It's easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of equipment and gadgets that are part of falconry, so we're going to use this page to talk about necessities and nothing more. Regulation specifics vary from state to state, but the basics of good husbandry don't change much over time. Equipment does occasionally see an update, but mostly the principles remain the same. Your sponsor may also have specific advice for teaching their techniques, which you should listen closely to as well.
Falconry jesses have use in multiple situations. Both tethering and free flight. In the photo below you'll see 2 sets of jesses above a pair of anklets (tethering systems are discussed on tethering page).
The jesses with the slits are used for tethering and are generally NOT permitted to be used while free flying the bird. The reason for this is catch risk. An open slit can readily catch on a branch or other obstruction and create a situation where the bird is hung by their leg on an object they can't get off of.
The jesses without the slits are for hunting, they allow the falconer to have control of the bird even if it tries to bate away. Although, in hunting styles like squirrel hawking, it is common that falconers will use no jesses at all to further reduce the risk of hanging up.
Traditionally jesses were made of leather, but as time progressed paracord materials are increasingly being used in both the "convertible" form using whole pieces and braided. There's multiple vendors who specialize in braided jesses and other equipment.
LEASHES AND SWIVELS
Leashes are another major component of raptor husbandry. They are used to control the bird, tether the bird, and other wise keep the bird safe from harm in captivity. Much like the jesses, traditional leashes were made of leather strap, but more commonly they are made of paracord or similar material. There are many forms of leash even when looking at paracord, with different weights, strengths and hookups, but they all follow a fairly basic form. It is advisable for any falconer taking on a new species of raptor, apprentice or experienced, to consult a falconer who is knowledgeable in that species and how to manage them prior to deciding on equipment.
They are used in conjunction with jesses, swivels, and perches to create a tethering system.
Bath pans are relatively self explanatory. It’s important to provide the bird a constant supply of fresh water and the bath pan is the most common way to do this. Although many falconers also carry a spray bottle with fresh water and spray their birds down after hunting. Some smaller species, such as kestrels, have been known to even drink out of bottle caps in the field as well. The bath pan is normally just located near the perched location and the bird is freely permitted to use as desired.
Bath pans are normally made out of plastic or fiberglass material and available at various falconry supply stores as well as your normal farm supply stores like Tractor Supply.
Scales, both digital and manual like the triple beam balance, are a key piece of the falconry puzzle. The scales provide a way for the falconer to monitor the birds condition and likelihood to hunt properly. You can learn more about the fine details of it at the weight management page.
Some falconers still swear by the triple-beam-balance scale but most falconers have since migrated to the use of quality digital scales. This is because the birds movements don’t effect the data as readily, and many scales will peak/average out the motions as well. Entry level scales can cost around $50 and can go upwards into the hundreds for a high quality scale.
The image to the right is courtesy of Northwoods Falconry and one of the scales/carrying cases that they sell.
It’s one of the most common traits of all falconry art, the “glove”.
A key item many people don’t realize and is critical to the entire process being successful. It gives the bird something to grab onto for balance rather than your smooth skin. Very rarely does a well mannered bird try to dig into the falconers hand. Be careful that you have the appropriate glove for the species you're handling - a lighter glove might work for a Kestrel, but would result in significant discomfort for the falconer if employed to handle a passage red-tail. Even falconry gloves are made with different layers of leather protection - it's best to consult your sponsor or an experienced falconry supplier for advice if you're new.
The glove also serves as a reward station for your raptor to return to for a small piece of food. This can be for positive reinforcement while out in the field or to recall your bird after a hunt.
Another by-product value of the glove is cover for the falconer when assisting with quarry such as squirrels.
TRAINING AIDS/CONDITIONAL REINFORCERS
As we will discuss in the training area of the website, it’s extremely useful to carry with training aids such as a whistle, a clicker, or even both depending on your methods.
The whistle is the most commonly used for behavioral reinforcement. It carries well through the woods, and projects "recall lure" signals and other critical cues even when the hawk is out of sight.
A recommendation is always carry a back up.
This item is a staple in every falconers hawking bag. The lure is used in almost every training regime for both falcons and hawks, even if in different manners.
The bird is conditioned to see the lure as a reward, normally with a “bigger” reward than just returning to you. This helps bring in the stubborn bird or quickly recall during a dangerous situation.
Some falconers try to make their lures look lifelike as possible. Others use whatever random pieces of material they may have around. The looks/material do not seem to matter as much as being consistent. I make a duplicate backup for every bird just in case I lose the lure and need to get the bird down in a pinch. Often, however, once lure trained a bird will come in to any lure being swung.