How to Make a DIY Leather Falconry Hood

Kathie is an avian enthusiast who enjoys working with leather and doing DIY projects.

Making your own falconry hood can be a lot of fun and save you money as well. You can tailor it to fit your bird perfectly and add your own embellishments.

This hood is so easy to make and doesn't need to be blocked. I really like how they fit my birds and they seem very comfortable on them. I have two female Harris Hawks. The younger bird took to the hood the very day I picked her up, but my older bird never took to it very well. I bought a very nice Arab style hood for her which I used off and on for 5 years until my dog ate it. I needed a another one right away so looked into making one. I found this to be so easy to make that I can make one in a day. And, it turns out, it fits my bird better than the Arab hood did. She is much calmer when she wears this one.

Materials Needed

For the hoods and the braces, I like to use a tooling kip also called tooling calf. It is a nice weight leather 3-4 oz for medium size birds like Harris Hawks and Red-tails, and 4-5 oz for large birds like large female Red-tails and eagles. Be sure to buy vegetable tanned leather. I find it's a perfect weight for hoods that are not blocked. I also use kangaroo for the piping and the top knot, but you can try the lighter weight leather for these.

Basic Materials

Exacto knife and extra blades

Waxed dental floss

Large eye needles

Awl or small drill for the sewing holes

Leather dye

Forceps or very small needle nose pliers

Stitch marker

Leather Tooling Materials (Optional)

Tooling stamp

Swivel knife

Rubber Cement

A firm surface such as X-ray film

The Falcon Hood Pattern

The pattern for this hood is generated from the Hood Pattern Creator. You can get this program by going to The Modern Apprentice.

  • Download this pattern to your computer.
  • Extract the files
  • Click on Hood Creator
  • Save to your Desktop

The first thing you need to do is measure your bird. This might require the help of another falconer. Measure the widest part of your bird across the head from eye to eye in millimeters.

Open the Hood Pattern Creator. Down at the bottom is a small box that you put in the size of the hood you want. Click on the top left button to calculate the hood pattern. Print the pattern on heavy cardstock. You may want to keep the pattern for future use.

This hood is 52 mm and is intended for a female Harris Hawk, flying weight of 980 grams. My smaller female Harris Hawk flies at 850 grams and takes a hood size 50 mm. You will have to makes a few to find just the right fit for your bird.

Carefully cut out the pattern with an exacto knife.

All the measurements you see here are for my tooling border, braces slits and top knot slits. If you don't plan on tooling your hood, you just need the braces slits and top knot slits. You might want to make a plain hood for the first try. This way you don't spend a lot of time on the tooling only to find out it doesn't fit your bird. I also write the birds name on it so I don't get them mixed up as to which is which.

Brace Slits - The width of your braces plus 1/16 to 1/8". You don't want the slits to be tight. Make these slits 1/4" apart.

Top Knot Slits - Using the third largest hole punch, punch a hole in the center of where your top knot will go. The slits are the width of the top knot strips. These slits should be tight. Make these slits 3/16" apart from the center hole.

Always cut from the corner out, not into the corner. This will prevent any slips and inaccurate cuts. If you notice the tab at the top of the pattern. It shows two lines that should be cut as well. I've found that it's not necessary to cut these for smaller birds but I do cut it for an eagle size hood. It's completely up to you.

After cutting out the pattern, trace it on the back of the leather and again carefully cut it out using a new exacto blade. Don't forget the tip about cutting away from the corners.

Transfer Your Pattern to Your Leather

After you've cut your hood out, lightly transfer the measurements from the pattern to the leather. On the inside write the size of the hood and the birds name if you want.

Cut the slits for the braces and top knot.

I'm going to be tooling this hood and will show you as I go. I cut the slits for the braces and top knot before I start tooling. I then ignore them as I do the stamping.

If you don't plan on tooling your hood, skip down to drilling the holes. If you plan on dying your hood, do that now and allow it to dry.

Preparing Your Hood for Tooling

Glue Your Hood to a Firm Surface

Using fresh Rubber Cement glue the hood to a firm surface. I used X-ray film cut down to a manageable size. Gluing the leather down is very important if you are planning to tool it. Tooling will cause the leather to distort and "grow" and the hood will never fit right.

TIP: Use fresh rubber cement and only apply it to the X-ray film. If you use old glue and apply it to both the X-ray film and the hood, it will be very difficult to remove the hood when you're done tooling.

Before any tooling can be done, the leather must be damp. Wipe the entire surface with a damp sponge and allow to sit for a few minutes. The leather may not look wet, but it will feel cold.

The swivel knife is invaluable when tooling leather. It's used to cut the border lines for a crisp edge. When using the knife, be sure not to cut more than halfway through. An Exacto knife just won't work here because it's too thin and wont' give you the proper cut.

Using the swivel knife, cut all the way around the hood.

Next comes the beveling. My beveler is pretty small so it takes me a little longer to go all the way around. Some day I'll buy a larger one. But it's good for getting into the small corners. It's important to every now and again apply more water lightly. You don't want to flood it, just keep it moist.

Stamping the Leather

I began stamping the leather. You can see that I started right in the middle and worked my way out. As you get to the edges, only do partial stamps so you don't go into the border.

To do a partial stamp, tilt the stamp away from the edge and only use the edge of the stamp.

I finished with the first stamp. I then went back with an edge tool and stamped around the boarder again for a finished look. I've also added the stitching marks while the leather is still wet. The tool I used for the stitching marks comes from a fabric store and is used to transfer patterns onto fabric. I found it gave me just the right spacing for the holes. If you have a stitch marker that has marks too close together, just use every other mark.

Piping and Top Knot Pieces

The hood has been dyed using a water base dye. I will put 2 to 3 coats letting it dry between each coat. The colors just get richer and richer with each coat. While the hood was drying, I made the piping, top knot and the braces. The piping and top knot have also been dyed. Let these dry. It is not necessary to dye the braces

Piping - Kangaroo - 1/2" x 8" - make one

Top Knot - Kangaroo - 1/16" x 9" - make two

Making the Braces

1. Cut two strips from the tooling kip or kangaroo 1/4" x 9"

2. Roll a knot at one end the same way you make jesses.

3. Left Brace - Measuring from the knot, mark 1-½" and 1 3/4". Using the smallest hole punch, punch at the 1-½" mark. Using an exacto knife, cut a slit from the 1 3/4" mark into the hole.

4. Right Brace - Measuring from the knot, mark 1 ½", 1 3/4" and 3 1/4". Cut the hole and slit same as the left brace. At the 3 1/4" mark punch a hole using the 3rd largest hole and cut a slit on either side 1/8"

Stitching Holes

After everything is dry, remove the hood from the surface you glued it to. If you used a pliable surface like the X-ray film, place the hood face down and gently remove the film. If you try to just pull the leather off the film , you take the chance of distorting the leather.

The stitches on this hood will show. I actually liked the look. With the tooling, the hood had a more Western look and the exposed stitching just added to the look.

Now you need to make the stitching holes. The left picture shows me using an awl. When using the awl, be careful not to go too far, you don't want the holes to be too large.

The picture below shows how I drill the holes. I use a Gesswein which is a drill much like a Dremel with a very tiny drill bit. I got a box of various tiny bits from Harbor Freight many years ago for only about $10.00. Place a scrap piece of wood under the leather and drill straight down into the wood.

Sewing the Hood

To sew the hoods together, I found waxed dental floss to work great. Cut a piece about 24" long. It's better to have too much than run out half way down and have to start over again. Using two needles, thread a needle at each end.

Stitching Pattern

  • Up 1, Down 2 - even the ends
  • A - up 1 - through the same hole with thread already there.
  • B - up 2 - through the same hole with thread already there.
  • A - Down 4 - a new hole
  • B - down 3 - a new hole
  • A - up 3 - through the same hole with thread already there
  • B - up 4 - through the same hole with thread already there
  • A - Down 6 - a new hole
  • B - Down 5 - a new hole

Just remember when you come up to the front, use a hole that already has thread in it. Be careful that you don't go through the thread already there. When going front to back - use a new hole

When you get to the end, you'll notice something doesn't look right. The back is longer than the front. Don't worry, just stitch to the last hole of the front. Bring both ends back to the inside and tie a surgeons knot. Now sew the other side the same way.

Smooth the Stitching

Both sides are now sewn. Dampen the stitched area both inside and outside. Not too much water, just get it damp. Using a smooth rod, or a dowel, you want to roll the seam smooth. This will require another dowel for the inside. Sand the dowel round at the end to fit into the inside point. Insert the dowel into the point and along the stitching. Using the rod or another dowel, roll the seam smooth and flat. I like to round the point a bit as well. Don't squash it too much.

Finish the Edge

Let's take care of the uneven bottom edge. Very carefully, trim off the back edge being careful not to cut the stitching or the knot. You won't have to trim off more than 1/16". It doesn't have to be exact, the piping will cover all this anyway.

The darker area shows where the leather is damp.


The piping is important for a few reasons. First it finishes the bottom edge and makes for a nice looking hood. Second it helps from damaging the feathers around the neck and last it gives the bottom edge more support and keeps the hood in shape.

Dampen the piping both front and back. Fold it long ways. Using your dowel, roll it over the piping to make it fold nice and flat. You will have to work a small section at a time. The leather will want to fold every place but where you want it to. Gently open it again and apply Rubber Cement to the inside. Also, apply a little bit of rubber cement to both sides of the very edge of the hood. Be careful that you don't go too high or the rubber cement will show. Allow both pieces to dry for a minute or two.

Here's the tricky part. You want the hood edge to lay right in the fold. Start a little back from the end of the piping and carefully lay the hood edge right in the fold of the piping. Work along the hood edge working the piping smooth as you go. Try working just the outside first, then fold the piping to the inside.

Use your dowel and roll along the edge from the inside to smooth it down and to sharpen the fold. Trim the ends.

Top Knot

Here is where you will really need the forceps. Insert the two strips for the top knot as shown in the photo. Even them up and be sure they are flat and not laying on top of each other. Then bring them up through the center hole.

Three Turks Head Knot. I have to admit, I don't do the knots very well, but I'm getting better. Trim the ends of the leather strips. Wet them and form them into a pleasing shape.

You can have a bit of fun here. Add a decorative bead, then a knot to hold in on. Put feathers if you want a really fancy hood.

Here is the best tutorial I've seen:

Lacing The Braces

Before starting to lace the braces, slather them generously with jess grease.

Lacing the braces is a bit complicated at first, so follow each step slowly.

After each step be sure your brace is laying flat and smooth.

Here we go.

Left Side

1. Go down 2 until hole A is at 2

2. Come back up at 1

3. Insert forceps down 3, up 2, through hole A , grab brace end and pull through.

Are you still with me?

Right Side

1. Go down 5 until hole B is at 5

2. Come back up at 6

3. Insert forceps down 4, up 5, through hole B, grab brace end and pull through

4. Insert forceps on Left side of hood through A, down 2, up 3, grab right brace and pull.

This next step is the hardest part and will test your patients. Keep at it, were almost done.

By this time your braces might be pretty dry so slather on more jess grease if needed.

5. Insert forceps through hole B, down 5, up 4 and through hole C, grab the Left brace and pull through. This side will be very tight so work carefully.

Work the braces open and closed several times to get them working smoothly.

Finishing the Inside

Your bird will be able to see out the stitching holes. So here is how to finish the inside.

1. Take a very soft, thin leather. You might be able to use the kip or the kangaroo. I have a small piece of soft, thin deer skin just for this purpose

2. Measure a little wider than the stitching holes

3. Cut a piece from your soft leather this width and a little longer than the holes.

4. Place this piece over the stitching and, with a pencil, lightly mark the angle of the piping edge. You want this piece to lay just above the piping.

5. Cut the bottom edge at this angle.

6. Using a toothpick, apply rubber cement to the stitching area and the piece of leather. Let them dry a few minutes.

7. CAREFULLY lay the leather in place and press down so it adheres to the hood smoothly

Your hood is complete!

Let the hood dry and air for a few days before using it on your bird.

The Finished Hood

Fitting the Hood and Final Adjustments

Before you put the hood on your bird, wet the beak opening with some water to make the edges soft. Now place the hood on your bird and close the braces. Notice how the opening sits on your bird. It's important the the edge does not touch the birds mouth. Take note of where it's touching and remove the hood. With sharp scissors, remove that area. Careful, just remove a tiny little bit at a time. Each time wet the edge a little and place it back on the bird and check it again.

Jamal on March 27, 2020:

Just l want say thank you for your information, you really professional (teacher)



Abby on March 17, 2020:

This is well done, it really helped me with my project. The only thing you need is spellcheck.

Jay on August 28, 2018:

Wondered if I could make out of soft cloth to keep rescued doves/pigeons etc calm when handling. Is th topknot necessary, could I use elastic to fit loosely over head?


The left and the right side:

View from what will be the inside of the wall.

  • Lay each 22" x 24" piece of plywood over each frame.
  • On each 24" side, measure in by ¾" and drill screws across at 4", 8", 16" and 20".
  • On each 22" side, measure in by ¾" and drill screws across at 2.5", 5", 17" and 19.5".

    Here one 22" side has been screwed and one 24" side has been screwed. View of the outside of one wall.

    For the ventilation, identify the rear edge of the left side. Measure in from that edge 5". Measure down from the top edge 4". Center a 2" hole on this point - the midget louvre will be inserted in this hole. Repeat this same process on the right side. I realized this design piece too late and had to drill these holes much later, so the following pictures will not show these holes.

    The Top and Bottom:

    Since the handle to carry this will be passing through the ceiling, we added struts to load the weight to the frame rather than the sides. Take the two 9.75" long pieces of 0.5"x 0.75" framing wood for these two struts.

  • Measure in from the front 6.25" for the front edge of the first strut - this will center the front strut at about 7".
  • Measure in from the back 6.25" for the back edge of the second strut - this will center the rear strut at 7". Add a single screw through each side into each piece to hold the strut to the side frame - at the center 7" from the front and the back.

    Top view of the left and right walls and the struts placed between them.

    Measure in from the front to the center of the first strut to see where to drill the hole so it passes through the center of the strut. Do the same for the back. These should be at roughly 7" from the front and 7" from the back for the struts respectively.

    Looking down (and without the top shown), this is how the holes will be drilled through the struts.

    At this point I applied 3 layers of stain to the entire box letting it dry thoroughly between coats. I then varnished it with a good coat, let it dry thoroughly, sanded lightly with 220 grit sandpaper, tack clothed it, and applied another coat of varnish. If you have cheap wood (like mine) darker stains will cover more of the flaws. I used the MinWax Golden Pecan and the Man O' War varnish. You can't mix the water soluble stains with the non-water soluble varnishes, so you will have to select one line or the other.

    Here's the ceiling structure of the inside.

    The Perch:

    Here's the box with the dowel in place before it has been wrapped.

    For wrapping the perch I got a piece of scrap dowel to practice with. I put plastic sandwich baggies over my hands to prevent getting epoxy all over me. Using a plastic knife for spreading the epoxy is a really good idea as the chemical reaction heats up pretty quickly. Also, a plastic or paper plate and a plastic knife was perfect for mixing and applying this.

  • Fray one end of the rope slightly. Glue it down carefully to one side of the perch, preferably on the bottom-facing part of the perch.
  • Smooth the end down and let it set until fully dry.
  • Start wrapping the rope around the perch keeping each wrap taut. Every three wraps use a hammer to tamp the wraps down tighter to each other.
  • Once you've wrapped the entire perch, one final wrap will essentially need to be stuffed into the space left between the wraps and the wall. Apply a layer of glue to the exposed wood in this space, then stuff the rope in and hold tight for several minutes.
  • After glue is completely dry cut the rope so it's flush with the wraps. You could smooth it down again with glue, but this appears unnecessary.
  • Attaching the doors:

    The Handle:

    The same sisal rope used for the perch was used for the handle. Passing it into the box through the holes, then knotting the end worked well. I used a bit of epoxy on the knots to ensure they would not come undone.

    Last, I took a strip of suede and wrapped the handle several times cushioning it and making it a bit thicker. I did affix this to itself with Velcro so I could remove the suede if I wanted, but this was another over-engineering issue. It would just be easier to cut the rope handle than try to sew through that thick suede again.

    Here's the finished hawk box with a 1220g Red-tail pictured inside.

    Red-Tailed Hawk loading into a hawkbox video clip: 2.5 meg
    Note: If video clips do not launch automatically on your machine, right-click the link and select Save Link As. to save the video clip locally. The clip can be saved to your desktop, double-clicked, and played from there.

    Finished dimensions:

    10", the widest point measured at the perch is 11".
    Finished weight: 19.5 lb

    Another nice hawkbox for a bird that is hooded. This allows excellent air circulation and ventilation as well as visibility into the bird, yet protects her from any disturbance.

    Another method for creating a hawkbox is to invert a Rubbermade™ container, insert a perch, attach a handle, and cut a door into one end.

    Outside of a Rubbermade™ hawkbox.

    Inside view of a Rubbermade™ hawkbox.

    How to Make a DIY Leather Falconry Hood - pets

    The purpose of a hood is to calm the bird. These birds are so visually oriented that they are not fearful of what they cannot see. If they cannot see it, then it must not be there. A freshly trapped bird with a hood on will eat on the fist within minutes or hours of trapping, even if it is standing on the fist of a person. Simply because she cannot see anything alarming, there is nothing to be alarmed about. Hoods protect the bird and allow ease of control of situations that otherwise could be startling to the bird.
    A bird should hood calmly (note the large crop on this bird) Bird being hooded - 803 Kb

    Hoods are made of leather, either calf skin or more preferably kangaroo hide. Thinner and more stiff (for certain styles) is preferred. Braces are traditionally made of leather, but more recently made of GoreTex strips. Decorations can be done using dyes, various skins such as lizard, or feathers. Stitching should be done with waxed thread to ensure strength and longevity. Hoods should always be stored open, not closed.
    Leather hoods made with the smooth side out around the face are lacquered for the longest life-span. This allows the smooth leather to be cleaned well if the bird eats in the hood. The rest of the hood around the back and over the eyes may be suede which won't show as much wear if the bird scratches. For trapping hoods it doesn't matter as they are intended for short term usage. Braces should be stiff so that they do not touch any of her feathers and short enough that the bird cannot bite them. The base of the beak opening must be wide enough to allow for the bird's beak to open. If this opening is not large enough, the hood will not fit properly and the bird will resent it.

    A hood that did not fit perfectly has slightly bruised this bird. Simply replacing the hood with a better fitting one will let this heal in a couple of days. This is very minor.

    Hood fit comes from two main attributes - eye clearance and gape fit. The contouring for the eyes must give enough clearance that the eye is not interfered with. Hoods are sized by measuring across the top of the hood looking down on it for the widest points. A large female Red-Tail or Gyrfalcon will measure about 2.5" or a slightly smaller 2.4" across. A Peregrine, female Harris' Hawk, male Red-Tail, or female Goshawk will measure roughly 2.3" across. Hoods are typically offered in 1/8" graduations. The hood itself should be watched to make sure there is no sign of weeping coming from the eyes. This means that the hood is rubbing or irritating the eye in some way.
    If the gape does not fit properly, it can hit the cere or gape and bruise it or generally cause discomfort. The beak opening may or may not allow your bird to cast. If she is unable to cast through the hood, it must be removed to allow her to cast properly. A definite advantage is a hood that has an adjustable chin strap (especially a dropped or angled chinstrap) so that you can adjust it to more accurately fit your bird. Much of the beak fit can be adjusted by the falconer and not the hoodmaker making the hood under construction more tolerant of a variety of bird gapes. For this reason it is critical that the eye clearance is appropriate - the beak clearance can be adjusted later.

    The widest point here is where the eye area is. You would measure this distance across the top of the hood.
    Hood by Larry Ray
    This bird had a hood that appeared to fit perfectly, but in fact was rubbing the chinstrap against her mandible wearing a spot raw and creating an open wound. She healed quickly once it was noticed and corrected.

    The third point of fit is the closure on the back of the hood can make a great difference to your bird. If the feathers tend to get caught, this will make her very uncomfortable. If the back of the hood doesn't have enough room, the hood will apply pressure to the bird's head and cause discomfort. Putting a hood on the bird and leaving it for an hour or two will tell a lot about the fit. When the hood is removed the feathers will ideally be unruffled. Most hoods will ruffle the feathers slightly, but the best fitting, perfect hood will come off the bird and not leave the bird with the feathers crushed or molded in any way.

    The top knot is traditionally a Turk's head knot, but can be a bead, horsehair, feather plume, or anything else. The purpose is beyond decoration - it is to be able to push back on the hood to seat it well on the hawk's head, and to push forward to strike the hood (open the braces and remove the hood).

    The braces are in pairs with one on each side having a knot at the end and one on each side not having a knot. The braces are drawn (closing the hood) by pulling the unknotted pair together, and the hood is opened by pulling the knotted pair. Usually this is done by using your right hand to work the brace on the bird's left side while grabbing the matching brace with your teeth.

    Hoods may be formed through gluing or stitching, and sometimes both. A stitched hood takes longer to make, but is considered a real showpiece when executed by a master. However stitching may stretch over time, especially if the bird scratches at it. Gluing is faster and generally holds a more light-tight seam, but some falconers look down on it as a less then ideal hood. Glued hoods tend to be stronger than stitched hoods and are less expensive.

    The hood weight should not be too heavy. This is a bird of relatively light muscle weight and not able to have much weight on the head. The least amount of weight that the hood can be is preferred.

    Hood Styles

    Arab or Bahraini
    The Arab hood is marked by the circular pattern to make the hood fit the contours of the eyes and head. These are typically molded on a block and have a flat back with the braces woven in and out of leather pleats making an accordion of the back's base. The advantage of this style of brace closure is that it is smooth and tends not to catch the bird's crest feathers. With the long crest feathers that eagles have, this is a good choice for hood closure for eagles. Birds who are sensitive to their crest feathers getting caught in the brace closure, like Goshawks, might also consider this style closure to avoid annoying the bird. However, the disadvantage to this is that it is more easily tossed off by the bird before it has been closed making a hard to hood bird even more difficult. Hoods where the braces catch the feathers can have a very thin piece of leather glued to the inside to smooth the feathers against her head preventing them from catching in the hood.

    Arab style hood
    Note that the top knot here has been replaced with a metal bead.

    Arab style braces
    Note that when pulled closed the back would be pleated like an accordion.

    Traditionally made from a three pieces, this has more recently been made from a single piece of leather as well. The Dutch hood has an inverted V opening in the back where the braces close. The advantage to this is that it causes the hood to catch on the crest feathers making even an open hood less likely to be shook off the head. The disadvantage to this opening is that it can catch the crest feathers in the braces and irritate the bird. This V may be filled in with a flap of leather that the braces pass through such that when closed the leather in this V looks like an accordion. This leather flap is to keep the feathers from getting caught in the braces. The hood features a contoured beak opening allowing the contouring to be rolled back to better fit the bird's beak opening and cere. Traditionally this is molded on a block form called a Mollen block. It is thought that the Damascus style hood is the most direct predecessor to the Dutch style hood.
    Generally considered to be the best fitting for the widest range of birds. Although traditionally the Dutch hood style was used exclusively on falcons, a good, well-made Dutch hood will properly fit a hawk, falcon, or accipiter of the right size.

    Dutch style braces
    Note that the hood itself is not a traditional Dutch hood, this just illustrates the braces.

    Dutch Hood pattern software - shareware

    Indian, Pakistan, or Amritsari
    This hood style is from Pakistan and is sometimes also known as the Indian hood (outside the Indian subcontinent). This hood style is marked by a straight line where the leather meets that makes the contours of the hood. The triangular beak opening is sometimes replaced with a Dutch style "bell shaped" opening to better fit the bird. Traditionally this hood is not blocked.
    Generally thought to best fit Accipiters, eagles, and Ferruginous hawks, many falconers dislike this hood style and prefer the Dutch hood for all their various species.

    Pakistan style hood.
    Photos courtesy of Salman Ali.
    Slijper's Cannon Indian hood pattern software - shareware

    British "Game Hawkers" Hood
    This hood style is from Britain and is known as the Game Hawkers hood. This is Griff Morgan-Jones' version of the traditional British "Game Hawking" hood (red felt eye panels). The plume would be made from the first type of game caught with the falcon, Pheasant in this case. So when falcons were carried on the cadge you could quickly see the required falcon by the color of the eye panels and the type of feathers in its plume.
    Green felt eye panels would be used for a Crow hawk.

    British Game Hawkers hood by Griff Morgan-Jones.
    Photo courtesy of Griff Morgan-Jones.

    The tab at the top or back of this hood serves the same function as the more familiar top knot. This hood originated in Mongolia and is used by the Kazakh falconers most typically on Golden Eagles.

    This hood was designed by Ken Hooke and is a modern modification of hood styles from three other countries: Syria, Dubai, and Turkey.

    Khan hood made by Ken Hooke
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.
    Three different styles of Khan hoods, from left to right - The Khan, the Spanish Khan, and the Bonelli Khan
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.
    Mjooke Khan hood designed and made by Griff Morgan-Jones.
    Photo courtesy of Griff Morgan-Jones.

    Ferrug Buteo Hood
    This hood was designed by Ken Hooke and is a modern modification using an adjustable chin strap which allows you to adjust the proper beak opening assuring a comfortable fit for your buteo.
    Ferrug hood made by Ken Hooke
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.
    Ferrug hood made by Ken Hooke
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.

    Sugisaki Dutch Chinstrap Hood
    This hood was designed by Kazuhiko Sugisaki and is a modern modification of a Dutch hood pattern using an adjustable chin strap.
    Dutch hood with an adjustable chinstrap made by Kazuhiko Sugisaki
    Photo courtesy of Kazuhiko Sugisaki.
    Dutch hood with an adjustable chinstrap made by Kazuhiko Sugisaki
    Photo courtesy of Kazuhiko Sugisaki.

    Sugisaki Pakistan
    This hood is a modern modification of a Persian style hood developed by master hood maker Kazuhiko Sugisaki of Japan. It is sometimes called the Artistic Hood.
    Pakistan hood by Kazuhiko Sugisaki
    Photo courtesy of Kazuhiko Sugisaki.
    Pakistan hoods by Enrique Ruiz
    Photo courtesy of Enrique Ruiz.

    Sugisaki Hood
    This hood is a new modification combining a Dutch pattern with a Pakistan pattern developed by master hood maker Kazuhiko Sugisaki of Japan.

    Sugisaki hood by Kazuhiko Sugisaki
    Photo courtesy of Kazuhiko Sugisaki.

    Austringer Field Hood
    This hood is a modern blocked modification of the traditional Kazakh slip-on hood. Designed by Ken Hooke, these field hoods simply slip-on when your bird needs to be hooded. Because there are no braces, removal is quick and easy for slips or controlling birds in the field. These hoods are for field work only, they should not be used in the mews or when your hawk needs to be hooded for long periods. These are particularly well suited for Accipiters and hawks.

    Austringer Field Hood designed and made by Ken Hooke
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.

    Berkutchi Hunter Hood
    This hood is a modern modification of the traditional Kazakh slip-on hood designed by Griff Morgan-Jones, these field hoods simply slip-on when your Eagle needs to be hooded. Because there are no braces, removal is quick and easy for slips or controlling Eagles in the field. These hoods are for field work only they should not be used in the mews. These hoods are very versatile as one eagle hood size can fit eagles that weigh in from 8 to 12 pounds they are made for the Golden Eagle but will also fit Bald Eagles as well. The hood pattern can also be reduced in size to fit the female Ferruginous, Red-Tail, and Harris Hawk.
    Berkutchi Hunter Hood designed and made by Griff Morgan-Jones
    Photo courtesy of Griff Morgan-Jones.
    Berkutchi Hunter Hood designed and made by Griff Morgan-Jones displayed on a Golden Eagle
    Photo courtesy of Griff Morgan-Jones.

    Hu Hood
    Designed by Ken Hooke, these field hoods are designed for hot desert hunting. The Hu Hood came about by a request from a falconer in the deserts of Dubai. He needed a light weight hood that wouldn't over-heat the bird's head this design allows for air flow and heat exchange.
    Hu Hood designed and made by Ken Hooke
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.
    Hu Hood designed and made by Ken Hooke
    Photo courtesy of Ken Hooke.
    Molded Ultra-Light Hoods
    This is a hood created by High-Tech Falconry made of a poly-carbonate material. This material allows the hood to be very light weight and yet durable. It is usually 30% lighter than a conventional leather Dutch hood. The hood design features a traditional beak opening, a Dutch style closure with GoreTex braces, and a traditional topknot fixture. High-Tech Falconry also makes a vented hood that allows air to the eye, while keeping the light out. This hood was designed for birds that condensate excessively in the hood or birds that are kept in the hood for long periods of time. The disadvantage of these hoods is that the individual falconer cannot make the tiny adjustments they are used to making on a traditional leather hood. Adjustments have to be made by the manufacturer.
    The High Tech Molded Plastic Hood designed and made by Justin Tanner and Mike Todd.

    This hood is made with Japanese Kinran cloth.
    Kinran hood by Kazuhiko Sugisaki
    Photo courtesy of Kazuhiko Sugisaki.

    Anglo-Syrian or Syrio-Dutch
    This is a Dutch hood modified to have the Arab accordion back opening here designed by Griff Morgan-Jones.

    The MJ Dutch-Arab Hood designed and made by Griff Morgan-Jones.
    Photo courtesy of Griff Morgan-Jones.

    Sultan Hood
    This is a hood based on the traditional Slijper design. The hood completely wraps around to the back, and is not blocked. This hood is intentionally made soft so that it will form to the bird's own head and stretch in the chinstrap over time. Designed by Griff Morgan-Jones.
    The Sultan Hood designed and made by Griff Morgan-Jones.
    Photo courtesy of Griff Morgan-Jones.

    This has aspects of both the Indian type and another type, most typically this is an Indian pattern with Dutch braces. A much more recently developed hood, probably somewhere in the 19th century. This hood is usually not blocked or molded.

    Similar pattern to the Indian hood, except the chin strap is a separate piece attached to the hood.

    Other Modifications

    Spring-wire Brace
    Some hoods have been made with a spring on the back such that once the hood is seated the back snaps closed. This spring-wire brace is particularly useful for a bird who will not hood easily.
    There is a full article by Gaylen Gerrish in the December 1998 issue of NAFA's Hawk Chalk.

    Spring-wire brace design by Gaylen Gerrish
    Photo courtesy of Gaylen Gerrish.

    Some have poked small holes in the hood near the eye section allowing the bird some light and some view out as a way to introduce her to the world outside the hood slowly and in a controlled manner.
    Others have put vent holes on top to allow for breathability.

    For sick raptors where a hood needs to be cleaned before being used again, or trapping raptors where the bird's hood size is not known ahead of time, there are some good temporary options. Cat muzzles that have a velcro closure can be bought relatively cheaply and in different sizes allowing you to toss them in the washing machine, sterilize, disinfect, or discard the "hood" and yet control the bird while keeping her comfortable. Golf club socks can also work well, particularly the ones with velcro around the opening. They cannot see through these, yet can breathe easily.


    Roger Upton's book Falconry - Principles & Practice
    Making a hood

    Materials needed

    For the hoods and the braces I like to use a tooling kip also called tooling calf. It is a nice weight leather 3-4 oz for medium size birds like Harris Hawks and Red-tails, and 4-5 oz for large birds like large female Red-tails and eagles. Be sure to buy vegetable tanned leather. I find it’s a perfect weight for hoods that are not blocked. I also use kangaroo for the piping and the top knot, but you can try the lighter weight leather for these.

    You will also need:
    Exacto knife and extra blades
    Waxed dental floss
    Large eye needles
    Awl or small drill for the sewing holes
    Leather dye
    Forceps or very small needle nose pliers
    Stitch marker

    If you plan on tooling your leather:
    Tooling stamp
    Swivel knife
    Rubber Cement
    A firm surface such as X-ray film

    A Better Bewit

    I was out flying my bird one season. All was well, when I noticed when my bird flew past me, it was very quiet. I walked over to where she landed and noticed she had lost not just one of her bewits, but both of them. I lost in that fiasco, a beautiful set of bells, a reward tag and a telemetry transmitter. I never did find that darn transmitter. With that, I decided to design a better bewit and this is what I’ve come up with. I have never lost one since.

    You will need shoelace grommets also called eyelet grommets. Amazon carries these, you might also find them at a good fabric store. These grommets are a very small one piece grommet. You will also need the grommet setter. The whole kit is only around $5 – $8.

    You also need rivets. These are the two part rivets that are used in leather work. Tandy Leather has them.

    The diagram above shows the two parts you will need. You can use any leather you like. Kangaroo works great for the smaller piece. I don’t have any dimensions for the smaller piece because it will depend on the size of the larger piece and the size of your bells and or telemetry.

    Punch small holes on each end of the larger piece and set the shoelace grommets in them.

    Align the smaller piece with the bewit and punch a hole through both pieces at the end of the smaller insert. Set a rivet at one end of the insert. Thread your bell, reward tag and/or telemetry and set the second rivet at the other end.

    These are easily attached to your birds leg by using a small cable zip tie. Simply cut the cable tie at the end of the day.


    Making leather jesses is so easy, there is no reason not to have plenty on hand. Start with a good leather. The thickness is important. Too thick and they are too heavy and hard to work with. Too thin and your bird will easily break them. It’s important that the leather isn’t too stretchy as well. Some falconers like to use kangaroo. I’m sure it’s a good leather to use, I have a psychological problem with it. It’s so thin, I don’t trust it. That’s not to say it’s not good leather. I would just rather use something thicker. It’s going to be a bit of trial and error until you find the thickness you like. I’ve been using the 4oz tooling kip I use for making the hoods. I’ve found them to be just right for female Harris Hawks. I’ve been using the same jesses for over 5 years. I slather them with jess grease every now and again and they come back soft as new.

    1. Cut two pieces 7/16″ x 12″
    2. Roll one end three times. (If you are using a thicker leather, rolling it twice will be enough) Using a marker, mark across the roll. This will be where you punch your holes.

    3. Unroll the jess and transfer the marks from the side to the middle of the jess. Using a large hole punch, punch at these points. Be careful not to go to large, It will make the leather weak at the sides.

    4. Taper the other end to a point.

    5. Use a generous amount of jess grease on the leather to make it slip through the holes easier. Re-roll the jess and align the holes. Using a pair of forceps or needle nose pliers, insert through the holes and grab the other end of the jess. Carefully work the end through all the holes and pull the end through until the knot is tight. It might take a bit of work and you might need to add more jesse grease.

    6. Using your swivel, mark the length of the slit at the other end. Use the smallest hole on your hole punch and punch a hole at both ends of this mark. With an exacto knife, cut the slit from hole to hole. The tiny holes at the ends of the slit prevent the leather from tearing.

    This will make a pair of jesses 9″ long.
    If you are making flying jesses simply eliminate the slit at the end.

    Watch the video: Professionals Reveal Secrets of Falconry (July 2021).