Bells attached to a hawk’s legs are used to locate the hawk in the field. In the days before telemetry, falconry bells had even more importance because they were the sole means by which to locate a hawk. When not in the field, the bells provide clues to the falconer about the hawk’s behavior such as whether it is bating or sitting quietly on its perch. While in the weathering yard, a sudden bate could indicate approach of a predator, thus making the falconry bell a potential lifesaver by alerting the falconer to the situation.
A falconry bell is attached to the leg with a small leather strip known as a bewit, which when properly working, prevents the metal from ever contacting the hawk’s leg. Instead of using a bewit, it is sometimes preferable to attach a falconry bell to the tail. A tail attachment is especially useful for shortwings that have a habit of perching silently in a tree except for the occasional shaking of the tail.
Terms describing styles in which falconry bells are made include equator reinforced, butt joint, acorn, and others. A bell-maker of reknown, Pete Asborno, and his successor Ricardo Velarde, popularized the acorn bell because of their ability to make a superb product. David Noble is another well-known falconry bell maker, as is Larry Counce. At Western Sporting, we carry items from these bell makers in our inventory.
The metal from which falconry bells are made affects their sound quality, pitch, tone, volume, and durability. The size of bell must be appropriate for the hawk to which they are attached. The specific sound a falconer finds to be most easily heard is affected by the combination of a particular size with a particular metallic composition. Western Sporting has falconry bells made from a variety of metals that include nickel, silver, brass, bronze, and combinations of these are available in sizes for kestrels, eagles, and all hawks in between. Whatever the hawk that wears the bells, whatever the style or sound of the bell, it is available from Western Sporting.