The New Jersey Falconry Club (NJFC) has a long history of Raptor Conservation in the state. The club was founded in 1989 by raptor banders, rehabbers, and bird of prey enthusiasts.


Kestrel Box Project

The number of American Kestrels has been declining in recent years. The NJFC has undertaken a project to help the birds re-establish themselves in their traditional breeding grounds.  Club members have built and placed many kestrel nesting boxes in parks and farms, as well as on private land.  With great delight, it was discovered that several of these nesting boxed were used the very first season they were installed. If you are interested in building your own kestrel nesting box, please contact members@newjerseyfalconryclub.com to obtain a set of plans and instructions.

Raptor Banding

Raptor banding has been a valuable tool used in bird of prey research for decades.  Once a bird is safely trapped, it is outfitted with a uniquely-numbered leg band supplied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Its species, location, age and size, along with other statistics, are recorded, and the bird is then released.  If the bird is later recovered, sometimes hundreds of miles away and possibly in another country, the data collected expands the knowledge of these birds’ life cycle.  The NJFC has several members that have been banding raptors for over 30 years.

DDT, Peregrines & Falconers

Most people are aware of the fact that we almost lost the peregrine as a result of the agricultural use of an insecticide called dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Its extensive use resulted in the toxic chemical moving through the food chain and causing peregrine egg shells to be so thin that the eggs would break prior to hatching. As a result, in 1970 the peregrine was placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List. Two years later, in 1972 DDT was banned from use in the United States.

What most people don’t know is that falconers played a major role in bringing the peregrine back from its near extinction. In 1970, Tom Cade, a falconer and ornithologist at Cornell University, along with a number of other falconers, founded The Peregrine Fund. These individuals and other members of the falconry community realized that the native peregrines they had in their possession could be used to breed peregrines in captivity for release into the wild. They selflessly donated their much-loved birds to The Peregrine Fund. As a result, between 1974 and 1997 more than 4,000 peregrines were released to the wild by The Peregrine Fund, dramatically assisting in the re-population of the species.

On August 25, 1999, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removed the peregrine from the Endangered Species List. If you observe a peregrine in the wild, THANK A FALCONER!

Falconry & Raptor Mortality

Studies have shown that an estimated 75% to 80% of immature wild raptors die each year.  Wild raptors taken by falconers defy this statistic and, as a result, the population of raptors increases.

New Jersey falconry regulations allow falconers to trap passage raptors (less than one year old) during the trapping season, which runs from September 1 through December 31.

Falconers then house their birds in a safe, warm, dry facility that has been inspected and approved by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, and feed their birds through their first winter months. Raptors have an extremely high metabolism and have to eat an amount of food literally equivalent to their own body weight each week in order to survive the winter. Because juvenile birds have not yet honed their hunting skills in advance of their first winter, many are not able to capture a sufficient amount of food and they die. Falconers train their birds to return to the falconer using only positive reinforcement in the form of food. A bond of mutual trust and respect is established. When hunting with raptors, the birds fly free and willingly choose to return to the falconer because the falconer offers safety, security and an assured source of food.

Many falconers who trap their birds in the fall release them in the spring. Because these released birds were cared for and trained to hunt for game throughout those difficult first winter months, they not only survived but now have a significant amount of hunting experience. Following release, these birds go on to defeat the odds and live their remaining years flourishing in the wild.

the ancient tradition of falconry

Detail of two falconers. Illustration from  De arte venandi cum avibus . Ms. Pal. Lat. 1071, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.  Credit: Wikipedia -    Falconry

Detail of two falconers. Illustration from De arte venandi cum avibus. Ms. Pal. Lat. 1071, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Credit: Wikipedia - Falconry

A timeline:

  • 722–705 BC – An Assyrian bas-relief found in the ruins at Khorsabad during the excavation of the palace of Sargon II has been claimed to depict falconry. In fact, it depicts an archer shooting at raptors and an attendant capturing a raptor. A. H. Layard's statement in his 1853 book Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon is "A falconer bearing a hawk on his wrist appeared to be represented in a bas-relief which I saw on my last visit to those ruins."

  • 680 BC – Chinese records describe falconry.

  • 355 AD – Nihon-shoki, a largely mythical narrative, records hawking first arriving in Japan from Baekje as of the 16th emperor Nintoku.

  • 2nd–4th century – The Germanic tribe of the Goths learned falconry from the Sarmatians.

  • 5th century – The son of Avitus, Roman Emperor 455–56, from the Celtic tribe of the Arverni who fought at the Battle of Châlons with the Goths against the Huns introduced falconry in Rome.

  • 500 – A Roman floor mosaic depicts a falconer and his hawk hunting ducks.

  • Early 7th century – Prey caught by trained dogs or falcons is considered halal in Quran. By this time falconry was already popular in the Arabian Peninsula.

  • 818 – The Japanese Emperor Saga ordered someone to edit a falconry text named "Shinshuu Youkyou".

  • 875 – Western Europe and Saxon England practiced falconry widely.

  • 991 – The Battle of Maldon occurs. A poem describing it says that, before the battle, the Anglo-Saxons' leader Byrhtnoth "let his tame hawk fly from his hand to the wood".

  • 1070s – The Bayeux Tapestry shows King Harold of England with a hawk in one scene. It is said that the King owned the largest collection of books on the sport in all of Europe.

  • c. 1240s – The treatise of an Arab falconer, Moamyn, was translated into Latin by Master Theodore of Antioch, at the court of Frederick II. It was called De Scientia Venandi per Aves and much copied.

  • 1250 – Frederick II wrote in the last years of his life a treatise on "The Art of Hunting with Birds": De arte venandi cum avibus.

  • 1285 – The Baz-Nama-yi Nasiri, a Persian treatise on falconry, was compiled by Taymur Mirza, an English translation of which was produced in 1908 by D. C. Phillott.

  • 1325 – The Libro de la caza, by the prince of Villena, Don Juan Manuel, includes a detailed description of the best hunting places for falconry in the kingdom of Castile.

  • 1390s – In his Libro de la caza de las aves, Castilian poet and chronicler Pero López de Ayala attempts to compile all the available correct knowledge concerning falconry.

  • 1486 – The Boke of Saint Albans is published, also known by the title "The Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms".

  • Early 16th century – Japanese warlord Asakura Norikage (1476–1555) succeeded in captive breeding of goshawks.

  • 1580s – Spanish drawings of Sambal people recorded in the Boxer Codex showed a culture of falconry in the Philippines.

  • 1600s – Dutch records of falconry; the Dutch town of Valkenswaard was almost entirely dependent on falconry for its economy.

  • 1660s – Tsar Alexis of Russia writes a treatise which celebrates aesthetic pleasures derived from falconry.

  • 1801 – Joseph Strutt of England writes, "the ladies not only accompanied the gentlemen in pursuit of the diversion [falconry], but often practiced it by themselves; and even excelled the men in knowledge and exercise of the art."

  • 1864 – The Old Hawking Club is formed in Great Britain.

  • 1927 – The British Falconers' Club is founded by the surviving members of the Old Hawking Club. Today, it is the largest and oldest falconry club in Europe.

  • 1934 – The first US falconry club, The Peregrine Club of Philadelphia, is formed; it became inactive during World War II and was reconstituted in 2013 by Dwight A. Lasure of Pennsylvania.

  • 1941 – Falconer's Club of America is formed.

  • 1961 – Falconer's Club of America becomes defunct. The North American Falconers Association (NAFA) is formed.

  • 1968 – International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF) is formed.

  • 1970 – Peregrine falcon listed as an endangered species in the U.S., due primarily to the use of DDT as a pesticide (35 Federal Register 8495; June 2, 1970).

  • 1972 – DDT banned in the U.S. (EPA press release – December 31, 1972), but continues to be used in Mexico and other nations.

  • 1999 – Peregrine falcon removed from the Endangered Species List in the United States, due to reports that at least 1,650 peregrine breeding pairs existed in the U.S. and Canada at that time (64 Federal Register 46541-558, August 25, 1999).

  • 2003 – A population study by the USFWS shows peregrine falcon numbers climbing ever more rapidly, with well over 3000 pairs in North America.

  • 2006 – A population study by the USFWS shows peregrine falcon numbers still climbing (Federal Register circa September 2006).

  • 2008 – USFWS rewrites falconry regulations virtually eliminating federal involvement (Federal Register: October 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 196)). The federally-mandated exam to obtain a falconry license is delegated to state administration.

  • 2010 – Falconry is added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    Credit: Wikipedia - Falconry