We’re often asked about the different types of equipment that we use with our birds at the Trust. Mike Riley from our Bird Team makes a lot of these items and has shared with us here an insight to the different items.
Traditional falconry equipment is known as falconry furniture and comprises anklets, jesses, bewits and swivels.
Aylmeri anklets – these are pieces of leather which wrap around a bird’s leg and are fastened with a brass eyelet. The edges of the leather are feathered along the top and bottom to give softer edges and a bit of give. This system was developed by Guy Aylmeri in the 1900’s and changed the way birds are flown in a much safer way.
Jesses – originally, the anklet and jesse were made from one piece of leather and attached to the bird’s leg. With the Aylmeri system there is no need for these traditional jesses as they could be dangerous if they got caught on anything when a bird is flying. The Aylmeri system allows you to change jesses between the two most common types of mews and field or flying and hunting jesses, depending on the requirements. The first type is used when birds are perched, either on a bow perch or falcon block. It is slightly longer and has a slit in the end of the leather to attached the swivel and leash to tie safely and securely. Flying and hunting jesses are plainer and have no slits in them. They’re generally shorter and stiffer to prevent them wrapping around branches and becoming trapped.
Bewits – these small slips of leather used to attach a bell to a bird’s leg.
Swivels – today, these are commonly made from stainless steel. They consist of two parts which rotate independently. One side is attached to the jess and the other the leash. The leash is used to secure a bird when necessary to keep it safe.
Although some of the equipment we use with our birds at the Trust has come from traditional falconry practices, there have been many advances that we have introduced to ensure the best care for our birds at all times. One item you will often see us use is our transmitters. We fit these to all of our high flying birds, as well as those who have a tendency to fly further afield. The transmitter allows us to track where these birds go so that we can go and collect them if necessary or simply gives us the assurance to sit patiently until they head back to us. Most often we use radio transmitters, but our latest piece of kit is our GPS tracker which gives us amazing insight to what the bird is doing, including providing flight stats and a live route map.
Mike Riley, Bird Team