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BEGINNERS PAGE

If you are interested in taking up the sport of falconry, this page is for you. Please read it carefully then ask yourself is falconry for me.

Ask yourself the following questions

  • How much spare time can you dedicate to your bird

  • Are you away from home on a regular basis

  • Do you know any experienced falconer's who will help you 

  • Can you afford all the equipment needed, the bird, food and vets bills 

  • Can you get  a regular supply of good quality food 

  • Have you got permission on any land to hunt

  • Have you any hunting experience and how will you produce quarry for your bird to catch

  • Will you put in the time and effort required 

  • How do I learn about falconry and what's involved

How much spare time can you dedicate to your bird & are you away from home on a regular basis

You will have to spend at least 2-4 hours every day for up to three weeks during the initial manning procedure and training sessions. When the bird is fully trained you will have to fly her hard every day to achieve  and maintain fitness. Birds are normally flown for 6 months during the winter and then left in a aviary in spring for 6 months to moult.  When the bird has finished moulting the training and manning starts again. Birds in captivity can live to around 25 years so it will take up a lot of your time for a lot of years. If you have a 9 to 5 job bear in mind that it will be dark when you get home from work during the winter months.

 

Do you know any experienced falconer's who will help you 

What do you do if you have a problem, who can you ask for help and advice.

I recommend joining a good falconry club if you are serious about taking up falconry. You will meet falconers who will be happy to help. Good clubs hold regular novice days and field meetings where you can get hand on experience free of charge 

 

Can you afford all the equipment needed, the bird, food and vets bills

Having the right equipment 

Here is a list of the equipment required before you get your bird

1 Aviary 

1 Area for keeping your food, equipment and for weighing the  bird

1 Freezer. Don't expect your other half to let you use theirs.

1 month supply of food

1 Weighing scales

1 Glove

2 Swivels

2 Bells

2 Leashes

1 Set of anklets

2 Set of mews jesses

2 Set of field jesses

1 Bow or Block Perch depending on the bird

1 Falcon bath

1 Hawking bag or jacket

1 Hood 

1 Dummy bunny or lure

1 Creance

1 A good reference book

1 Pair of bewits

1 Telemetry system including a transmitter and receiver

1 Tail mount or transmitter clip

1 Travelling box

1 Set of needle file

1 Pair of nail cutters

1 Tin of leather grease

1 First aid kit

1 Piece of leather

1 Pair of scissors

1 Hole punch

1 Eyelet tool and eyelet's

1 Whistle

1 Tub of disinfectant 

1 Packet of raptor vitamins

1 Tail guard if required

2 Hunting knifes (1 spare) 

1 Chopping board and knife set. Again don't expect your other half to let you use theirs.

1 Hair dryer, you don't want to be putting your bird away wet on frosty nights.

Also needed. At least 1 experienced falconer who you can turn to for help

The start up price is around Ł1500 - 2500 for all the equipment listed and a bird. 

 

A few of the required items

A travelling box

8ft x 10ft aviary with a pea shingle floor

 

Can you get  a regular supply of good quality food 

Again by joining a club you will be able to find out where local falconers get their food from and even go 50/50 on large quantities to get a better price. There may also be members of the club that supply food. Although many good pet shops stock a minimal range of food for raptors the prices are often double that of specialist stockist. Pet shops should only be used in emergencies. 

 

Have you got permission on any land to hunt

It's a good idea to sort out good hawking land before you get your bird. The best land is away from public places, roads and electric wires. When training your bird you don't want  a crowd of fascinated people around you. 

 

Have you any hunting experience and how will you produce quarry for your bird to catch

Falconry is hunting with birds of prey. Apart from learning how to handle and train a bird you will need to know basic field skills to have any success. Field skills include knowing about your quarry and where to find it, how to produce quarry for your bird to catch, how to dispatch quarry quickly and humanely and how to butcher it.

To help produce enough quarry for your bird, you will also need a good ferret or a dog so take that into account as well. 

 

Will you put in the time and effort required

You must answer this question truthfully and if the answer is no or your unsure then falconry isn't for you, just liking birds of prey is not a good enough reason to go out and buy one.

If you answered yes to the above question, don't rush out and buy a bird start to learn about falconry first. 

 

How do I learn about falconry and what's involved

There are many ways to gain the knowledge and the skills required to become a falconer. 

Books

‘Falconry for Beginners’ by Lee William Harris

‘Falconry and Hawking’ by Philip Glasier

‘Falconry Art and Practice’ by Emma Ford

‘Training Birds of Prey’ by Jemima Parry-Jones

‘Understanding the Bird of Prey’ by Nick Fox

Web Sites 

Web sites are a great way of getting info. One of the best sites is www.themodernapprentice.com

Information on training a bird can be found on this page My Harris Hawk training routine  

DVD's 

There are a range of DVD's called 'The Bird of Prey Management Series'. The series covers - Basic Training - Behaviour and Learning - Nutrition - Anatomy - Health Care.

Falconry Clubs

Hands on experience can be achieved by joining a recognised club. Good clubs offer talks, novice days and field meets which you can attend as a spectator. Clubs are full of experienced local friendly falconers who you can turn to if you need assistance. For a list of falconry clubs click here

Falconry Course's

You may want to do a falconry coarse and get an award. Your falconry club should be able to help you or for further information visit  www.lantra-awards.co.uk

Lantra, Beginning Falconry Award

The Award has been developed by Lantra Awards in unison with the Hawk Board and with the help and assistance of professional Falconers throughout the UK. This Award sets a minimum standard in keeping a Bird of Prey and is the only national Award currently available that is endorsed by the Hawk Board. The Award covers all aspects of Bird of Prey management and husbandry up to flying to the fist on a creance.

The Award is divided into two main sections called ‘units’. Within each unit there are a number of parts as shown below, each of which must be completed in order to achieve the unit. If you achieve both units, you will be awarded the Beginning Falconry Award.

Unit 1: Bird of Prey Management and Husbandry

Part 1. Housing

Part 2. Hygiene

Part 3. Feed and food preparation

Part 4. Health

Part 5. Species suitability

Part 6. Purchasing your first bird

Unit 2: Falconry Basics

Part 7. Essential falconry equipment

Part 8. Picking up and carrying

Part 9. Feeding, manning and initial training techniques

Part 10. Weighing and weight management

Part 11. Flying to the fist on a creance

 

 

The best birds for beginners

Buzzard, Harris Hawk and the Red-tail Hawk are the birds beginners are recommended to start off with.

If your serious about hunting you will find it hard to have success in the field with a Buzzard, as these birds are slow and with there small feet find it hard binding to prey.

Red-tailed Hawks are excellent hunters but have a reputation for being aggressive. They hunt well over dogs. I do not recommend a Red-tail for a Juvenile.

Harris Hawks are the most popular hawking bird in the world. They originate from South and Central America and Mexico. Its a social bird and in the wild they normally fly in groups, this enables falconers to hunt together at field meets. These birds have an excellent temperament and are extremely intelligent. The Harris has decent sized feet and will take quarry time after time from trees or off the fist. The only downside to these birds is their reluctance to work over dog's but if trained to work with a dog right from the start the hunting is amazing. Harris Hawks are probably the best beginners bird they  tame well and are easy going.

A Harris Hawk

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