Hawks as Decoys

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    MARTIAL'S epigram on the hawk (Book 14, 216) has been taken as an indication that falconry was practised by the classical ancients; but as the hawk here deceives (decipit) the birds, it would seem rather as if it were used, like an owl, as a decoy to entrap birds coming to mob it; and in the Field for Dec. 26, 1931, Col. Nawab Malik Sir Umar Hayat Khan, in writing on falconrv, indicates a similar practice in modern India; for he says that if a sparrow-hawk be kept under a net or in a cage and nooses made around, and the receptacle put where ‘seven sisters’ are common, these birds (the common Indian babbler Turdoides terricolor) can be caught by the dozen. Being weak flyers, they are particularly likely to be attacked by hawks, but being also sociable and strong in beak and claws, they often succeed in rescuing the bird attacked, so that the hawk is an enemy with which they contend on more or less equal terms. The use of the captive hawk as a decoy, however, is no more falconry than is the employment of wild hawks in fowling by bribing them to ‘wait on’ and make birds lie, a practice also followed in classical times and in India and Argentina in our day, when the former country is still the stronghold of the perfected art.

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    Hawks as Decoys. Nature 129, 91 (1932) doi:10.1038/129091b0

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