Falconry Equipment - The Falconry Gauntlet
The falconers gauntlet may well be the most important piece of falconry equipment!
Birds of prey need sharp talons to catch their prey. Besides falcons that kill their prey biting through the backbone at the neck, most other species crush their prey with their claws. This is a serious problem for a falconer that works with different species of birds of prey to ensure no injuries are incurred when working with birds or prey. The falconers gauntlet to the rescue.
Traditional Dutch falconry gauntlets are made from specially processed leather.
It must be extremely supple to be able to feel the bird on the hand and resistant to the extremely sharp talons of the birds of prey. It must fit well to be able to work with and handle the jesses as well as protect the falconers hand and arm from harm.
There are many different types of falconer gauntlets for the different species of birds of prey.
Different types of falconry gauntlets
Three primary gauntlet types
Short gauntlet or falcon gauntlet
Made from single or double layered supple and strong leather these gauntlets are suitable for kestrels and falcons. Eventhough falcons kill their prey with their beak they use their claws to strike their pray and they have very sharp talons.
Kestrels and falcons have a narrow footprint so a long falconers gauntlet is not always neccessary.
With a single layer of leather, the falconer can feel the bird on the hand the best.
These gauntlets are also very suitable for small owls like the little owl.
For large falcons this short cuff falconers gauntlet is made with two layers of leather where the first two fingers are also covered.
Hawk and Buzzard gauntlet
These gauntlets are longer than the falcon gauntlet and cover a section of the lower arm just above the wrist.
Double layer leather on the top is typical of a hawk or buzzard gaunlet, these are also often used when working with owls.
Various models are available where the variations are in the lenght as well as whether the first two or the first three fingers of the gauntlet are dual layered leather or not, the size of the bird of prey's claws generally determines which type is most suitable for the falconer and the bird.
Eagle gauntlets are made with three layers of leather and are the longest falconry gauntlets, and rightly so.
Eagles are fast, have big claws, and crush their prey. Because of this the eagle gauntlet needs to be really strong and protect the hand and arm of the falconer against the natural instinc of the eagle to grip really hard when landing on the gauntlet.
All images of traditional Dutch falconry gauntlets, courtesy of Falconcrest and Falconry Equipment.