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Falconry and falconeering with snow owls

Falconry Telemetry

The modern way not to loose your bird of prey

Using radio tracking technology...

It is of importance that the falconer always knows where the bird of prey is when it is flying loose. Often it dissapears behind trees, over the horizon or dives into bushes, making it difficult to determine where exactly the bird of prey is.

Bells to hear where the bird of prey is

Falconry bells As far back in history as far as I can tell, falconers have attached bells to the feet of birds of prey sothat they could hear where the bird was even if the falconer could not see it. These bells needed to be loud so they could be heard over a distance and lightweight for the bird of prey. To put bells on a bird of prey has its advanatge, but also has two dissadvantages. For one the falconer must be within hearing range to hear the bells, else he will still not know where the bird is. A bird of prey making a noise is like putting a bell on a cat to warn the mice. It makes it a lot more difficult for the bird of prey to approach the prey without being detected. So should a falcon fly away from the falconer, it will have little chance to survive in the wild with ringing bells on it's feet. For this reason Falconcrest never puts bells on any of the birds of prey.

The modern falconer and telemetry

Modern falconers use the latest technology to make it easier for the birds of prey and for themselves. This where the term 'Telemetry' comes in.

What is Telemetry?

Telemetry is automatic communication, wireless transmission of information from a remote location.

Falconry and Telemetry

Falconry telemetry receiver In falconry the bird of prey is the 'remote location' that transmits the signal. The falconer is the receiver of the signal. This done by replacing the bells with a small radio transmitter that can be attached to the foot or the tail of the bird of prey. This transmitter sends a 'beep' tone that the falconers radio receiver makes audable.

Falconry telemetry receiver sensitivity to radio signals. Just like with a normal radio reciever, the further you move away from the transmitter, the weaker the signal gets. So you would think that the falconer knows approximately how far away the bird is, but not in which direction, and you would be correct. However there is a very clever solution to this problem in the form of a directional radio antenna, invented in 1940 by Hidetsugu Yagi. Thus with a radio reciever and a 'Yagi' antenna the falconer can now determine how far away the bird of prey is as well as in what direction. Telemetry is a big improvement over the use of bells and is more accurate and reliable. There are more technical falconry projects on the go that include building GPS and GSM features into the transmitters. At present this technology still needs to be refined as the transmitters are too big, too heavy and too complex for field use and cause discomfort for the birds of prey. If anyone knows of new developments in the field of real-time geo-location for birds of prey, I would really like to know about it and if it is suitable for birds of prey applications

But see here! Video telemetry!

Granted it has nothing to do with real-time geo-locating raptors, but Jose Lius Ortiz, a Spanish falconer has attached light weight video telemety to his golden eagle. Which is rather ingenius and splendid to watch.

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