can you own a bird of prey

Falconry isnt a hobby; its a lifestyle. So states the New York State Falconry Associations website. Getting involved in the ancient art of hunting with birds of prey means not only a huge commitment of time and devotion, but also obtaining licensing. Before getting started, find out the rules regarding falconry in your state. As of 2013, falconry is not permitted in Hawaii, Connecticut or Delaware.

To hunt with a bird of prey, you must possess a state and federal hunting license. Obtaining such a license involves passing a written test involving information on raptor care, training and veterinary needs. Once you pass, you must become an apprentice to a master falconer who agrees to sponsor you. A falconers apprenticeship lasts at least two years. For more information, contact your state wildlife agency.

Make no mistake: these birds of prey are not pets. A licensed falconer must trap his raptor, most commonly a red-tailed hawk or American kestrel, in its first year of life and already flying. Only master falconers, those with at least seven years experience in the field, can trap other species or birds that have not left the nest. Master falconers can also purchase captive-bred birds.

Basic falconry supplies include a jess, equipment consisting of a grommet and anklet, along with a removable strap to attach it to a swivel. Youll also need a good-quality leash or tether and heavy-duty leather gloves, or gauntlets.

You cant use a commercial birdcage to house your raptor. The mews—the indoor and outdoor facility housing the bird—must meet state requirements. Before you can trap a raptor to reside in your mews, it must be inspected and passed by a state fish and wildlife representative. At minimum the indoor mews must have dimensions of 8 feet in each direction, with a door for access. It must contain at least one window on the eastern or southern side for ventilation and sunlight. Both indoor and outdoor perches must be strong and solid enough for the bird to safely grip. The outdoor mews must be large enough that a tethered bird can attempt to fly without hitting its wings on the sides or top.

In addition to a constant supply of fresh, clean water, in a container suitable for drinking and bathing, you must provide your bird with a daily source of meat. Preferably your bird should fed raw meat from the same kind of animal he would catch in the wild. If thats not possible, you can purchase frozen mice or quail and feed the thawed bodies.

To keep a raptor, you must train this wild creature to accept you as his only source of food. To do this you must spend hours carrying the tethered bird on your glove, feeding it there as well. As trust builds, the falconer places the tethered bird a short distance away and urges the bird to come to him, rewarding the effort with food. Over time the distance increases. Once the bird easily flies to the falconer, he can be taken hunting and flown freely. Often falconers use hunting dogs to drive game into open areas for the raptor to catch. Birds of prey arent hunting dogs—they will not bring prey back to the falconer. The falconer must be in the area when the prey is killed, taking the downed animal and giving a raw meat treat to the raptor.

Plan on hunting your bird at least three times a week for several hours each time. You must have access to federal or state game lands or permission to hunt on a private landowners property. All local hunting regulations apply to the sport.

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in “Horse News,” “Suburban Classic,” “Hoof Beats,” “Equine Journal” and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

In their garden, our new neighbors have a predatory bird—possibly a Harris Hawk. It is attached to a post and has very little room to move. There are terrace houses all around this heavily developed area. Is it against the law to own a bird like this that has nowhere to fly?

For drinking and bathing, your bird needs a daily supply of clean, fresh water in a suitable container, but you also need to give it meat. Your bird should ideally be fed raw meat that is similar to what it would naturally catch. If that isn’t feasible, you can feed the thawed corpses of frozen mice or quail.

You need both a state and federal hunting license in order to hunt with a bird of prey. To acquire this license, one must pass a written exam covering topics such as training, veterinary requirements, and raptor care. After passing, you have to agree to be sponsored by a master falconer and become their apprentice. A falconers apprenticeship lasts at least two years. For more information, contact your state wildlife agency.

Falconry isnt a hobby; its a lifestyle. So states the New York State Falconry Associations website. Engaging in the age-old practice of hunting prey-bearing birds requires not only a significant time and devotional commitment, but also the acquisition of a license. Prior to beginning, ascertain what the state’s regulations are for falconry. As of 2013, Delaware, Connecticut, and Hawaii banned falconry.

A jess, equipment with an anklet and grommet, and a detachable strap to fasten it to a swivel are basic falconry supplies. Additionally, you’ll need sturdy leather gloves, or gauntlets, and a high-quality leash or tether.

Jane Meggitt has over 20 years of experience as a writer. She has written for a large newspaper chain in addition to appearing in publications like “Horse News,” “Suburban Classic,” “Hoof Beats,” and “Equine Journal,” among others. She graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and the American Academy of Dramatics Arts in New York City with an Associate of Arts.


Can you have any bird of prey as a pet?

If you want a pet, then falconry may not be right for you. Raptors are not pets, and they do not behave like parrots.

Why are birds of prey illegal to own?

Birds of prey receive protection by at least one federal law, and usually by many state and local laws too. These are: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act – makes it illegal to possess or kill any native migratory bird or any of its parts.

Can I have a hawk as a pet?

Because all raptors are protected by state, federal, and international law, all potential falconers must obtain the necessary permits and licenses before acquiring a hawk or practicing falconry. This can take quite a while, since it includes taking a written falconry exam and getting the appropriate signatures.

Is falconry legal in the US?

Falconry is legal in every state except Hawaii and is the most heavily regulated field sport in the United States. The combination of federal and state regulations that guide the practice of the sport today are in place to protect the birds and to ensure that the sport is practiced at its highest levels.