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Catching A Sparrowhawk In the Black Sea Region


In this article, we will focus on the sparrowhawks and catching them. The Black Sea Region is diverse in culture and thriving in its creativity and, as the cultural activities represent a significant extension of Turkey’s economy. Turkey is a country with a rich culture and traditions and even though every region has different types of nature and beauty, this region has been receiving specific attention and has its cultural heritage which it must protect as much as possible. Now, let’s listen to what happens and what they say.

Catching a sparrowhawk is a tradition for us, it is a hobby. An old time tradition it is from our grand-grandfathers. To catch a wren, a mole cricket is needed first. We are using different ways for it, a board on the ground and sliced potatoes. I must control the holes with finger; one could be in this hole; yes, strong possibility, there is one. Some water with soap. We had to wait now. There it comes; but, coming backwards. We must wash the mole cricket because of soap; that is it.

A mole

To catch a sparrowhawk, the bird we use, is a wren. This bird you have seen is a wren. This bird is native for eastern Black Sea. Today is the sixth, next week the birds will come from the Russian side. Those are bigger. They like to be caressed, so we do to get the bird used to us. After two weeks, the wren is getting ready for the sparrowhawk. She eats meat, fish and eggs. In August, second half of August, we go up to mountains for sparrowhawk hunting.


The mountains you have seen are Georgian mountains. The sparrowhawk flies over the Georgian mountains, then follows this valley, and then leaves Turkey. You can see the Maçahel Village. We do wait for sparrowhawk right on this point, over the hills. We do catch the hawks with nets.

Maçahel Village

Now I tell you why we do cover the birds eyes. What happens if you leave me alone with a bear? I almost get die because of fear before the bear brakes me into pieces. So, what happens if this bird sees the sparrowhawk coming to get her? Dies of fear. That’s why we covered the bird’s eyes.

Covered the birds eyes

Look, the eyes are covered but the bird can see the food, because there is a hole for the bird to see the food but not to see the sparrowhawk. The hawk, the sparrowhawk we will catch will come from that valley, will make circles over the forest; will get higher and higher. Then will see this point sharply and easily. Our traps are in the forest up there. No birds around now and we have to wait.

Making circles from that valley. Comes to the end of the valley. Then, has to cross this channel, has to come this side. When we see the sparrowhawk flying, we do show this bird behind the net. Then it comes to take the wren and falls into net. We do show the bird but we do hide ourselves like this.

Hide ourselves

It depends on the weather conditions. This is not moving now. There are clouds over the mountains. There must be rain around somewhere. The birds know the weather much better than us. Birds are very emotional. They must come from this side. Comes from the valley and we call it circling. The name of the bird is wren, we locally call it “Raço”. And I was late! It was a sparrowhawk. I would of watched it hundred percent. Come on! We have got it.

Female sparrowhawk

This is a female one. We do not keep the males, anyway. The males are very rare, can not be found easily. We haven’t got one yet. We will keep them. It will show later which one is going to be a hunter. The bigger ones are better for hunting. I didn’t like this one. Your heart must to love the bird. I have to enjoy the bird, the colour, the feather, etc. This not the one I would like to like. It must be more beautiful, more charming. I have to set this bird free. I do not have to keep her. Yes, go my girl…

Well, I took a nap under the tree. We had only one shiny day out of fourteen. That’s all. We did wait for you to come but you didn’t appear. Not all of these birds are useful. Each one’s behaviour is different. We have to make a decision. They have been wrapped for about five or six hours. We’ll use the sparrowhawk as a bird hunter. Yes, a bell, a small bell; this one has one. That one is slightly better than the others. And the behaviours are not the same; they are different. Let me introduce this sparrowhawk to you.

The name of this sparrowhawk is “ilan yazida kara!” Do you understand? That means: “Flewed and gone. Couldn’t catch and gone”, that means. I will teach her our native language. When I say “mohdi”, she will come to me. We are talented. Do you want me to do anything else?

Flewed and gone

Look at me my friend. This only matches my sparrowhawk, but not yours. I haven’t payed any money for a hawk in my life and I never will pay. Our traditional sport, this is. It is impossible to get out of it. And a hobby, it is. She has to be hunt. Let her to eat the feed and the had of the quail she gets. Those don’t know how to treat well this bird. They did not treat well and made the bird to die.

I take the liberty and say that I never take my children to doctor but I take my sparrowhawk. If I do like the bird I can take her even to Istanbul. sparrowhawk, of course, is a very special creature, from the past, from the grand-grandfathers, from the old generations to us. She hunts the quail for only herself but not for us. We are educating her for hunting. We do not feed her before hunting. We make the quail come out with dog and forward the sparrowhawk to get the quail, that’s all.

We are training the sparrowhawk for quail hunting. It takes one week to get the training over. She gets used to us. Not all of the sparrowhawks get the quail. Some of them are not qualified. Well, we do have a license of course, for this hobby. Tradition is still going on. We are trying our best to keep the tradition just as like the way we have seen.

A mother sparrowhawk

This is a mother. We have to take care of her. She must go to bring forth youngs.

Should we leave her? Yes, we had better. Then, good-bye…


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