants. The person who has to
manage hawks should be gentle in all his dealings with them. He should
have the touch of an organist rather than of a pianist; the hands of
a sculptor rather than of a wrestler or quoit-player. Any hurried or
sudden movement is offensive and alarming to hawks; and rough treatment
of any kind disgusts and makes enemies of them. Patience and a good
temper are quite as necessary to a falconer as to an angler--probably
more so, as the difficulties and injustices with which the falconer
is confronted under modern conditions exceed those which are met with
in any other kind of sport. He must be a good judge of the characters
of animals, and of their moods and fancies, for there is as much
difference in the dispositions of hawks as of human beings, and no
two of them, except by a rare accident, can be treated successfully
in exactly the same way. His sight and hearing must be good, for
much depends upon his ability to keep a long flight in view, and to
distinguish the sound of a hawk's bell in a high wind, amidst the
rustle of leaves and grass, the murmur of a stream, or the pattering of
rain.

In the golden age of falconry great weight was attached to the
possession of good lungs. The "falconer's voice," for which Juliet
fondly wished, was used not only to lure the tassel-gentle back again,
but to encourage him in his efforts, and to cheer his successful or
brilliant strokes. A modern trainer is not so demonstrative. We
have--wrongly, I think--almost abandoned the use of calls and cheers
to animate our winged friends in the air. But even now a loud voice
is a merit in a falconer, if only as enabling him from afar to warn
the field and any chance intruders not to meddle with a flight or run
in to a hawk that has killed. Those few who still make a practice of
"giving their voice" to their hawks are, I think, well repaid for
their trouble. For no one can doubt how attentive hawks are to sounds,
especially of the human voice, or how thoroughly they become convinced,
when well handled, that they and their followers on foot or horseback,
and the dogs, when there are any, are all friends and comrades engaged,
each in his different way, in the same campaign against the same quarry.

As the huntsman in his kennels, and the trainer in his stables, so
the good falconer should take a pride in his mews, or in the place,
whatever he calls it, where his hawks are lodged. We have abandoned
for the most part the old name of mews--long ago degraded to a new
signification--and with it the fashion of building proper quarters
for the accommodation of our feathered friends. The modern hawk-house
is often a poor substitute for the substantial buildings which our
ancestors called mews. Nowadays almost any outhouse seems to be thought
good enough for the purpose; and the trained hawks of several amateurs
who are justly reputed good falconers are housed in what are little
more than shanties, barely able to keep out the rain and wind, and
not at all proof against that insidious enemy, the damp. There can be
no doubt that the excessive prevalence in our times of the horrible
disorder called "croaks" is largely due to the want of care with which
our hawks are housed in winter.

A hawk-house should have solid walls, and a floor well raised above
the ground, so as to be impervious to damp. It should have a loft or
room above it, which will help to save it from extreme variations of
temperature by day and by night. In such a place all hawks, except
merlins and those which have come from any hot climate, may be kept
through all ordinary weathers, care being taken, of course, that the
ventilation is sufficient, but in winter not excessive. In times of
severe frost or excessive damp a very moderate amount of artificial
heat should be introduced. A very good arrangement, when it can be
adopted, is for the back wall of the hawk-house to be also the back
wall on the other side of a warm conservatory or well-heated room.
In such cases it is unnecessary, unless in exceptional winters, to
have any heating apparatus in the hawk-house itself. Merlins and
the tropical hawks, such as shaheens, barbarys, and also the desert
falcons, should, in cold or damp weather at least, be placed in a room
which is over a very well-warmed apartment, and has the flue of one
chimney at least running along one of its sides. A room immediately
above a kitchen is pretty safe in all weathers for all hawks if the
fire is kept up all night, but not otherwise. Where the room is
unavoidably isolated, there must be a stove or some heating apparatus;
but the heat thrown out must be very moderate indeed, or the hawks
when taken out for weathering, or even when left stoveless by day, are
nearly sure to catch cold. Changes of temperature in our islands are
sudden and severe enough when due to natural causes only, but if they
are produced by artificial means no hawk can be expected to endure
them with impunity, and least of all gers, merlins, and the denizens
of the sunny south. The hardiest hawks are peregrines and hobbies,
but these, too, must be given a fair chance, even if it entail upon
their owner some inconvenience and expense. Whenever the weather is
very wet or damp, with penetrating fogs, opportunity should be taken,
when the hawks are all out on their blocks or being carried, to warm
the hawk-house thoroughly by artificial means, and purge it of all
suspicion of damp.

Adjoining the hawks' apartment should be another small room, where
lures and spare "furniture" can be kept. Meat and food of all kinds
should be rigorously excluded from the first-mentioned room, but may
be kept, if it is quite fresh, on an emergency in the other, where
blocks and bow-perches when taken in out of the rain can be deposited.
On the walls in either room may be hung on small pegs or nails the
hoods for each kind of hawk; but it is well to mark clearly above each
peg a description of the sort of hood which is intended to be there
hung, so that in a case of hurry one may not be mistaken for another,
and a tiercel's hood crammed on to a falcon, or a female hobby's be
found wobbling about on the head of a jack-merlin. Every falconer
should have in his cupboard a tin box containing a supply of imping
needles suitable for the hawks which he keeps, and some spare feathers
ready for imping. The same box will hold other small paraphernalia and
odds-and-ends, such as waxed thread, pincers for "coping" or blunting
the beak and talons, tweezers for putting on jesses, punches for
making holes in leashes, scissors, files, and a scrap of thin leather
for making jesses and bewits. Or there may be a compartment where
ready-made jesses, bells, swivels, and spare leashes are stored. The
lures, well cleansed from all food that has been attached to them, and
the hawking gloves, can have their proper place in the side-room.

If the building inhabited by the hawks is large, the upper part may be
used as a loft wherein to moult them. If there are hawks of different
kinds to be moulted, it must be divided into separate compartments,
so that no two of very different size may be together. And each
individual goshawk must have a room for itself. It would not be safe
to turn falcons and tiercels loose together, nor a female with a male
sparrow-hawk. Merlins and jacks may be left together, and in the same
place with male hobbies; and probably peregrine tiercels with female
shaheens, lanners with lannerets, and perhaps barbarys. But it is not
very wise to risk the chumming together of any dissimilar hawks at a
time when they are all kept in specially high condition, with no work
to do, and ready for the mischief which Dr. Watts assures us is a
natural concomitant of idleness. Of course if there is a living-room
above the hawks, or above the furniture-room, it may serve most
conveniently for a falconer's or under-falconer's bedroom, enabling him
to be at hand by night as well as day in case there should be anything
wrong, such as a hawk hanging by her jesses from the perch, or a
scuffle amongst hawks moulting in the same compartment.

At six o'clock in summer, and as soon as it is light in winter, the
falconer should be in the hawks' room. If newly-caught hawks are
there, they will be in a compartment from which all daylight has been
excluded. Taking them one by one on the fist, he will put on their
hoods, and then, lighting a candle, or admitting enough light, he
will search for their castings under the screen-perch. If any one of
them which has had castings the day before should not have yet cast,
he must either put her back on the perch in the dark, or else, if
she is far enough advanced in training for this, hand her over to an
under-falconer to be carried till she has performed that operation.
Under the place occupied by each hawk the pellet should be looked for
and examined before it is thrown away with the sweepings of soiled
sawdust collected under the perches. As the falconer ascertains that
each hawk has cast up a healthy pellet, well-shaped and free from oily
mucus, he will be doing no harm if he presents her with a mouthful or
two of food, by way of a morning salutation, and just to show that
there is no ill-will.

Then if it is a fine morning, there will probably be a hawk or two
which may with advantage be pegged out, either in the sunshine, if
she is fond of it, or under the cool shade of a tree. At anyrate,
there will be a hawk which will be none the worse for half an hour's
carrying; and if there are merlins, it will be none too early to fly
them to the lure. Every falconer, each time he rises, ought to take
note of the weather, marking especially the direction and strength of
the wind, and should do his best to forecast how the day will turn
out. If he sees reason to expect a stormy afternoon, he will prepare
to fly the hawks as early as he can; whereas, if it is already blowing
or raining hard, he may think it best to provide for the possibility
of a late start, taking the chance of an improvement in the weather
at midday, or later. He should decide betimes which hawks are certain
not to be taken out to the field, and make sure that their allowance
of food is ready to be given them early in the day. Such hawks may
generally be put out early in the morning, and provided with tirings,
at which they may pull away contentedly on their blocks till it is time
either to fly them to the lure, or to give them their ration on the
fist. In the game-hawking season there will be a consultation with the
keeper as to the country to be visited and the dogs to be taken out;
and the falconer, having an eye to the direction of the wind, will plan
out provisionally the sort of tactics which it will be best to adopt
in beating the ground. Beaters and markers should also be secured, and
directed as to the order of the day's proceedings, whether the business
in hand is grouse-hawking, lark-hawking, or any other form of sport for
which these attendants are required.

After breakfast, on sunshiny days, there will generally be candidates
for the bath. Fresh water must be brought; and in very cold weather
a cup or two of hot water may be added, to take off the chill. Each
hawk, after bathing, should have an hour at least to dry and air
herself in the sun and wind. In emergencies, on cloudy days, the old
falconers used to dry their hawks after bathing by holding them with
their backs to a fire. Hawks do not usually care to take a bath much
before eleven o'clock; and they should not be indulged with one after
half-past twelve. Those which have bathed will, of course, not be ready
to fly till well on in the afternoon, especially as they will have had
a very light feed in the early morning, as it is not good to let a
hawk bathe on a quite empty stomach. The falconer will generally like
to be present while the hawks bathe, so that he will not be ready to
start for the field, even with those that have not bathed, much before
noon. This hour, moreover, is full early for peregrines and most of the
larger hawks, which are apt to be slack in the pursuit of their quarry
when they have, or at least think they have, the best part of the day
before them in which to provide themselves with their one daily solid
meal.

Hawks which are not yet thoroughly accustomed to the hood should be
hooded up with care, so as to avoid any trial of their temper just as
they are about to be called upon to do their best. Hawks, of course,
ought always to be good at the hood; but some manifest an obstinate
repugnance to it, as for instance Vesta, the very excellent game-falcon
trained for the Old Hawking Club. The duties of the falconer in the
field are referred to at length in the next chapter. As soon as he has
returned--which will usually not be much, if at all, before dark--he
must be satisfied that each hawk has had the full allowance of food
which he had decided to be good for her, that her beak and talons are
fairly clean, her feathers in good order, and her swivel and leash
properly attached. Then each will be put in her accustomed place on the
screen-perch, the leash being securely tied round the perch itself, as
described in Chapter III., and the hood, if she is hooded, removed and
hung up.

As for the hawks, if any, which, not being destined for the field,
have been left at home, either at blocks on the lawn, or indoors,
some person will have been left to shift their blocks as they become
exposed to the sun, to carry them for a specified time, and perhaps
to fly some of them to the lure. Every trained hawk, unless she is
put down to moult, or is being flown at quarry, should be exercised
daily to the lure or the fist--merlins twice, and all others once. The
methods of giving exercise have been already described; but it must
be remembered that when once a hawk has been entered the more real
flying in the field she gets the better. Otherwise you are between
the horns of a dilemma. If you give no exercise the hawk grows heavy,
stale, and lazy. If you fly her too much to the lure she may grow too
fond of it, and less keen at wild quarry. Good practical falconers
are thus rather averse to a too free use of the lure with peregrines
and lanners. On the other hand, I have found that merlins cannot well
have too much stooping at the lure. Rook-hawks, and others which are
never expected to wait on at a height, may often be made to do a large
amount of pretty fast flying when stooping at the dead lure. This sort
of practice is of course not to be encouraged in the case of game-hawks
or duck-hawks, as tending to lower their pitch, which it is the chief
desire of the falconer to keep as high as possible. But long-winged
hawks, even in the mere act of waiting on, especially in a strong wind,
get a good breather and a good stretching of their wings, if they are
always allowed to be uncertain in their own minds whether in the end it
will be a partridge or a pigeon that they will have to come down for,
or merely the dead lure.

As for the short-winged hawks, and for such others as will not keep
on the wing willingly without going to perch, they must be exercised
chiefly by the device known as calling off. The most effective plan
is that mentioned in Chapter VI., where two men go out, and, standing
at a distance from one another, alternately bring the hawk across the
intervening space by showing the lure or the outstretched fist. If two
men are not available the hawk may be deposited on a railing, gate, or
post, and the falconer may walk away, hiding his hands, and when he is
as far off as he likes, or as the hawk will allow him to go, may call
her and reward her with a few morsels, and then put her down again for
the operation to be repeated. A trained hawk will often follow the
falconer about for a long time, as he walks along, waiting a while in
expectation of being called, and, if disappointed, flitting to a nearer
resting-place, or coming right up to him on the chance that his hand
will be held out; and if it is not, betaking herself to a neighbouring
tree or other convenient place. Such excursions as these, in a park or
on the downs, with a favourite hawk always in sight, either in the air
or on a conspicuous perch of her own choosing, afford an opportunity
of indulging her with the best possible sort of weathering. It is the
nearest approach which can safely be made to giving trained hawks their
liberty.

It is a common thing with writers on hawking to recommend their
readers, when a trained hawk is out of sorts, to put her on a pair of
hack-bells, and turn her out to hack for a while. I desire to speak
with all respect of a practice which has doubtless been often attempted
with success; but I am compelled to say that my own experience is
altogether unfavourable to any such experiment. Attempts that I have
known made to keep trained hawks at hack have not only failed, but
have over and over again entailed the loss of the bird operated upon,
sometimes for a time, and sometimes permanently. A strong and clever
hawk, even if she is a bit unwell, and even if she is weighted heavily,
will manage to kill something, if she has a real mind to it; and even
if she does not, her wanderings may lead her first out of sight, and
then into some neighbouring field or place, where a stray gunner may
make an end of her. I am not able to advise beginners to turn their
hawks loose for any longer time than they themselves or some agent can
be near at hand, unless it be in the case of a kestrel or hobby, or
other hawk which has never killed wild birds regularly in fair flight.

No ordinary bad weather should deter a falconer from taking his
long-winged hawks out to exercise. Rain, unless it is very heavy, will
do a hawk no harm during the short time she is flying to the lure or
being called off. Even if the rain is heavy, an umbrella can be held
over the hawk as she is carried to the exercise-ground and back. Wind
must be very high indeed before the trainer should hesitate to fly
his hawks at exercise. When they are to be merely called off, they
will, when sharp-set, if in good condition, face half a gale of wind.
But the two men should, in this case, post themselves rather across
wind, and not one exactly down-wind of the other; otherwise the hawk
of the up-wind man will have her head always turned directly away from
the other, and moreover, if she comes fast towards the latter, may be
carried so far past him that she will not take the trouble to fetch
up again, and struggle up-wind to a lure of which she has once been
disappointed. A game-hawk, especially if it is a passager, should not
be kept waiting on very long on a boisterous day. Should she, while in
the air, catch sight of a wood-pigeon or house-pigeon down-wind, and
give chase, she may be out of sight in a moment, and, if the quarry
takes the air, may go miles before you can run or ride five hundred
yards. The best hawks rather enjoy flying in a very high wind, and
seem to take an obvious pride in exerting their mastery over it. Their
stoops at the lure in such weather are often exceptionally fine; and
the tremendous pace at which the wind enables them to come down,
evidently affords them much inward satisfaction.

In hot and sunny weather some caution is advisable in flying hawks to
the lure, as well as in the field. For when in high condition, even
if they are hungry, they are sometimes disposed to go soaring, and,
as it were, forgetting all about mundane affairs, disappear in airy
circles down-wind. Eyesses will, it is true, generally come back when
they are tired of soaring. They are reminded, sooner or later, by an
internal feeling that there is such a thing as a garnished lure in
the foreground. But suppose a passage peregrine, after stretching
her wings for five minutes at a height of a thousand feet, to catch
sight of a wood-pigeon crossing the open down. It would be almost too
much to expect that she should resist the temptation. In the cool
of the day, morning and evening, hawks very seldom soar if they are
sharp-set, and have had the chance of a bath most fine days. It is from
nine to four o'clock in summer that there is the most risk of it; and
hobbies, which are greatly addicted to the habit, should not be flown
during these hours in fine weather, unless the owner is prepared to
wait twenty minutes, or even longer, for my lord or my lady to finish
airing herself in the sky. Very special care must be taken of all
hawks during the migration season--that is, for some weeks after the
latter part of September and the beginning of April. At the former
period, indeed, it is barely safe to let hobbies wait on at all; and
the steadiest peregrines and merlins are apt to feel more or less
strongly the restlessness born of migratory instincts. Many favourite
hawks which seemed a few days ago to be as safe as tame cats, have
been known at migrating time to develop quite suddenly an ungovernable
wish to travel, and have cleared for foreign parts when they had an
opportunity, without a moment's warning or a word of leave-taking.

Each hawk, after flying to the lure, will be immediately fed up,
usually on the way back to the hawk-house or the lawn. As a rule, the
earlier a hawk can be fed up the better, for she will be the sooner
ready for the field on the next day. Moreover, she will fly better,
probably, to the lure if she is aware that that ordeal is often the
precursor of a solid meal. The rather common practice of feeding all
the hawks at about the same hour--generally late in the day--has
nothing that I ever heard of to recommend it. How can a hawk which
habitually dines at six o'clock or later be expected to be keen or to
fly well when thrown off at her quarry at three or four o'clock? If
a peregrine, when it has been finally decided not to fly her in the
field that day, is fed at about eleven o'clock, she will be fit to fly
on the morrow at any time after noon. The falconer should note in what
order his hawks are fed, so that on the next day, unless any special
circumstances prevent it, those which have been fasting the longest
should be flown the first.

No hawk, after being fed up, should be disturbed, frightened, or shaken
about. If the return journey from the field or exercise-ground is long,
and the hawk inclined to bate off the fist, she should be hooded just
before or after she has finished her meal; and on returning home she
should be put in a quiet place--either on a block where nothing can
interfere with her, or on the screen-perch; and if given to bating off,
she should remain hooded, or else in a darkened room, till nightfall.
No hawk should be allowed ever to finish her meal within sight of
another that is still hungry, or to be in a place where she can see a
lure or any sort of food without being able to get at it. At no time
should a hawk be pegged out in a position where she is exposed to a
strong wind, or to a hot sun, except just before and for a while after
her bath. Never should food be dragged or pulled away forcibly from a
hawk, leaving her hungry on the fist or perch with nothing to eat. The
falconer must play the part of a friend, and of a generous friend, not
of a niggardly and tyrannical master, who makes use of his superior
strength to rob his servant of the good things which she expected to
enjoy.

In summer, when the weather is fine and the ground tolerably dry,
peregrines, hobbies, and some of the hardiest of the big hawks may be
left all night at their blocks on the grass. But the advantages, if
any, resulting from such a plan are, I think, more than questionable.
It is argued, of course, that wild hawks sleep in the open air, and
therefore why not trained ones? But the wild hawk chooses his or her
resting-place--almost always a tall tree or rock--far out of reach
of the dews and mists which belong to the grass and the lower air.
If the wild hawk gets wet, or feels cold at midnight, she has only
the elements or herself to blame. If the trained hawk suffers, will
she not blame the man who tied her down in a position where she could
not escape from these discomforts? A perfectly clean and well-aired
hawk-house is, to my mind, as good a place for hawks to sleep in as the
finest lawn on the fairest night of the year. What good does a hawk get
from bating at the block on to the wet grass from 3 or 4 a.m. till the
falconer appears? If wild hawks did this, instead of keeping aloft in
the clear air, would they not be likely sometimes to get the croaks?

I have reserved till as late a place as this the question of dieting,
the most difficult, if not the most important, part of the falconer's
art. Condition in a trained hawk, as in a trained horse or hound, is
the most essential requisite for really great success. Without it the
very best hawk will make but a poor show; and with it even a naturally
slow hawk can be flown with pleasure and credit. Condition must always
depend chiefly upon two things, exercise and dieting. Now, as regards
exercise, it is impossible for a falconer to err on the side of excess.
Wild hawks in their airy circlings, and in pursuit of their daily
subsistence, traverse an almost incredible distance in the course of a
year; probably fifty times as many miles as the most active of trained
hawks can be expected to travel in the same period. Let the trainer,
therefore, make it a simple rule to give his charges as much exercise
as he can--not all at racing pace, of course, but in using their wings.
He need not be afraid of overdoing the thing, as long as he leaves off
when the hawk has made too violent an exertion in an actual flight at
quarry. I have seen a hobby, waiting on in a high wind, refuse to come
down to the lure, though quite sharp-set, and, for the mere pleasure of
flying, remain on the wing for twenty-five minutes. The distance flown
through the air in the time--counting only that in which his head was
to the wind--amounted to a great many miles; and so far was he from
being tired at any time, that he would stoop at and hit the lure, and
yet refuse to hold it, and go up again to the soar. Few hawks will
do this willingly; they must often be induced by some device of the
trainer to keep on the wing; and it is impossible to fly such hawks too
much.

With respect to food, the matter is altogether different. It is just
as easy to overfeed a hawk as to underfeed her. But what trainer can
ever be sure that he has always exactly hit off the golden mean?
Gers, peregrines, and all the hawks which resemble the peregrine,
desert-hawks, hobbies, eagles, goshawks, and female sparrow-hawks,
are fed, as a rule, once a day--peregrines well; eagles, goshawks,
and the desert-hawks more sparingly. Merlins of both sexes and male
sparrow-hawks twice; but lightly on one at least of the two occasions.
Raw beef is generally the staple food of the big hawks; but it should
not be tough, and should be often varied by a rather lighter diet of
bullock's heart, rabbit, fowl, or pigeon. Merlins and sparrow-hawks
should be fed chiefly on small birds, and in default of these on
sheep's heart, rabbit, young fowls, or exceedingly tender mutton or
beef. This sort of diet will also be good for hobbies and kestrels; but
it is not necessary to be so nice with them, and they can be regaled
with coarser food, as long as it is not tough. But they must also have
a freshly-killed small bird occasionally. Goshawks will thrive upon
rats, weasels, squirrels, rooks, and, in short, almost any kind of
bird or animal, except water-hens, which are indigestible and apt to
bring them out of yarak. But a goshawk in good flying order should
not be kept for long upon coarse food, but indulged now and then at
least with viands of the best quality. Mice are capital food, not only
for kestrels and hobbies, but for merlins and sparrow-hawks, and may
be given whole to any kind of hawk by way of castings. Eagles are not
particular as to diet; but they should have plenty of tirings, and
their meat will be none the worse for being a bit tough.

Eagles and all short-winged hawks should have a gorge, that is to say,
as much as they choose to eat, about three times in a fortnight, and
on the following day should be very sparingly fed. Eagles, indeed, and
some female goshawks need not be fed at all, if they are to be flown
at wild quarry on the second day after their full meal. But none of
the smaller hawks will stand anything approaching to starvation; and
to leave a male sparrow-hawk or merlin without food for twenty-four
hours would probably do him a permanent injury, or at all events ruin
his chance of doing himself any justice in the field for a long time to
come. In the case of these, and indeed all the long-winged hawks, when
in constant exercise at wild quarry, I am not quite sure that any good
is done by giving any gorges at all. I never do so with merlins in the
lark season; and yet I have killed with one of them over thirty larks
in succession without a miss. Granting that in their wild state all
hawks occasionally gorge themselves, it must be remembered that trained
hawks are not in a wild state. The analogy is not a just or true one,
any more than it would be to argue from the habits of Red Indians to
those expedient for a white man in training. However, there can be no
great harm, even if there is no great advantage, in giving a gorge to
a peregrine once a week. It is a practice consecrated by old tradition
and precept: and it is not for us degenerate modern amateurs to lightly
discard the maxims of the age of chivalry.

In saying that peregrines and other big hawks are fed once a day, it is
not meant that they should never taste a morsel of food except their
one solid meal. Small tit-bits will be forthcoming at odd times, as
for instance in the early morning, when they are moved from the perch
to the block, or taken to bathe, or to be carried. They will pick a
little from the tirings at which they are almost every day set to work.
There is no need to be stingy with these odds-and-ends; indeed, the old
falconers would very often give their falcons quite a small meal when
they hooded up for the field, or a little before. One ancient writer
declares that a falcon will eat the wing of a fowl, and two hours
afterwards be quite fit to fly. Another recommends his readers always
to feed eyess peregrines twice a day, but of course moderately. The
exact amount of food which it is proper to give to each hawk cannot
be specified even very approximately. For amongst the same class of
hawks, nay, amongst hawks which actually came from the same nest, will
be found individuals with quite different sorts of appetites. One of
them will grow too thin upon rations that make her sister, or even
her brother, too fat. Nevertheless, taking the average of a number of
hawks of the same species, it is possible to arrive at a rough estimate
of what is usually required. The allowance always prescribed for a
peregrine falcon is one-third of a pound of beef. Tiercels, therefore,
will require about a quarter of a pound; and other English hawks must
be provided for on about the same scale, _i.e._ the amount of food, if
very solid, should weigh nearly one-seventh of the total weight of the
bird fed. The desert-hawks, however, are much smaller feeders. A saker,
for instance, looks about as large as a gerfalcon. But it was computed
that a trained ger would eat three times as much as a saker. The power
of fasting of these hawks is naturally very great; and they should
have great gorges, with intervals of very spare feeding. On the other
hand, the small hawks eat a great deal more in proportion to their size
than the large ones. A whole skylark, of average dimensions, given
freshly killed, with all the blood warm in it, is not quite enough for
a merlin's daily ration, but would be about right for most jacks. The
ladies, when doing hard work, require about four larks in three days.
A starling or blackbird is about the right daily meal for a female
hobby, but rather too little for a female sparrow-hawk, and decidedly
too much for a "musket" or "robin." A sparrow without its feathers
weighs an ounce, as nearly as may be; and two whole sparrows a day is
a very ample allowance for a merlin, even when flying both morning
and evening. Probably this would be about the fair quantity to keep a
female hobby in good condition. A sparrow and a half would be about
sufficient for a jack, a robin, or a musket. An ounce of beef is of
course a heavier meal than an ounce of sparrow, but it may be doubted
whether it will give a small hawk more strength or courage, though it
will sustain him longer.

It is needless to say that the apportionment of food to each individual
hawk becomes a more difficult matter in proportion as the hawk is
smaller. A mistake of an ounce, one way or the other, is no great
matter in the case of a ger or a falcon, but give a jack-merlin an
ounce too much or an ounce too little, and you may very soon find
out your mistake in a most practical way. Sometimes a jack will
eat more--and need more--than his own sisters or any merlin in the
establishment. Sometimes, but more rarely, a single merlin will want
nearly as much as two jacks. Tiercel peregrines, barbarys, and others,
sometimes, but rarely, require almost as much as a falcon. A hawk which
has throughout her life never known what it is to be thin can generally
be kept in high condition on less food than one which has once been
below par. Fortunate is the man who has been able to train his hawk
without ever putting her on short commons, and has always been able,
by skill or luck, or both combined, to fly her just at the time when
she was keen enough and yet not over-hungry. Such hawks have the best
chance of turning out well; and among them may probably be numbered
many of those whose names are glorious in the annals of the sport.

A hawk's condition may be tested to a certain limited extent by passing
a finger down her breast-bone, and by feeling the broad pectoral
muscles on each side of the breast between the forefinger and thumb.
Some indications may also be got by gently pinching the muscles of the
leg, to ascertain whether they are full and hard. But these are very
rough tokens to judge from. One hawk will fly her best when almost as
fat as a wild one, and when the sternum is hardly more prominent than
it is in a partridge; whereas others, when fed up to this condition,
will do no serious work, but go off soaring on their own account, or
take perch in a tree or rick, and stare unconcernedly at the lure as
if they had no conception that it had any attractions for them. The
experienced falconer will form a better judgment as to the condition
of his hawk from the manner in which she flies. There is a power and
ease of motion about a full-fleshed hawk, a force in her stoop, and a
sort of pride about her every movement, which one looks for in vain in
a hawk in poor condition. Thin hawks fly in a laboured way against a
strong wind, instead of facing it easily and appearing to rejoice in
their victory over it, utilising its very opposition to lift them up,
and sailing on it like a stiff yacht in a gale. Weak flying may result
from overfeeding as well as underfeeding. But in the one case the style
appears too heavy; and in the other, too light.

It is, however, very easy to mistake the symptoms, and to imagine
that a hawk wants reducing when in fact she wants feeding up. The
result, of course, of such faulty diagnosis will be that the treatment
applied as a remedy aggravates the mischief already done. It is much
easier to reduce a hawk than to get flesh on her again. The beginner
should therefore be very sure that his hawk has been overfed before he
shortens her daily supply of food. By making a mistake on the other
side, and feeding up a hawk which is already a bit above herself, the
worst inconvenience that is likely to follow, in the case of an eyess,
is a little delay in getting her down to the lure. Passage hawks,
especially for a while after they have first been reclaimed, are of
course liable to be lost if too highly fed, for when disinclined to
come to the lure or fist they are apt to rake away after chance quarry.
But they may be full-fleshed and strong, and yet be eager for their
food. It is a great mistake, though a very common one, to suppose that
a thin hawk is necessarily a hungry one. Whether a hawk is fat or thin
is a question of days, whereas it is a question of hours whether she
is hungry or not. For instance, a peregrine may have had nearly a full
crop every day for a week, and yet if on the eighth day she has only
a very light feed in the morning she will be as hungry as a hunter on
the ninth day in the afternoon. The tendency nowadays is rather to
overfeed hawks, and to forget the old maxim about a fat hawk making "a
lean horse and an empty purse." The amateur has been so loudly warned
against keeping a thin hawk that in avoiding this reproach he falls
into the other extreme, and attempts to fly his hawk when she is really
not sharp-set at all.

Washed meat--so commonly used by the old falconers, that it may almost
be said to have been a normal daily diet--is now but rarely given,
unless, indeed, where a parsimonious or careless owner has neglected to
provide fresh meat, and tainted beef is soaked and squeezed so as to
make it available as food. The proper mode of preparing washed meat is
to take it when quite fresh and immerse it for a while in cold water,
and then dry it in a warm place. Part of its nutritive power--of its
goodness, in fact--will then have disappeared, and what remains will
digest quickly, leaving the hawk more keen and sooner hungry than if
she had swallowed the same quantity of unwashed meat. For the smaller
hawks it is less suitable than for the larger; and if it is desired to
take them down a peg or two, it will generally be found best either to
resort to a diet naturally light, such as rabbit or sheep's heart, or
to reduce a little in quantity the accustomed allowance of their usual
food. When a merlin is a bit bumptious, independent, and disobedient,
her morning ration may be curtailed, or in feeding up after the day's
exercise she may be indulged only with a good half-crop, instead of the
habitual three-quarters. When a peregrine or hawk of similar habits is
inclined to be uppish, and to disdain the dead lure, it is a good plan,
besides being a shade stingy at dinner-time, to fly her each day at
least an hour later than the day before. When, in this way, her time of
flying has got to be so late that it cannot be deferred till later on
the following day, give her a gorge, or at least a very full meal, when
she has done flying, and on the next day, an hour after she has cast,
give her quite a light feed, and do not fly her at all till the day
after at noon. Sakers, lanners, and that class of hawks must be rather
sternly treated if they get above themselves, for their nature is to
support long fasts without much trouble. And eagles, of course, must
sometimes be almost starved a little.

Remember always that the food given to a trained hawk belongs to one
or other of several categories, which rank differently as regards
nutritive power. Highest on the list is the flesh of birds or other
animals eaten immediately after they are killed, while the life-blood
is still warm within them. The meals of wild hawks are, as a rule, of
this description; and these accordingly, by virtue of their diet, as
well as of their habits, are the most vigorous and healthy of all.
Next in order comes the flesh of such creatures as have been killed
long enough to grow cold. And in the last rank must be placed washed
meat--artificially reduced to its least nutritive character. When it
is desired to improve the condition of a hawk, food of the first class
will most quickly and most surely effect the object. Any hawk which is
found to be below par should have at the first opportunity at least one
"bloody crop," _i.e._ should either be allowed to take her pleasure on
some quarry which she has herself killed, or be indulged with a pigeon,
duck, fowl, or other animal which has just been killed. The flesh of
animals, whether freshly killed or not, differs a good deal in quality.
Pigeons, duck, plovers, and sparrows are about the most nourishing;
chickens, rabbits, quails, larks, and mice, somewhat less so. The flesh
of rooks, gulls, magpies, water-hens, and coots is not very palatable;
and some trained hawks will not touch it. None are likely to improve in
condition if fed upon it. There is nothing a trained hawk likes better
than good tender beef, especially if it is slightly warmed before being
given. It is also very sustaining, and will increase a hawk's weight
rapidly, when a generous allowance of it is made. It is, however,
much heavier and more solid than the natural food of any hawk, and
therefore apt, if freely given, to make her dull, slow, and sluggish.
For sparrow-hawks and merlins it is distinctly bad, if often taken,
and in large quantities at a time. These latter, when in flying order
at the right season of the year, are, of course, almost always fed
up in the field on the quarry they have last killed before finishing
their day's work, and the next morning have a few mouthfuls of similar
food which has been killed the afternoon before. When a rook-hawk will
readily feed up in the same way on her vanquished quarry, it will be
convenient, occasionally at least, to let her do so. Game-hawks should
also be allowed sometimes to take their pleasure on their own grouse,
partridge, pheasant, or even woodcock; but in practice they are seldom
lucky enough to get more than the heads and necks, though modern
falconers who fly mostly for sport, and not "for the pot," are often
more liberal in this respect than their predecessors of the Middle Ages.

Goshawks, when kept to hares, or indeed to any quarry which taxes their
utmost powers, should often be allowed to finish their meal on one of
their victims. Between whiles they may often with advantage be regaled
with washed meat only, or some not very appetising food. It is well to
induce all hawks to believe that a kill after a hard flight means an
extra good feast. But merlins and male sparrow-hawks must very seldom,
if at all, know the taste of washed meat, or of any third-rate diet.
Some of them, when in first-rate fettle, are very dainty, and will
lose the pink of their condition if not indulged with their favourite
food. These little hawks are exceedingly fond of swallows and some
other very small birds; and although few people would be barbarous
enough to deliberately kill any small bird except a sparrow, yet if
a young martin should be picked up under the nest from which it has
accidentally fallen, and given to a merlin, it will be odd if that
hawk does not fly unusually well when next put on the wing. In the
lark-hawking season, one of these active workers will not only keep
herself in food, but often supply enough extra victims to provide a
daily meal of the very best kind for a tiercel, or even a falcon, which
happens then to be in moult. The short-winged hawks will also sometimes
in one afternoon kill more than they could themselves eat in a week.

A not unimportant item of the commissariat is a supply of good tirings.
A tiring may consist of anything tough which is appetising enough for
a hawk to keep pulling and picking at it to satisfy her hunger. For
tiercels and all hawks of about the same size, rabbits' or leverets'
feet, with the lower part of the leg, make capital tirings. So do the
necks of fowls and ducks, which a falconer should always cause to be
reserved for him when any poultry is slain for the kitchen. The foot
of an old hare is not too tough for a strong falcon. The small hawks
will generally be kept employed for a good many minutes by the two
outer joints of a duck's or old pigeon's wing. These tirings should be
given whenever a hawk is short of exercise, or fidgety on the block
or perch. Their effect is not only to strengthen all the muscles--for
it is quite hard work picking the scanty scraps of food off the bones
and skin amongst which they lie hid--but also to engross the attention
of the hawk, which would otherwise very possibly be pining more or
less sadly for freedom, and often jumping off in the vain endeavour to
attain to that blessing. The frequent picking of bones also keeps a
hawk's beak from growing down at the point to an unnatural length. A
man who tells you that he often has to cope his hawk stands detected
of being in the habit of not giving her sufficient tirings. Another
most valuable use of these tough morsels has been already referred to.
It is discovered during the first period of manning the hawk, when
the necessary job of carrying is found to be ten times more agreeable
and better performed if, while the pupil has perforce to stand on
the fist, she has some inducement to do so in the shape of a fowl's
"drumstick" or the wing of a goose, off which almost all the meat has
already been picked. No better advice is given by Mr. Freeman--though
every one of his counsels is admirable--than to prolong as much as
possible the meals which a half-trained hawk takes on the fist. Often
the delicacy on which you are regaling her will be tender in one part
and tough in another. For instance, it may be the full-fleshed leg of
some fowl, off which the meat can easily be torn, with a part of the
back, consisting chiefly of skin and bone. If your rather shy pupil
takes kindly to the least manageable part of her appointed dinner,
let her pick at it, and laboriously polish with many applications of
her beak the ill-covered bones of the back, stroking her from time to
time with a pencil or with the right hand. Possibly she will not yet
stand such acts of familiarity, but bate off. When she is on the fist
again, let her recommence operations without taking any liberties with
her. Reserve your attentions with the stick for the time when she will
be busy discussing the more succulent morsels in the _menu_, and when
she is more likely to submit, without much protest, to the indignity
of being stroked. So also, while she is pulling contentedly at the
juiciest parts of the joint, you may take her more freely into the
presence of men, horses, dogs, and children--in fact, introduce her to
more society. The bolder you become the more inclined she will be to
let her mistrust prevail over her fondness for the feast, and the less
exclusively she will confine her attention to it. Thus a pigeon's wing,
which it would take a fully-trained tiercel less than five minutes to
dispose of, may, with a falcon caught only a fortnight ago, engage her
attention for nearly half an hour.

With tirings there will often be a small quantity of castings which
will be swallowed with the pickings of meat. The trainer must judge for
himself whether enough of them has been thus taken during the day to
form a proper pellet, or whether more should be given in another way.
In feeding up upon quarry which they have themselves killed, whether
on the fist or on the ground, hawks will almost always naturally take
castings enough. But when the meal consists of beef, or of anything
that has been skinned or plucked quite bare, it will be necessary
either to add some feathers or fur, or the like, scattering it about
on the meat which the hawk is about to swallow, or else the casting
may consist of a strip of skin with fur or feathers left on it, and
a piece of meat at one end. While swallowing the meat the hawk will
gulp down the skin attached to it, and thus with one or two mouthfuls
give herself the required quantity of castings. Some falconers make up
the casting into a sort of pill, and cram their hawks with it; and I
believe this plan answers the purpose very well, though I have seldom
if ever tried it. It is not, of course, necessary to give castings
every day. But they are generally beneficial, and always, as far as I
know, harmless. Some of the old falconers advise not to give castings
on days when a hawk has bathed; but I am unable to give the reason for
this. Castings are taken daily by wild hawks, which certainly have less
need of them than tame ones. And if, through laziness or any other
cause, the falconer omits for days in succession to give any, it is
pretty certain that his hawk's crop and stomach will become clogged
with a sort of mucus, which will either make her dull, sluggish, and
morose, or otherwise impair her general health. Castings should be
given rather late in the day than early; and after they have been taken
the hawk must always be kept unhooded at about the time when she may be
expected to throw them up, _i.e._ from about the fifth hour after she
has swallowed the casting, until she has cast. For this reason, if for
no other, when it is intended to train passage hawks in any place, it
must always be possible to darken artificially a part of the room, so
that hawks can sit there bareheaded on the perch after castings have
been given.

Another article which may in a sense be included in the category of
diet, is one which will somewhat surprise the reader who has heard
nothing about falconry before. This is "rangle," which is nothing more
nor less than small stones or pebbles, swallowed after the manner of
castings, and with a similar purpose and effect. After being taken into
the crop these exceedingly indigestible delicacies--popularly supposed
to be dear to ostriches only--collect around themselves by some special
process of attraction a quantity of that same mucus which is apt to
accumulate in a hawk's internal organism. When afterwards they are
thrown up--for not even the greediest goshawk will actually assimilate
stones--they come up with this oily coating adhering to them, having
operated as a sort of emetic, without any of the disagreeable
concomitants of physicking with drugs. Why the purpose for which rangle
is given cannot be as effectually accomplished by simple castings of
feather or fur, I am afraid I cannot explain ; but these latter do not
appear to be able to clear the hawk's inside of the particular kind
of superfluous humours which are extracted by the harder substance.
Possibly the weight of pebbles causes them to descend farther into the
crop, and thus clear it more thoroughly than any such light material
as can be given by way of castings. For the small hawks rangle may be
given by scattering a few pinches of rather fine gravel on the meat
at which they are picking. It is a good plan also to scatter about,
close to the blocks of any hawks for which a dose of this kind is
thought good, a few stones of a round smooth shape, varying in size
from that of a horse-bean for a falcon, to that of a sweet-pea seed
for a jack-merlin. The patient often knows instinctively when such a
dose is likely to do her good, and swallows one or more of the stones
voluntarily. If she does not, and it is thought advisable that she
should be dosed whether she likes it or not, the hawk may be cast, and
the tasteless pill slipped into her mouth, and pushed down with a small
stick. Latham, who was a great stickler for rangle, tells a quaint
story of a hawk which he owned. He stuffed her with sixteen stones,
which she threw up in due course. The stones were picked up and washed,
and put down again near the hawk's block on the following evening.
And every day for a month successively this very accommodating hawk
voluntarily picked up and swallowed some dozen of the stones, which
were daily collected, washed, and put down again. When a hawk, after
moulting, is taken out, or "drawn," as the old writers call it, from
the mews, it is generally beneficial to give her rangle. Hack hawks,
when taken up, are often all the better for it; and when a hawk seems
dull, or displays dyspeptic symptoms, she may not unfrequently be cured
off-hand by the same simple expedient.

Every evening the falconer, having fed up all his hawks (and possibly
himself) and noted down in his register what has been killed or done
by each of them, should collect all the bodies or pelts of the slain
which have not been used as food, and bestow them in a separate place
in his larder, so that the results of one day's campaigning may not get
mixed up with those of a previous day, and it may be known how long
each unfortunate has been killed. In hot weather no small bird, and
very few other things, are fit to be given to a hawk if they have been
dead more than twenty-four hours. In the tropics, of course, meat goes
bad still more quickly; and at about tiffin-time everything which has
been killed earlier than on the same day should be cleared out of the
hawks' larder. If the falconer can get to roost soon after his charges
he will think himself fortunate. For the making up of his diary is,
on busy days, quite a business in itself. Then it is possible that
some accident has occurred. If there has been a broken feather, the
damaged hawk must be imped. If one is amiss, measures must be taken for
applying the proper remedies. If a jess is worn, it must be replaced.
But the worst trouble is if a hawk has been left out. Then the wretched
falconer must make up his mind to set forth before daybreak on a long
and weary search. But of these pains and griefs, to which the poor man
may always be a victim, we shall have to speak in future chapters.



CHAPTER XIV

Hawks in the Field


Half an hour or so before the time appointed for starting to the field,
the falconer will begin to hood up those hawks which are to be taken
out. Each of them, if in proper order, will jump from the block or the
perch to his fist as soon as he extends it within reach. For some of
them it will be a very simple matter to slip on a hood; and without
further ado they will be placed on the cadge and the leash made fast
to it. Others which have only lately completed their training, or
which have not yet quite mastered a dislike to the hood, may be first
indulged by the production of a tiring, and before or just after they
begin to pull at it may be hooded with such dexterity as the operator
can boast of. A good hooder is also a quick hooder; but nothing is more
likely to make a man bungle his business than to set about it in a
hurry at the last moment, just before it is time to start.

The cadge, if a cadge is to be taken out, being placed in a sheltered
spot, with its occupants ranged along it and safely attached, all the
requisite paraphernalia to be carried must be properly stowed away
either in some vehicle or in the falconer's pouches or pockets. For
every person who is to take any active part in the day's proceedings,
it will be well to have a lure which he can easily carry. Each such man
should also reserve at least one pocket, unless he wears a pouch, in
which he can put a spare hood and a spare leash. When it is expected
that a live lure may be required, the bird which is to serve the
purpose should be accommodated with comfortable quarters in which he
cannot be shaken or knocked about, or be cramped or short of air. The
man who carries the cadge must be instructed or reminded as to his
duties--how to set down the cadge under the lee of a rick or fence
or other shelter, and, having done so, to keep his eyes open, and
act as a marker. Some code of signals may generally be agreed upon
for informing the cadge man from a distance when he is to go forward
with his burden and in what direction. If the party is to include any
people who have never been out hawking before, they should be warned
as to running or riding in, and requested to stand still whenever a
rook or other quarry makes towards them as a shelter from the stoop.
The falconer himself should carry a spare leash and hood or two, some
string which can be unwound quickly without kinking, and a supply of
small coins wherewith to reward farm-labourers or other rustics who, in
case of a lost hawk, may give useful information. He should also have
a field-block or two, or at least some pegs for pegging down a hawk by
her leash, and a certain provision of food for feeding up hawks which
may have failed to kill anything, or which are not to be allowed to
regale themselves upon the quarry which they may take.

If the place where the hawks are to be flown is close at hand, and
there are not more hawks to be taken out than there are men to carry
them, a cadge may sometimes be dispensed with altogether, and the
light blocks which have been described as field-blocks can be brought
instead, taking care that there are enough of them for each hawk
(except the one which is for the time being about to be flown) to be
supplied with one when it is desired to put her down. In some cases
the hawk or hawks may even be taken out bareheaded, as for instance
when three merlins are carried by three men, each of whom knows how to
manage his part of the day's business. But in most cases where more
than two hawks have to be flown, it will be found best to hood up all
except the one which is first to be thrown off. For a hawk which is
bareheaded on the fist or on a field-block will bate very much if she
sees a flight is going on in which she cannot take part. Moreover, the
man who is carrying an unhooded hawk cannot follow a flight freely in
which another hawk is engaged, and, after assisting at the start, finds
himself obliged to see hawk and quarry sail away out of sight, while
compelled to stand almost still, rendering no service even as a marker,
and left in the lurch, with a toilsome walk or ride before him, which
very possibly he may not accomplish before another flight starts, in
which he will have even less part or lot.

In every kind of hawking the marshalling of the field is a most
important matter; so much so that success or failure sometimes depends
upon the manner in which the quarry has been walked up or approached.
For instance, in the pursuit of rooks, gulls, and larks, the chances
of a kill are comparatively remote if the quarry is down-wind when
the hawk is thrown off. On the other hand, in game-hawking, the
pursuer has a much better chance if the first stoop is made down-wind.
Consequently, in beating for grouse or partridges, the falconer will
start proceedings from the windward edge of his country, and keep
the game, as far as he can, always down-wind of his line of beaters;
whereas in the other cases the hawking party will begin to leeward,
and proceed as nearly as possible with their faces to the wind. In
other words, a hawk flown from the fist should be flown up-wind at her
quarry, and one which waits on should start down-wind at it. So well
established is this principle that when a rook is espied on the ground
to leeward, a whole party of mounted men will sometimes make a circuit
of a mile in length, in order to make sure of getting the wind of him
and giving the falcon a fair chance. When there is anything of a wind,
it is advisable for a lark-hawker, after making a beat to windward, to
return on his own tracks, with what is called a dead beat, and start
afresh on another march parallel to the first, so as to avoid putting
up a lark while walking in the wrong direction, and being reduced to
the alternative of either letting the merlin go on a sort of fool's
errand, or disappointing and vexing her by holding on to the jesses
when she jumps off.

The posting of markers is a matter requiring some skill and care, even
in the case where the falconer is well acquainted with his country.
It will be found of the greatest possible advantage to have plenty of
markers, especially where, as is often the case in game-hawking, all
or most of the men are unmounted. Before beginning to try the ground,
the falconer should detach men or boys to post themselves down-wind
in positions where they can command the most extensive view, and, as
it were, guard the approaches to any covert for which the quarry is
likely to make. Often it can be predicted with tolerable certainty
which plantation a rook or lark will choose as his place of refuge,
or at which thick hedge or piece of tall roots or of standing crops
a partridge will try to put in. Often, of course, there are two or
more spinnies or sheltering-places, either of which may attract the
fugitive. If these places are within sight of any marker with a good
pair of eyes, he will be able to tell the first comer-up whether the
flight ended in either of them, or went on in another direction.
Without such information much valuable time may be wasted in searching
a covert where neither hawk nor quarry is to be found. Markers are more
useful down-wind than up. For in all long flights where the quarry
takes the air, he is pretty sure, when hard pressed, to turn in that
direction, whilst in game-hawking it is always the object of the
beaters to drive the birds down-wind. Any marker, upon seeing a kill or
a put-in, should note as accurately as he can the exact spot, and then
stand still at his post until he can communicate with one of the field.
In open country all markers should remain at a distance of about half a
mile from the man carrying the hawk to be flown, and should shift their
position rapidly to another vantage-ground whenever the space between
them and the hawking party is much diminished or increased.

In rook-hawking the lookers-on must be mounted; and their horses ought
either to be very sure-footed or else well acquainted with the ground
on which the flights take place, which is often covered with ant-hills,
and in places bored by rabbit burrows. If the rider is to see anything
of the longest and best flights, his horse must be able to step out
in a gallop of a mile or so. In game- and lark-hawking it is less
necessary, and often impossible, for the men to be mounted; but in
these cases also it is of very great advantage for at least one man to
ride, so that he may follow a very long flight with a better chance of
keeping the hawk in view. The horseman has a double advantage when the
country is uneven. He can go faster, and he can also from his place
in the saddle see farther over the brow of a hill or undulation. But
ground which undulates in long ridges and valleys is to be mistrusted
by falconers. When a flight, commenced in one valley, goes over the
ridge which separates it from the next, it is impossible, unless there
is a marker on that ridge, to know where it may have ended. Here the
falconer, for once in his life, may hope that the ground on the other
side is not too open, and that there may be some small covert not far
off in which the quarry is pretty sure to have stopped if he got so
far. When a hawk goes out of sight over a ridge, the men following on
horseback should begin to spread out like a fan, and ride on, keeping
a good look-out for anything that may indicate the direction which the
flight has taken.

When a flight ends successfully, every person in the field should halt
at a hundred yards or so from the place where the hawk is on the ground
with the quarry in her foot. The falconer, or whoever it was that threw
off the hawk, will use his own judgment as to when he will make in and
take her up, and must go alone about this business, which, as we have
seen, is sometimes delicate enough. Although it is an unpardonable
mistake to make in too quickly, so as to alarm the hawk, yet it is not
wise to defer too long the business of taking up. For it is always
possible that a stray dog may rush in, or some other accident occur
which may frighten the hawk just at the time when you most wish to save
her from any such alarm.

If for any reason you wish your hawk to eat her quarry where she has
killed, attach the leash to her jesses and to a peg in the ground, or
to a field-block, leaving a man to watch her and keep a sharp look-out
against intruders. Although in the very open country, where alone the
long-winged hawks ought to be flown, there are not many interlopers in
the shape of stray dogs or tourists, yet it is wonderful how, with a
little bad luck at his heels, the falconer may be annoyed by unexpected
intruders. I well remember a valuable hawk being lost on Salisbury
Plain, not far from Stonehenge, by the appearance on the scene of an
object which one would hardly expect to see there, three miles from
the nearest village. The hawk, which was a bit shy to take up, was
discussing a well-earned meal upon a heap of stones by the side of a
cart-road, when along this road came a nurse-maid with a gaudy-hooded
perambulator. She got past the hawk, but not without exciting a large
share of its attention. Unfortunately, however, she caught sight of the
falconers hurrying up, and then of the hawk, and with that feeling of
curiosity which seems to be strongly developed in the genus nurse-maid,
turned the perambulator round, and began wheeling it straight towards
the hawk. This was altogether too much for the latter. Convinced that
some deadly mischief lurked in the strange machine approaching, she
picked up the remains of her quarry, and, taking it off with her, could
not be afterwards approached.

Only when the falconer is seen to have secured the victorious hawk,
and attached the leash to her jesses, is it permitted to the field
to go up. When time is precious, and there are a lot of hawks to be
flown, the line of march may proceed, leaving the work of taking up the
successful hawk to him who flew her; and when the next quarry is put
up, the next hawk in order may be thrown off by the man who carries
her. Otherwise it is best to get one flight altogether done with before
another is started. When the quarry has beaten off his pursuers and got
away, a lure or lures must be put in requisition; and one man, if he
can be spared, should remain, with lure in hand, near the place where
the hawk, if out of sight, was last seen. The others will follow on,
more or less quickly, in the direction she seemed to take. All trained
hawks have a certain inclination to return after an unsuccessful chase
towards the place from which they started in pursuit; and the man to
whom the easy duty of standing still is allotted generally has as good
a chance of taking up such a hawk as any one of those who have walked
or ridden forward.

When the quarry puts in, and the place is known or shrewdly guessed
at, generally all the field may participate more or less directly in
the work of getting him out. In magpie- and blackbird-hawking, this
routing out of the quarry is one of the most animated parts of the
day's proceedings. But everything must be done under the control and
direction of the head falconer. An amateur may do more harm than good,
nay, may spoil the whole job and disgust the hawk, by blundering on and
driving out the half-vanquished fugitive in a wrong direction, or at an
ill-chosen moment. The falconer himself learns by long experience many
of the little ways of birds that have put in--on which side of a fence
they will most likely be found; whether inside a hedge or in the long
grass or weeds outside it; which way his head is likely to be turned;
and whether he may be expected to jump up readily at a man's first
appearance, or to sit still and allow himself to be taken up in the
hand or kicked up with the foot. After a hard flight, in which he was
getting much the worst of it, the latter is a likely event; whereas if
the hawk was making a poor show, and did not press him hard, he will be
more ready to start again with fresh hopes of escape.

Some judgment is sometimes required to decide whether in any particular
case it is advisable to drive out quarry which has put in, or to pick
him up with the hand, if he will allow this, or to leave him alone
altogether. This last alternative is not so unlikely to be preferable
as a beginner might imagine. Suppose, for instance, that a very good
rook, after a hard flight with a young falcon, has managed to get to
a small tree which stands by itself, at a distance of a quarter of a
mile or less from a wood or big plantation. The hawk waits on, but
rather wide. By sending a boy up into the tree, you think you may most
likely get the rook out. Will you do so, or leave him alone, and take
down the falcon to the lure? If you rout the rook out, it is about ten
to one that he will get safe to the big covert. The hawk, if at all
wide when he makes his attempt, will hardly have time in so short a
distance to make even one stoop, and far less a fatal one. You will
have disappointed her, and perhaps disgusted her greatly with the
job of flying at rooks, never the most attractive of quarry. Many
a good falconer will prefer to call down the hawk, and, leaving the
rook to congratulate himself on his escape, reserve her for a fresh
start at a quarry which she will have a fairer chance of catching. In
lark-hawking, unless the country is extremely open, cases of this kind
often present themselves.

On the other hand, if there is a really good prospect of a successful
flight when the fugitive is routed out, it is, of course, very
encouraging to the hawk to put him up. Every effort should be made to
do this when the hawk is waiting on in a good position, so that, having
killed, she may be pleased with the whole performance, including the
men's share in it, and may perhaps imagine that the reason the quarry
was got out so conveniently for her was because she waited on well.
Hawks, whether waiting on in the air or at perch in a good place, soon
get to know very well what the men are about when hunting up a bird
that has put in. In the case of merlins, which naturally stand by on
the ground while a lark is being searched for, it is almost always
better to take them up on the fist as soon as it is determined to pick
up or try to capture the quarry. Otherwise the lark, having his wits
about him, may take advantage of a moment when the hawk is looking the
wrong way, and slip off unseen by her. Moreover, even if she sees him
go, she will not start from the ground with so good a chance as from
the elevation, small though it is, of your fist. As for sparrow-hawks
and goshawks, they may, when a quarry puts in, either be called to
the hand or allowed to wait close by at the standpoint which they
themselves chose. Many of them prefer the latter plan whenever there is
a tree handy, as from it they get a better view and more impetus for
their stoop. Lanners, when flown at partridges in an enclosed country,
may also be encouraged to go to perch in this way.

There are some occasions when it is quite permissible to capture
with the hand a bird which has put in. Suppose that you are carrying
a first-rate merlin which is short of work and for which you are
particularly anxious to find hard flights and plenty of them. Now,
when a lark gets up which is either so young or so deep in the moult
that he cannot live long in the air before such a merlin, you are in
presence of that very eventuality which you most wished to avoid.
There is the prospect of a quick and easy kill, which is about the
least likely thing in the world to encourage a hawk to a severe flight
afterwards. The best that you can hope for is that the lark, seeing
his inferiority, as he is sure to do,--for all wild birds are very good
judges of such a matter,--will flop down in front of the hawk--or just
behind her, if the first stoop has been avoided--in some place where
there is just enough covert for the hawk to be unable to espy and jump
upon him. Then, when you come up, the lark, which knows as well as you
do what fate awaits him if he gets up again, will be very likely indeed
to let you seize him in your hand. Will you, then, let that bad lark
go before that good merlin? Not if you have any wish to keep up or
improve the excellence of the latter. If you have in the background an
inferior hawk to enter, or to encourage after an unsuccessful flight,
you may start her at the captured lark, taking great care that she does
not know that he has ever been captured. Or you may consign him to a
safe place where he will not be damaged, and save him for a time when
a bagged lark may be of invaluable service to you as a live lure for a
lost hawk. Or what you will probably like best will be to let him go
when no merlin is by. Similar cases will occur with other quarry and
other hawks; but they are pretty frequent in the case of larks, which
at moulting-time differ more than any other birds in their pluck and
powers of flying.

When a hawk is new to the work of taking wild quarry she should be
allowed to kill it and to break in and eat at least some part of
it. But when she is _au fait_ at the business the humane man will
often be glad if he can save the victim's life, and this he will not
unfrequently be able to do. Unless the quarry has been struck on the
head or has a wing broken, no real damage is at all likely to have
been done except in cases where the particular hawk has a specially
hard stoop of her own, and is fond of cutting down her quarry instead
of binding to it. For herons, gulls, rooks, and larks, after they have
been taken, it is often pretty easy for the falconer, if he is up in
reasonable time, to substitute the pelt of another bird which has been
killed before. As I write this page I hear the singing of a lark in
a cage before me which was captured by Jubilee after a long ringing
flight, and saved from him while he was recovering his wind.

When it is found necessary to get bagged larks for entering a hobby--I
have sometimes used one for entering merlins--they may be obtained in
this way. Stick two wattled hurdles into the ground three inches apart
and side by side in the middle of a very big field where there are
larks. Stuff up the space between the two hurdles with loose straw, all
except about a foot at each end. Then take out a merlin and beat the
field, driving towards the hurdles. When a lark gets up, if the hawk
presses him hard, he will go to the shelter which is so inviting. Then
taking down your merlin, and giving her a tiring to amuse her, go and
pick out the lark from the straw near one end of the hurdles.

I am aware that some writers--and those of the highest authority--have
recommended the use of bagged larks after ringing flights when the
quarry has put in and cannot quickly be got out; and that the plan is
advocated especially in the case of merlins flown at larks. I venture
to think, however, that it is a plan which must be resorted to with
very great discretion, and only in extreme cases. The idea, of course,
is that the bagged bird, let loose at the place where the wild one
was seen to put in, is mistaken for the latter by the hawk, which
consequently supposes when she has killed that her victim is the one
at which she first started. But does the hawk ever make this mistake?
A lark, for instance, which has flown a ringing flight is necessarily
a good one, whereas the bagged one--unless by a rare accident you have
picked one up just before--is necessarily a poor one and generally a
bad one; especially if he has been dragged about in a bag or box for an
hour or more. Will the merlin believe that this third- or fourth-rate
performer is the same bird which a few minutes ago took her up after
him into the clouds? Would you yourself, if you had chased a pickpocket
or a welsher for half a mile, mistake his identity five minutes
afterwards? And the difference between a good and a bad lark is much
greater than the difference between a good and a bad pickpocket!

There are several other objections to letting bagged quarry go as
personating the real. For instance, a bad lark is generally taken in
the air, and taken easily; and with a lark so taken merlins almost
always fly a good way before coming down with them to the ground.
There is then the risk of not being able to find them; and at anyrate
the hawk has learnt how easy it is to carry her quarry,--a species of
knowledge which it is a main object of the falconer not to let her
acquire. Of course a light creance may be attached to the bagged bird,
and the carrying prevented, but this aggravates the dissimilarity
between the sham quarry and the one which was put in. On the whole,
considering the difficulties of carrying bagged quarry about, and
producing them at the right moment in the right place, I doubt if,
in the moulting season at all events, it is wise to attempt the
stratagem at all. A hawk which is fast enough and clever enough to
make a ringing quarry put in is generally able, in a good country, to
take him when he has done so; and, except in a good country, ringing
flights should not be attempted. When the moult is over, if any merlins
continue to persevere at larks it is possible that the device might
be adopted with advantage. The bagged lark would then be given, not
with any idea that it will be seriously mistaken for the real quarry,
but as a _bonne bouche_ simply, to show the hawk that her prolonged
exertions in bringing the quarry down have not been unprofitable to
her. At this period the very best hawks, even when flown in casts, will
put in ringing quarry in places where they cannot be found, and, if
repeatedly so disappointed, will give up that sort of flight; whereas
if, when they have beaten the lark in the air, and thus played their
fair share in the game, the man can occasionally make a show of playing
his part by producing a live quarry in the spot where the real quarry
ought to be found, the hawks may accept the situation, though without
being really deceived, and persevere. Unfortunately, in these cases how
seldom it is that anyone can arrive at the spot in time to thus gratify
the hawks! They will, after their intended victim has put in, take
their stand close to the place, peeping and prying about, and perhaps
trying to "walk it up"; and may there remain for a few minutes. Five
minutes is as much as you can at all reasonably expect. How is the man,
half a mile behind where the hawks came down, to find and get to them
in five minutes? If he catches sight of them at all, it will often be
by mere good luck. More often than not his first intimation as to where
the flight ended is to be gained by noticing from which direction the
hawk came to her lure. For as soon as the hawk engaged in a flight goes
out of sight, either in the sky or over a ridge, or by reason merely of
the distance to which she has gone, the lure should be produced, and
kept in evidence as long as the search is continued.

In finding a hawk after a long flight it is useful to bear in mind
a few hints which experience has taught. Of course in the case of
the bigger hawks the bell is an invaluable guide. The hawker's ear
should be always ready to catch the faintest sound of this well-known
tell-tale. But merlins seldom or never wear bells in the field. It
will be well, therefore, to give some brief directions as to finding
these little hawks. These will be useful also in searching for others
when not found by the bell. The person who was nearest to the hawk
when she went out of sight will get on as fast as he can to the place
over which he last saw her in the air, and may with advantage give
notice to others following behind by holding up a hand or making any
other signal that has been agreed upon. He will then, if there is a
marker within hail, shout or signal a demand for information. If none
is forthcoming, he will note with his eye the coverts or places of
refuge on ahead of him, and consider which of them was most probably
the destination of the quarry. The most likely is certainly the one
which lies in a straight line with the course which the two birds were
taking; and the next most likely is the nearest in an oblique direction
on the down-wind side. If the place which seems most likely should be
a plantation, copse, or spinny, let him then, by tracing an imaginary
straight line over the intervening ground, decide which is the nearest
part of this covert--irrespective of wind--to the spot whereon he
stands. In this spot, and no other, the quarry will probably have put
in. So constant is this choice by a lark of the very nearest bush in
any thicket, that, after searching it thoroughly without success, I
should be inclined to leave that plantation altogether and try some
other place of shelter. If the hawk has killed, she will be either
in the covert or somewhere not far off, where she may have taken her
victim to devour him in the open, free from the danger of unwelcome
intruders, who in any thick place might come up unawares. Such a spot
will generally be tolerably conspicuous. A mound of earth, a heap of
stones, a ridge of raised turf or ant-hill is often chosen. When the
ground is wet, merlins and hobbies will sometimes carry their quarry a
long way merely in the hope of finding a dry place whereon to deplume
and devour it. I have known a merlin carry nearly half a mile on a very
hot day in order to get under the shade of a distant tree.

Many minutes will elapse between the time when the quarry has been
taken and the moment when the hawk has completely finished her repast.
Accordingly, the search may be prolonged for at least half an hour
before the chance of success is given up and the hawk pronounced "lost"
for the time being. Some hawks when in high condition will not break
in to their quarry or even plume it before their master or some other
person comes up, but, after killing it, stand expectant, looking round
about them, and apparently in a sort of brown study, forgetful that
such a thing as hunger exists. Some are even so little eager to begin
upon the excellent meal which is before them, that they will jump from
it to the fist as soon as it is within reach. I have known a merlin
fly her best at a mounting lark, take it after a hard flight, and
descend with it to a heap of stones. Lighting a cigar, and sitting down
beside a neighbouring rick to wait for her to break in, I have seen her
presently go off unconcernedly to another resting-place with nothing in
her feet, and, walking up to the heap of stones, have found the lark
lying there, dead and unplucked. The hawk must have been flying almost
uniquely out of love for the sport, and not with a view to satisfying
any hunger which she felt at the time; nor is this the only time that I
have known such a thing occur.

As a rule, however, trained hawks in high fettle are very far from
preferring a journey to the fist or the lure to devoting their
attention to wild quarry. Much more often the difficulty is to persuade
them that for the moment they must return to their place on the hand
in order that they may be provided with what they are hankering
after--another flight. Almost all hawks which are in the habit of
constantly killing and being fed up upon wild birds develop a passion
for sport, and will not easily, when once they have been thrown off,
abandon the idea that they are to kill something before they come back.
It is for this reason that I have advocated the frequent practice of
flying merlins to the lure and sparrow-hawks to the fist, not only when
the hawk is not to be used in the field, but when she is. Few things
are more vexatious than the delay which occurs when a hawk, however
good in other respects, is bad at the lure, and keeps the whole field
waiting until it is her good pleasure to come down. Such performers as
Queen and Sis, and the famous rook-hawk Bois-le-Duc, which fly for a
week or more, killing daily without any miss, are in danger of quite
forgetting what a lure is like, unless they are exercised to it for
mere practice from time to time. Here, again, the question of dieting
will be found to be of much importance. A hawk may be ready enough to
fly wild quarry long before she is ready to come to the lure. An extra
hour of fasting on the one hand, or an extra ounce of food on the
other, may make all the difference in the alacrity of the hawk when
required to come down.

In spite of all the falconer's care, there will be times when a hawk
stands obstinately at perch, refusing contemptuously to come, or
perhaps even to look, at the dead lure. On such occasions, if time
is valuable, it may sometimes be expedient to resort to the live
lure. This, however, should always be regarded as a last resource. If
reserved for special occasions it will never fail to bring down the
most disobedient offender, but if live lures are commonly used they
lose part of their efficacy, and are apt to become almost as much
despised as the ordinary dead ones. Of course when live lures are
used pains will be taken to make the process as little disagreeable
as possible to the creature whose life is risked. When a pigeon is
employed, as it almost always is for any of the big hawks, a pair of
soft and broad jesses should be attached to its legs, and the ends of
those to a strong but fine cord or creance, or a noose of soft cord
may be passed round each leg by means of the double-ring knot shown in
Figs. 26, 27.

When the pigeon (or lark or other bird) is thrown up it should be
allowed to fly a short distance, then gently stopped by the creance and
allowed to alight on the ground. As the hawk comes at it, it can be
jerked away with a steady pull, and, as the hawk throws up, it can be
secured and hidden, while a dead pigeon of the same colour is thrown
down in its place. No great amount of dexterity is required to execute
this little manoeuvre. The hawk will be taken up on the dead bird, and
the live one liberated or returned to its dovecot none the worse for
its perilous adventure. It is only when the falconer bungles his part
of the business that the live lure is struck and either killed or hurt.

For sparrow-hawks or merlins, when they decline to come down, and stand
waiting for the chance of another flight, another device may sometimes
be employed with a view to saving time. There has been an unsuccessful
flight, and the little hawk goes to perch upon a rick, neglectful of
the proffered fist or lure. She came out, as she has made up her mind,
to taste blood, and blood she means to have, if she has to wait for
it till sundown. As you cannot afford to wait her good pleasure till
then, you may settle the matter by a sort of compromise. Leave her to
herself upon the rick, and walk the surrounding country until you put
up the quarry of which she is so much in want. By driving the fields
or hedges constantly towards her you may beat a considerable extent of
ground. If you draw it blank go on a little farther. As the hawk sees
you beginning to beat that farther country, ten to one she will come
on after you and take up her position on a fresh resting-place nearer
the scene of your operations. You may go on thus sometimes for quite
a long walk, the hawk not, indeed, standing on your fist in orthodox
style, but keeping in a place where she can start at anything you put
up with a fair chance of overtaking it. As soon as anything so put up
has been taken, you pick up your rebellious hawk in the same way as if
she had flown from the fist, and, if you are wise, you do not give her
a big crop. In the case of merlins there is another plan: you may fly
another hawk while the first is sulking or fooling away her time on her
self-selected perch. The latter will indubitably join in when you throw
off the hawk on your fist, and you will have a double flight, after
which, if it ends in a kill, you will be able to take up both hawks
easily enough.

In theory, after every unsuccessful flight the hawk ought to observe
certain fixed rules of conduct. Peregrines and almost all other
long-winged hawks ought first to throw up over the place where the
quarry has put in, and then wait on a while for the falconer to come
up. Short-winged hawks, and often lanners, should take perch as near as
they conveniently can to the quarry's place of refuge; and merlins will
get still nearer, very often waiting on the ground within a few feet
of the hidden lark. From these various situations they ought, if in
proper order, to be ready to come whenever the falconer wishes--to the
fist if they are short-winged, to the lure if long-winged. It is also,
alas! possible that they may have failed through being outflown--beaten
fairly in the air. Directly the falconer sees, by the spreading of the
hawk's wings, that this sad event has occurred, he will begin to swing
his lure, and in such case my lady ought--and generally will--at once
rally to headquarters. The young falconer should endeavour from the
first to keep his charges in such condition that they will always come
to the lure. If, at the same time, they are keen enough to do this
and high-fed enough to do themselves justice in a hard flight, they
may be called really well trained. Here lies the real difficulty of
hawking--to strike the balance justly between too servile obedience and
too disdainful independence. Every day, and with every hawk, whether
eyess or passager, the falconer is confronted with it, only in the case
of passagers it is naturally more obvious. Wild-caught hawks are only
brought by degrees, and with a good deal of trouble, to really like
the dead lure, whereas to most eyesses their first notion of working
for their living is connected with the slight trouble of flying either
to the lure or to the hack board. Yet of the two it is much more
essentially necessary that the passage hawk should come down quickly
after failing in a flight, for if she does not, she will hang about for
a more or less limited time near the spot where she lost her intended
prey. And every additional minute that she stays out alone, especially
if out of her master's sight, she is being reminded more and more
of her old life at large. Then, if even she does not go soaring or
prowling about in the deliberate search for quarry, she may espy some
passing wood-pigeon or other too tempting bird, and be off in pursuit
before any of the hawking party are near enough to keep her in sight.
And a passage hawk which has flown and fed herself on her own account
is, of course, much less likely to be recovered than an eyess, to
which real liberty is a blessing hitherto unknown. With the latter the
balance of danger lies often on the side of making them too fond of the
lure.

The falconer should have with him in the field a pencil and small
notebook, or at the least a card, upon which he can jot down a brief
note or record of each flight, so that on his return home he can enter
in his quarry-book a summary of the day's sport. The performances
of each hawk should also be recorded in this book, as it is only by
reference to this authentic volume, correctly kept day after day, that
it can be known and remembered how she has acquitted herself. On the
chance that it may be useful as a specimen, I give here an extract from
the quarry-book which I keep, and which has been found to record pretty
fully and in an exceedingly small space the chief points of interest in
every day's proceedings. The first column gives the month and the name
of each hawk, the second and following columns give the numbers of the
days of the month and the scores made by each hawk. The units mean that
a flight was successful, the zeros that it was not. When a fraction,
such as 1/2, occurs it signifies that the hawk flew double, in company
with another, and that the flight ended in a kill. The sign 0/0 stands
for a double flight in which the quarry escaped. L means that a hawk
was lost or left out, and C that she was recovered. At the foot may be
a short note as to the day's weather.

  +------------+-------+-----------+-----------+---------------+
  | September. |   1   |     2     |     3     |       4       |
  +------------+-------+-----------+-----------+---------------+
  | Eva        |  ...  |   1 1 1   | 0 1/2 1   | 1 0  1  1 1   |
  |            |       |           |           |               |
  | May        |  ...  |   1 1 1   |   1/2 0 1 |   0 3/4 0 1 1 |
  |            |       |           |           |               |
  | Ruy Lopez  |  0 L  |    ...    | C       1 | 0 0 1/4 1     |
  +------------+-------+-----------+-----------+---------------+
  | Wind       | Gale. | 1/2 Gale. |   High.   |   Moderate.   |
  +------------+-------+-----------+-----------+---------------+

It is convenient also, and not at all troublesome, to keep a daily
record of the flights and kills up to date. Such a score will read as
follows:--

  +-----+----------------+----------------+----------------+-----------------+
  |1883.|      Eva.      |       May.     |    Ruy Lopez.  |      Total.     |
  +-----+----------------+--------+-------+--------+-------+--------+--------+
  |Sept.|Flights.| Kills.|Flights.| Kills.|Flights.| Kills.|Flights.| Kills. |
  +-----+--------+-------+--------+-------+--------+-------+--------+--------+
  |  1  | 43     | 34    | 51     | 33    | 40     | 28    |   134  |  95    |
  |     |        |       |        |       |        |       |        |        |
  |  2  | 46     | 37    | 54     | 36    | 40     | 28    |   140  | 101    |
  |     |        |       |        |       |        |       |        |        |
  |  3  | 48-1/2 | 38-1/2| 56-1/2 | 37-1/2| 41     | 29    |   146  | 105    |
  |     |        |       |        |       |        |       |        |        |
  |  4  | 53-1/2 | 42-1/2| 61     | 39-1/2| 44-1/2 | 30-1/2|   159  | 112-1/2|
  +-----+--------+-------+--------+-------+--------+-------+--------+--------+

Or the double flights may be recorded separately, which is perhaps a
better plan. In the general score I mark 1/2 to each hawk which has
done any work in a double flight, although in the individual score for
the day the fraction set opposite her name may be a larger or smaller
one, according as she has done a larger or smaller proportion of the
work.

In the same book which contains such tables it is well to write down
some account of any flights which seem to deserve particular notice, as
well as notes as to the behaviour of the hawks, their state of health
and condition, and any physic which has been administered to them. In
fact the book may be made not only a bald record of mere results, but
a running commentary upon your sport as it proceeds, to which you may
refer not only for pleasant memories in the past, but for hints and
warnings for the future.

In lark-hawking the character of the flights is so different, as has
already been explained, that a record of them is hardly complete unless
it contains some further indications than appear in the above tables.
I add, therefore, a specimen of a score kept in rather fuller form,
which, although it may seem rather elaborate in print, is simple and
easy enough to keep when in manuscript. Here the lines reserved for
each hawk must be somewhat larger than in the other table, so that
each unit standing on a line with the hawk's name may have a letter
or indication of some kind placed immediately above or below it. The
method of keeping such a record may be best illustrated by explaining
it in detail.

  +-------------+---------------+-----------+-----------+
  | 1888. Sept. |       1       |     2     |     3     |
  +-------------+---------------+-----------+-----------+
  |             |               |           |           |
  |             |    G R R      |  M  M G R | M M R RR  |
  | Pearl       |    1 0 1      | 0/0 1 1 1 | 1 1 0 1   |
  |             |      p        |  p  a p   | h a p p   |
  |             |               |           |           |
  |             |  M     M G M  |  M  M R   |           |
  | Ruby        | 3/4    0 1 1  | 0/0 1 ? L |  (1)  C   |
  |             |  a     p a pp |     a     |           |
  |             |               |           |           |
  |             |  M  R  M R M  |   G G R   |     R     |
  | Diamond     | 1/4 1  0 0 1  |   1 1 0   |     1     |
  |             |        p p    |       a   |           |
  |             |               |           |           |
  +-------------+---------------+-----------+-----------+
  | Wind        |     Fresh.    |  Strong.  | Moderate. |
  +-------------+---------------+-----------+-----------+
  | Weather     |    Cloudy.    | Showery.  |   Hot.    |
  +-------------+---------------+-----------+-----------+

Here, taking the first hawk's score, it appears that on the afternoon
of September 1 she took one ground lark (G) (see Chapter IX.).
Secondly, that she flew a ringing lark (R), which she beat in the air,
forcing it to put in (p), and that it could not be found or got up
again, and therefore does not count as a kill, but as a miss. Thirdly,
that she flew and killed another ringer, and that after these two hard
flights she was not flown again, but fed up. The next day, the wind
being strong, she began with a double flight at a mounting lark, in
which Ruby was her companion, and they bested the quarry, which put in,
but could not be found; then flew a mounting lark (M), and took it in
the air (a); and then a ground lark, which put in, but was routed up
and taken. Finally, having killed a ringer, she was fed up and excused
further flying. On September 3 the weather conditions were better, and
in the afternoon Pearl flew a mounting lark, which put in, and was
taken up by the hand (h). Had it been a good ringer probably it would
have been kicked up instead, on the chance of a good flight; and if
killed, the hawk might have been fed up. As, however, it was only a
"mounter," it was thought best to keep the hawk for the chance of a
ringer later on. The second lark, however, was also a mounter, and the
hawk, having taken it in the air, was flown again Then came a ringer,
which was well flown, and bested in the air, but escaped by putting in.
At length there was a successful flight at a ringer, which, however,
was not killed until it had been routed out from the shelter to which
it had put in, and afforded a second flight. The double RR over the
record of this item in the score shows that at the second start as well
as the first the flight was a ringing one.

Ruby's score begins on the morning of September 1 with a double flight
at a mounting lark, in which he did most of the work, and took the
quarry in the air. He is therefore credited with 3/4 of the lark, to
mark his superiority, whereas only 1/4 is scored to Diamond, who was
his companion in the flight. In the afternoon he puts in a mounter,
which is lost, kills a ground lark, and then puts in another mounter,
which is routed out, but puts in again, and is only taken when driven
out a second time from his hiding-place. Having stuck to this lark
well, and accurately marked the places where he put in, the little
jack is excused from further flying. Next day he begins with the
unsuccessful flight which he flew with Pearl. Then he takes a mounter
in the air, and at the next attempt goes up so far after a first-rate
ringer that no one can keep him in sight. As this lark was obviously
making for a big plantation towards which the flight went, and as the
hawk, though usually obedient to the lure, did not come to it or appear
again, it is almost certain that he must have killed. The fairest
way in such cases is to mark the flight by a (?), and not count it
either as a kill or a miss in the general score. The L shows that Ruby
was left out, and the (1) on the following morning shows that it was
ascertained in some way that while roaming about on his own account he
killed (and ate) a lark. The C indicates his recovery late in the day;
and the manner of his recapture, of course, is referred to in the notes.

Diamond's first item is the 1/4 credited to him for the part he played
in the double flight with Ruby. He goes on by killing a ringer in
the morning; and for his pains is rewarded with a good half of it,
being then reserved for the last of the afternoon's flights, when the
half-lark may have ceased to trouble his digestive organs. In the
evening he puts in first a mounter and then a ringer, and then having
with some difficulty and after a long flight killed a good mounter, is
fed up just before it gets dark. On the morrow he falls in with two
ground larks in succession, and kills them both. Hitherto, ever since
the double flight with Ruby, in which he was outpaced, he has been
doing well. Though not a fast hawk he has persevered and bested all
his larks in the air, though he has put them in so far off that it was
difficult to find them. But now he is to disgrace himself by showing
the white feather. He starts at a good ringer, but, finding it too fast
for him, comes back humbly to the lure. The little (a), which is a mark
of honour when seen under a kill, is a terrible blemish to a score when
found under a "duck's egg"--showing that not the quarry but the hawk
has been beaten in the air. After this sad exhibition Diamond is fed
up, and examined to see whether by some mistake he has perchance been
allowed to get thin. If he has, there is an excuse for his poltroonery.
Anyhow he will be well fed now, and if he does not fly better to-morrow
physicking may be advisable. A medical council must be held over his
case. On the next day, however, he re-establishes his character.
Lighting at the first trial upon a ringer, he sticks to it like a man,
puts it in, and then takes it cleverly enough. Of course after this
success, following upon the fiasco of yesterday, he is at once fed up.
Peeping a little behind the scenes we may, it is true, suspect that
the ringer, though quite properly marked so in the score-sheet, would
not have figured as such if Pearl had had to deal with him instead of
Diamond. He would have tried to take the air, certainly, and mounted
as if intending to go up in circles. But Pearl would have been up to
him before he completed the first ring, and from that moment, keeping
the upper hand of him, she would have given him trouble enough to shift
from her stoops without nursing any such ambition as to fly right away
from her.

A score-sheet thus kept gives at a glance an excellent idea of the
performances of the hawks referred to. As their several scores are
usually kept on the same page in successive lines, a comparison between
them can be readily made at any time; and if a period of two or three
weeks is taken, the best average made in the time will usually belong
to the best hawk. If only a week or less is brought into the account,
it may easily be that a very good hawk by a run of bad luck scores
fewer kills and makes a lower average than a more moderate performer.
The true test of merit is the ringing flights; and if these alone
are considered, the result of an analysis will infallibly settle the
question which is the better hawk. Thus in the score last above given,
there is no difficulty in perceiving that Pearl, who killed three
ringers out of five, and put in the other two, was a much better hawk
during the short period under notice than Diamond, who killed two out
of four and failed once to put his ringer in. The mere number of quarry
killed in a season is not a conclusive test of merit; for it is more
creditable to a hawk to kill one ringer than half a dozen ground larks.
The greatest number of larks I have killed in one season with any hawk
in single flights is 106. But Jubilee, who accomplished this feat, was
certainly not so good as his sister, Queen, who killed 95 in the same
time. Nor was the latter--I think--as good as Eva, who killed only
about 65.

The same method of scoring might be, with some adaptation, used for
rook-hawks, and possibly for game-hawks. The short-winged varieties are
usually flown at such a number of different quarry that another system
would have to be employed. But in all cases the quarry-book should be
a sort of diary in which may be traced the history of each hawk as she
improved from time to time or fell off in merit. The less experience
the falconer has the fuller he should make his notes. Both in making
them and in referring to them questions will arise about which he is in
doubt; and practice alone, or timely hints from a master in the art,
will solve the difficulties. Any falconer who has kept diaries for any
long period will find that at the end of it he has altered several of
the methods which he practised at the beginning. It requires some time
and trouble, no doubt, to write up the notes every day. But, as it has
been before observed, no one can expect without a good deal of toil to
become a successful falconer.

It will be seen by a look at the score-sheet, as well as by perusing
any falconer's notes, that first-rate results are arrived at partly
by the excellence of the hawks flown and partly by the activity and
diligence of the falconer and his assistants. It is no use for a falcon
to bring down her ringing rook from the clouds, or a merlin her lark
from out of sight in the sky, if when the quarry has put in there is no
man forthcoming to drive it out again. The sparrow-hawk will make but
a poor show unless she is backed up energetically by an excited field
of beaters; and tiercels will soon give up flying magpies with any zest
if they find that their friends down below are slack or incompetent in
playing their part of the game. You think yourself entitled to grumble
at your hawk, and perhaps call her ugly names, if just at the moment
you call upon her she does not fly her best. Do you not think that she
also is aggrieved if you at the same time, chosen as it is by you, do
not give her the necessary amount of help? Incapacity or laziness on
the part of a man or a dog provokes the contempt and disgust of a
trained hawk, who is often a much better critic in such matters than
the ignorant may suppose. Be careful, therefore, if you want to retain
the respect of your hawk, not to give her just cause to complain of
you; not to be slow when you should be quick, or hasty when caution or
deliberation is needed; not to seem inattentive to her fair and just
requirements. And above all, not to commit in her presence anything
which she knows is a gross mistake--in short, not to make a fool either
of yourself or her.



CHAPTER XV

Lost Hawks


After a day of unsuccessful flights the falconer returning sadly with
his discouraged hawks may derive some consolation from the thought
that he has at least brought them all safe back. On the other hand,
the triumphs of the most successful afternoon are a good deal marred
when one of the best performers has been left out, and the quarry-book
has to be noted up, opposite her name, with the unpleasant word
"lost." Foremost amongst the dangers and difficulties which beset
the falconer, more plentifully than any other sportsman, is the risk
which constantly hangs over him of losing the faithful ally upon whose
service he depends for carrying on his sport. Every time that he
puts a hawk upon the wing he has to face this contingency, which is
more or less probable according to the nature of the flight which is
attempted. No questions are more often addressed by the uninitiated to
a falconer than these: "How do you get your hawks back?" and "Do they
always come to you?" If he is rash enough to answer the last query in
the affirmative he may be utterly confounded by having to confess that
the very next time he flew his hawk she did not come back! Of course,
in exercising an obedient hawk when she is sharp-set the risk run is
infinitesimally small. But it would be wrong even then to say that it
does not exist. And unfortunately the harder the flight undertaken, and
the better the hawk, the greater is the danger which her owner has to
face.

It is unnecessary to enumerate the many causes which may lead to
the loss of a hawk. They have been mentioned incidentally in many
of the foregoing pages. But it is well to remember that a very
large percentage of the losses which annually occur is due to mere
carelessness on the part of the falconer. As long as you make
no mistake, and give your hawks a fair chance, the danger of an
out-and-out loss is reduced to very moderate dimensions. The worst
cases, as well as the commonest, are those in which the man is blamable
for some imprudence, and not the hawk for any vice or fault. A much
greater number of hawks annually get loose with the leash still
attached to their jesses than anyone would be likely to suppose.
Whenever such a mishap occurs a search should instantly be made for the
fugitive, for every minute which elapses between the time of her loss
and her recovery makes it more probable that she will not again be seen
alive. The long tail of the leash becomes a sort of death-trap affixed
to the hawk herself. As often as she takes perch in a tree, or flies
over a telegraph-wire, or near to anything around which the hanging
strap can coil itself, there is the chance of its getting entangled, in
which case the hawk, hanging head downwards will, after many struggles,
perish ignominiously, perhaps before the eyes of her helpless owner.

Even if the leash is not attached when the hawk gets away, or luckily
drops out of the swivel, there is no little danger that the jesses,
joined together at their ends by the swivel, will get hitched up, and
a similar disaster result. All accidents which occur in this way are
due to sheer carelessness. No hawk should ever be put upon the wing at
all unless her swivel has first been detached. Even the jesses, if they
have big slits in their ends, should be straightened out when they have
been freed from the swivel, so that there is no chance of their getting
hooked up on a nail or strong thorn.

On the first intelligence that a trained hawk has got loose, the
falconer should start in pursuit, provided with a dead lure in any
case, and, if the hawk was not sharp-set at the time, with a live
lure also. The more searchers that can be sent out, the better;
and these should make inquiries of every person they meet. Any of
them who are not competent to take up a hawk themselves may carry a
whistle, or pistol, or any signal agreed upon, by which they may call
up the falconer if they get tidings or a view of the truant. In the
latter case they must take care not to alarm the hawk or give her any
inducement to move about, for each time she moves she runs a fresh
risk of getting entangled and brought to grief. The search for a hawk
which has a leash or swivel attached is not altogether the same as
the search for one that has only her bells and jesses. For the fear
is now not that the runaway, having tasted the sweets of liberty,
will little by little acquire or resume the habits of a wild hawk,
but that, being still as ready as ever to come to the lure or the
fist, she will involuntarily commit suicide by hanging herself head
downwards before you have time to find her and interfere. Thus the
searchers will go about their work with all the speed consistent with
thoroughness, visiting first the places where there is most danger of a
fatal disaster, such as wire fencing, telegraph lines, and such bushy
or thorny trees as the lost hawk has ever been known to frequent. In an
open country loose hawks with their leashes on will sometimes escape
with their lives for days together, and even kill quarry, and keep
themselves in high condition. These, however, are the exceptions; and
in a wooded country such a fortunate issue to the adventure would be
unlikely.

When the loss of a hawk has occurred in consequence of her having
killed out of sight, and gorged herself before she could be discovered,
the chances are that she will remain for the night in the neighbourhood
of the place where she flew the quarry upon which she dined. A visit
will be paid, therefore, next morning at daybreak to this part of the
country; and the falconer must not assume that if he fails to find
quickly the object of his search she is to be looked for somewhere
else. For it is unlikely, wherever she is, that she will pay any
attention to him or his lure until she has cast. This she may not do,
especially if it was late in the previous day when she was lost, until
some hours after a spring or summer sunrise. Consequently, even if
the searcher gets away from this most likely spot, and explores the
plantations for considerable distances round about, he should return
to it from time to time, on the chance that she has been there all the
while, waiting till her appetite came before making her presence known.
As the day grows older, the radius within which the search is continued
may be indefinitely enlarged. Every labourer going to his work, every
farmer going his rounds, every shepherd walking towards his fold,
should be interrogated when met, and asked, if they see anything of the
lost hawk, to report it in some way. The neighbouring keepers may be
warned, although probably they will long before this have been informed
that trained hawks are in the neighbourhood. A man will hardly fly his
hawks in a part of the world where he does not know that the keepers
are to be relied upon.

When the hawk has been lost through raking away or checking at
chance quarry, the work of finding her necessitates often very great
exertions and fatigue. There is nothing particularly unusual in the
fact of a passage peregrine wandering off in an afternoon seven or
eight miles from the place where she was lost sight of. To explore at
all thoroughly an area eight miles long and ten broad at the far end
means, of course, a great many miles travelling, even if the country
is exceptionally open and clear of trees. Nevertheless, the dull and
dreary journey must be undertaken if there is a real desire to recover
the wanderer. The best hawk-finder is he who travels the farthest and
sees the greatest number of possible assistants in his search. If you
make an excuse for shirking a visit to a particular copse or valley,
it is as likely as not that you will hear afterwards, to your chagrin,
that the missing hawk was seen there, and might easily have been
caught. If you will not walk a quarter of a mile out of the way to hail
a passer-by who is going in what you think an unlikely direction, that
will perhaps be the very man who, ten minutes afterwards, comes across
the object of your pursuit.

There is not much to guide a man in choosing what direction he should
prefer for going about his search. But, other influences being equal,
the truant is more likely to have gone down-wind than up. Weak hawks
especially, when they have no particular object in facing the wind,
are apt to shirk the trouble of flying against it, and drift away
to leeward. Of course, if it is an eyess that has gone astray, and
the place where she was hacked is within easy reach, there is a more
or less strong probability that she may have gone towards it. Eyess
hobbies, when lost, are said almost invariably to go back to the hack
place in this way. Merlins have been known to do so, though not within
my own experience. But a really strong and fast hawk, in full flying
order, seems often to assume almost at once the rôle of a wild one.
Such a hawk, especially if fond of soaring, soon sees that there will
be little difficulty in finding her own living. And she sets about it
without any particular influence to guide her, starting in whatever
direction chance may decide, and shifting her ground as capriciously
as it is possible to imagine. When Tagrag, already mentioned, was out,
he would be reported one night in a certain plantation, and early the
next morning would be seen three or four miles off on the opposite side
of the small village where he ought to have been housed, and where his
brothers were (or ought to have been) lamenting his absence from the
screen-perch.

Farm-houses and all habitations near the spot where a hawk was lost
should be visited without delay. Not only are they generally frequented
by either pigeons or fowls, towards which a stray peregrine or goshawk
may well cast a hungry glance, but their shelter is always a tempting
haven for any wandering house-pigeon which may have been chased and
bested in the air. As the falconer proceeds from place to place,
swinging his lure and calling or whistling, if it is his custom to use
such means of bringing up his hawk, he should note the behaviour of the
rooks and other birds within sight The presence of any hawk, especially
if carrying a bell, causes some excitement amongst the feathered world.
The unwarlike wanderers of the air, when an armed cruiser comes in
sight, exhibit some such signs of panic as might be expected of a fleet
of merchantmen if a hostile battleship were viewed in the offing. The
symptoms most remarkable are generally those observed in a flight of
rooks, which often begins to whirl about in the air, as if it were
composed of escaped lunatics, shooting up and wheeling suddenly in
unexpected directions, filling the air at the same time with discordant
croaks and screams, and with big black specks, which hurl themselves
about as if driven by impulses which they themselves cannot understand
or control. But many other birds, by their strange movements and queer
attitudes, will betray the near presence of a hawk to whose visits they
are unaccustomed. When a hawk has killed anything, and is pluming or
eating it, crows, magpies, and jays have a way of sitting on the top
of a neighbouring tree, craning their necks, and peering down with a
morbid curiosity as they watch an operation of which they strongly
disapprove.

Rooks, starlings, and small birds are all fond of mobbing a strange
hawk when they think they can do it with impunity, and swallows
occasionally indulge in the same rather adventurous amusement. It
is therefore often worth while to make a _détour_ and investigate,
whenever any bird seems to be engaged in eccentric and unusual
movements. Of the thousand and one causes which may have given rise
to such vagaries, only the most practised eye can determine which are
likely to be connected with the appearance of the lost hawk, and which
are not. The safest plan is to go up and make sure that the commotion
is not to be explained in this way. Of course when a hawk has been in
the habit of flying any particular quarry, a disturbance amongst birds
of that species is more likely to arise from her presence than in other
cases. But most peregrines, when they are at large, are fond of taking
occasional shots at lapwings, though very seldom with success. Merlins,
though they are most partial to skylarks, will make stoops at any bird
which they suppose they can tackle, from a wood-pigeon to a wren; and
the short-winged hawks are, of course, almost always ready for any
bloodthirsty adventure.

Fortunately stray hawks, at least of the long-winged kinds, do not
usually betake themselves to thick places where they cannot easily
be seen. In open countries, where alone they should be flown, there
is no great choice for them of convenient perching-places. Probably
the most likely of all stations for them to take up are the tops of
ricks; and here a peregrine, or even a merlin, can be distinguished
at a great distance by a pair of good field-glasses. As a rule, the
best hawks like the highest perches, where they can command, as from
a watch-tower, the farthest view of the country over which they hope
for a chance flight. A hawk which takes perch on low railings or on
the ground is not usually much of a performer. Some of these are very
fond of perching on fallow-fields, where it is almost impossible for
an unpractised eye to distinguish their plumage against the colour of
the ground. A knowledge of their ways will make the falconer aware
that in such a field, however apparently flat, there will be either
mounds or small peaks and projections of earth where clods have been
unevenly turned up, which a hawk is sure to choose as a resting-place
in preference to the surrounding ground for some distance on every
side. The predilections of each of his hawks for particular kinds of
perching-places will generally have been noted to some extent by the
falconer, who will naturally look for each of them on the sort of
stand which he knows that she most often prefers. Trees, while still
leafy, are some of the worst places in which to have to search, and of
course they are very common resorts. A lost hawk may be watching her
pursuers as unseen as King Charles in the oak, and not deigning to come
down to the most enticing dead lure, until, having cast, she feels an
inclination to do so.

When a lost hawk is not recovered early in the morning a very good
plan is to fly another, either at the lure or at some quarry, in the
neighbourhood of the place where the loss occurred, or where you have
ascertained that the truant was last seen. And the higher the decoy
hawk can be induced to go the more chance will there naturally be that
the other may come up and join her. Whenever one hawk is on the wing
for any length of time, there is a good chance that every other hawk
within about a mile will catch sight of her, and not a bad chance
that the other may come up. In case of a high ringing flight, wild
hawks will come up from much farther than a mile. And lost hawks
will, of course, come and fraternise much more readily, especially if
the stable-companion flown as a decoy happens to have been a comrade
at hack or in some double flights. They will, however, do so quickly
enough without any special inducement at all. A friend of mine brought
a hawk, newly trained, from a distance to Salisbury Plain. She was lost
in a very long flight before she had passed a single night in the house
to which she was being taken, and was not even seen by her owner for
two or three whole days. One morning I was exercising a hawk which the
lost one had never seen, and suddenly there were two hawks stooping to
the lure instead of one. I had never seen the wanderer, but understood
at once what had occurred, and tried to so arrange that the lure should
be struck by the new-comer. Either by accident or design she failed two
or three times in succession to do this, and I was obliged to take down
my own hawk and carry her in, and bring out a live lure for the other,
upon which she was quickly taken up. Both Tagrag, which had been out
a week, and a merlin, which had been out for nine days, were brought
up from the unknown hack ground to join in a ringing flight by another
hawk, and recaptured in the same way.

A trained hawk will sometimes be taken off by wild ones, with which
she will go soaring and otherwise amusing herself for a while. But the
good-fellowship between them does not usually last long. In the open
places where long-winged hawks are flown there are often a good many
wild hawks about--peregrines, merlins, and occasionally even hobbies,
besides the ubiquitous kestrel, with which the higher quality hawks
disdain to associate. But each wild hawk, or at least each pair or
family of wild hawks, seems to have its own appointed beat, and resents
the intrusion into it of a stranger. Everyone knows that birds will
frequently attack any interloper which comes with any intention of
staying and quartering itself in the country already appropriated by
its own denizens. Now the wild hawks, though they will often attack
a trained one as soon as they have set eyes upon her, yet will also
often go playing with her as long as their idea is that she is merely a
visitor, and will not permanently poach on their preserves. It is when
they find that the new-comer is really intending to take up her abode
in the neighbourhood, and appropriate her share of the booty, which
they looked upon as reserved for themselves, that they begin to really
make it so hot for her that she is fain to get on into a less-favoured
district which has not been already effectively occupied. Thus the
copse haunted by a couple of young peregrines, or the down quartered by
a wild merlin every day, is not the best place to look for a trained
bird of the same species which has been lost for more than twenty-four
hours, although during the first period the tame and the wild bird may
be seen stooping at one another or racing together in a most amicable
style. If you have seen them together one day, and been unable to get
down your own hawk, you will do well to seek her afterwards not on the
same ground, but in a different, though not very distant, district.

As soon as you can get well within sight of your lost hawk, the live
lure may be relied upon to effect her capture, until she has been out
several days--in the case of eyesses for at least a week. But I should
not advise forcing it upon her notice at a time when she has a full
crop, if you can defer this at all safely until she has had time to
get a bit hungry again. For though she will probably take and kill the
bird offered, she may, if she is not hungry, refuse to stay on it while
you can secure her; whereas when she is keen after her meal you will
be able to wind her up as she stands over it on any reasonably level
piece of ground. The process of winding up consists in merely dragging
a fine line, the end of which is affixed to the quarry or to a stone
or weight, round and round the feet of a hawk which is feeding on the
ground. The difficulty is to pass the line under the tail, which, of
course, acts as a mild sort of shield to keep the cord off. As the
falconer walks round and round his hawk with the end of the line in
his hand he must wait, as the line gets to the hawk's tail, for a
favourable opportunity of pulling it under. If the hawk is fidgety and
keeps disengaging her feet from the loops which have been already wound
round her, it may be necessary to make many circles, and to begin the
work several times all over again. But if the hawk is not frightened
by any violent pulls on the line, or by unsuccessful attempts to take
her up, the loops will sooner or later be so securely hitched round one
or both feet that she cannot possibly escape. In the case of a hawk
which has been out long, and is shy and suspicious, a long line must
be used, and much care must be taken not to alarm her by jerking or
tugging at it as you wind. Some hawks will, during a week's holiday,
have retained a great many of the habits and much of the tameness which
a course of training has deeply instilled into them, while others will
in the same space of time have developed into almost wild creatures.
This method of recapture is usually the simplest and handiest, when it
is found impossible to take the hawk up by hand in the ordinary way.
For no preparation or paraphernalia are required except a live lure
and a long coil of string. If, however, you prefer to haul about with
you a bow net with its pegs and rings, and do not mind the trouble and
delay of setting the net, with the bait in the proper place, that will,
of course, effect your purpose in many instances very well. But it is
rather an intricate business compared with the other, and one in which
an unpractised hand may easily make a mistake.

Another plan which has been recommended is to fly a bagged pigeon or
other quarry in a light creance, and let the lost hawk take it. Then,
as she is breaking in, walk slowly in and endeavour to take her up with
the hand. If she objects and tries to carry, let her go, but keep hold
of her victim, which she will be obliged to drop. Then, pegging that
victim down firmly to the ground, take a few feathers and stick them
up in the earth on every side of the body, the tips bending inwards,
but not quite touching it. Round these feathers pass the loop of a cord
with a running slip-knot in it, and carry the end of the cord right
away to a distance, where you can hide, or where at least your presence
will not prevent the hawk from coming back. As soon as she has come
back pull the string, which will tighten the noose round her legs, and,
keeping it taut, run in and secure your prisoner. The plan is ingenious
and sounds feasible. I cannot doubt that it has been found so.
Only--what if the hawk never comes back at all? You may sit for hours,
with the string ready in your hand, waiting for her to reappear, and if
she does not, will you not look rather small? Often, perhaps, hawks do
so reappear. But sometimes I can affirm that they do not. A lost hawk
in full condition and feather will, if scared away from one quarry,
not always sit disconsolate watching for a chance of getting back to
it, but go off simply and kill something else. A third-rate hawk may
be so overjoyed at having for once captured some live creature, and so
diffident about getting another before nightfall, that she will hang
about and come back to her much-prized victim. But remember that it is
the best hawks which run most risk of being lost, and which one is most
anxious to get back.

Some hawks seem to have a natural aptitude for feeding themselves. They
will do so at hack, before their sisters and brothers have even chased
anything except in fun; and when left out for a night they may be seen
in the early morning careering about after their favourite quarry, or
some other. When tidings are brought in as to their whereabouts, the
message is either that she was "see'd on a bird," or "very near got
'im," or at least was "chasin' of 'em like one o'clock." Such hawks
are easier to track, no doubt, than the dull ones which sit still by
the hour together; but on the other hand, more activity is required to
come up with them and disabuse them of the idea that their rôle is now
merely that of a wild bird. Liberty often acts as a wonderful stimulant
to a trained hawk's energies. The same falcon which has persistently
refused rooks, and can seldom score off a partridge, will perhaps after
twenty-four hours' fasting in the tree-tops bowl over with alacrity
whichever of these quarries first offers her a chance, and then, having
been reduced again into bondage, relapse into the same indifference,
and refuse to be induced by any amount either of feeding up or starving
to fly a yard after one or the other. It is extraordinary what feats
a bad hawk can be made to do by the schooling of the hard mistress
Necessity. There was once a lame merlin which had injured her wing
badly against a wire, and could only just fly at all, and that with a
clumsy wobbling action. She was turned out loose in a place where some
rebellious hobbies were being hacked, on the chance of her bringing
them down to participate in her meals; but finding one day that her
rations were not forthcoming until much later than usual, she wandered
off in search of what she could pick up for herself, and was caught by
a lad about three miles away from where she had started, on a small
bird which she had actually killed single-handed!

It is a good plan, when a hawk is out, and there are more searchers
available than one, for one of them to stay at home a good deal, so
that if news of the truant is brought from any quarter he may at once
set off with his lure, and hurry straight to the spot indicated. It is
vexatious after a twenty-mile walk to find on returning that if you
had saved your trouble and sat quietly at home you would probably have
been by now in possession of your fugitive. The labourers and other
people who are likely to catch sight of a lost hawk should be warned
not to attempt to catch it,--which is a feat that yokels have an almost
insuperable desire to undertake,--but to come at once and bring word
to the owner or his falconer. Rewards should be offered and paid for
any such information which results in the recapture, but not otherwise,
unless there is corroborative evidence as to the facts reported; for
otherwise the too generous falconer may find that whenever one of his
hawks is lost several King Richards are reported in the field at the
same time, though not at the same place.

After a hawk has been recaptured, it behoves the captor to consider
what sort of preparation, if any, is required before she is flown
again. Much will depend, of course, upon the character of the
individual. A case has been very recently mentioned in print, where
a falcon lost in a flight at rooks in the spring was only recaptured
in autumn, after more than twenty weeks' liberty, and yet was then
nearly as tame as when his holiday began. On the other hand, I have
known a hawk in one week become so wild and shy that the manning of
him and making him to the lure took nearly as long as if he had just
been caught on the passage. A day, or even two, naturally has little
enough effect in nullifying in an eyess the lessons which she began
in early life. Two or three days' flying at the lure, and a slight
reduction in the quantity and quality of her repasts, will generally
make her obedient and reliable enough. But with a passage hawk it is
quite a different story. Often you will have to hark back to some of
the practical arguments which you used before, when she was being
laboriously converted from a wild into a tame creature. Washed meat may
have to be put in requisition, and when the moment does come to put her
on the wing again in the field, great endeavours should be made to give
her a good start at her quarry, so that she may again grow reconciled
to her master's mode of operations, and not go off to commence a fresh
campaign on her own account.

Very often a hawk, especially if not a very first-class performer,
comes back from an outing a good deal improved, not only in health,
but in flying powers. Occasionally, however, I have known it to turn
out otherwise. The danger is with some hawks that while they are out
they may learn to run cunning. This abominable vice is, I think,
rare in hawks, especially in young ones. But I have known it in a
jack-merlin--not of my own training--as early as in August; and it
developed itself very badly in another jack which I lost for three days
in September, and which before he was left out had shown no signs of
it. The line adopted by the offender is to fly lazily after the quarry,
waiting for it to put in, when he marks the place, and going straight
to it jumps (if he can) upon the fugitive. Sometimes the offence
originates in double flights, when an inferior hawk, having allowed
her partner to do all or most of the work, cuts in at the finish and
secures the quarry. But it is more rare in merlins than in jacks, which
seem to me the most prone of any hawks to this vice. A game-hawk has,
of course, little or no temptation to indulge in it, and a rook-hawk
would spoil her own game by doing so, as she cannot follow into covert.
The fault, when once developed, is difficult, or perhaps impossible, to
entirely cure. Double flights should be entirely eschewed; and when the
hawk has flown cunning and failed she may be left where she is, unlured
and unfed, until later in the day, and then flown again and again until
she tries harder. Wild hawks (and trained ones, if long left out)
often fall into a habit of picking their flights, _i.e._ starting at a
quarry, and, if they find it a good one, turning back and waiting for
an easier chance. On the whole, therefore, if only for this reason,
I am averse to leaving out a trained hawk longer than is absolutely
unavoidable.



CHAPTER XVI

Accidents and Maladies


The care of a hawk's feathers is a very important and elementary part
of the falconer's duties. If he is naturally clumsy or careless, and
yet hopes to do any good in this vocation, he must be continually on
his guard against a mishap. Experience and persistent watchfulness
will cure him of these defects, or at least deprive them of any very
bad effects. But an innate adroitness is certainly much to be desired
in any youth whom it is intended to train up as a falconer. The most
important of a hawk's feathers are exactly those which are most easily
broken. A single vigorous flap of the wing against any hard obstacle
within reach of them may very likely knock off the end of one or two
of the long flight feathers, or at least fracture the shaft where it
is quite thin, so that the end below the injury has to be taken off
and the feather mended. Great care must therefore be taken in carrying
a hawk that no such hard substance is ever so near to her that by a
sudden movement she can strike it with either wing. Narrow doorways
should be avoided entirely, or never entered unless the hawk is hooded
and quite quiet on the fist. When walking through a gateway or near an
iron railing, stile, post, carriage, or branch of a tree, give it a
wide berth. When mounting a horse with a hawk on the hand, get up on
the wrong, _i.e._ the off, side--unless, of course, you carry your hawk
habitually on the right hand, like the Indian falconers. Never wear a
hat with a hard brim. It is impossible for you to be sure that at some
unexpected moment a hawk, hooded or unhooded, will not by a sudden
movement just touch the edge with a wing feather.

The wing feathers of the short-winged hawks are more yielding and
elastic than the straighter ones of the long-winged, and will stand a
greater strain. Worst of all are merlins, whose principal feathers are
almost brittle, especially when the hawk is at all poor in condition.
As for the tail feathers, although they are of less importance to a
hawk's flying, they require almost more care than those of the wing.
In this particular, short-winged hawks, with their very long trains,
are more liable to injury than the others. A very common occasion of
damaging a tail feather arises while a hawk is being broken to the
hood. As the attempt is made to push the hood on and over the head, the
patient flinches and draws back the upper part of her body, forcing
the tail strongly against the wrist of the operator, if this is in
the way. Those feathers upon which the strain bears hardest are very
apt to give way; and even if the awkward falconer has succeeded in
getting the hood on, he finds to his chagrin that he has done so at
the expense of a damaged hawk. It is of course for this reason that I
have advised the tying up of the tail whilst hooding lessons are being
given. In actual flights there are certain risks of injury to tail
feathers, although if they are all in perfect condition these risks are
less than might be supposed. The struggle which occurs on the ground
between the hawk and a robust quarry which is bigger than herself
severely tries these feathers, as the former is obliged to make use of
them to steady herself and resist the efforts of the desperate victim
to upset her or drag her along the ground. The fight between a merlin
and a partridge or pigeon is of comparatively short duration, as the
little hawk, having her foot tightly clenched round the neck of her
captive, is sure of its death within a minute or so. But a sparrow-hawk
battling with a full-grown partridge has a tough job before her, and is
sometimes forced backwards on to her expanded tail, so that it may give
way at any weak spot, if there is one. A goshawk which has bound to a
full-grown hare, or even a big buck rabbit, has even a hotter time of
it.

In double flights, when both hawks have fastened on to the same quarry,
and are dragging at it in the hope of obtaining sole possession, there
is also danger to the tails. I must admit that I know of no case in
which mischief has been done, but it is impossible to watch such a
struggle, while hastening up to interfere, without seeing that it may
be fatal to some of the feathers so roughly used. The arrival of the
falconer on such occasions, in the rôle of mediator, must be welcome
to both hawks; and he should at once catch hold of the quarry by one
wing, and, holding it tight down, proceed to the work of separating the
hawks. When the quarry is a large bird, he will offer to the hawk which
seems to have the least firm hold a substitute for the real quarry,
and get her to devote her attention to it until the arrival of the
second man, when both hawks can be taken up. If both hawks and quarry
are small, the first falconer to come up may catch hold of the pelt and
lift it up, hawks and all, from the ground against which the tails are
being pressed and bent. Once on the fist, the danger is past; and one
or other of the combatants may be handed over, with a tiring to replace
the contested victim, to the next man who comes up. When double flights
are the order of the day, every man who is likely to be up at the death
should wear a glove and carry a spare leash, as well as a morsel of
tiring for use in a possible emergency. He should also, if mounted,
carry a weight and tethering rein at the side of his saddle, so that he
may dismount at any time quickly and run in to the struggling hawks.

When a feather is bent, without any actual breakage of the shaft, it
will come straight if dipped in very hot water, but may not improbably
remain weak for some time at the place where the bend was. Very often
such a bent feather will come straight when the hawk bathes; but it
is just as well to apply the hot-water remedy at once, and if it does
not return to its proper position, there will be little doubt that the
shaft is damaged. Whenever this is the case, the broken part should be
cut neatly off and the feather imped. When the breakage is not near
the end, and consequently in a very thin part of the shaft, the piece
removed can be put on again by imping. But if it is the tip which has
gone, as is only too often the case with beginners, the owner must make
up his mind either to keep and fly his hawk in that damaged condition,
incurring the jibes or pity of facetious or sympathetic friends, or to
undertake the rather delicate operation required for grafting a fresh
feather on the remnant of the old one. Possibly the novice may be
within reach of a professional falconer, or an experienced amateur, who
will come to his rescue, and perform this troublesome job. If so, he
should certainly attend while it is being accomplished, and carefully
note the manner in which the professor sets about it. If not, he must
attempt it himself, and do the best he can by the aid of his own
ingenuity, and perhaps of the following directions:--

Hood the hawk, and have an operating-table ready, on which you have
placed a tolerably stout but soft cushion. Get an assistant to take
firm hold of the patient with both hands round the body, over which
may be previously thrown a silk handkerchief to preserve the feathers.
The assistant should place his hands over the hawk's body with the
palms downwards and the thumbs joined, the tips of his fingers being
towards the hawk's tail, and the wrists over her hood. Lowering them
quickly and gently, and bringing the outer parts of the hands towards
one another, he will get a firm grip round the upper part of the wings
and the thickest part of the body, and will hold the hawk down firmly,
but without unduly squeezing her, upon the cushion, her feet being
pressed down underneath the body. The falconer will thus be free to
operate more boldly upon the feather to which he proposes to direct
his attention. The latter must have provided himself beforehand with
a very sharp penknife, a small saucer of vinegar or strong brine, an
imping-needle of the proper size, and a feather of the proper sort. The
imping-needle should be of iron or steel, filed down lengthwise to a
triangular shape and pointed at the ends. It should be in the middle
about two-thirds as thick as the feather at the place of breakage. The
new feather with which the damaged hawk is to be adorned must exactly
match the one which it is to replace; that is to say, it must have
occupied the same place in the same wing, or the same side of the tail,
in a hawk of the same kind as the one now under treatment. Before
commencing operations, the imping-needle to be used should be immersed
in the bath of vinegar or salt water. With the forefinger and thumb of
the left hand, take hold of the damaged feather just above the place of
breakage, and separate it carefully from the adjacent feathers. Then
with the right hand pass the blade of the penknife obliquely upwards
along the web of the feather on its thinner side till the edge touches
the shaft just above the place of breakage. As soon as it has done
this, turn the blade so that the flat of it, instead of being inclined
obliquely upwards with the edge pointing towards the stouter part of
the feather, is directed downwards in a plane with the web on the broad
side of the feather. Having got it into this position, make a clean cut
right through the shaft so that the portion of it below the blade falls
off. The next thing is to measure off on the loose new feather as much
of the end as will, when fitted on to the other where it has been cut
through, add to it the exact length which it originally had. The shaft
of the new feather must then be cut through at exactly the same angle
or inclination as the other.

Now take an ordinary needle, and stick its point a little way into
the pith of that part of the old feather which has not been cut
off, and afterwards into the pith of the piece of new feather which
is to be grafted on, taking care that the needle goes in straight
down the middle of the pith. Into the small apertures thus made, the
imping-needle will be more easily passed in the proper direction than
if there had been no such preliminary boring. It remains only to effect
the junction of the new and old feather. Before attempting this, dip
the shaft of the new piece into the vinegar, and also moisten the end
of the old feather just above the place where it has been cut. Then
taking the imping-needle, push one half of it into the pith of the new
piece of feather, and the other half into that of the old. By this
means the two will necessarily become one and the same feather. Be
sure, as you push the two together, that their flat surfaces are level
with one another, and not inclined at different angles. When the new
end is pushed home up to the old amputated shaft, it will fit on to it,
and the web on both sides will meet and form a uniform surface. Then
release the hawk and replace her, still hooded, on the screen-perch,
where she must be left quite quiet. It is a good plan to do the imping
in the evening, so that very soon afterwards the hawk will naturally be
ready to go to sleep; and if the hood is to be left on, her last meal
should, of course, have been without castings. If not, the room where
her perch is should be darkened. She is less likely, when in the dark
or hooded, to meddle with the mended feather; and when it has been left
alone for twelve hours, the needle will have begun to rust in the pith
of it, and thus be firmly stuck fast at both ends.

When skilfully and neatly performed, the operation of imping not only
replaces effectually the part of a feather which has become useless,
but repairs the mischief so thoroughly that no trace whatever remains
of any injury having ever been done to it. I have known feathers so
imped that the eye could not discern the place of juncture, and it was
difficult even to discover it by passing the thumb-nail down the shaft
of the imped feather. The tenacity of the rusted iron keeps the needle
immovably in its place; and an imped feather, if it afterwards breaks
at all, will break more readily in any part of it than near the place
where the juncture has been made. Of course the smaller the hawk the
more difficult is the operation. Merlins are particularly troublesome,
owing to their vivacity and the smallness of their feathers. It is,
however, quite possible for an experienced imper to mend up one of
these tiny hawks, even without an assistant to help him in holding her
down.

The falconer should keep by him, in a box or drawer where they are safe
from moths, a few feathers in readiness for imping the kind of hawks
which he flies. When he is in the habit of moulting them he will be
able to supply his needs by saving up the long feathers dropped in the
moult. These should be so stowed away that it is possible to identify
the year in which they were dropped; for it is not advisable to use
a very old feather, as it may be brittle, and crack in pieces round
the needle. A spare tail feather or two of any of the hawks which are
most commonly trained may often be begged from a brother-falconer. But
when a ger, saker, or one of the rarer falcons needs imping, it may
be necessary to purchase a whole skin, which will entail some trouble
and expense. It should be noted that there is one exception to the
rule that a feather from any one kind of hawk must not be used for
one of another kind. This is when the broken feather is to be imped
merely for the purpose of the moult. Whenever hawks are moulting,
the new feathers, as they come down, must be protected on each side
by others of at least equal length to those of the natural plumage.
But unless the hawk is being flown while she moults, it is immaterial
whether the new feather matches the others in shape or colour. If it
is long enough, and of about equal breadth, it will serve the required
purpose. But every hawk before going into moult should be well set up
in feathers of one kind or other, which are of a proper length and
sufficient strength. A new feather, while growing down, needs more
protection than any other.

If a feather is broken so high up that the shaft at the place of
fracture is hollow, there are at least two ways in which it may be
mended. The simplest is to slit the shaft on its under side, and then,
cutting off the base of the new feather which is intended to be used,
push the latter in bodily to the hollow of the old shaft. When it is
far enough in, pass a small needle with strong waxed thread right
through both quills, starting from below, and, winding the two ends
of the thread round the quills in opposite directions, tie tightly
together underneath the feather. When the feather is big enough there
may be two such lashings of thread, one a little lower down than the
other. A second plan, which is known as plugging, consists in first
stuffing up the hollow quill, of the injured feather, above where
it has been cut through, with a chunk of some feather which is not
hollow, but has a solid pith. The plug thus inserted is firmly fixed
in by means of some glutinous compound. When it has had time to
become immovably settled in its place the imping can be done with an
imping-needle in the ordinary way, the new piece of feather having been
plugged also in a similar way, if necessary. If a feather should have
been pulled out, base and all, it is advisable to put some solid grease
into the place, to keep it from closing up and preventing the new
feather from growing down.

When only the tip of a wing feather is gone it would of course be only
for the sake of appearances that it would be imped. Considering that
wild hawks, and some trained ones also, kill quarry while they are
moulting, and have four or more of their biggest feathers wanting,
or only half-grown, at the same time, it would be a bad hawk which
could not fly passably because she was short of an inch square of the
sail area she ought to spread. Occasionally, as for instance when you
have not long to wait before the moult will begin, you may leave a
hawk unimped though she is very ragged. But the worst of allowing any
feather to remain with its end off is that the next feathers to it,
especially in the tail, are pretty sure to go too. The strain which
the tail has to bear is such as it can just resist by the collective
strength of all the feathers together; but when one is unable to
take its full share of the resistance, the others are unequal to the
pressure, and give way. What difference in a hawk's flying power does
the loss of a whole feather or half a feather imply? It is, of course,
quite impossible to say. But arguing from the analogy of pigeons, the
tails of which are sometimes removed in order to increase their speed,
it would seem that in mere straight-forward flying the tail is of very
small assistance. I once had an eyess jack-merlin sent to me from the
nest in a deplorable condition. The tail was clogged at the end with
dirt, and so many of the tail feathers were bent and broken that he
was at once christened "Tagrag"; and while he was at hack was regarded
as unworthy of much attention. By the time he was ready to enter, his
tail, which it had not been thought worth while to mend, was reduced
to about half its proper length, more than an inch having been knocked
off every one of the feathers. This hawk developed later on into the
fastest hawk I ever saw. When he was out on his own account, as he
was once for seven days together, he could be distinguished from a
wild merlin less by the stumpy tail than by the headlong speed with
which he flew, even when not in pursuit of anything. When engaged in a
double flight he would put in about three stoops to two of the other
hawk; and these were not only more quickly made, but were longer,
straighter, and more telling. This hawk was an exceptionally good one.
He was the brother (though senior by a year) of Queen and Jubilee,
which between them killed 200 larks, in single flights, in one season.
He was therefore no doubt naturally a very fast hawk; but I mention
him in order to show how little difference, in his case, was made in
his flying power by the loss of nearly half a tail. I have also flown
merlins at the lure, when in course of being broken to the hood, with
their tails tied up, and noticed how admirably they stoop and throw
up, without apparently being incommoded by the temporary inability to
spread out their tails.

       *       *       *       *       *

Much more serious and alarming than the breakage of a feather is the
fracture of a bone. When the hawk is a favourite, a cure is often
attempted, and occasionally with success. I have known a peregrine to
be shot at and brought down with a broken wing, and to recover without
any treatment at all; but this was no doubt a very exceptional case.
Usually any grave damage to the wing, whether by way of a sprain or
a fracture, is incurable. The bones of the leg are more get-at-able,
more easily set, and subjected, when set, to less strain than those of
the wing. Splints and bandages should be applied (though it is very
difficult to adjust a bandage to the wing) under the direction and
advice, if possible, of some person who has a good practical knowledge
of surgery. The hawk, after being operated upon, should be placed in
a sock as described in Chapter V., and fed by the hand with strips of
washed meat or light food without castings. Before the sock is put on
it must be ascertained that the injured limb has been placed in the
natural position; and every precaution must be taken that the patient
is left undisturbed, so that it is impossible, or at least unlikely,
that she should displace the setting which has been attempted.

Hawks are sometimes troubled with a weakness in the outer joint of the
wing, causing the outer part of it, where the primaries are, to droop.
The affection is more or less pronounced in different cases, sometimes
being so severe that the wing seems to hang down powerless, as if
merely hooked on loosely at the joint, and at other times merely to be
a little out of place and to be carried slightly lower than the other.
Occasionally the weakness is so great that the hawk cannot fly, while
at other times, after perhaps wobbling a little when thrown off, the
hawk, once fairly on the wing, seems to fly almost or quite as well as
if there was nothing the matter. Generally a hawk which is so affected
keeps hitching up the bad wing, as it were, into its proper place,
only to find it droop again in a few minutes into its old position.
The old writers, who were well acquainted with the symptoms, say that
the injury is one which must have arisen from a blow received by the
hawk; but I have known it come on suddenly at a time when the sufferer
could hardly have come by such an accident without its being observed.
The following is a prescription given by Turbervile for curing the
malady:--"Master Cassian (a Greek falconer of Rhodes) sayeth that yee
must take Sage, Myntes, and Pelamountaine, and boyle them all togyther
in a new earthen pot full of good wyne, and when they bee well sodden,
take the potte and set it uppon hotte imbers as close stopped as maye
bee. Then make a rounde hole of the bygnesse of an Apple in the clothe
that your potte is stopped withal for the steam to issue out at. Which
done, take your Hawke upon your fiste and holde out hir hurte wing
handsomely a great whyle over the hole, that it may take the fume
whiche steameth up out of the potte. Afterwarde lette hir be well dryed
by keeping hir warme by the fire, for if she should catche sodaine cold
upon it, it would becomme woorse than it was before. Use her thus twyce
a daye for three or foure dayes togyther, and shee shall bee recovered."

The beak and nares of a hawk should be kept clean, and a good falconer
will, after she has finished her meal, wipe off any remnants of food
or blood which may remain attached to the upper mandible. Unless this
is done--sometimes, indeed, in spite of its being done--the nostrils
and upper parts of the cere, where the feathers begin, may become
infested with acari, or mites, which, unless destroyed, will eat into
the horn and the flesh and cause great annoyance, if not actual sores
and inflamed ulcers. Hawks which are in low condition are particularly
subject to this pest; but at all times a sharp look-out should be
kept, so as to detect the presence of the minute parasites, which may
be seen running about somewhere near the nostrils. Fortunately it is
easy to get rid of them. A solution of tobacco soaked in water should
be made, and mixed with brandy or some strong spirit, and then applied
with a small brush to the parts visited by the parasites. After a few
applications they will be found to have disappeared.

Hawks will often get corns on their feet if allowed to stand constantly
on hard blocks or perches. It is strange enough that there should be
found any falconers who have so little thought for the comfort of their
charges that they will use such resting-places. The screen-perch, at
all events, which is kept permanently indoors, should have a padding
of some kind--cloth, baize, or soft leather--underneath the canvas or
sacking upon which the hawk has to stand. One of the cruellest of all
the cruel things done in zoological gardens is the neglect to pad the
miserable perches provided for the birds of prey, which are usually
in consequence seen to have their feet adorned plentifully with corns
and deformities. What with bad food, bad resting-places, and defective
bathing accommodation, these poor captives are usually types of what
the falconer should wish that his hawks may not become.

Of actual illnesses trained hawks undoubtedly have their full share.
The old books devote many lengthy chapters to the description of these
disorders, and of the remedies recommended for them. How far the
elaborate concoctions prescribed by mediæval quacks and used, as it is
to be presumed, by their very credulous customers, were efficacious in
curing the evils for which they were prescribed, it is not easy to say.
For in modern times we do not put much faith in nostrums of any such
kind. But as the ancients certainly killed with their hawks several
species of quarry which we hardly attempt in these days, it may not
unreasonably be supposed that some of their medicines were at least
useful in stimulating the energies of their patients, and inspiring
them with a sort of artificial courage such as the Asiatic falconers
still impart by the use of sal ammoniac and other powerful drugs. It
is, I think, more than probable that the hobby, which has not for a
long time past been successfully trained, was brought by physicking
into such condition that she would fly keenly and well, and deserved
the praises which some of the old writers lavish upon her. In the palmy
days of falconry it was not only when a hawk was actually ill that
physic was given. If she did not acquit herself in the field with all
the credit expected by her trainer, he dosed her almost as a matter
of course. Remedies of a more or less fanciful kind were supposed to
exist for almost every failing which hawk-flesh is heir to; and the
medicine-cupboard of a falconer who professed to know anything about
physicking his charges must have contained as many herbs, spices,
powders, decoctions, and tinctures as would stock a small druggist's
shop. As far as I know, no modern falconer has had the patience or
temerity to test the value of these multifarious pills and potions.

The state of health of a hawk may be ascertained by various signs, more
or less infallible. Mutes, castings, and the general demeanour furnish
the most obvious symptoms; but the books, which bestow a vast amount
of attention upon the two former, are much too silent as to the latter
and more subtle indication of an incipient malady. The falconer should
always observe the colour of every hawk's mutes. If she is kept for
any long time at a stretch upon a screen-perch under which the sawdust
or sand is so thickly strewn as to absorb them altogether, a piece of
paper must be placed occasionally under the perch, which will enable
him to make the necessary inspection. And at the first appearance of
anything wrong the proper remedy should be applied. The mutes of a hawk
in good health should be of an almost uniform bright white colour, and
of the consistency of the whiting with which a lawn-tennis ground is
usually marked out. If there are specks of black in them there is no
cause for alarm, but these should not be abundant or large in size. If
any other colour is to be seen there is something amiss; and if the
mutes are either watery or too thick the hawk is not in proper health.
The sooner these symptoms are detected and the right steps taken the
easier will be the cure; and in most cases a diet of freshly-killed
birds given in moderation twice a day will set matters right without
any resort to strong measures. If, however, the discoloration is
great, and appears suddenly, a dose should be at once given before
the sufferer loses her appetite and becomes unable to retain food or
anything else in her crop.

Castings are easily found under the perch or round the block, though
when hawks are tied very near to one another on the same screen-perch
it is sometimes difficult enough to know which of them has thrown
a casting which is picked up between her and her neighbour. The
appearance of them should always be noticed before they are thrown
away. They should be more or less egg-shaped and compact, with no great
amount of oily matter adhering to the outside. The colour should be
rather darker than that of the feathers, fur, wool, or whatever else
has been taken to form the casting; and if it is not so, it is a sign
that the crop is foul. A hawk in good health should also cast within
a reasonable time after the casting has been swallowed; and otherwise
you may suspect that the gorge is clogged. A hawk which has been fed
late even in a summer evening should throw up her casting before eight
at latest on the following morning. When a hawk is slow at casting,
she should be carried a bit, and will then often cast on the fist, or
immediately upon being put off it on to the block. A wild merlin will
often eat the whole of a small bird between 8 and 9 a.m., put it over
by about 2 p.m., cast, and then begin to look out for the evening meal.

A trained hawk may cast well and have fairly good mutes, and yet be
all the better for a small dose. If she has a dull eye and stands
stolidly on her block without taking notice of passing birds; if she
eats without zest, or flies without animation; if, when standing on the
fist, she takes a weak grip with her feet, or puffs out her feathers
without cause, or folds her wings loosely together, she may indeed be
healthy enough to get a doctor's certificate, but she is not in the
sort of fettle to do herself justice in the field. In such case do
not, like some falconers who ought to know better, begin calling the
hawk names, and neglect her, while bestowing extra attention upon one
which exhibits more aptitude. Remember that in the wild state there is
no such thing as a bad hawk. All find their living, even in the worst
weather, and find it although continually plagued and thwarted by the
knowledge that if they go within gunshot of a man they will probably
be murdered. Cannot a trained hawk, well housed and regularly fed, and
freed from the constant fear of gun and trap, be made as fast and as
clever even as the worst of her wild brethren? Falconers must be a long
way behind the professors of other arts and crafts if they cannot make
their trained pets at least nearly as good as the wild and untrained.
There is perhaps more delight in flying a hawk which is never out
of sorts and always naturally ready to do her best. But it is more
creditable to the trainer, and a greater test of his skill, if he can
impart excellence where he found little sign of it, and in short make a
bad hawk fly well. The Indian native falconers--from whom, by the way,
we have a lot to learn--habitually fly some of their favourite hawks,
such as the saker, under the stimulus of strong drugs; and there can
be no doubt that many hawks of all species are bettered by frequent
dosing, just as a Chinaman by opium, and certain literary celebrities
by absinthe. In some cases these doses supply more or less effectually
the lack of exercise from which a trained hawk suffers, and in other
cases possibly they act as an antidote to the feeling of annoyance and
discontent arising from captivity and confinement.

As to the particular remedy to be applied when a bird is thus out of
sorts without being absolutely ill, I fear the reader must be referred
to one of the old text-books, and not alarmed by quotations at length
from their well-garnished pages. The mischief proceeds, of course,
either from excessive cold or excessive heat in the system, which will
require consequently either heating or cooling medicine. For the former
purpose, spices and peppers will be preferred, with fatty substances,
such as oil or bacon; while for the latter, purgatives may be used,
and meat washed in the juice of certain vegetable products, such as
endive, cucumber, or melon. If the malady is so strong as to amount to
fever, the hawk's feet may be bathed with water distilled from lettuce,
plantain, or nightshade, or the juice of henbane. If, however, the
earliest symptoms are noted, it will generally serve all purposes to
give hot feeds, _i.e._ birds just killed, in the case of cold, and
washed meat in the case of too great heat. Those who are not content
to wait for such symptoms, but prefer a prophylactic treatment, may
perhaps be satisfied with the following prescription: "If you intend to
keepe and maintayne your Falcons and all other Hawkes in health, take
Germander, Pelamountayne, Basill, Grimel-sede, and Broome flowers, of
each of them halfe an ownce; of Isop, of Saxifrage, of Polipodic, and
of Horse-mintes, of each of them a quarter of an ownce; of Nutmegges,
a quarter of an ownce; of Cucubes, Borage, Mummy, Mogemort, Sage, of
the four kinds of Mirobolans, Indorum, Kabulorum, Beliricorum, and
Embelicorum, of each of them halfe an ownce; of Saffron, an ownce;
and of Aloes Cicotrine, the fifth part of an ownce. All these things
confect to a powder, and at every eygth day, or at every twelfth day,
give your Hawkes (the big ones, that is) the quantitie of a beane of it
with their meate. And if they will not take it so, put it in a Henne's
gutte, tied at both ends, or else after some other meanes, so as ye
cause them to receive it downe; and lette them stand emptie one houre
after." A more simple preventive medicine is Aloes Cicotrine alone,
given every eighteen days as an emetic, just after the hawk has cast,
and followed in two hours' time by a warm meal.

Coming now to specific maladies, the commonest and not the least
dangerous of the complaints to which trained hawks are subject is
the "croaks" or "kecks," an affection of the throat akin to what is
called bronchitis in the human patient. Its existence is betrayed by
a wheezing or hoarseness, noticeable as the hawk breathes. In slight
cases the sound is scarcely audible, and only very occasionally; but
when the attack is a bad one, the breath is impeded, and the invalid
appears to be suffering from a sort of asthma. These severe attacks
sometimes come on suddenly in bad weather, and generally prove fatal;
but the milder attacks, if attended to in time, may often be mastered
and vanish permanently. The cause is usually the same as that which
would in men induce a cold in the head or throat,--a chill caused by
sudden changes of temperature, excessive cold, or, most frequently
of all, excessive damp. The remedy is to put the sufferer in a warm
and dry place, and to give the most palatable and nourishing food in
moderate quantities at reasonably short intervals, with a peppercorn or
mustard-seed now and then. Freshly-killed birds are the best diet; but
if sheep's heart or butcher's meat is given, it should be first warmed
a little. The hawk should not be left out of doors after midday, or
in a place exposed to the wind. Strangely enough, gers, whose habitat
is in more northern latitudes than any other hawks, are the most
susceptible of all to this malady; and special care should be taken,
therefore, that they are not allowed to be in damp or draughty places.

Cramp is a terrible disorder, also caused by damp or cold. It is
specially apt to attack the short-winged hawks, and is, I believe,
always fatal. Eyess sparrow-hawks taken too early from the nest are
pretty sure to develop it when there is no maternal wing to cover them
at night. Possibly by keeping them in an artificial nest in a warm
place the mischief might be averted; but the slightest chill seems
to bring it on, and when once it takes hold of the feet and legs it
appears to paralyse and permanently disable them. Beginning with a
mere stiffness in the joints, it increases in malignity until the
sufferer loses the use of one or more limbs, and then often paralyses
the muscles of the back. When the very first symptoms of anything like
stiffness appear in a goshawk or sparrow-hawk, no matter of what age,
she should be taken at once into quite a warm place, and the affected
limb fomented with hot water and embrocations. Unless these remedies
speedily give relief the most humane thing to do is to put the hawk out
of her misery at once. In this matter not only is prevention better
than cure, it is the only means known of combating the dreaded disease.

Ague, or a low fever nearly resembling it, attacks hawks much in the
same way as human beings. There are shivering fits and alternations
of hot and cold, which may be discovered by feeling the body with the
hand. The cause is often exposure to cold after becoming heated by
flying or standing in the sun, or confinement in a draughty or cold
place. The sufferer droops her wings, and looks miserable generally.
She should be put in a sheltered place, rather warm than cold, and fed
often, sparingly, on the best light food that is to be had. When the
hot or cold fit is on she should be left as quiet as possible, but
when it goes off she should be carried, and even flown a little, if
she will; and she should by no means be left alone in any dismal place
without company. When her attention is occupied she will have less
inclination to mope or give way to the malady, and is much more likely
to improve. If the affection is obstinate and the hot fits frequent,
about two scruples of rhubarb may be given (for a falcon) in a casting
of cotton wool, followed after two or three hours by a moderate meal
of something freshly killed and light. If, however, the shivering fits
predominate, or the hawk has become low in condition and has a poor
appetite, the dose must be administered with caution and in moderation,
and the patient should be coaxed and induced to take as much as she
will, up to half a crop, of some heating food, such as freshly-killed
sparrows, which are best of all, pigeons, or, in case of a goshawk,
young rats; and if at a subsequent meal a sheep's heart is given (which
such hawks can very easily pick at) it may be washed in wine in which
has been boiled sage, mint, cinnamon, cloves, or some such aromatic
herb. In all cases the invalid must be petted and made much of until
she has regained her robust health and appetite.

Apoplexy is no doubt the disorder most commonly fatal to trained hawks
of the short-winged varieties. It was called by the ancients the
falling evil, and it has carried off quite suddenly many a first-rate
goshawk almost without any warning at all. And it is probably more
to be feared in these days when the use of washed meat has been so
generally abandoned. The cause of this effusion of blood on the brain
is over-fulness of body or an accumulation of internal fat; and in
order to guard against it care should be taken to avoid overfeeding
a hawk with strong, heating, or fattening viands. Merlins are also
very subject to apoplexy when short of exercise, and peregrines are
by no means exempt from it. When any hawk is fat or full-blooded, any
exposure to a hot sun, or any violent or unaccustomed exercise, or
bating off and hanging head downwards, may cause a determination of
blood to the brain; and death will follow without the chance of even
attempting a cure. It is well, therefore, especially when any hawk
is not taking daily exercise, and plenty of it, not only to avoid
overfeeding, but also from time to time to give a purge and an emetic.
One of the simplest prescriptions is lard or butter, well washed, and
then steeped in rose-water, and given with a little powdered sugar.

Apostume of the head is called by Turbervile a "monstrous accident,"
and a "very grievous evil," and said by him to be infectious. "It is
discerned by ye swelling of ye hawke's eyes, by the moysture which
sundrie tymes issueth and distilleth from the eares, and often eake
by evyll savoure and smell of the apostume." The invalid is inert,
and cares little for her food, and will not pull at her tirings. The
remedies he recommends are exceptionally commonplace. First, butter,
well washed in rose-water, with honey of roses and powdered sugar.
Then afterwards, for the relief of her poor head, rue, 4 grains; Aloes
Epatie, 2 drams; saffron, 1 scruple, to be finely powdered and made
into a pill with honey of roses. If the ear is stopped up, clear it
with lint on a silver bodkin or needle, and, having infused warm oil
of sweet almonds, stop it with another piece of lint. Which failing of
success, he gives directions for cauterising, for which the original,
or some surgeon, should be consulted.

Another sort of swelling in the head which affects the nares as well
as the eyes, and is nothing else but a catarrh, may, it seems, often
be cured by a pill made of agaric, 2 scruples; cinnamon, 1; liquorice,
1, powdered and mixed with honey of roses. The sufferer should be made
to sneeze by giving her--not snuff, as one might expect, but pepper,
cloves, and mustard-seed, powdered, and blown into the nares through a
quill, or rubbed on to the nares and palate. After these, or indeed any
doses have been administered, it is well to carry the hawk on the fist
till they have taken effect.

For suffusion of the eye a purge of aloes or agaric is recommended, and
local treatment by blowing the powder of aloes and sugar-candy into the
eye.

Frounce is a malady which will pronounce itself sometimes without
much apparent cause. The mucous membrane of the mouth and throat is
inflamed, and the tongue swelled and coated with a brownish white
matter. This coating should be scraped off with a quill or silver
knife, and the mouth dressed with burnt alum and vinegar, or a weak
solution of nitrate of silver. The dressing may be done with a piece of
lint on a small stick. Another lotion is made by taking the leaves of
woodbine, with sage, honey, and alum, and seething them till the leaves
are quite soft, and straining the decoction through a cloth.

Inflammation of the crop may be the result of bad food or neglect to
give proper castings. The first signs of it will be in the castings
themselves, which may be discoloured or misshapen, and sometimes
charged with undigested food. In aggravated cases the mutes may be
reddish, and the hawk may often throw up her food, and be unable to
keep anything down. A purge and an emetic should be given before this
stage is reached; and great care must be taken not to overload the
crop, or to give anything which will nauseate the hawk. If the malady
has been neglected, it becomes dangerous and very difficult to cure.
The hawk wastes away, and it may be a long time before you are able to
restore her strength--if you pull her through at all.

Pantas is an old name given to a malady of the liver, when it becomes
hot and dried up. The hawk is costive, and opens her beak often, as
if gasping for more air. The mutes are blackish, thick, and scanty.
Amongst numerous remedies in vogue are olive oil, oil of sweet almonds,
and sugar-candy, with butter or lard, washed in rose-water. Of course
no heating food should be given, such as sparrows, rats, or old
pigeons. Powdered cloves and cubebes may be given in a casting every
three or four days. The liver is almost as apt to get out of order
in trained hawks as it is in untrained men. Green mutes, as well as
black ones, betray the mischief, and warn the falconer. A purgative,
such as those last mentioned, will be the first remedy; but it must
be followed by great care in the subsequent feeding. A more fanciful
remedy consists of snails steeped in asses' milk, and used as a washing
for sheep's heart, which is soaked in it.

Megrim, or palsy, is denoted by a shaking of the hawk's head. Pepper,
aloes, and cloves may be given, with a little washed lard.

When a hawk is troubled with worms she is fidgety, and has startings
and twitchings of the body, and falls away in condition. Mustard-seed,
aloes, and agaric are prescribed, and cayenne pepper may be given with
her food. Filanders are a sort of worm more difficult to suspect, and
more difficult to get rid of. One remedy is garlic, long steeped in
oil; and if this fails, iron filings, with oil of bitter almonds, may
be tried.

Hawks, if kept clean and frequently encouraged to bathe, are not
much troubled with parasites. Young merlins from the nest are often
infected with a flying tick, which does them no particular harm, and
usually disappears when the little hawks begin to bathe. The way to
get rid of them is to paint the body with a decoction of tobacco
mixed with brandy. This is also the remedy for lice, which peregrines
will sometimes get from a rook which they have killed. The same wash
is to be applied to the nares and forehead of a hawk when troubled
with mites. These very minute insects--otherwise called acarus or
formica--sometimes establish themselves in and near the nostrils,
and may be seen running about rapidly over the beak. They cause great
annoyance, and if not put an end to will eat into the horn of the
beak, and cause inflammation and other serious mischief. They dislike,
however, the tobacco wash, and cannot keep their ground against it.

Corns and swelled feet are the result almost invariably of standing on
hard and unpadded blocks or perches. They are, of course, both painful
and also highly detrimental to the efficiency of a hawk, whose feet as
a weapon of attack are only second in importance to her wings. The corn
must be cut out, or the inflamed swelling lanced, and the foot must be
bathed with some lotion, such as white of egg, vinegar, and rose-water,
or with tincture of iodine. A very well-padded perch must be used
afterwards, and a fortifying lotion frequently applied. Inflammation
is sometimes set up by the prick of a thorn, when a hawk has trod upon
a bramble, or grasped it when making a grab at a quarry which has put
into a hedge. The worst form of corn is called "pin," and is pointed
like a nail. Lancing and lotions may cure it; but it is an obstinate
complaint, often incurable; and the various unguents prescribed by
ancient authors seem none of them to have been used with any great
success.

When a claw or talon is broken by any accident, the falconer is advised
to apply to it a plaster made of the gallbladder of a fowl, and to fit
a sort of collar round the hawk's neck to act as a guard, so that she
cannot touch the place with her beak. The same thing may be done when
a hawk has a wound or sore on the foot, and keeps picking at it, a
practice not uncommon with merlins, which will actually eat away their
own feet.

The blain is a watery vesicle in the second joint of the wing. It
should be lanced, and the hawk kept quiet until the wing is strong
again.

For a "snurt," or cold in the head, Bert recommends the root of wild
primrose dried in an oven and powdered. The powder is to be blown
into the nares of the hawk. Or the leaves of the wild primrose may be
distilled, and the nares bathed with the juice.

Craye is a stoppage in the "tewel," or lower bowel. It is said that the
meat should be washed in distilled haws, or a decoction of primprivet,
or drawn through milk warm from the cow.

Rye is a swelling in the head, which is said to be produced by keeping
the hawk without hot meat, and is cured in the way which may be
conjectured.

Prynne is a malady of the eyes, for which it is recommended to bathe
them with the juice of daisy leaves, or a decoction of powdered
egg-shell, yolk of hard-boiled egg, and a quarter as much rock alum.

For a bruise Bert advises clarified honey, boiled with half as much
stone pitch.

Some old writers declare that a hawk's appetite may be improved by
steeping her meat in claret and the yolk of an egg; that when she
is slow at casting, or in digesting her food, she should have a
mustard-seed made up with honey into a pill. In such cases she should
certainly have plenty of tirings; and fresh water should be kept within
her reach, so that she may sip it at any time if so inclined. Sweet
things are good for a goshawk, which is something of a sweet-tooth.
A good scouring for a sparrow-hawk is pounded sugar-candy and butter
mixed with beef. Sugar-candy and olive oil are both good purgatives
for getting rid of the internal fat or grease. For giving a tone
to the stomach, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger are beneficial. And the
most celebrated of all ingredients for compounding hawk medicines is
"mummy." One very distinguished modern falconer, having read in the
ancient books endless references to this medicament, wrote to another
equally distinguished authority to ask, "What is mummy?" The answer,
which is too good not to be repeated here, was, "Mummy is mummy." That
is perhaps as much as the greatest Egyptologist can say!



CHAPTER XVII

Moulting


A most important period in the life of any hawk arrives when she begins
to undergo the ordeal of moulting. The annual or biennial change of
plumage which occurs naturally in almost all birds affects more or less
powerfully their health and condition, robbing them for the time of a
certain amount of their strength and vigour, as well as depriving them
of a part of the actual mechanical apparatus which serves as their
means of locomotion. Thus we have seen that skylarks, when putting on a
new set of feathers in August, are very much less able to escape from
a hawk than when that process has been completed. To the hawk, whose
very subsistence depends mainly upon his flying powers, it is obvious
that the loss of any big feathers in the wing must be at least a very
serious inconvenience, especially if it is combined with a weakening
of the whole bodily organism. Nature has not, therefore, allowed the
young hawk to mate or breed until after the first moult. At the time
when he or she would naturally be busied with family cares--that is,
when she is nearly a year old--the minor but still formidable effort
of moulting is deemed a sufficient trial. Only when, after assuming
the adult plumage, she has kept herself through the whole of a second
winter is she called upon to undertake the arduous task of feeding not
only herself, but also two or three ravenous and helpless youngsters.
The first moult of the young hawk is also arranged to take place at
that time of year when it is least difficult for her to find her own
living. While the big feathers of her nestling plumage are falling
out and being slowly replaced by new ones, the bird world is full of
newly-fledged quarry, or at least of quarry which are not yet very
strong upon the wing. In other words, the moulting of hawks naturally
takes place in summer, just when they are most able to dispense with a
part of their flying apparatus and of their energy.

Wild hawks vary a good deal in the date at which they drop their first
feather, but trained hawks can be made to vary still more. Experience
soon showed that a certain diet and regimen would hurry on the moult
and expedite its progress, whereas another would defer and protract
it. The young falconer will reflect betimes which of these treatments
will best suit his plans, and act accordingly, remembering that, having
once decided, he cannot without great inconvenience and even some risk
adopt a different system. In any event he will, except in the case of
rook-hawks, find himself in some difficulty, for the moulting process
is in any case a long one. It is reckoned by months rather than by
weeks. In peregrines, which are notoriously slow and bad moulters,
it may last a half-year. If ever it is completed in three months the
falconer may think himself lucky; and the worst of it is, that the
moulting months generally include August and September. The earliest
day on which a feather can be dropped is usually well on in March or
often early in April, and this is in the case of eyesses, for the
passage hawks can hardly be induced to begin till a good deal later.
Unless, therefore, the falconer can hurry the feathers down, he will
hardly get his hawk even through the moult, and far less ready for
active work, by September 1. We shall see, moreover, that the faster
the moulting process is pushed on the less fit will the hawk be at the
end of it to immediately take the field.

It is thus, in at least nine cases out of ten, practically impossible
to fly a hawk in full plumage at rooks in the spring, and afterwards to
fly the same hawk also in full plumage at game in August or September.
And whether she has been flown in the early part of the year or not,
it is still almost equally difficult to so arrange that she shall fly
in full feather in the early part of the game season. Hence it is that
an eyess of the year, when flown as soon as she is fully trained,
comes usually into the field better equipped in the way of feathers
than what may be called her elders and betters. Occasionally the moult
of a passage hawk, or even adult eyess, can be deferred until August
or even September, but this result is not to be reckoned upon with
any certainty. The youthful grouse or partridges and their rather
hard-worked parents, the adolescent or moulting lark, and inexperienced
blackbird, ought all to be a little grateful to Dame Nature for having
ordained that they should be pitted against hawks which are either
young themselves or else have to take the air with shortened sail.

Many modern falconers, abandoning all attempts to fully moult their
hawks in time for the game season, fly them irrespectively of the
condition in which their feathers may be. That is to say, instead of
shutting up their hawk, as the old falconers commonly did, when she
drops the first feather, and keeping her inactive in the mews until
the last new one has come down, they simply go on giving her her daily
exercise just as if nothing had happened, and almost, if not quite,
ignore the moult. It is wonderful how well some hawks acquit themselves
under such disadvantageous conditions, and how little difference to
a really fast and clever flyer is made by the loss of even two of
the biggest feathers in each wing. On the other hand, a slow hawk,
especially if she is not over-gifted with brains, so as to be able to
make her head save her wings, is apt to cut rather a poor figure when
flown in the middle of the moult at grouse. One of the chief drawbacks
incident to this plan--especially with peregrines--is that when flying
hard they often moult so badly. Full feeding--or rather overfeeding--is
necessary to many trained hawks if they are to moult fast and well;
and, of course, when expected to fly in the field they cannot exactly
be overfed. Well fed, even to the verge of excessive generosity, they
must be, or the new feathers will come down narrow and weak, or even
the moult may cease. But to overfeed a passage hawk before putting
her up to wait on, is to court the loss of her. Consequently the
falconer who flies grouse with a falcon in the moult is confronted
with an awkward dilemma. If he keeps his hawk sharp-set he is quite
likely to see her leave off moulting, at least for a time, beginning
again perhaps later on, and thus protracting the moulting season to an
unconscionable length. If, on the other hand, he attempts to keep her
fat, he may be pretty sure that she will be disobedient and slow at
coming to the lure, and he will be tormented by a constant fear that
she will despise it altogether and choose her own place in which to
moult at liberty.

Suppose, however, that the falconer, having flown his eyess through
the game season or his passage hawk through the rook-hawking season,
desires to get her into moult as quickly as possible and through it
without delay. While still flying her to the lure for exercise he will
take care that she is bountifully dealt with in the matter of rations.
He will reserve for her one of the most cosy places in the hawk-house;
and when she sits out at her block he will be specially careful that
she is never exposed to uncomfortable draughts or damp or chilly winds.
He will encourage her to bathe, in the open air if it is fine and warm,
or indoors if the weather is bad, and will, if necessary, take the
chill off the bath water. He will carry her often and give her tirings,
and, in short, make rather a pet of her; and one morning, as he comes
up to her place on the screen-perch, he will espy beneath it a big
broad feather shaped rather like the blade of a butter-knife. This will
be the seventh feather of one of the moulter's wings. Sticking it into
his hat, presently to be transferred to a rack on the wall, which will
hold the remaining big feathers as they drop, he will then carry off my
lady to her quarters in the moulting-room.

This apartment, in the words of a high authority, should be so "cleane,
handsome, and well kept, that your hawke may rejoyce and delight
greatly in it." We may perhaps have our doubts whether any hawk would
delight as much in the most palatial prison-house as in the fresh
air of the least picturesque mountain or forest; but, at anyrate,
a clean, cheerful, and well-lighted room pleases her better than a
dismal garret. A well-ordered moulting-room is a somewhat luxurious
apartment, and cannot be provided without some trouble and expense.
It should not be cramped in size, but big enough to allow the hawk at
least to stretch her wings in a short flight from one end of it to
the other. The walls should have no projecting corners, and if they
are hung with some soft protecting stuff it will be all the better.
The windows--except in those very commendable cases where the room is
lighted by a skylight--will be guarded on the inside by perpendicular
bars of smooth wood or cane; and the floor will be laid at least more
than an inch deep with sawdust or dry sand. Fixed upright into the
floor will be a block or two, with padded top; and the room, near its
two ends, nearest and farthest from the window, will be crossed by
perches, one of which at least should also be well padded. If it is
intended that the hawk, or hawks, for which the room is designed shall
be left mostly alone in solitary occupation, a bath may be left on the
floor; but, as in any case the bath must be emptied and refilled pretty
often by some person entering the room, it may be as well to let the
bath, when unused, remain outside, where it can be kept clean instead
of dirty. The door of the moulting-room should open outwards; and it is
a good plan to make it close of its own accord by a weight or spring,
to minimise the chance of its being inadvertently left open.

Goshawks should never be moulted in company, and the bigger falcons
only when known to be good-tempered, and that with a companion of the
same sex. Tiercels, unless especially cantankerous, may moult in the
same room, and the same thing may be said of female sparrow-hawks. All
the other small hawks may moult in company with others of the same
sex. In fact, in the case of merlins and kestrels there is no harm in
associating the two sexes, provided all occupants of the club-room are
kept, as they should be, constantly provided with plenty of food. I am,
however, disposed to think that when merlins are loose together a good
deal of chevying about takes place, which is apt to be dangerous to the
growing feathers when the moult is nearly over.

The moulting-room should never be cold, and still less damp. In very
wet and chilly weather artificial heat may be used in moderation. For
instance, there may be a small fire in the room underneath, or the flue
of a lighted fire may pass up one of the sides of the room itself. The
window also should by all means face the south rather than the north.
The moult is quicker and better when a hawk is kept warm, whereas
anything like a chill may check, or at least retard, it seriously. Yet
there is, of course, a difference between warmth and stuffiness. Of the
two evils, however, I am inclined to believe, with the ancients, that
over-ventilation is worse than over-closeness--if, at least, you are
anxious to get quickly through with the moult.

The food for a moulting hawk should be nutritious without being too
heavy. It should be good and very plentiful. In fact, the bird should
be able to eat whenever she has a fancy to, and to eat as much as she
will. Accordingly, each time that rations are served out they should
be ample to last until the next supply will be forthcoming. In quality
the viands may be rich and high-flavoured, if the hawk can stomach
them. John Barr moulted a falcon in an exceedingly short space of
time by supplying her constantly with the heads, necks, and pinions
of fat ducks, keeping her mostly under a small tented shelter, upon
the outside of which a summer sun beat down with almost ferocious
force. He declared that the feathers, nourished by the fat contained
in these succulent meals, came down broader and stronger, as well as
faster, than he had ever known in other instances. Thus a "grene goose"
was anciently recommended for moulting hawks' diet, and on the same
principle an ideal food for moulting merlins or sparrow-hawks would be
fat quails. These little hawks are, however, often nauseated by eating
birds which are very fat. The heads, necks, and pinions of fowls should
always be given freely to moulting hawks, not only because the meat on
them is of a good kind, but because they make capital tirings, and so
provide exercise at a time when exercise is very difficult to find.
Mice for the small hawks, rats for goshawks, and rabbits for the other
big hawks, should also be often supplied; and plenty of castings should
be given, or the internal fat which accumulates in a moulting hawk will
either rob her of her appetite or cause some obstinate and perhaps
dangerous disorder.

It is not to be supposed that the ancient falconers, who were so
fond of physicking their hawks, could omit to discover artificial
methods of expediting the moult. A couple of specimens of fashionable
prescriptions may be worth quoting for just what they are worth: "When
ye meane to further the mewing of your hawke, take of the snayles that
have shelles, stampe them shelles and all, strayning them through a
cloth, and with the oyle that comes thereof wash hir meate two or three
tymes. Also take of the snayles that lie in running streames, give
your hawke of them in the morning; for that will both scowre hir and
nourish hir greatly, and setteth hir up and maketh hir to mew apace.
Master Michelin, in his _Book of the King of Cyprus_, sayeth thus: 'Cut
an adder in two parts and seeth him in water, and with that water and
wheate togither fede your pullets, pigeons, turtles, and other birds
which you intend to allow your hawkes that are slack to mewe, and soone
after they shall mewe their feathers apace.'"

The personal attention paid to a moulting hawk varies very widely. Some
falconers make frequent visits to the room, and habituate the captive
to come to the fist, and be carried and handled and maintained in a
very tame state. The ancient falconers--and some of our own time--gave
themselves very little trouble, and left the moulting hawks pretty
much to their own devices. Probably the one course has nearly as much
to commend it as the other. It seems more amiable and business-like
to keep up, even during the off-season, that friendly intercourse
with your hawk which is natural among friends, and even some of those
habits of obedience which you have so laboriously taught. On the other
hand, while you are giving your hawk a holiday, you may almost as
well give her a real one as do it by halves. She will very possibly
moult a little quicker, perhaps a little better, if she has no worry
at all, and can concentrate her whole energies upon the mere growing
of feathers, just as she did when in the nest, instead of having to
bother herself about jumping to the fist--a mere perfunctory act of
meaningless duty, devoid of practical use or result.

The falconer will, at least once a day, visit the moulting-room, if it
is only for the purpose of changing the bath water, clearing away the
castings and the stray feathers of birds that have been plucked and
eaten, and gathering up any feathers which may have been dropped by
the hawk herself. The order in which these feathers fall is admirably
arranged, so that each new feather as it successively appears in the
place of one that has dropped out finds itself between two completely
grown feathers, either old or new, one on each side, between which it
can grow down with a protector right and left of it. The deck feathers,
_i.e._ the central feathers of the tail, are the first to drop, and
in the wings the "beam" or longest feathers are about the latest to
fall. By this time the smaller feathers of the body and other parts
will have mostly been changed. By rights, of course, the change should
be universal and complete, but in peregrines and lanners it is often
not so. Very commonly one of the former may be seen with several brown
feathers interspersed among the light grey plumage of the first moult.
A falconer must be rather over-fastidious if he is put out at this;
but there is more reason for complaint when rusty-looking primaries,
well worn in the nestling stage of existence, persist in keeping
their places amongst the brand-new shafts and webs of flight feathers
just come down. A blue hawk thus parti-coloured, looks as if there
was something wrong with her; and the owner is apt to fancy, whether
rightly or wrongly I cannot say, that the old feathers abnormally left
in are not as serviceable as new ones would have been. At anyrate, most
falconers consider it rather a feather in their cap to have their hawks
"clean moulted," that is to say, with a complete suit of new feathers
on their bodies.

Occasionally it happens that without any apparent reason an eyess
drops out some of her nestling feathers almost as soon as they have
come fully down, or, as the old falconers termed it, as soon as she is
"summed." I have known a jack-merlin, well hacked and fully trained,
and in first-rate condition, drop his two deck feathers while sitting
quietly on the pole-cadge on the way to be flown in the field, and have
seen him just afterwards fly as well as ever, and give a good account
of a ringing lark. When any such little mishap occurs the hawk must
of course be kept as high fed and fat as he can be consistently with
proper obedience. The jack I speak of found himself, in consequence
of his misfortune, promoted to a position of special favour among
his fellows. An extra allowance of the best sort of food was daily
permitted to him. When he flew well--which, by the way, he always
did--he had nearly as much as he liked to eat. And when by reason of
this very high feeding he refused to come to the dead lure, a lark was
generally walked up by beaters driving towards him as he sat on a rick,
so that he might be indulged with the flight for which his vain little
soul was longing. Or, if this could not be done, he was left on his
self-chosen perch until one of the other hawks went up after a ringing
lark, when he would come up like a meteor across the sky, and join in,
sometimes to the great chagrin of the other hawk, which had started
under the impression that she was to have the field to herself. In due
course the new feathers grew down, having the pretty blue-grey hue of
the adult plumage, and thus contrasting conspicuously with the five
brown feathers on either side of them. Before the lark season was over
they were fully down; and my lord was quite a curiosity, looking rather
as if some waggish under-falconer had imped the two middle feathers of
his tail with a couple of wood-pigeon's feathers instead of the proper
ones.

A hawk which has once been moulted in captivity is said to be
"intermewed." When the moulting hawk, which has been mewed in the
old-fashioned way to get through the process, is "summed" with her
new suit, the falconer must not suppose that the troubles of the
ordeal are over. Before the newly bedizened beauty can be flown again
with any success she must be got into condition, and, if suffered
to get wild during her long incarceration, she must undergo a fresh
ordeal of reclamation. The old falconers give elaborate directions
for conditioning a hawk when "drawn" from the mews. It would be more
tedious than profitable to reproduce their prescriptions, most of which
recommend nostrums too fanciful for this matter-of-fact age. Almost
as well might a modern trainer be advised to get his man fit by means
of the terrific potions and purges upon which Caunt and Belcher were
brought into condition. In these days we are partly too timid, and
partly, I suspect, also too lazy, to compound together some score of
ingredients, more or less poisonous or distasteful, and administer the
product to an unwilling patient in the rather sanguine expectation
that it will cure and not kill. A simpler treatment is preferred for
producing a result which is, after all, simple enough. The problem
is to get rid of that accumulation of fat which, in a time of almost
complete inactivity and overfeeding, has encumbered the heart and liver
and other internal organs of the hawk, and until it is removed will
make her dull, sluggish, and unmanageable. This should certainly be
done by medicine of some kind; and the sooner it is done, after the
flight feathers are fully down, the better. Any attempt to reduce the
superfluous fat, or to produce an appetite by means of mere hunger,
would be a great mistake. The hawk would lose in strength and weight
much more than she gained in condition; and it would be a long time
before, by dieting alone, you could get rid of the mischief which a
couple of doses would almost put an end to immediately. A simple purge
and a simple emetic should be administered in any case; and if the hawk
is of a vivacious disposition, and has not grown dull in the mews, this
may be found a sufficient physicking. For the former nothing seems to
be better than rhubarb. A convenient mode of dosing a peregrine is in
the form of a Cockle's pill, which may either be wrapped up in tissue
paper and pushed down the throat with a small stick, or concealed in a
tough morsel of meat which the hawk swallows bodily. A merlin or female
sparrow-hawk should not have more than half one of these pills for a
dose; and a jack or musket even less than this. Goshawks may have more
than the small hawks, but not so much as a peregrine. For those who
want a more orthodox and time-honoured prescription, the following may
serve:--"Take Aloes Cicotrine and graines of Filander, otherwise called
Stavesaker, and Cassia Fistula, as much of the one as of the other, to
the mountenance of a beane, togither, and when ye have beaten it into
powder put it into a henne's gut of an inch long, tied fast at both
ends: then convey it into hir in the morning, so as she may put it
over, and that must be after shee hath cast, if she had any casting at
al. Then set your hawke by the fire or in the sunne, and feede hir with
a quicke chicken, or some other live warme meate two houres after."
Even in those days, however, it is plain that there were some misguided
heretics who rebelled against the long-winded precepts of the esoteric
school of hawk-doctors. "Neverthelesse, in stead of the sayd aloes, ye
may at youre discretion use common pilles, such as Potecaries give men
to make them loose-bodyed. And many are of opinion that they be much
better than that other of aloes: for the pilles drive downward and
scowre more strongly and with greater effect."

It was an almost invariable rule with the old falconers to give washed
meat to a hawk after the moult. Many of them, indeed, began to do
so for about ten or fifteen days before the end of the moult; and
in the case of hawks which are now intended to be flown as soon as
possible, some preliminary steps of the kind should be taken while
the last feathers are growing fully down. Washed meat is better than
short rations in such a case as this, where if you reduce the hawk's
strength a little it is no great matter as long as she does not get
thin withal. But the grand desideratum for a newly-moulted hawk is
plenty of carrying. The effect of this discipline upon a wild-caught
hawk has been already described; it is quite as magical, and still more
speedy in its results in the case of one which has become wild in the
mews. This is one of the good things of which one cannot have too much.
It is more than one man's work to carry a single hawk as much as she
ought to be carried when fresh from the moult. If, therefore, there is
not a man available for each, let the one which is not being carried
be pegged down at her block if it is fine, or confined to the perch if
it is not, and provided with a tiring until there is someone who can
take her again on his fist. Tirings must be kept going assiduously for
the sake of the exercise, and for the first few days all food that is
not tirings should be given on the fist. In short, the trainer must go
through, with a moulted hawk, most of the same processes, more or less
modified according to the character of the hawk, as he went through
when first reclaiming and making her to the lure.

Long-winged hawks are, of course, less troublesome to reduce to orderly
habits after the moult than sparrow-hawks or goshawks. But then they
require longer to get into wind. For this purpose they must be called
off to longer and longer distances, and made to stoop hard at the lure.
At first their flight will be very heavy, and their desire to mount
nonexistent. After a minute's stooping at the lure they will have their
mouths open. It will perhaps be quite difficult to keep them on the
wing. But they must not be excused; and the much-enduring trainer must
have the patience to wait, swinging the lure until it pleases my lady
to come to it, and be keen in the cause. It is altogether impossible
to say how long it will be from the time when she is taken out of
the moulting-room to the day when she can take the field once more.
A haggard, dosed successfully, and dieted with lucky precision, may
surprise you by getting fit quite quickly, whereas an eyess which you
expected to bring into fettle in a few days may prove more restive
than she did when taken up from hack. There is luck as well as skill
in the treatment of each hawk. But carrying is the _sine quâ non_; and
the more a man carries his hawk the better chance he has of observing
how his treatment works, and whether it should be modified in one
way or another. The best hawks, when well moulted, will often become
even better the next year; and there is no reason why a moderate or
even a poor hawk should not improve. Newly-moulted hawks should not
be brailed, nor allowed to be bareheaded in any place where they are
likely to bate. And of course great care will be taken for some little
time that they are not left in a damp or draughty place or in the rain.



CHAPTER XVIII

Virtue and Vice


Considering the great variety which exists in the character, shape,
size, colour, and appearance of hawks, it may be easily supposed that
they differ also in strength, speed, and general capability. Perhaps
the most notable of all points in which they are distinguished is in
the matter of temper. Not only will the young birds from different
eyries be unlike in this respect, but the very same nest may produce
one good-tempered hawk, and another sulky; one bold and confiding,
another timid and suspicious; one vivacious and greedy after her food,
and another dull, sluggish, and indifferent about her meals. Nor are
these discrepancies the result, apparently, of any different dieting
or treatment. They exhibit themselves in eyesses in the very earliest
days of hack, or even before, and usually continue for a long time,
if not for life. No doubt a good-tempered hawk may, by falling into
bad hands, be changed into a bad-tempered one; and some of those which
seemed worst tempered when first caught, or when first taken up from
hack, have by skilful management become quite amiable and well-behaved.
But the amount of care and art required for the one sort is very
different from that needed for the other; and very few beginners will
be likely to achieve much success with a pupil which is thoroughly
unmanageable by nature. Sparrow-hawks, especially eyesses, are, as has
already been said, the most naturally untamable of the hawks usually
trained, with golden eagles a pretty good second; and the most amenable
are hobbies and merlins, which often seem as if they rather liked
being trained. Nothing more need be said here about tempers than that
with a troublesome pupil the trainer must be extra patient and extra
cautious, and be continually on his guard against making a mistake.
Hawks are from their earliest days very good judges of character;
and the more distrustful and apt to take offence any one of them may
be, the more determined must the falconer show himself to keep his
temper and exhibit a philosophic calm in his demeanour. The petulance
and restiveness which some hawks display vanish to an extraordinary
extent if such ebullitions of temper are quietly ignored, and the
offender, apparently wishing to make herself designedly disagreeable,
finds herself treated as if she had played quite an amiable part. But
the least sign of impatience or anger on the part of the falconer is
noted by an ill-conditioned hawk, which thereupon seems to take a real
delight in further aggravating her imprudent or hasty master.

There is a whole world of difference between the breaking of dogs and
the breaking of hawks. The former know when they deserve punishment,
and actually expect it. They respect a man for chastising them when
they have done wrong, and rather despise him if he ignores the fault.
A hawk, on the other hand, must never be punished, at least openly. To
strike a hawk, or rate her, is to forfeit at once her respect, and what
may be called her affection. A dog is a slave by immemorial habit. He
knows intuitively that he is dependent upon man as a master. But the
hawk, if she is worth her salt, knows nothing of the kind. Turn her
loose, and instead of starving or begging, like the lost dog, she will
well shift for herself. She looks upon man as an ally rather than a
master. She likes to be treated as a friend and equal, rather than as
a dependant and a servant. Falcons, especially,--that is, the females
of the long-winged hawks,--are excessively proud, and even haughty;
and are mortally offended if any indignity is offered them. But no
matter what the hawk may be, the true policy is constant kindliness,
or at least the outward semblance of it--a policy of rewards and not
of punishments. Endeavour always to impress upon her the idea that you
are her very best friend; that her chief enjoyments in life are due
to your foresight and assistance; that her food, her bath, the block
on which she stands at ease, the well-padded, sheltered perch, and,
last but not least, the opportunities for good and successful flights,
are provided by you. Then will she, in the language of the mediæval
falconers, rejoice at the sight of you, and like no place so well as
the fist. Then will she fly the better when your voice cheers her on,
and begin her meal more comfortably when you are standing or sitting
by. It is well to treat the ill-tempered hawk somewhat as Mrs. Gummidge
was treated, by making allowances. Possibly she may some day surprise
you by the display of unsuspected virtues.

Passing from the mental to the bodily characteristics of hawks, we find
that occasionally two hawks are so alike that it is almost impossible
to distinguish them except by their jesses, while others of the same
kind and sex are so dissimilar that a stranger may find it difficult
to believe that they do not belong to different species. There are,
naturally enough, good and bad hawks of every shape, size, and colour;
and it would be very rash to pronounce off-hand at the first sight
of one that she is worth more than any other. Nevertheless there are
certain peculiarities which are found in the average of instances,
taking many together, to belong more commonly to the best hawks, and
others which in the great majority of cases betray the bad performer.
These have always been remarked. They are mentioned in many ancient
books, written in many languages; and there can be no doubt that after
taking a good look at several individuals, an experienced judge will
pick out those which he would prefer to possess if he had the choice.
John Barr told me upon this subject a rather pleasant story. He was
travelling southwards with a large number of hawks by train, when at
an intermediate station he met with the late Prince Dhuleep Singh, who
during a great part of his life was a most enthusiastic and successful
falconer, by whom Barr was at one time employed. The Prince immediately
inspected the hawks, which, I believe, were the same that were
afterwards flown at Epsom, and in the course of conversation pointed
out in their order the hawks which were likely to do best. The falconer
mentally noted the selection thus made, and afterwards found that it
was accurately justified by the result.

It is somewhat curious that the same characteristics which in one
species of hawks mark out an individual for admiration or the reverse,
are mostly found to serve a like purpose in the other species. The
following short remarks, therefore, unless when otherwise specified,
may be taken as applying to hawks in general.

One of the very first points of which a critic will take note is the
foot of a hawk. Long toes are a great merit; and if they are slender
and well separated at the bases, it will be all the better. Nor is
there anything mysterious or unnatural in this, for, the wider the area
which the hawk's foot can cover, the better chance she obviously has
of catching hold with one talon or the other of the quarry at which
she strikes. Another notable characteristic of the best feet is that
they fasten themselves naturally with a clinging grip to the object
of which they take hold, adhering so closely to a glove or any soft
surface that they seem almost to be glued or stuck to it, and can only
with difficulty be removed. In fact, the feet of some hawks, when they
have taken a firm hold, can only be got off by picking the talons or
claws out one after another with the hand. The hawks which thus clutch
are almost always good killers in the field. Many falconers attach some
importance to the colour of a hawk's feet. Major Fisher declares that
a nestling peregrine with yellow feet is of little worth, and that the
best colour is lead-grey or greenish grey. Merlins in their early days
often have very pale feet, but some of the best of them, when in high
condition and fed daily on freshly-killed larks, will put on a bright
yellow and even a somewhat orange hue. Bright colours are undoubtedly a
sign of health, though they may not be of strength, speed, or courage.
The power which a hawk has in her feet seems usually to be a sure
indication of corresponding vigour in the rest of her body.

The head of a specially good hawk is seldom big or round, but
wedge-shaped, narrowing from the back rapidly towards the base of the
beak, and rather flat on the top than dome-shaped; and there is a
prominent eyebrow, with a keen eye, very full and bright. The shoulders
come very high up, and are square, as they would be called in a man.
There is a great deal of breadth in the upper back and in the breast,
where the pectoral muscles are situated, and these muscles may be
felt by the hand extending in a firm and ample bulk under the upper
points of the wings. The wings themselves have also an appearance of
size and strength, and each feather, if separated from the next, is
seen to have a broad web and stout shaft. The same may be said of the
tail feathers; but in these no extra length is desirable. A short
tail with plenty of strength and solidity is better both for useful
and ornamental purposes; and a hawk with a long flexible train like a
kestrel is not to be preferred. A strong and fast hawk often folds her
wings close together, so that the points cross one another quite high
up over the tail. The nostrils of a hawk should be large, and the beak
short. No indication can be derived from the general colour of the
feathers, whether dark or light. As regards size, there is a prejudice
against big falcons and small tiercels; but this does not hold good
with regard to the short-winged hawks, in which strength is often the
chief desideratum. In the case of peregrines a very large falcon is
often clumsy; and the majority of brilliant performers whose names
have come down with honour in the annals of falconry, were rather under
than over the average size. One of the most famous peregrines of this
century (Aurora by name) was of such an intermediate size that her
owner for some considerable time mistook the sex. As for merlins, I do
not remember any exceptionally big one that was not particularly stupid
and remarkably slow. A specially small jack, however, is by no means
invariably a duffer.

So much for the appearance of hawks when standing at ease on the
block or perch. As soon as they are put on the wing the task of
distinguishing between them in point of merit becomes very much more
easy. The good hawk, when in good condition, has a buoyancy in the
air which is wanting in the other. She flies with less effort, and
as if she liked the exercise. It seems as natural to her to fly in a
slanting line upwards as on a level. When she spreads her wings and
sails along they are held out to the very farthest possible extent, and
kept "flat": that is to say, the tips are on a level with the back of
the head, or even a little above it. The fast flier does not usually go
along steadily through the air, moving, as a boating man would say, on
an even keel. On a windy day one wing is often higher than the other,
and her course swerves more or less from time to time as she utilises
or counteracts with a marvellous art, not understood of men, the
wayward pressure of the disturbed air. If you have to choose between a
hack hawk, which makes her way along with regular beats of beautifully
even wings, like a heron or a dove, and one which hurls herself forward
in unexpected lines like a lapwing, by all means choose the latter. Do
not suppose that either lapwings or haggard peregrines go crooked by
accident, or because they know no better. They can go straight enough
if they choose, and will do so if it happens to be their game to play.
But just as a skater, having only one skate on the ice, can go along if
he moves in divergent lines but not if he attempts to keep a straight
line, so it seems that by a sort of zigzaggy course more pace can be
got up than by mere plodding straight-forward work. It is only after
watching many hundreds of flights that a man can hope even to begin to
understand how birds, both pursuer and pursued, manoeuvre in the air,
trimming their sails, so to speak, so as to increase to the utmost, the
one the momentum of her stoop, and the other the speed and suddenness
of its shift.

Haggards, and the cleverest younger falcons, fly more with the outer
part of the wing than with the part nearest the body. They work, in
fact, rather with the joint which in the human body is the wrist than
by the movement of the whole arm from the shoulder. The saving of
labour so effected is obvious enough. Only, in order to fly thus, the
shoulders must be thrown very far back, and the chest far more widely
opened than it is by most eyesses. When a hawk in stretching her wings
while standing on the block raises them far above her head, or when,
having bated off, she hangs down from the fist, and, flopping with her
wings, brings them so near together behind her that they seem almost
about to touch, be sure that that hawk will fly better than one which
carries her wings back to about a level with her back only. It is
in stooping at the lure that you can judge best as to the merits of
rook-hawks or lark-hawks, while, of course, those of game-hawks and
duck-hawks are best tested by merely waiting on. In the latter and more
simple case that hawk will be preferred which goes up quickest and to
the highest pitch without raking away too far. But note, in stooping to
the lure, which comes at it with the most headlong dash, and, having
missed it, throws up soonest and highest. In a hard flight that hawk is
most successful which after each stoop shoots up farthest, rebounding,
as it were, from the unsuccessful stoop, and so keeping the command
of the air, so that the quarry, even after the cleverest shift, still
finds his adversary on a higher level than himself. The best hawks
take great delight in stooping at the lure, and may be cheered when
they make a brilliant cut at it, which will increase their excitement
and zest. Sometimes, getting to a distance from the falconer, they
will rush in at their very best speed, and, on the lure being twitched
aside, will shoot up almost in a perpendicular line; then, turning
a sort of half-somersault, they will come down in almost the same
perpendicular line with the way of the original impetus apparently
still on them. A good "footer" at the lure is usually a good footer at
her quarry; and good footing is one of the most deadly qualities any
hawk can possess.

Another remarkable thing about hawks is that those which are the
best-tempered are generally the boldest, strongest, and best fliers.
The reason is doubtless that bad temper proceeds to a large extent from
timidity; and timidity of mind is, in nine cases out of ten, either due
to bodily weakness, or at least connected with it. By bad temper I do
not, of course, understand mere anger. Some of the hawks which are the
fiercest and most furious when first taken out of the bow-net, prove
the easiest to reclaim, and the most obedient when trained. Sulkiness
is the worst of the natural vices, and it is unfortunately common
enough, not only in goshawks, which are notorious for it, but in all
kinds of hawks. Out of one nest I have had one merlin which was almost
the best-tempered and one which was almost the worst-tempered that ever
I saw. Eyesses are more commonly sulky than passage hawks, and very
often display signs of this defect in the days of hack. Later on this
develops into some more specific vice, which will perhaps need great
care and patience to cure or modify. A short notice of the vices most
prevalent amongst hawks will not be out of place, for the treatment of
these disorders is almost as well worth understanding as that of their
bodily ailments.

Carrying is a fault with which the falconer will generally first become
acquainted. The word is ill-chosen, or rather ill-adapted from the
Norman "charrier." It would have been better if our ancestors had used
such a term as "bolting" or "lifting," so that no confusion need have
arisen between the word carrying, as applied to holding a hawk on the
fist, and as applied to the hawk's action in taking up and flying away
with her food. However, be the name what it may, the practice is one
to which all hawks are more or less naturally addicted, although some
in a very much greater degree than others. Merlins and hobbies are the
most notorious offenders, and wild-caught hawks of the long-winged
kinds, though not always troublesome in this way, must be prevented for
a long time from developing this habit, or they will infallibly become
spoilt and lost. In the chapter on Training, some directions are given
for guarding against this predisposition, and curing the mischief when
it has already arisen. But of all safeguards and remedies, by far the
best is the habit already referred to of constantly instilling into the
hawk the idea that your near presence is a thing to be desired, and not
disliked. If a merlin or any other hawk shows the least inclination to
carry when flying to the lure, or when being taken up from it, I would,
for a time at least, never go near her on any occasion without taking a
piece of food in the hand and giving it to her. By this means in a few
days she will look out for your coming, and even listen for your step
with all the pleasurable expectation that other tame animals await the
coming of their feeder. And in taking her up have always on your hand
a piece of food which is either more tempting or at least more easily
devoured than that which she has in her foot. Let the tit-bit be a
"mess of pottage"--but not necessarily a big one--for the immediate
fruition of which the silly bird (as Turbervile calls her) will barter
away all the prospective advantages of a freshly-killed partridge or a
dainty pigeon. These latter have to be plucked, mark you, before they
can be eaten, whereas the bright red morsel in your hand can be begun
at once, without any such trouble and delay.

In bad cases the vice of carrying may be corrected by a rather strong
remedy, which, like all other hawking devices, has long been practised.
Before resorting to it, see that the lure which you are going to use,
whether live or dead, is quite a light one, but very firmly fixed
up, so that no part of it, or no part of the food with which it is
garnished, can come away. Then exercise your ill-behaved hawk in
whatever way you prefer, and let her ultimately get the lure and have
it on the ground in her foot. This lure will have a fairly long creance
to it; and you will keep hold all the time of the end of the line. Now,
as your hawk is on the ground with her food, begin to make in as if you
were approaching her after a real flight. You may, however, do so much
less cautiously. If she bolts with her meal, let her go four or five
yards, and then, with a sharp, sudden pull on the string, twitch the
whole apparatus out of her foot, and let it come flying back towards
you. What with the "way" that the hawk has on her, and the suddenness
of your pull on the string, the lure, if properly fixed up, is bound to
be jerked away; and my lady will have to trouble herself to turn round
and come back towards you. But, of course, if you so arrange your lure
that it will part, and the edible portion of it remain with the hawk,
while the inedible comes back to you with the creance, you will have
done ten times more harm than you expected to do good. A few lessons of
this kind will often cure even a determined carrier. But I have known
merlins which were cunning enough never to carry a light lure, knowing
from experience that it would be a mere waste of time, and yet, when
they had taken a wild lark, never doubted that they could make off with
it if they liked.

There is a special sort of carrying to which many long-winged hawks
are prone, and it is still more difficult to cure than the practice
commonly so called. A hawk which is much fed on the fist, and little
on the ground--especially on damp or uncomfortable ground--will, after
taking her quarry and killing it, stand still on the ground, looking
round with a restless air. And after a while, thinking, apparently,
that the spot where she is is not exactly the most convenient that
could be found for a meal, will get up, pelt in hand, and fly off
in search of one more desirable. This is done out of no feeling of
mistrust or deliberate conviction that her prize is likely to be taken
from her. Thus the fact that the hawk is quite tame, and even likes
your company at her dinner, is no safeguard against this vexatious
habit. I have known a jack-merlin which was frequently easy to take up,
bolt with a full-sized lark, and carry it, as if it weighed no more
than a feather, for nearly half a mile, searching for a place which
was good enough for my lord to picnic on, and disdaining several flat
mounds which lay in his way, and which would have formed luxurious
tables. The same hawk once carried a lark about six hundred yards in
one direction, and then, seeing no specially attractive ground on that
side, came back the whole way, and, flying past at about fifty yards
distance, settled on a rough, dirty heap two or three hundred yards
in a different direction. Had he gone straight on for the same length
of time in the original direction, he would either have been lost and
left out, or only found by accident after a search of long duration.
Sometimes a hawk, too dainty to feed on the ground amongst prickly
stubble or tall, wet turnip-leaves, will go off with her quarry into
a tree, which is not a particularly comfortable dining-place, but
which she chooses to prefer. Mr. St. Quintin had a fine falcon which
persisted in this vice, until he actually got rid of her.

Other hawks, especially merlins, delight in going off to ricks to
plume and eat their quarry. There are not many trees in places where
the best merlins are flown, but there are always plenty of ricks.
Sometimes it is possible to climb these structures; and many a time has
the falconer, if a small man, been hoisted up on the shoulders of some
stalwart friend, or, if he is stalwart himself, has given a back to
some smaller man, or even a man and a boy, ladderwise. Often, however,
the rick is unclimbable. Then what is to be done? for you cannot drag a
ladder for miles over the downs. The surest way is to carry a long coil
of string, with a bullet at one end. Stand at one side of the rick on
which your hawk is quietly and contentedly plucking her victim; sling
the bullet over the top of the rick, and as nearly over the head of the
hawk herself as your skill and the wind will allow. Then, if you have
an attendant, let him take hold of the end of the string which has no
bullet attached, and which has not gone flying over the rick. If you
have no companion, peg down this last-mentioned end at a good distance
from the rick. Then walk to the other side and pick up the bullet.
Pulling the string taut, drag it sideways, so that the line scrapes
along the top of the rick, and, coming to the hawk's self-chosen
dining-place, sweeps the whole affair, dinner, hawk, and all, away. If
the line should get entangled in the quarry, so much the better; you
can pull it down to the ground. If not, the hawk may, of course, carry
to another rick, and recommence the same trick. But after repeated
scrapings-off she generally gets sick of the worry, and condescends to
go down to the ground.

A simpler and more unceremonious way of interfering with the offender
is to pelt her with clods of earth, or even flints, until one of them
either hits her or goes so near that she thinks it advisable to decamp.
I have known a hawk sit so stolidly on a rick that though flints went
within two inches on either side of her, she took no notice, and
went on eating. Others, old offenders, know as well as their master
what happens when they go to rick. They would be rather surprised if
they did not see him bending down as he makes his way towards them,
collecting suitable missiles, and if he did not begin at once the
familiar sport of hawk-stoning. Such hawks may be called rick-hawks;
and they are about as trying to the temper as anything which the
falconer has to contend with. They are, however, not quite so bad as
tree-hawks. A falconer who is possessed of one of these last-named
treasures must add to his other accomplishments that of being a good
shot with a small stone.

What remedy there is for the hawk which carries out of pure caprice
it is not easy to say. In the first place, she must be habituated to
take some of her food on the ground--tirings anyhow, which hitherto
have perhaps been taken on the block or the perch. Let them be fastened
down by a peg or a weight, sometimes on damp ground, sometimes even in
prickly stubbles, so that the over-dainty hawk may learn that eating
on the ground is not so bad after all. Then she ought to be flown
sharp-set, so that, being in a hurry for her food, she should be glad
enough to pluck it quickly and on the first place where she alights.
Give this sort of hawk as large a quantity of flying as ever you can.
Fly her, if you have the choice, at the most difficult quarry, and in
the most difficult places. Never mind so much if she succeeds or not.
It is better to lose a few rooks or partridges than to lose your hawk.
Fly her, therefore, as often and as hard as you can. Never mind whether
her score or her average is bad. It is better to make a poor score
than to think your hawk is a good one when she isn't. A good deal of
the restlessness which makes a hawk flit about with her quarry is due
to her being short of exercise. If, therefore, you can make your hawk
fly more, either at the lure or in the field, than she has a mind to,
she is much less likely to go fooling about before attending to the
business of feeding herself. Of course it is very difficult to do this,
as twenty or thirty miles more or less is a mere exercise canter for a
peregrine. But many trained hawks get a great deal less than this in a
whole day.

There is a device which I should like to see tried with a carrying
hawk, but it requires some patience and good temper. Get some stuffed
birds of the proper kind, at which you mean to fly your hawk; use them,
unweighted, as lures, and when the hawk has taken them and come down,
let go the string and approach her cautiously with food in hand as if
you were making in to her after killing a real bird. If she bolts, let
her go and make what she can of the stuffed bird. About twenty minutes
after you will have her back, furious, but perhaps less ready to bolt
away from the food in your hand--a sadder, but possibly a wiser, hawk.

When a hawk, being carried on the fist bareheaded, ready to be thrown
off at quarry, keeps jumping off in a tiresome way at nothing, ten to
one she is not quite ready to fly. Better put on her hood and let her
wait for an hour or so, and go on with another hawk, if you have one to
fly, and, if not, light a pipe. Hurry no man's hawks, not even your own.

It would be rather a misnomer to call soaring a vice. This, which is
one of the most beautiful accomplishments of the wild falcon, is the
natural mode of taking daily exercise. To see it in perfection, look
at a wild peregrine or a wild hobby--you have there what enthusiasts
describe as the poetry of motion. All hawks, eagles and vultures soar
by nature. It is their way of stretching their wings, and of taking
the air where it is cool and fresh. Kestrels do a sort of humble
soaring in search of their food, and hobbies actually feed themselves,
like swifts, on the wing. To say, therefore, that a trained hawk
which adopts this orthodox method of keeping herself fit is thereby
committing a fault, is rather hard upon her. Nevertheless it is a very
vexatious habit, when over-indulged in, and, speaking from a practical
point of view, is not to be too much encouraged. Hobbies, when flown
in the middle of the day, even sharp-set, will stay up constantly for
a quarter of an hour and even more, taking little apparent notice of
the swung lure, or at the most striking at it without catching hold,
or at least coming down with it to the ground. To do them justice,
they seldom go far away, but often look as if they meant to do so,
which, indeed, they occasionally do, especially at migrating times. But
a peregrine which has taken to the soar often seems so engrossed in
the pleasant occupation as to forget all about mundane affairs, and,
sailing along in ever-widening circles, drifts farther and farther
down-wind, until the falconer, if unmounted, can keep her in view no
longer. Then, when she is beginning to tire of her amusement, and to
remember that she has, after all, a crop to fill, she will very likely
wing her way back to where she last saw the falconer wistfully swinging
her despised lure. But what if an unlucky pigeon then heaves in sight?
or if some unsuspecting yokel puts up a partridge or a rook? There is
nothing to prevent her from having a shot at it: and, if she kills,
good-bye to my lady for that day. If you find her, it will be more by
good luck than anything else.

Hawks will go soaring because they are short of exercise, because they
feel hot from insufficient bathing, or because, not being particularly
hungry, they prefer a few minutes' free roaming about to immediately
dining. Consequently a hawk which has shown herself fond of the
practice and slow at coming to the dead lure, should be offered a
bath whenever she is at all likely to take it--once a day, in very
hot weather. She should have lots of flying and stooping to the lure,
for, as she is fond of the upper air, there is the less chance of her
hanging about round the falconer and spoiling her pitch. Finally, she
should be a bit keen after her food before she is put on the wing.
Soaring and waiting on are analogous things, or rather they are the
same with a difference. The best game-hawks, which wait on mountains
high, are soaring as they do so; that is, the movement of the wings
is the same, but the difference is that the waiter-on is, as it were,
anchored to a fixed point below--the man or the dog, whereas the
soarer is merely floating about like a yacht which has no particular
destination.

The vice of raking away differs only from that of soaring away by the
fact that it may be done at any height. Half-trained hawks, before they
have done any real work in the field, are very apt to wait on in the
wrong place. They know as much as that they are expected to keep within
sight of the falconer, but not that they ought to be directly overhead;
and, through laziness, or because they prefer stooping at the lure
up-wind, they allow themselves to drift away to lee. Hardly have they
come up level with the man than they at once fall back on the wind,
lowering their pitch, if pitch it can be called, so that for all useful
purposes their attendance is a mere sham, and they might as well be on
the falconer's glove. Repeating this idiotic performance in the field,
they are some hundreds of yards to leeward, and at a low elevation,
when the grouse or partridge get up, and a stern-chase ensues, in which
the quarry, going up-wind, gets the best of it. For this annoying vice
there is no direct remedy. Experience may be expected to teach the
young hawk better. One plan is to let loose pigeons, while the hawk is
so waiting on, so that, after missing some, by reason of raking and
low flying, and perhaps catching others when flying properly, she may
understand at last how success is to be had.

Checking is a crime to which we are not now so much exposed as were the
old falconers. Bird life is not so abundant now, at least in England,
that a hawk is confronted often with an _embarras de richesses_, and
leaves her legitimate quarry for a stray bird of a different species.
Eyesses, indeed, if kept to one quarry, will often hardly be induced
to pursue any other. Passage hawks are more ready to check at birds
which cross their path. It would be rather too much to expect a haggard
falcon, which in her time has struck down birds of fifty different
kinds, to discriminate very nicely between a plump partridge and a fat
wood-pigeon when Providence threw either within reach of an easy stoop.
It is when a passage hawk has been flown at rooks in the spring, and
afterwards at game in the game season, that there is the chief danger
of checking. As long as the sable quarry is alone attempted the risk
is not great. The hawk is flown out of the hood at quarry actually in
sight. It is only when that quarry has saved itself that the temptation
to check occurs, and at that moment there are, or ought to be, lures
waving near at hand. But encourage the rook-hawk to become a game-hawk,
and the case is altogether changed. She has to go up alone, with
nothing particular in view, and wait aloft till the falconer springs
her quarry. Moreover, she knows now that rooks are not the only lawful
game. She is at full liberty to go at grouse; and, if grouse, why not
wood-pigeons and house-pigeons, gulls, or curlew? Why not anything
which is desirable, and which "tempts her roving eyes"?

The besetting sin of the checking peregrine is the chase of pigeons,
wild and tame. Often, it must be admitted, this sin is the outcome
of the falconer's own action. Has he not himself used a pigeon as a
live lure? Has he not, when teaching his pupil to wait on, let loose
a pigeon with the express intention that she should fly it? If he has
never had occasion to do so in training his passage hawk he has been
exceptionally lucky. As regards pigeons, it is generally pretty easy to
break peregrines of checking at them as soon as they have once begun
to fly at game. To achieve this feat get a good number of very good
pigeons--say a dozen, the faster the better; make the hawk wait on at a
short distance--say 600 yards--from some covert in which the pigeon, if
he can get as far, will be safe from pursuit; then, while the hawk is
waiting on that side of you which is farthest from the covert, let go
one of the pigeons. The hawk will start, but the pigeon, if a good one,
will manage to make the covert; the hawk will throw up, and, if all
is well, come down to your dead lure. Repeat this performance, always
making as sure as you can that the pigeon will save himself, until
your pupil has got sick of the whole business, and at last refuses to
go for such disappointing quarry. If you can put in, between whiles,
an easy flight at a grouse or partridge, and reward the hawk well upon
it, the contrast will be all the more striking, and she will begin to
have a settled conviction that game-hawking is capital fun, whereas
pigeon-hawking is a fraud. It is obvious that a somewhat similar trick
may be used with regard to other birds besides pigeons--flying the hawk
in impossible places at those which you don't want her to pursue, and
in easy places at those which you do.

Some hawks, which ought to know better, from laziness or want of
condition, will not remain on the wing, but go off, after a few turns
in the air, to a tree or to the ground, and there sit waiting for the
lure, or till the spirit moves them to stir. This is disheartening
conduct, quite unworthy of a ladylike or gentlemanly hawk, and
disgraceful in a falcon-gentle. Yet so it is that many of these
high-born dames, and not a few tiercels also of noble birth, are
so lost to a sense of their own dignity that they give way to this
degrading weakness, and demean themselves to the level of a base-born
short-wing. What is to be done with them? Various devices have been
tried with varying success. In the first place, as the hawk behaves
in an ignoble manner, she cannot complain if you treat her in ignoble
wise. You may therefore ride at her as she sits on the ground, and
force her to get up, or you may throw clods at her, and drive her
out of her tree; but the surest plan--only it requires time and
patience--is to let her cure herself. Light a pipe and sit down in a
comfortable place, if such there be, and leave the sinner alone until
the spirit does move her to stir. At some time or other, varying from
five minutes to five hours, she will want the lure badly enough. Then
let her come for it. Keep her waiting on or stooping at the lure till
she has had a good dose of it, and if she goes off to perch again,
wait again till she will work for her living. Show her, in fact, that
in coming to the lure she is conferring no great favour on you, as
she seemed to imagine, but rather that the boot is on the other leg.
Next time it is more than probable that she will work a little rather
than go fasting, when she might have a good meal at once. If you have
time and patience to read her a few such lessons she may gradually be
brought to exhibit some activity. But give her a dose as well. For
liver has probably something to do with the matter, as well as mere
laziness.

A hawk which is hood-shy is a plague to you and to herself. Very
few hawks exhibit this vice except through the trainer's fault. But
trainers are not all good hooders; and a few bungling and unsuccessful
attempts at hooding will make even the best-natured hawk hate the very
sight of the hood. If, therefore, the beginner is not clever at the
art, let him practise on a kestrel. Or, if he will have one of the
better hawks, let him get a skilful hand to break her to the hood. To
hood a hawk which is already broken is a comparatively easy matter;
but it is the nature of a hawk, as of any other creature, to dislike
being blindfolded, and the wonder is that hawks can be made to submit
to it as readily as they do. Occasionally a hawk has such a rooted
objection to the proceeding that the cleverest man never succeeds in
quite overcoming it. Vesta, already mentioned, was hood-shy, though in
good hands; but even then the objection felt by the sufferer can only
by a perversion of terms be rightly called a vice. Hood-shyness, even
in a pronounced form, has often been cured, and, as has already been
said, a hood-shy hawk cannot be considered fully trained. Whenever the
hawk is difficult to hood, she should be handled constantly, and the
trainer should almost always have a hood in his right hand. The actual
condition of being hooded is not disagreeable to many hawks--it is the
indignity and discomfort involved in the process of putting on the
apparatus that give rise to the trouble. The smaller the hawk, the more
difficult she is to hood; and the mischief is not only that the hawk's
feathers are in danger whenever she is hooded against her will, but
also that her temper is ruffled, and the relations between her and her
trainer become strained.

One of the most annoying errors into which a hawk can fall, is a belief
in her own vocal powers. No hawk ever has at all a musical voice, and
the exercise of it, even in moderation, can quite well be dispensed
with. Unfortunately, most eyesses which have been taken very young
from the nest develop quite early in life a tendency to cry out. When
there are several of them together they often catch the habit from
one another, and becoming worse as their feathers come down, are by
the time they are ready to fly confirmed "screamers." No cure has, I
believe, been discovered for this vice, except that of turning them
out to hack, which in nine cases out of ten proves successful. I have
several times known a family of hawks when first turned out, to keep up
for the first day or two an almost incessant screeching, and yet I have
taken up the same birds at the end of hack completely cured. Generally,
as soon as a young hawk finds that she can expend all her superfluous
energy in flying about, and that no sort of attention is ever paid to
her eloquence, she gets tired of indulging in the weakness. I know,
however, of a case where hobbies too early taken were actually lost
at hack, and never came at all either to lure or hack board, and yet
continued to scream when quite wild for at least more than a week
afterwards.

Passage hawks, I believe, never scream. It is often supposed that no
wild hawks scream, and this, I think, is as a rule true. But I have
heard young wild kestrels scream for a few days after they could
fly, and one lot of wild merlins, though they were fully summed, and
had probably been already driven away by the parents to shift for
themselves, were what may be called bad screamers. They would scream
while soaring, ten minutes at a time, and at such a height that the
sound could only just be heard. It is true that there were trained
merlins about at the time, and possibly they may have been calling to
them. It is quite a common thing for hawks which are entirely free from
the vice to call out when they see another hawk unexpectedly. They will
do it even when they see their own likenesses in a looking-glass.

If the hawk, after being well hacked, still retains vestiges of the bad
habit, there is yet another chance. The flying and killing wild quarry
has often a magical effect in curing this vice, which would seem, like
some other malpractices, to be largely the result of idleness. Still
there are instances where, in spite of all the advantages which an
eyess enjoys, she will persist in screaming. Some of them will go so
far as to scream with the hood on, though this is rare. As a rule a
screaming hawk is not a good performer. And she ought to be a very good
one, in order to make it worth the falconer's while to be plagued with
her. If you turn her adrift you may possibly, after a few days, catch
her again and find her cured; and if not, you will not have suffered a
very severe loss.

A still more disheartening fault is that of "refusing." People who
know nothing at all about falconry are apt to suppose that when once
you have "tamed" your hawk, and can call her back to you when you
like, the only thing which remains to be done is to walk with her
into a field, show her a bird, and let her go. That she should fail
to pursue it is a contingency which does not present itself to their
minds. It is, however, unfortunately one that constantly occurs, not
only with eyesses, but also with the boldest of wild-caught hawks.
The novice gets his hawk into a fine state of obedience. She will
come a long distance to the lure as soon as it is produced. But when
the long-expected day arrives for the first flight at a wild quarry,
and perhaps an expectant field of friends turns out to see the sport,
the wild bird is put up, the hawk is thrown off with a lusty shout,
and, without taking the smallest notice of her intended victim, goes
quietly on her way either to wait on for the lure or to take perch in
a pleasant spot. Even when hawks have been entered, and have begun to
fly in earnest, you cannot be absolutely sure when you cast them off
whether they will be in the humour to do their best. They may begin
the flight in apparently faultless style, and go up bravely in the
most orthodox of rings after the ringing quarry. And then as they seem
to be getting on terms with their rook or lark, you may see the fatal
spreading of their wings, and have the painful conviction forced upon
you that they have shown the white feather and thrown up the game. This
vice--of "flying tail to tail," as the old falconers term it--is a most
disheartening one for a beginner to meet with; so much so, that some
old writers regard such a hawk as hopeless, and advise giving her away
to a friend! I have found it strongly developed in the only two hobbies
I ever tried to train; and a like result has, to my knowledge, followed
in several other instances. These hawks have made rings and followed
a wild lark up. But they have never taken even so much as a bad one!
I had a merlin which out of 41 flights killed 40 larks. But the one
occasion when she missed she refused--or at least left the lark in
the air. Possibly this was because she was flown too soon after the
last flight. But the disgrace remains recorded against her name in the
quarry-book.

To guard against this sad catastrophe you must encourage your hawk;
that is, you must keep up her courage, which is the thing most severely
tested in a ringing flight. You must feed her well; yet keep her
digestion in perfect order. And you must strengthen her muscles by
constant hard exercise. It is not enough for her to go out and kill
a couple of indifferent rooks in two or three short easy flights. If
there is not enough good quarry--difficult quarry--to be found for her,
you can give her a good spell of stooping at the lure, or in the case
of a game-hawk, a long waiting on when the wind is highest, probably
about midday. She must have tirings galore. And if she has refused
once, fly her sharp-set the next time. Hawks will refuse through
being too fat as well as through being too lean. Avoid, if possible,
giving your best hawks bad quarry, or your worst hawks any that are
too good. The former may refuse a specially good one because they are
accustomed to take duffers, and the latter may refuse because they have
not yet gained confidence in their own powers. Goshawks are capricious
creatures; they will refuse a leveret, and half an hour later fly well
at a full-grown hare. Other hawks may refuse if flown too early in the
day, and yet do a fine performance if tried again later on. With a
hawk that persistently refuses you should try every remedy that your
ingenuity will suggest as likely to inspire her with a proper sense of
her duty. Try feeding up; try flying her very hungry. Physic her for
liver, with one prescription after another. And if all fail, give the
hawk away, or, better still, cast her loose in an open country where
the keepers don't shoot hawks. She then will have the choice between
working and starving; and she will very soon know how to decide the
question.

The last, and in one way the most serious, vice which has to be
referred to, is that of "running cunning." I do not think it is common,
if even it prevails at all among passage hawks; and what there is to be
said about it in the case of eyesses, has been said in the chapter on
Lost Hawks, _à propos_ of Ruy Lopez.

We have thus a list of seven deadly sins, or so-called sins, to which
trained hawks are prone--carrying (better called lifting), refusing,
checking, perching, hood-shyness, screaming, and running cunning. There
are a few minor faults which hardly amount to more than peccadilloes,
and deserve only a passing notice. Sometimes a hawk will keep bating
off in a tiresome way. This is when she is strong and well, but short
of exercise, and perhaps a bit feverish. The remedy is simply to hood
her up. It is far less annoyance to her to stand hooded than to fatigue
or worry herself by constant tugging and straining at her jesses. But,
as a matter of fact, for hawks to stand hooded for any reasonable
time is no annoyance to them at all, after they have worn the hood a
few times. If it were, we should find that they suffered from it in
health, strength, temper, or somehow, which is not known to be the
case. Merlins, however, and male sparrow-hawks should be left unhooded
more than other hawks. And they must not be expected to fly, like
peregrines, immediately the hood is removed. The same cause will induce
hawks sometimes to pick and pull at their jesses or at the covering
of the perch, or even at the glove. The remedy is to smear the jesses
or perch or glove with aloes or some bitter preparation, which is
distasteful to them, but will do no harm if they like to go on picking,
but rather good.

It has been said (p. 32) that goshawks and sparrow-hawks cannot be
flown in casts (_i.e._ two of them together). This is on account of
the great probability that they will fight or "crab." There is also,
in the case of long-winged hawks, some danger that the like trouble
may arise, especially if one or both of the individuals thrown off has
a bad temper of her own. Accordingly, it is often well that each hawk
intended to be used for double flights should be first flown single a
few times, until she has become keen after her quarry, so that she may
be too intent upon the pursuit of it to quarrel with her colleague,
when flown double. But eyesses which have been well hacked and well
reclaimed are seldom addicted to this vice, which is still more rare
in passagers. As to the difficulties attending double flights with
merlins, see the remarks made at page 141; and as to entering a young
hawk with the assistance of an older one as "make-hawk," see pages 113,
142.

Some hawks, especially the wild-caught, will not bathe, but after
tasting the water in the bath, and perhaps making as if they would go
in, hesitate for a long time, and at last jump back to their block.
Some will not even "bowse," or sip the water. This is vexatious, for
bathing undoubtedly improves the feathers besides merely cleaning
them, and keeps the hawks free from parasites and from small attacks
of feverishness. It also cleans their feet, and makes them more hardy
and robust. The best plan in such cases is to see that the bath-water
is never too cold, to let a hawk which bathes well bathe in the sight
of the recusant, and to keep the bath on fine days within reach of the
latter. Such a hawk should also have her feet bathed now and then while
on the perch; and her beak should be kept clear of any scraps or stains
which may remain on it after feeding. This wiping of the beak should,
however, be done in any case, if the hawk is not careful herself about
feaking, or rubbing the refuse off her mandibles.

Such is the rather long list of faults and vices. Let us not end up the
chapter with these, but hark back to the virtues, and remind the reader
that these are also great. Speed, courage, mounting, and footing: these
may be called the cardinal virtues. Some hawks are born with some or
all of them: some achieve them; while upon others--well, they must be
thrust. The mode of treatment suggested in the preceding pages has
been found by long experience to be the best for developing the good
qualities in a hawk as well as for eliminating the bad. Exercise and
practice are the essential requisites. Nature is then working on the
trainer's side. Every hawk should be made as often as possible to earn
her food by hard work. And every hawk should be encouraged to take a
pleasure in her work and a pride in herself. Exercise means speed;
and speed means success. With success will naturally come courage;
and excellence in mounting and footing is no more than the inevitable
result of proper practice in the right sort of flights. All hawks
in the wild state can kill many sorts of quarry. All trained hawks,
therefore, should be able to take at least one. But if any man expects
to become a falconer off-hand, he will be disappointed. If he will
begin moderately, with one hawk,--a kestrel for choice,--and train her
single-handed and completely, he will soon be able to attempt much
greater things.



CHAPTER XIX

Anecdotes and Adventures


If history is rightly called the practical illustration of philosophy,
then the quarry-book may be considered with justice the tangible test
of the falconer's theories. In many cases a handful of experience is
worth a cart-load of advice; and a trainer who has lost a valuable hawk
by treating her in a bad way is not likely to forget in a hurry how bad
that system proved. Some entertaining and very instructive anecdotes
may be found scattered about in the old books, and more especially in
that of Charles d'Arcussia, Lord of Esparron and Revest, the Italian
who was falconer to Louis XIII., and was honoured by him with special
favour. This treatise, which is difficult to procure, is well worth
perusal, not only for the descriptions contained in it of remarkable
flights, but for the sound sense of many of the precepts given. Between
the French and Italian schools of falconry, as of fencing, a sort of
friendly rivalry existed; and the Italian, who had become a Frenchman,
may be said, in a way, to have represented both.

Coming to more modern times, a great many interesting details of a
historical and anecdotal kind are given in the works already mentioned,
published during the last fifty or sixty years, beginning with the fine
illustrated volume of Schlegel and Wulverhorst, and including the new
edition of Mr. J. E. Harting's _Hints_. Without going over any of the
ground covered by these writers, I propose to add a few notes of actual
experiences within the memory of man. For most of these I am indebted
to the kindness of brother-falconers, who have supplied them at some
trouble to themselves, and whom I desire to thank heartily for their
friendly aid.

The powers of a trained peregrine are severely tested by a first-rate
house-pigeon, which is one of the fastest of flying things, shifts
well, and lives usually in fine condition, taking plenty of exercise.
Adrian Möllen told me that a fellow-countryman of his, vilipending his
passage hawks which he was then training for the campaign at herons at
the Loo, offered to bet that three of his own pigeons would beat any
hawk Möllen could produce. As the hawks were not Möllen's, and it is
always quite on the cards that a flight at a fast pigeon may result in
the loss of the hawk, the falconer had to ask leave before accepting
the bet. The king's brother, who then represented the Loo Club in
Holland, readily gave permission, and, I think, also offered to pay if
the hawk lost. Anyhow, a day was fixed, and a small party assembled
on the most open part of the Loo. The falconer had stipulated that he
should give the signal for the release of the pigeons by the owner. His
fastest falcon was then put on the wing, and as she waited on Möllen
gave the word. The pigeon started; the hawk stooped, and, after a good
flight, killed. She was allowed to eat the brain, and the rest of the
pelt was thrown to the disconcerted fancier. A second pigeon was then
prepared. The hawk again waited on, and the signal was again given.
This time, however, the pigeon was taken at the first stoop. "Out with
your third pigeon," cried Möllen, elated with the double victory. But
the countryman elected to pay, and not to play. "My third gold piece
is lost anyhow," he sadly remarked. "Better pay my money, and save my
remaining pigeon, than find I have to lose both."

The statement that a peregrine cutting down a grouse or partridge
without binding kills it "stone-dead" in the air, is doubtless
occasionally true. But to suppose that this is a common occurrence
would be a great mistake. Much more often the partridge is stunned
or dazed, the wing broken, or the back or neck dislocated. But the
force with which a game-bird comes down when hit in the air is often
very great, and enough in itself to almost fatally bruise it. I have
mentioned that a falcon of Major Fisher's knocked down a grouse on
fairly level ground which, so great was the impact, rebounded from the
earth, and came down again fifteen yards from the place where it first
fell. Larks and other birds often dash themselves hard against the
ground in shifting downwards from the stoop, and bound up again like
balls.

Peregrines, when on their day and intent on killing, will sometimes
do more execution than would readily be believed. Not very long ago
a tiercel stooped at a covey, cut down a bird, and threw up with the
intention of descending to seize the victim. But at the height to which
his impetus had carried him up he was right above the remainder of the
covey, which was speeding away at a short distance above the ground.
Changing his mind, therefore, the tiercel stooped again at one of the
fugitives. He cut this down also, and shot up again, likewise over the
retreating birds. For a second time the temptation proved too great,
and with a third stoop he took a third partridge.

John Barr was flying a ger-tiercel at a pigeon on Epsom Downs, not far
from Tattenham Corner. But the hawk was no match for the pigeon, which
evaded all his stoops. Instead, however, of making off and thanking
his lucky stars, this over-vain bird stayed fooling around. Confident
that the ger would not or could not catch him, he sailed about, as
if "chaffing" the big hawk and challenging him to do his worst. At
this moment an amateur falconer came on the Downs by the Grand Stand,
carrying a falcon (peregrine) of by no means first-rate powers, but
keen to fly, and a good waiter on. Getting on to the open ground, this
gentleman threw off his falcon. But neither he nor his falcon at first
saw the pigeon, nor did the latter, intent on his game with the ger,
espy the distant foe. Thus the hawk had time to get up some way before
there was any suspicion on either side that there was sport to be had.
As soon as the falcon did cast eyes on the inadvertent pigeon, she
fortunately went up higher, instead of starting in pursuit, as some
eyesses would have done. As she got to a pretty good pitch the pigeon
at last became aware that there was a second enemy in the field, or
rather in the air, and began to gird up his loins for flight in bitter
earnest. It was, however, now too late. The falcon towered far above,
and on the other side was the "allied power," the ger. Another ten
seconds and the falcon came down with a will, threw up, and at the
second shot did for the too imprudent joker. The amateur had the laugh
at John Barr for some days afterwards, having "wiped his ger's eye"
with a peregrine.

Mr. Riley, who has had so much success with the short-winged hawks,
had thrown off a goshawk at a rabbit, which ran past some old hollow
pollard ashes. As he passed, out jumped a fox and joined in the chase.
This, however, boded no great good for the hawk; and her owner raised
so unearthly a noise that reynard turned aside into the fence just as
the goshawk took the rabbit only two or three yards away. On another
occasion a rabbit was ferreted out by the side of a mill-pool. The
ferret was close on his traces, and he jumped deliberately into the
pool and swam across. Mr. Riley, who, like a good austringer, loves
fair play above all things, thought it a shame to fly a wet rabbit,
and would not throw off his goshawk. However, when the rabbit was on
dry land he went so well that Mr. Riley let the hawk go. The rabbit
was caught; and when he was taken from the hawk he was found to be
quite dry! But whether his wet skin had been dried up by terror or
by the violence of his exertions, or how else, is a mystery still
unsolved. One day, having had bad luck with partridges, Sir Tristram,
owned and trained by the same gentleman, was indulged with a pigeon.
The big pointer included in the party, and which was a great ally of
the goshawk, was at the time roaming about. As the hawk was pluming
the pigeon on the ground, the dog came romping along. But when he had
accidentally got within eight yards of Sir Tristram, the latter left
his meal, and, flying straight for the pointer, gave him a good sound
box on the ear, which sent him flying, the hawk then returning, well
satisfied, to his food.

Hawks have been known to kill quarry with a leash and swivel still
attached to their jesses. I have known a merlin with a long leash on
follow a lark up in rings several hundred feet high, but she could
not get on terms with him. What is, however, perhaps still more
astonishing, I have seen a merlin with a whole dead lark in her foot
pursue and strike down one that was uninjured. I was with a friend
in a very open place. Each of us had a merlin to fly; and we walked
different ways. My chance came first; and the lark, after a flight of
moderate length, was taken under some open railings surrounding a dry
pond. Hardly was this flight over, and the hawk beginning to plume her
lark, when my friend's hawk started after a lark from the opposite side
of the pond. This lark happened also to make for the same place--not
that the railings were at all likely to save him, but because he
thought he could dodge round and round the posts and under the bars,
and so put off the fatal moment. Larks seem often to think that any
shelter is better than none at all. Accordingly, round and round the
rails this second lark twisted and turned, passing sometimes within a
yard or two of the place where my hawk stood on her dead lark watching
the fun. The other hawk meanwhile made shot after shot, but could not
foot her quarry. "She"--that was the name of my merlin--looked on more
and more excitedly. At last she could stand it no longer, but getting
up, dead lark and all, she mounted a bit and stooped. As the lark was
diving underneath a rail she hit it, first shot, with a resounding
whack--not with her feet, for they were both encumbered by the dead
quarry, but with the dead quarry itself! The lark was, of course, not
held, but projected forwards and downwards about three feet to the
ground; and before he could get up again the other hawk was on him.

I was flying the same hawk in a very big stubble-field. A lark got
up--a ground lark, but a fast one--and away they went, zigzagging along
the surface of the field. They had gone a long way, but not far enough
to be out of sight, when they both suddenly vanished. Running up, I
found a deep depression in the ground, where years ago a big pit had
been dug. This accounted for the disappearance. But what had happened
after that? If the lark had been taken, where was he? And where was
his captor? A small heap of dry sticks at the bottom of the hollow was
searched in vain. There seemed to be no other hiding-place. At length a
tiny hole was seen--the mouth of a rabbit-burrow. And out of this, in
another half-minute, emerged the little hawk. The lark had gone in, and
she after it, but after some groping about in the dark had failed to
find the wily fugitive.

Only a few days afterwards the sister of this hawk started after a
first-rate ringing lark. Both of them went out of sight, drifting at
a great height towards a village a mile off. We ran towards it at our
best pace, fearing some disaster; but when half-way to it saw the hawk
coming back to the lure. Well, we were glad enough that she had not
killed in any cottage garden, and, taking her back up-wind, went on
with the day's programme. As it was getting dark we had to walk through
the same village on the way home. "Did you find your 'awk?" asked a
cottager. "What hawk?" "Why, one of your 'awks chased a lark into the
passage o' th' public there, and would a' caught 'im too, only there
was a cat in the passage up and grabbed the lark before the 'awk was on
'im; and the 'awk looked as savage as thunder, and 'ooked it out, and
went over there where you come from."

Bee Cottage stands desolate in a very big valley, with hills sloping
gradually down to it on almost all sides. A ringing lark, with a merlin
close at his heels, got within reach of this shelter from above the
hillside to windward, and shot down to it like a bullet, with the hawk
a few yards behind. It was too far to see from the hillside where,
but he put in somewhere on the premises. A diligent search, however,
in hedge, bush, coal-shed, and everywhere, led to no result. The door
was shut and locked: so were the windows. No one seemed to have lived
in the place for months. More searching, without any sign of lark or
hawk. Yet they undoubtedly came down here, and never came out again.
Outside, they could have been seen anywhere for half a mile. At last I
saw that there was a small pane of glass gone in one of the downstair
windows. Through that opening I looked; and there sat my lady, with a
fluffy heap round her feet. So far, so good. But the room was full of
bees, some dead, and some alive! What was to be done?

Colonel Sanford owned, hacked, and trained a very first-rate merlin
called Orkney, which killed no less than ten larks in a single day
in single flights, thus surpassing Queen, which took nine in single
flights and one in double. This Orkney, after a very long flight, put a
lark into a flock of sheep. But she marked the exact spot, underneath a
sheep, where the fugitive stopped, and, taking perch on a neighbouring
wether, kept her eye on the place. The sheep moved on, leaving the
ground clear; and Orkney jumped as nearly as she could guess on the
right spot. She failed, however, to grab the lark, which got up again
and promptly took refuge under another sheep. Again the little hawk
took stand on the next bleater, marking still more carefully the
hiding-place of the quarry. Again the animals walked on, and this time
perseverance was rewarded, and the lark was carried in triumph from
the woolly protectors which had so nearly saved him. The same hawk
once drove a lark into a small hole where she could see nothing of him
but the tail. After some reflection she put in her beak and grasped
steadily the feathers of the tail. Then with an unhurried pull she drew
him far enough out of the hole to be able to get at him with her foot.

The best hawk I ever had was the merlin Eva. She was never beaten in
fair flight by any lark during the whole of the moulting season; and
she killed one (fully moulted, of course) as late as 7th November. One
day she mounted an immense height after a ringing lark, bested him,
and had had three shots, when a wild merlin joined in. After this the
two hawks flew in concert just as if they had been trained in the same
stable. Stoop for stoop, in regular alternations, they worked this
plucky lark down by a few yards at each shift, neither I nor James
Retford, who was running with me, being able to distinguish which was
which. At last, when the lark had been driven down to within about 300
feet of the ground, there were two fine stoops in quick succession, the
second of which was fatal. "Which is it?" I gasped, inquiring of the
experienced falconer. "The wild one," I think, he answered, sinking
down breathless on the down. It was not, though. The wild hawk,
furious, turned away, and, to vent her rage, made a savage shot at the
ears of a hare which happened at the moment to be running along the
valley; while Eva, descending slowly on the side of the down, had just
recovered her breath by the time I got up.

On a second occasion Eva was almost equally high, and still ringing to
get above her lark, when she suddenly spread her wings and swerved in
her course. At the same moment Major Fisher, who was out on horseback,
shouted, "The wild merlin!" But this time Eva was not going to join
in any duet. The wild hawk had come up on a much lower level than the
trained one had attained, possibly thinking that when Eva had done the
hard work of the early stoops she might cut in and reap the benefit.
At any rate, Eva was not to be so dealt with. Poising herself like a
falcon when the grouse get up, she turned over and came down with every
ounce of force she could muster right at the interloper. Of course she
did not hit her. The two went off, stooping at one another, and were
soon out of sight. Major Fisher rode after them, field-glass in hand,
predicting that the wild hawk would chase Eva away. But in less than
two minutes he espied a merlin coming back; and the trained hawk, in
one long slanting fall from out of sight, descended daintily upon the
lure held in her owner's fist.

Queen was a first-rate merlin--sister of Jubilee, and also, though
younger by a year, of Tagrag. She started at a ringing lark in a very
open place, and it was a case of hard running, for there were no
markers out. Before half a mile was covered they were over a sloping
brow. By a desperate spurt I reached the ridge, when the hawk was in
sight again. The ground sloped downwards for half a mile more; and
in the valley, far away, was a sheep-fold, with sheep, shepherd, and
a dog. For this fold the quarry was of course making. Anyhow, there
would be the shepherd to mark; and a shout might reach even his rather
inattentive ear. It was too far to see the hawk as she stooped; but
when she threw up, and when she turned over, the sunlight caught the
under-surface of her wing or tail, and showed where she was; and the
last gleam came from painfully near the sheep. The running was easier
downhill; and soon the shepherd was within hail. "Where is the hawk?"
Reply inaudible up-wind. Thirty yards farther on the words could be
heard, "Gone back where you come from." Then, of course, she had lost
the lark--rather luckily, having regard to the dog--and had passed me
unnoticed, flying low. Well, the hill must be mounted again and the
lure kept going. There, too, is surely a glimpse of Queen herself, just
vanishing over the sky-line. She will be gone back to the place where
her sister is pegged down. Ten minutes' walking and running, and this
place is in sight. But no sign of Queen. Five minutes' more luring,
and at last a hawk comes in sight,--not making directly for the lure,
however, but hanging about and keeping well away. Strange conduct in
this merlin, which rather liked the lure! And now she begins waiting
on, and soaring,--a rare amusement with this very practical-minded
hawk. Round and round, farther and farther down-wind, away we go, Queen
hardly now even looking at the lure. Soon the hawk is too far to keep
in sight without very fast running. Had I been fresh, probably I should
have run hard. But I was far from fresh. And the behaviour of Queen was
very queer.

Suddenly a new idea evolved itself. What if it was not Queen at all,
but a wild merlin? It might be well to search a bit, anyhow, where
Queen was last seen in her own undoubted personality. Searching,
therefore, became the word--rather late in the day. And on a patch of
new-ploughed fallow, barely distinguishable from the clods of brown
earth, there stood my lady, with a litter of feathers round her, calmly
eating the remains of a lark, and wondering what on earth I was about.
She had taken the lark with that very last stoop for which I had seen
her turn over, at the very edge of the sheep-fold, and, not liking
the proximity of the dog, had carried her booty well away, taking
the direction from which she had come, as the dog was on the other
side. The wild hawk had been too late to join in the flight, but had
seen the kill, and had come down perhaps with a vague idea of robbing
Queen. Thinking better of any such attempt--which would not have ended
pleasantly--she had been inquisitive as to the lure, and thinking the
whole affair rather singular, had soared about, waiting to see what
would happen next.

Ruy Lopez was a jack which rather fancied himself, and had something
in his style of flying of the tactics of a haggard peregrine. That
is, he would start in a different direction from the quarry, so that
strangers would suppose he had no designs upon it, and afterwards turn
and make an immensely long stoop at it all across the air. But on one
occasion he had a very close personal experience of the stooping of
peregrines. He was lost; and no one knew anything of his whereabouts.
It so happened that James and William Retford, Major Fisher's
falconers, were out with a pointer and a falcon named Black Lady. The
dog stood, but in a queer and rather doubtful way; and Black Lady was
thrown off. When she had got to her pitch the men ran in. But instead
of partridges, there got up out of the swedes the unexpected shape of
Ruy Lopez, he having been quietly discussing there a lark which he had
just killed. Down came the falcon, better pleased, as hawks are, at
such a chase than one at a mere partridge. And the falconers describe
the flight as beyond measure exciting. They thought each stoop would be
the last, and declared that the small hawk saved himself several times
by a hair's-breadth. At length, however, he got in under a stook of
wheat. No doubt the falconers thought it was a near thing. And possibly
it was; but as far as my own experience goes, trained peregrines cannot
get within a yard of a good trained merlin. I have seen them try; and
the merlin has shifted with contemptuous ease. Major Fisher, however,
as already mentioned, had a tiercel which made it very hot for a wild
merlin, and, as he thinks, very nearly caught it. I have seen one of
his eyess tiercels take a kestrel with apparent ease at the first
stoop. But that is certainly quite a different matter.

The already long list which has been given of mischances and maladies
which beset trained hawks is even yet not complete. In India the wild
eagles are a serious nuisance, coming down from the high altitudes at
which they soar, and obliging the hawks to shift for their own safety
just when they are expected and expecting to give a good account of
their own quarry. In England, hawks which are pegged out in any but
a quiet private place are exposed to the attack of any chance dog.
I do not know that cats will deliberately attack even the smallest
jack, either by day or by night. But a tame cat which had gone mad
once made an onslaught on the trained peregrines belonging to the
O. H. C., and with such ferocity that quite a large number of them
died of their wounds. Mr. A. W. Reed, an experienced and enthusiastic
amateur falconer, had some very valuable hawks, including a ger and
some Eastern varieties, pegged out on a lawn in Essex. A neighbouring
householder, being troubled by sparrows, laid down poisoned grain. The
sparrows took the grain, and, dying as they flew over the place where
the hawks were, fell down on the ground near the blocks. Of course
the hawks ate them; and, equally of course, the hawks were poisoned.
And, advice being taken, it was considered useless to take proceedings
against the offender.

Cases of deliberate hawk-murder are now punishable by law. All
falconers are highly indebted to Mr. E. C. Pinckney for having
demonstrated this fact conclusively in a local tribunal. He extracted
£10 in damages from a neighbour who had shot at and killed his
game-hawk, although the latter set up the usual defence, pretending
that he was unaware that the hawk was a tame one. The judge held that,
as he was aware that his neighbour kept trained hawks, if he shot
at one, he did so at his own peril, just as a man would who shot at
a house-pigeon or escaped parrot. More lately still, Mr. A. W. Reed
has been awarded £5 at the Kingston County Court as damages from a
neighbour who had wilfully shot his trained peregrine. The precedents,
as far as they go, are most valuable. Unfortunately they do not, of
course, go very far. But a falconer will be well advised, having regard
to them, to send notices in registered letters, when going into any
district, to all such people as are likely to prove mischievous.



INDEX


  Acari or mites, 233, 241
  Accidents, 225-233
  Accipiter badius, 35
    "  nisus, 34
  African falconers, 167
    "  lanner, 25
    "  merlin, 28
  Ague, 238
  Air, taking the, 107, 139
  Alexander, Prince, of the Netherlands, 144, 276
  Aloes, 81, 237, 240, 241, 252
  Alphanet, 25
  Anderson, John, falconer, 4, 5
  Anne, Major, 7
  Antelope, 37
  Antennaire, 18
  Antiquity of hawking, 1
  Apoplexy, 32, 239
  Apostume, 239
  Arcussia, Charles d'. _See_ D'Arcussia
  Arm, 19
  Asiatic falconers, 2, 7, 36, 103, 234
  "Aurora," eyess falcon, 259


  Bagged quarry, 29, 93, 135, 154, 199
  Bags made by falconers, 129, 140, 146, 158, 159, 211, 232
  Ballantine, Peter, falconer, 5
  Barachin, M., 7, 38
  Barbary, falcon and tiercel, 21, 115
  Barr, John, Robert, and William, falconers, 5, 16, 101, 146, 248, 257
  Bath, 50, 64, 175, 250, 273
  Bating, 76, 77, 82, 152, 154, 273
  Beak, 233
  Beam feathers, 250
  Beaters, 175, 211
  Beaufort, Cardinal, 3
  Bee Cottage, 279
  Bell, 41, 201
  Belvallette, M., 7, 11
  Bent feathers, 227
  Berkute, 37
  Berners, Dame Juliana, 7
    "  Lord, 4
  Bert, 7, 243
  Besra sparrow-hawk, 35
  Bewit, 42
  Biddulph, Capt. S., 7
  Binding, 19, 30, 127
  Birding, 162, 166
  Birds used in hawking, 9-32
  Bittern, 18
  Blackbird, 162-165, 168
  Black-game, 116, 125, 129
  "Black Lady," eyess falcon, 283
  Black-legged falconet, 39
  Black shaheen, 20
  Blain, 242
  "Blanche," eyess sparrow-hawk, 168
  Blocking, 20
  Blocks, 47, 65
  Blome, 131
  Blue hawks, 19
  Bone, fracture of, 232
  Bonelli's eagle, 36-38
  Bonham, Colonel, 5
  Bots, falconer, 5, 144 _n._
  Bow-net, 69, 73
    "  -perch, 47, 48
  Bowse, 19
  Box-cadge, 52
  Boynton, Sir H., 7, 159
  Brace of hood, 49
  Brail, 49, 60, 61, 254
  Brancher, 18, 55
  Brodrick, Mr. W., 6, 101
  Brook, hawking at the, 144
  Brooksbank, Colonel, 7, 129, 146
  Brown, Sir T., 148
  Bruise, 233, 243
  "Buccaneer," peregrine tiercel, 146
  Bustard, 37
  Button of leash, 44


  Cadge, cadger, 51, 192
  Calling off, 90, 177
  Carelessness, 213
  Carrying, 83, 151, 253
    "  or lifting, 32, 95, 132, 261
  Cassian, of Rhodes, 233
  Cast, 20, 145, 273
  Casting a hawk, 20, 42, 227
  Castings, 46, 77, 152, 189, 235
  Cat, 283
  Catarrh, 240
  Catherine II. of Russia, 3, 132
  Champagne Club, 5
  Check, 32, 267
  Chilian falcon, 22
  China, 2, 145
  Chinese falconers, 2, 7, 145
  Churchmen as falconers, 3
  Claws, 20, 242
  Clean moulted, 250
  Clubs for hawking, 4, 5, 144
  Colour of hawks, 258
    "  jesses, 58, 66
  "Comet," eyess falcon, 101
  Condition, 77, 91, 132, 136, 142, 210, 235, 252
  Coping, 64, 152, 173
  Corns, 233, 242
  Costume, 84, 225
  Country for hawking, 8, 31, 101
  Courage, 272, 274
  Coursing, 108
  Crabbe, Captain, 7
  Crabbing, 93, 273
  Cramp, 238
  Crane, 18, 34
  Craye, 242
  Creance, 89, 153, 200
  Cries of falconers, 110, 122, 126, 127
  Croaks, 14, 237
  Crow, 18
  Crutch for eagles, 36, 48
  Cubebes, 241
  Curlew, 147
  Cutting down, 128


  Damp, 172, 238
  D'Arcussia, Charles, 3, 8, 16, 25, 35, 39, 128, 275
  Daring, 27, 130
  Death cry, 110, 127
  Deck feathers, 19
  Decline of falconry, 3, 4
  Decoy hawk, 72, 218
  Deplume, 19, 134, 202
  Desert falcons, 23, 25
  "Destiny," passage tiercel, 143
  Dhuleep Singh, H.H. the Maharajah, 7, 13, 257
  "Diamond," eyess jack merlin, 208, 209
  Diary, 58, 65, 191, 209
  Diet, 24, 58, 152, 160, 180, 203, 243
  Difficulties of hawking, 4, 8, 132
  Disclosing, 18
  Disposition of hawks, 55, 67, 171, 256, 261
  Distance covered in flights, 113, 138, 148
  Docility of hawks, 84
  Dogs, 84, 85, 121, 125, 163, 167, 281, 283
  Double flights, 113, 140, 143, 144, 145
  Down-wind flights, 107, 136
  "Drawn," 191, 251
  Drooping wing, 232
  Duck, 248
    "  -hawk, 45
    "  -hawking, 144
  Dugmore, Captain, 14


  Eagles, 10, 35-39, 182, 186
  Eleonora falcon, 25
  Endue, 19
  "Enid," eyess goshawk, 158
  Enseam, 20
  Entering, 92-94
  "Eva," eyess merlin, 137, 141, 206, 211, 280, 281
  Exercise, 99, 132, 181
  Eyess, 18, 55-69
  Eyrie, 18


  "Faerie," eyess sparrow-hawk, 168
  Falcon, 9, 11 _n_, 17
  Falconer, 81, 170-211
  Falconets, 39
  Falling evil, 239
  Farm-houses, 216
  Fat hawks, 91, 185, 239
  Feak, 19
  Feathers, 19, 56, 58, 191, 225, 231, 244, 252
  Feeding hawks, 56, 57, 58, 75, 87, 89, 179-191
  Feet, 26, 257
  Feilden's falcon, 39
  Field-blocks, 48, 105, 193
    "   -glass, 66, 113
  Filanders, 241
  Fisher, Major C. Hawkins, 6, 148, 258, 276, 283
  Fishing-rod trick, 135
  Fist, hawks of the, 92, 150
  Flags, 19
  Flat wings, 259
  Flemings of Barochan, 3
  Flight of hawks, 65, 236, 259
  Flight feathers, 19, 225
  Florican, 18
  Fly-catchers, 39
  Food, 181, 186, 248
  Footing, 13, 99, 123, 132, 260, 274
  Formica or mites, 241
  Fowls, 58, 82, 157
  Fox, 37
  Francolin, 18, 25
  Frederick II., Emperor, 2, 7
  Freeman, Rev. G. E., 6, 128, 141, 188
  French falconers, 3, 7
    "    writers, 7, 11
  Frost, John, falconer, 5
  Frounce, 240
  Furniture, 40-49, 173


  "Gaiety Gal," trained goshawk, 159
  Game-hawking, 115-129, 194
  Gamekeepers, 74
  Garlic, 81
  Gentle, falcon and tiercel, 19
  Ger, falcon and tiercel, 12-16, 115, 277
  "Geraint," eyess goshawk, 158
  Gervais, M. Paul, 7, 37
  Gibbs, Peter, falconer, 162
  Gloves for hawking, 53
  Golden eagle, 37, 255
    "   plover, 147
  Good and bad hawks, 257
  Gorge, 152, 182
    "   of hawk, 19
  Goshawk, 33, 115, 150-159, 198
  Greek writers, 1, 2, 7
  Green mutes, 235
    "   plover, 146
  Greenland falcon and tiercel, 12
  Ground lark, 137
  Grouse, 34, 116, 129
  "Gulliver," eyess tiercel, 143
  Gulls, 6, 94, 142


  Hack, 61-69
    "  bells, 42, 66, 177
    "  board, 62, 66
    "  hawks, 61-69
  Haggard, 19, 70-86, 158
  Halchband, 167
  Haller, M. Constantine, 7, 35
  Hand of hawk, 19
  "Hard" stoops, 15, 128
  Hare-hawking, 12, 23, 33, 129, 148, 153-157
  Harold, King, 2
  Harting, Mr. J. E., 1, 5, 275
  "Hawk" and "falcon," 9
    "   catching, 71
  Hawk-houses, 53, 172
    "  -van, 52, 105
  Hawking clubs, 4, 144 _n_
    "  gloves, 53
  Head of hawk, 258
  Hedge, 121, 163
  Henry the Fowler, 2
    "  VI., 3
    "  VIII., 3
  Heron-hawking, 5, 18, 23, 33, 141, 143, 156
  Herring-gull, 142
  "Hey, gar, gar!" 122
  Hobby, 26, 130, 181
  "Hoo, ha, ha!" 122
  Hood, 48, 49, 173
    "  -shy, 80, 269
  Hooding, 48, 78, 81, 192, 226, 273
  House-pigeons, 65, 72, 118, 275
  "Howit!" falconer's cry, 125
  Hume, Mr., 38
  Hunger-traces, 56
  Huts of hawk-catchers, 71


  Iceland falcon and tiercel, 13
  Imperial eagle, 38
  Imping, 30, 191, 227
    "  needle, 228
  Indian bells, 42
    "  falconers, 103, 236
    "  hoods, 49
    "  merlin, 28
  Inflammation of the crop, 240
  Intermewed hawks, 19
  "Isolt," eyess female goshawk, 158
  Italian falconers, 7
    "  writers, 7, 167


  Jack or male merlin, 28
  Jackdaw, 147
  James I. of England, 3
    "  IV. of Scotland, 3
  Japanese falconers, 7, 39
  Javanese falcon, 22
  Jay, 33
  Jess, 41
  Join, 19
  Jowk, 19
  "Jubilee," eyess jack, 61, 65, 68, 140, 199, 211
  Jumping to the fist, 88


  "Kecks," or croaks, 237
  Kestrel, 2, 18, 29, 30, 68, 78, 148, 274, 283
  Kholsan, 37
  Killing trained hawks, 4, 8, 283, 284
  "Kismet," eyess tiercel, 143
  Kite-hawking, 15, 23, 103, 144


  Labrador falcon, 14
  "Lady Mabel," eyess sparrow-hawk, 168
  "Lady Macbeth," eyess sparrow-hawk, 164
  Landrail, 147, 156, 167
  Lanner, lanneret, 23, 115, 198
  Lantiner, 18
  Lapwing, 146, 217
  Lark-hawking, 130-141, 201
  Larks, 137
  Lascelles, Hon. G., 6, 8
  Latham, S., 8, 21, 131
  Law about hawking, 4, 284
  Laziness, 86, 211, 269
  Learning to train hawks, 30
  Leash, 44, 278
  Leo X., Pope, 3
  Lesser falcon, 22
  Lice, 241
  Lifting, 32, 95, 132, 261
  Lilford, Lord, 6, 13, 74, 130
  Live lure, 204
  Long-winged hawks, 19-30
  Loo Club, 5, 144
  Lost hawks, 136, 201, 213-224, 231
  Louis XI. of France, 3
    "  XIII., 39, 131
  Lugger, 25
  Lure, 37, 51, 63, 88, 117, 265, 281
    "  hawks of the, 150


  Made hawk, 93, 125
  Magpie, 145, 197
  Maichin, M., 37
  Mailed, 20
  Mails, 19
  Make-hawk, 93, 113, 142, 273
  Making in, 95, 96, 102, 195
  Maladies, 235-243
  Mann, Mr. T., 7
  Manning, 61, 80, 151
  Mantle, 19
  Marhawk, 81
  Markers, 175, 192, 194
  Marshalling the field, 193
  "May," eyess merlin, 206, 207
  Meal-times, 62, 64
  Medicine, 234, 252, 269
  Megrim, 241
  Merlin, 27, 80, 115, 130-141, 148, 181, 206-212, 217, 226
  "Meteor," passage tiercel, 146
  Mews, 53, 172
  Mice, 182
  Michelin, 249
  Migration of hawks, 70, 71, 179
  Mites, 91, 233, 241
  Möllen, Adrian, and Sons, 5, 16, 42, 48, 79, 144, 276
  Moult, 139, 140, 244-254
  Moulting larks, 137, 139, 199
  Mountee, 94
  Mounting, 120, 128
    "  larks, 138
  Mummy, 243
  Musket, or male sparrow-hawk, 3, 160-169
  Mutes, 20, 234, 235, 241


  Nares, 19, 233, 258
  Naturalists, 39
  Newall, Mr. A., 7, 130, 155, 159
  Newcome, Mr. E. C., 5, 13, 16, 101, 131, 144
  Norfolk plover, 147
  Norway falcon and tiercel, 13
  Norwegian goshawks, 33
  Notes of flights, 206
  Notice that trained hawks are kept, 284


  O'Keefe, Mr., 101
  O'Neill, Lord, 5
  Old Hawking Club, the, 5, 16, 52, 105, 116, 143
  Oriental falconers, 2
  Origin of hawking, 1
  "Orkney," eyess merlin, 280
  Ostringer, or austringer, 32
  Over-hawked falconers, 170
  Owl, 23, 144
  Oxer, George, falconer, 6, 159


  Packing hawks, 56
  Padding of blocks and perches, 45, 47
  Palsy, 241
  Pannel, 19
  Pantas, 241
  "Parachute," eyess falcon, 116, 129, 149
  Parasites, 241
  Partridge, 115, 125, 129, 153, 156, 158, 161, 162, 165
  Passage hawks, 18, 70-86, 97, 123
  Peewit, 146, 217
  Pegging out, 85
  Pells, John, falconer, 5
  Pelt, 19, 102, 199, 263
  Perch, 45, 242
  Perching, 268
  Peregrine, 16-20
  Petty singles, 19
  Pheasant, 115, 148, 153, 156, 158
  Physicking, 24, 91, 153, 161, 236-243
  Pichot, M. P. A., 7
  Picking up quarry, 130, 161, 197
  Pigeons, 58, 65, 72, 94, 141, 154, 204, 217, 275, 284
  Pills, 252
  Pin, 242
  Pinckney, Mr. E. C., 147, 284
  Pitch, 120
  Plovers, 146, 147
  Plugging, 230
  Point, making a, 20, 125
  Pointers, 121, 125
  Poisoning, 283
  Pole-cadge, 52
    "  -hawk, 72
    "  -pigeon, 73
  Poultry, 157
  Pounces, 31
  Price of hawks, 25, 71, 144, 155
  Pride of falcons, 256
  "Princess," eyess merlin, 94
    "  wild-caught sparrow-hawk, 169
  Principals, 19
  Prynne, 243
  Punic falcon, 22
  Purge for hawks, 153, 252, 253
  Put in, 20, 136, 197
  Put over, 19


  Quail, 147, 156, 167
  Quarry, 12
    "  -book, 206, 275
  "Queen," eyess merlin, 211, 281


  Rabbit, 33, 58, 153, 158, 181, 277
  Radcliffe, Colonel Delmé, 8, 20
  Rain, 178, 254
  Rake away, 32, 97, 119, 266
  Ramage hawk, 18
  Rangle, 190
  Rats, 156, 157, 239
  Ravine deer, 34
  Recapture, 220
  Reclamation, 76-96, 151
  Record of flights, 206-211
  Red falcon and tiercel, 18, 71
    "  hawks, 18, 71
    "  -legged falconet, 39
    "  -naped shaheen, 21
  "Red Queen," trained goshawk, 159
  Reed, Mr. A. W., 7, 283, 284
  Refusing, 136, 162, 271
  Renfrewshire Subscription Hawking Club, 148
  Retford, James and William, falconers, 6, 280, 282
  Retrievers, 125, 127, 156
  Revival of falconry, 8
  Rewards, 153, 193, 222
  Ricks, 263
  Riding to hawks, 107, 113, 195
  Riley, Mr. John, 6, 157, 161, 168, 277
  Ring swivel, 43, 45
  Ringing flights, 107, 133, 137, 139, 208
  Robin, or male hobby, 183
  Rook-hawking, 101-114, 195
  Rooks, 94, 119, 217
  Rouse, 19
  Royal falconers, 2, 3, 141
  "Ruby," eyess sparrow-hawk, 163, 168
    "  eyess jack, 209
  Rufter-hood, 49, 57
  Running cunning, 223, 272
  Russian falconers, 7, 37
  "Ruy Lopez," eyess jack, 136, 282
  Rye, 242


  Sails, 19
  St. Quintin, Mr. W. H., 6, 129, 142, 146, 148
  Saker, 22, 103, 144, 183, 186, 236
  Sal ammoniac, 234
  Salvin, Captain, 6, 48
  Sanford, Colonel E. C. A., 7, 130, 140, 148, 280
  Schlegel and Wulverhorst, 8, 275
  Science of flying, 107, 123
  Scores, 129, 140, 143, 148, 158, 159
  Score-sheet, 206-211
  Scotch hares, 129
  Screaming, 270
  Screen perch, 45, 233
  Sea-fowl, 15, 147
  Sebright, Sir John, 60, 82, 151
  Seeling, 20, 78, 80, 119
  Serving a hawk, 20, 92, 136
  Shaheen, 20, 21, 115, 147, 148
  Shakespeare, 3, 162
  Shape of hawks, 257
  "She," eyess merlin, 66, 278
  Shifting, 108
  Shooting trained hawks, 284
  Short-winged hawks, 10, 30, 90, 150-169
  Shrike, 21, 71, 73
  Signals for markers, 192
  Sinclair, Mr. John, 5, 148
  "Sir Tristram," eyess goshawk, 158, 278
  "Sis," eyess merlin, 140
  Size and shape of hawks, 15, 22, 257-259
  Slice, 20, 46
  Slight falcon and tiercel, 19, 70
  Small birds, 29, 187
  Snares for hawks, 221
  Snipe, 28, 148
  Snurt, 242
  Soar, or sore hawk, 18
  Soaring, 96, 179, 265
  Sock, 74
  Soft lure, 98
  Sourbets, M., 7
  South African lanner, 25
  Spaniels, 156
  Spare lures, 113, 214
  Sparrow, 29, 186, 239, 283
    "  -hawk, 34, 115, 160-169
  Spectators, 172, 195, 197
  Speed of hawks, 17, 67, 274
  Spotted eagle, 38
  Spring-swivel, 43
  Squirrel, 156
  "Starlight," peregrine tiercel, 143
  Starling, 162, 167, 217
  Steppe eagle, 38
  Stern-chase, 120
  Stoat, 156, 158
  Stone curlew, 147
  Stonehenge, 196
  Stoop, 12, 65, 109, 122, 138
  Stooping to the lure, 98
  String, 200, 263
  Stuffing young hawks, 58
  Style, 114, 158, 184
  Suffusion of the eye, 240
  Sugar, sugar-candy, 82, 239, 240, 243
  Sulkiness, 67, 261
  Summed, 18
  Swallow, 65, 131
  Swivel, 43
  Symonds, Mr. George, 130


  "Tagrag," eyess jack, 216, 219, 231
  Tail of hawk, 32, 232
    "  tying up of, 151
  Tail-to-tail, 271
  Taking up, 69
  Talon, 19, 242
  Tame hawks, 91
  Tartaret, 22
  Temper, 36, 52, 68, 141, 160, 255
  Temperament, 67, 132, 256, 261
  Thin hawks, 77, 91, 185
  Thompson, Major C. W., 7
  Thornton, Colonel, 4, 148
  Throwing off, 104, 106
    "  up, 109
  Thrush, 164, 167
  Ticks, 241
  Tiercel, tassel, or tiercelet, 18
  Time of feeding and flying hawks, 64, 89, 179
  Tips, 193, 222
  Tirings, 53, 61, 81, 152, 182, 187, 227
  Tit-bits, 59, 182, 262
  Tobacco wash, 241
  "Tostin," haggard male goshawk, 158
  Train, 19
  Training, 80-100
  Traps, 102, 199
  Travelling, 56
  Tree hawks, 263
  Trees, 218, 264
  Tristram, Canon, 39
  Trussing, 30
  Tunisian lanner, 25
  Turbervile, 7, 80, 233, 239
  Tying up tail, 151, 226


  Umbrella, 178
  Undulating country, 31
  Unhooding, 49, 77, 105, 273
  Unpopularity of hawking, 3
  Unseeling, 20
  Unsummed, 18
  Up-wind and down-wind, 119, 136, 194


  Valkenswaard, 42, 71
  Value of hawks. _See_ Price
  Van, 52
  Varvels, 41
  "Vesta," eyess falcon, 116, 129, 176, 269
  Vice, 255-274
  Virtues of hawks, 255-259, 274
  Voice, 82, 83, 106, 122


  Waiting on, 15, 92, 96, 117, 145, 197
  Waking, 80, 151
  Walking up quarry, 121, 126, 194
  Warble, 20
  Washed meat, 98, 185, 253
  Water, 277
    "  -hen, 154, 156, 162
    "  -rail, 156
  Watson, Colonel, 7
  Weasel, 33, 156
  Weather, 178, 248
  Weathering, 86
  Whistle, 82
  White-crowned eagle, 38
    "  -legged falconet, 39
  "Who-whoop," 110
  "Why-loe," falconer's cry, 119
  Wild-caught hawks, 70, 87
    "  -duck, 18, 21, 129, 144, 156
    "  -fowl, 18, 38, 156
  Wild-goose, 15, 18, 147, 156
    "  hawks, 68, 71, 141, 186, 219, 235, 236, 270, 283
  Willemot, Rev. W., 7
  "Will o' the Wisp," passage tiercel, 101
  Wind, 100, 107, 136, 142, 175, 178, 192
  Winding up, 220
  Wing, breakage of, 232
    "  feathers, 11
    "  of hawks and eagles, 11, 258, 259
  Wing, weakness of, 232
  Winter larks, 140
  Wood-pigeon, 18, 33, 158, 167
  Woodcock, 5, 148
  Worms, 241
  Worth of live and dead hawks, 30, 71, 144, 155
  Wren, 162
  Writers on hawking, 1, 7


  Yarak, 31, 153, 162


  PRINTED BY
  MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED
  EDINBURGH



       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber Notes


Illustrations moved so as to not split paragraphs.





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