If you’re interested in falconry, you need a few supplies before you can properly work with the birds. Here are some must-have pieces of equipment to invest in as you get started in the sport.
An aba is a form of a restraint for a hawk or falcon. It is primarily used to calm and control the bird. The equipment consists of a piece of cloth that goes around the bird, and it locks the wings tight so that the bird will not move and to keep it calm. It fastens around the bird’s chest and then again around the legs with the cloth line attached to the back of the aba.
Falconers may use an aba when they first trap a new bird to restrain it from moving so that they can keep it calm and put the needed anklets and other gear on the bird. It can also be used to cast your bird when you need to keep it calm when trimming your bird’s beak or talons.
When you purchase an aba, make sure it’s constructed from breathable fabric. While other equipment might be made from leather, this should be something that lets air flow freely so it doesn’t overheat or stifle the bird.
The other primary calming mechanism for falcons or hawks is a hood, which is usually made of leather. Breathability isn’t as important for the hood because it covers much less surface area than the aba, and leather is much more durable — especially when working near a bird’s beak.
A hood goes on a bird’s head to cover their eyes. Hoods work because they block the falcon’s sight, and these birds aren’t anxious about what they can’t see. The back of the hood and its brace merely help keep it in place.
As you meet other falconers, you’ll see many different styles — and some people will have hoods that have intricate decorations. Avoid any temptation to purchase a fancy hood that has lots of accents when first starting out. The accents are for aesthetics only and don’t actually impact the performance of the hood.
Instead of getting a fancy one right away, wait until you find a basic kind that you like and that fits your bird well. Once you have a basic kind you prefer, you can buy an embellished version.
An anklet, or bracelet, is nothing more than a leather strap that is attached around each leg of your falcon or hawk and is secured using grommets and grommet pliers.
The leather anklet straps should be strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of lots of use in the field. To keep the anklets from causing your bird’s leg any damage, they should have small slits cut into the top and bottom of the leather anklets. This will make for a better-fitting anklet that will not cause your bird any leg damage.
In terms of falconry equipment, an anklet is a very important item. For a complete look, however, you may want the color of the anklet’s leather to match the color of your bird’s hood. Mismatched colors won’t impact your bird’s training in any way, but you might as well get matching colors if you’re buying a bunch of new equipment to get started with.
The anklet serves as the attachment point for a jess.
A jess is a piece of leather that attaches to each anklet. Each jess is put through the grommet hole on the anklets. Once this is done, a bird is ready to have a swivel and a leash connected, and then your bird can now be handled safely.
Jesses come in many different styles and sizes and can be made using kangaroo hide or braided Dacron fishing line or blind cord.
If you need falconry supplies, check out the falconry equipment available at Mikes Falconry Supplies.