Bicycle hawking in China

Sitting on the rear pannier frame I accompanied my young Chinese falconry friend as we looked for magpies.

Mr. Lü was an athletic student at the local University where he kept his sparrow hawk in his shared dormitory. He was a skilled falconer as this female sparrow hawk had been trapped from the wild a few weeks before I arrived.

She was now bombproof and well manned to a beautiful blocked hood that Lü had made himself, using a wooden block he had carved by hand. Most of the time she sat on his bare hand whilst he hunted her almost everyday.

Lü, as most Chinese falconers who fly sparrow hawks do, used a “Zai Wo Zi”. Which is a small woven basket attached to the right wrist which holds a carefully wound length of threaded line. As the hawk fly’s from the hand this line is paid out from the basket with very little resistance. The line is not connected to the basket or wrist, and when it comes to the end it is free trailing behind the hawk.

It is an emergency measure so that a falconer can have something to get hold off if the hawk should refuse to come back.
To my eyes it seemed to have far more disadvantages to the hawks safety than advantages to the falconer, but this devise had been used for centuries, and must work if only it is used in skilled hands.