Thursday, March 05, 2009


Peregrine Falcon
photo 2008: stig bachmann nielsen Naturplan foto

photo 2008: stig bachmann nielsen Naturplan Foto

Old Danish: Falk; Old Norse: Falki
Faeroe Islands: falkur

Peregrine Falcon/Vandrefalk/ GFalco peregrinus
Gerfalcon/Jagtfalk/Falco rusticolus
Kestrel/Taarnfalk/ Falco tinnunculus
Merlin/Dværgfalk/Falco columbarius
Hobby/Lærkefalk/Falco subbuteo

Falcons are pictured upon coins from Lund in the ruling period of Canute the Great (1018-35), Hardicanute (1035-42) and Niels (1104-34) - and in aristocratic coats of arms and seals since the 1200s, like the family Valk, Falk and Falkenskiold; a lieutenant was knighted with the name Falkenskiold, becuase he (1715) tore a falcon away, which had placed itself upon the king's head threatening to tortear out his eyes. There are falcons in several Danish city arms and in the emblem of Falcks Redningskorps.( ambulance corps).

According to a legend Rolf Krake's men wore falcons on their shoulders, when they in the 500s came to Uppsala, and Rolf's falcons killed the Swedish king Adil's falcons, before the Danes left the town. There are few informations about falconry in Denmark in the Middle Ages. It was very costy and only for princes a nd nobility. Kings with falcons are pictured upon frescoes from the 1300s and 1400s in some Danish churches . Haakon Jarl had to pay 60 falcons or hawks to king Harald Blåtand in taxes for his part of Norway.
Valdemar the Great (1157-82), Valdermar Atterdag (1340-75) and Frederik II (1559-88) were zealous falconers. The right to falconry was regal, but the king often let on lease his rights. He had several falconries upon Zealand and a few in the southern part of Jutland.

The best gerfalcons came from Greenland and Iceland. In the years 1690-1793 the king sent every year a ship with a falconer to Iceland to collect the captured white falcons. In the period 1664-1806 came 4.287 Icelandic falcons to Copenhagen (average 80 a year). Most of them were later sent as gifts to other ruling princes. Frederik II established in 1571 the first Danish falconry, but it was closed down already a year later. In 1673 Christian V established a modest falconry at a falkonergård (farm) ; it was closed down in 1810. In May 18772 Christian VII participated for the last time in falconry at amager and the last falconry in Denmark was held in March 1803. The falcons are totally protected today and mustnnot be used for falconry.

Fairy tales:
A young guy transformed into a falcon flies to a princess in England and is put into a cage; a boy transforms himself into a falcon with a golden feather; an old falcon tells that it is on its way to the east with its dead chick in order to find the well with eau de vie and make it alive again, the falcon later carries a prince to a castle.

The kestrel is common in Denmark.

Source: Folk og Fauna 2/Dansk etnozoologi af V.J. Brøndegård/1985

More information on Thyra: Falconry in the Middle Ages .

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