What is FalConNet

Welcome to the American Falconry and Conservation network. AmFalCon is a platform through which citizens and government can gain a better understanding of falconry and the conservation work of falconers. By virtue of this work, and its unique cultural heritage, falconry is the Intangible Cultural Heritage most widely supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). This site has been created for the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF), with help from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as part of a process to safeguard falconry for UNESCO.

AmFalCon is primarily focused on how falconers utilize falconry principles and best practices to contribute to conservation. The work of falconers in the past, for instance to establish domestic breeding populations to restock areas where species had gone extinct in the past (Peregrines falcons in the DDT era, then California Condors and now Gyps vultures) can be seen as part of a culture of expert research-based innovation which is indispensable for conserving raptors. As an outward face to the world, AmFalCon provides the opportunity to share what we see and what we love, as falconers and conservationists.

As further innovation, IAF has launched communication networks, on the one hand to encourage work to conserve raptors, the prey and the ecosystems on which both depend, and on the other hand to tell the public about these activities. Thus, www.Sakernet.org and www.Perdixnet.org are examples of networks to promote research and best practice, while www.AmFalCon.org encourages understanding of falconry as well as conservation by falconers in the Americas. All three systems have hubs run by IAF and IUCN in the main languages of the countries involved, and also satellite sites in each language.


Ressources to download

History of falconry

Falconry is globally recognized as the oldest form of hunting that remains relatively unchanged for millennia. The earliest evidence of falconry can be found in the Fertile Crescent, dating to 5500 BP, and some hypothesize it was in practice much earlier.

In any event, falconry has existed throughout the old world, in all cultures, for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Human culture – language, tradition, equipment – has coevolved with falconry. In recognition of its significant cultural contributions, falconry was inscribed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Raptors hold a significant place throughout Indigenous cultures of the Americas, although there is no consistent archaeological evidence or known oral histories that suggest falconry was a cultural practice in the new world prior to European contact. Falconry in the Americas spread with settler culture and traditions. Known history of falconry practice varies between countries and regions in the New World, and is captured more fully by AmFalCon sites national and regional sites.

History of conservation by falconers

Ethics of conservation and sustainable use feature prominently in falconry through the ages. Early veterinary practices in Bagdad date to about 780 AD, and mapping of goshawk eyries in Domesday Cheshire, UK, dates to 1086 AD. The Art of Falconry, “De Arte Venandi cum Avibus” (1248), by Emperor Frederick II, is widely recognized as the first comprehensive written work on falconry, and is a significant example of the relationship between falconry and conservation because of its contribution to ornithology.

Falconry and Raptor Conservation pioneers in Latin America

A Passion for Peregrines: A Tribute to Oscar Beingolea (1959-2019) and a New Grant in His Honor By Fernando Angulo and Nico Arcilla

Oscar's last peregrine banding expedition.
Oscar's last peregrine banding expedition.

Raptors studies in Peru are on the rise, and much of our knowledge of raptors in Peru is due to one extraordinary man, Oscar Beingolea. A lifelong resident of Lima, Peru, Oscar devoted his life to raptors, especially Peregrine Falcons, both as a professional falconer and through his avid studies of wild raptors in Peru and elsewhere in the Americas. He discovered the first evidence of cassini (Austral) peregrines breeding in Lima and developed expertise on species including the Orange-breasted Falcon, Tiny Hawk, Bicolored Hawk, Grey-bellied Hawk, and Harris’s Hawk.

His decades of study have informed numerous publications on raptor behavior, natural history, breeding biology, and migration, in scientific journals as well as falconry magazines and books. Perhaps Oscar’s greatest gift to Peruvian ornithology and the world was his promotion of research interest in raptors in Peru, spreading his captivation with raptors far and wide through mentoring raptor enthusiasts and researchers of all ages. I (Fernando) was a student of 12 in 1986 when I first met Oscar, who made an immediate impression. I was thrilled by his stories about raptors, especially Peregrine Falcons: how fast they are, how far they travel. Oscar was trapping and banding peregrines, and I begged him to take me on one of his trapping expeditions; the following January, Oscar took me to Chilca, south of Lima, to band a wintering male tundrius (Arctic) peregrine. Oscar also introduced Peru’s incredible wealth of raptor species to visitors such as me (Nico), who first came to Peru in 2003 to do fieldwork for my PhD.

Oscar treated me like family from the start, but I never could have guessed how much our friendship would transform my life or ignite my own passion for peregrines. Our admiration for raptors, especially peregrines, has only grown since meeting Oscar, just as our friendships with him blossomed over many years. Discussions about migration routes and timing, differential migration, subspecies distribution, and many other subjects engaged us for countless hours. Oscar raised so many questions about raptor biology that it will take decades to answer them. He was, by far, the greatest authority on peregrines in Peru. Oscar passed away on August 30, 2019, after a long battle with cancer. We, along with his family and many friends in Peru and around the world, miss him enormously. [In celebration of Oscar’s life and love of raptors, we have partnered with RRF to create an award in his honor. Starting this year, the Oscar Beingolea Raptor Research Award will provide a $1000 grant to a researcher continuing Oscar’s legacy of original inquiry, dedication to research, and enduring fascination with questions about raptor ecology and evolution in Latin America and the Caribbean. If you would like to learn more or apply for this award through RRF, please go to: [link]. If you would like to make a donation to support this award through the International Bird Conservation Partnership (IBCP), which is collecting donations to provide to RRF for this award, please click on the link below.