Hoods have been around for as long as falconry itself. They are a traditional and important part of a falconer’s toolset.
They are an integral part of the training process and are used for both calming the bird down and stopping jealousy between birds when flying more than one at a time. Raptors, (apart from Harris Hawks) are not particularly social creatures.
Hoods are nearly always hand-made and are often very intricate and personal.
There are generally two main types of hood used in European and American falconry. These are the;
Anglo Indian Hood
Dutch style Hood
What About Making Hoods?
The Anglo-Indian Hood is moulded out of one piece of leather, this is normally not done on a block.
The Dutch hood however is made out of 3 pieces of leather (usually kangaroo leather) and is made by stretching wet leather over a mould wooden block and then left to dry. When the leather dries it sets into the correct position.
Making hoods is a very fine art, many falconers make their own hoods and spend a lifetime trying to perfect their skills. It is necessary for the hood to fit the bird exactly, often it takes many tries to get the right hood for the right raptor.
Very frustrating business! If the hood is too loose, the Hawk will simply throw it off and reject it...if the hood is too tight then it can lead to severe eye injuries and will obviously stress the bird out.
Not all raptor species need to be hooded, harris hawks, for example are rarely hooded because of their mild personalities and sociable nature.