Extract

A bird in hand

Man's best friend, the sparrowhawk

During the Turkish quail-hunting season, man’s best friend is the sparrowhawk. Roger Upton describes how these redoubtable birds help to bring home the bacon

  • A sparrowhawk in the hands of the Istanbul austringer Niyazi Akkaya (Simon Upton)

For many generations, sparrowhawks have been used in far-flung areas of Turkey for hunting game. All along the Black Sea coast of the country, and to the south around Mersin and Adana, these wild short-winged hawks are still skilfully trained to capture their quarry between August and September.

Ideally the chosen sparrowhawks are trapped shortly after leaving the nest. Immature, inexperienced hawks tend to adapt more readily to the training regime than adults, which have good reason to fear man’s presence. In choosing a hawk, falconers (or austringers, as sparrowhawk trainers are more properly known) look for large, open feet and a prominent eyebrow marked with white feathers. Females are usually chosen, being larger than males.

A young sparrowhawk with the right temperament can be trained in just two weeks. Time must be taken to discourage the bad habit of ‘carrying’, or flying off with the kill…

To read the full article, purchase Issue 7

Issue 7, 1994/95 The Great Walls of Istanbul
£250.00 / $328.33 / 1,572.97 TL
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Issue 7, 1994/95 The Great Walls of Istanbul
£250.00 / $328.33 / 1,572.97 TL
Available from the Cornucopia Store
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