Founder and President of the Falconers’ Association of
North America and the Falconry Club of America
Colonel Russell Luff Meredith is recognized by
many as “The Father of American Falconry.” A
leading authority on the art, he began his over 50-
year love of falconry when it was all but a lost art in
America. He became its most authoritative voice
during the sport’s formative years on the conti-
nent. As early as 1911, when only 19, he wrote
an article published in the magazine Outdoor
Recreation about hunting English Sparrows with
a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Born in Seattle, Washington, where his father
was chief of police, Luff was raised by his paternal
grandfather in Washington, D. C. following the
duty-associated murder of his father. His grand-
father, then Chief of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving
and Printing, had been a Civil War ofcer. The
standard of ethics and conduct learned from his
grandfather had a marked inuence on the young
Meredith’s life thereafter. He graduated from the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1917 and
served as a pilot in the old Army Air Service.
Seriously injured in an airplane accident, he retired
in 1927 but not before winning a Distinguished
Flying Cross for a 1923 mercy ight through a rag-
ing snowstorm in the north central U.S.
Always busy encouraging sincere neophytes,
he tirelessly sought to improve his own methods
and practice. Uppermost in his mind was his de-
sire to see falconry accepted in America as a le-
gitimate hunting sport, the “gentleman’s sport” he
envisioned. Toward that end he strove to get the
sport honest recognition in the minds of its many
antagonists. As Meredith’s falconry reputation
and inuence spread, he saw the need to unite
those sincerely interested in the sport through an
association and a journal. He proposed what be-
came the Falconers’ Association of North America
(FANA) at the banquet following the First National
Falconry Meet, held in the vicinity of Philadelphia
in the fall of 1938. This was the beginning of what
became the rst national falconers’ organization in
North America. He served as its president through
its short existence, terminated by World War II. In
1941, he was recalled to active duty and placed
in command of the Great Falls Montana Army Air
Base. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for
his work with the Russians in arranging airelds
in World War II and became “The Colonel” within
the falconry community. With peace once again
established, Meredith continued to pursue his or-
ganizational vision, establishing the Falconry Club
of America in 1953. He led that club almost single-
handed until it faded in 1961, coincidental with his
own decline in health.
Meredith was a respected member of the British
Falconers’ Club and, before World War II, the
Deutscher Falkenorden, the two most prominent
falconry organizations of the time.
His falconer friend Charles E. Hall, a physiolo-
gy professor at the University of Texas, put it well
when he said: “When Luff wasn’t taking or train-
ing falcons, he was busy in the workshop devising
better methods of trapping, better leashes, jesses
and bells, better hoods, baths, and perches; and
better ways of encouraging advancement of the
sport and discouraging those who thought of fal-
conry only as a means of making money or who
taught and held birds without having proper facili-
ties or time to devote to the birds that he most ad-
mired and respected.”
Living, sleeping, talking falconry for most of his
life, “The Captain”, and later, “The Colonel”, as he
was respectfully known, unquestionably did more
for the sport in the United States than anyone from
the early 1930s until he succumbed to cancer at
his south Texas coastal home in 1965. With the
skin study of his beloved tiercel “Fritz” at his side,
Luff was buried at West Point overlooking the his-
toric peregrine eyries on the Palisades.
What American falconry had become by the
close of the 20
century was built upon a founda-
tion strongly inuenced by Russell Luff Meredith.
Luff Meredith and daughter Anne 1947
Luff Meredith’s Airship 1945
West Point 1917
1938 Capt. Meredith with Fritz
Jan. 1954 Meredith with Greenland Gyr Chris
1941 Beach Trapping
1932 Capt. Knight at Luff’s mews in New Jersey
Young Meredith (1904)
Painting by Renz Waller at the Archives of Falconry
and published in Hugo Richters biography of Waller
With Kikiwik (Gyr) at his home in Bend, Oregon 1955
The Father of
American Falconry