HAWKING is a pastime to which several Asiatic races are addicted. The employment of trained hawks may be traced to an exceedingly remote antiquity ; and Mr. Layard found a bas relief at Khorsabad, in which a falconer is bearing a hawk on his wrist. The Bedouins of Mesopotamia are attached to the sport, and especially so with reference to their food supply •, and the Arabs may possibly have introduced it, together with the creed of Mahomed, among the Malays of the Archipelago. In Africa this sport is confined to a few of the Mahomedans of the north. In Europe it seems to be first distinctly mentioned by authors about the fifth century ; but the garniture of the trained hawks would appear to have been unknown prior to the crusades. In the famous Bayeux tapestry, for instance, falcons are represented as carried upon the wrist unhooded. Trained ospreys were formerly employed in Europe for fishing ; and Colonel Montague cites an Act passed in the reign of William and Mary, by which persons were prohibited at a certain period of the year from taking any salmon, salmon peal, or salmon kind, by hawks, racks, guns, etc. There is at least one great hawk fair or sale in the Himalaya, at which Indian falconers, many of whom conic from immense distances, congregate for the purpose of buying, selling, and comparing their hawks.
The hawks commonly used are 1. Goshawk.—Astur palumbarius, Linn. Baz, Shah. baz, female ; Jurra, male. Europe, Himalaya, Sind, Neilgherries.
2. Crested Goshawk.—A. trivirgatus, Thum. Con besra, Manik•berm, Kot - eswar. All the hilly wooded regions of India.
The Shah - baz, or hawk - king, a large grey goshawk with yellow (gulab) eyes, caught in the hills of Afghanistan and its surrounding regions, is brought down to the plains, and sold, when well reclaimed, trained, and in good condition, for £5 or £6. The tiercelet or male is, as usual, much the female, and is called Jurra in Persian, the active.' Both are uncommonly strong and ferocious. They are accounted the noblest birds; the Sher-baz (lion-hawk), or pere grine of Bokhara and the snowy regions, being all but unknown in Sind.
3. Peregrine Falcon.—Falco peregrines, Gm. Bhyri, female ; Bhyri bacha, male. Natwo of Europe, N. Asia; visits India from October to April.
The Bhyri or Bhairi, Falco peregrinus, so celebrated amongst Indian falconers for her boldness and power, and her tiereel, in Sind improperly called the Shahin, arc found in some parts of Sind. They fly at partridges, hares, bustards, curlews, herons, and the saris ; being long-winged hawks, or birds of the lure, they are taught to fly high, to wait on the falconer, and to make the point ; not greatly prized.
4. Laggar.—Falco jugger, Gray. Laggar, female ; Jaggar, male. Common over all India, Sind,Panjab.
The Laggar, and her mate the Jaggar, is the only long-winged hawk generally used in Sind ; she is large and black-eyed, with yellow legs, black claws, and a tail of a cinereous white colour. She is a native of Sind, moults during the hot months from April to October, and builds in ruined walls and old mimosa trees. The Laggar is flown at quail, partridge, curlew, bastard bustard, and hares. The best sport is undoubtedly afforded by crows, only she is addicted to carrying the quarry, and is very likely to be killed by her angry enemies. She is trained for the season, and then let loose.
5. Shahin Faleon.—Falco peregrinator, Sand. Shahin, female; Kohl, Koela, male. Native of all India, Afghanistan, and Western Asia.
_ _ The Sha,hin is the female of the Falco pere grinator, and is esteemed the first of all the falcons for hawking. It is trained to hover and circle in the air over the falconer and party.
6. Baker or Cherrug.—Falco sacer, Schl, Chargh, - female ; Charghela, male. Africa, Himalaya, Nepal, Europe.
The Saker or cherrug falcon, F. sacer, is trained for striking hares, antelopes, florikin.
7. The Merlin.—Hypotriorchis cesalon, a. Turionti, or Redheaded Merlin. — H. chicquera, Daud. Turumti, female; Chetwa, male. Europe, all India, and Sind.