Steps to Obtaining Your First Bird Of Prey

If you're a hunter or raptor enthusiast, then you may be considering buying a falcon of your own. Falconry has a long tradition and is an exciting and eco-friendly way to hunt birds and small mammals. However, you can't just go out and buy a bird without going through a number of steps required by law. Here are some tips on getting started on the path to owning your own bird.

Contact Your Local Falconry Club

The first thing you should do is contact your local falconry or hawking club. Attend meetings and ask questions. At the meetings, you should get a general idea as to what is involved in becoming a falconer. You may even be lucky enough to meet some of the birds and watch them in action. A falconry club is also a great place to inquire about apprenticeships and sponsorship.

Contact Your State's Fish and Game Department

Different states have different requirements and laws regarding the keeping of raptors, also known as birds of prey. In most cases, you will at least be required to take a falconry test to get your apprentice license. Your falconry club will often have a handbook, which may be helpful in passing the test. In some cases, you may also need to get a hunting license. You should also already have a sponsor lined up before taking the tests. With an apprentice license, you will be allowed to work on training your own bird.

Prepare a Mew for Your Falcon

Before you can obtain your first bird, you must build a home for your falcon, also known as a mew. Mews have very strict requirements and are subject to inspection, which you must pass in order to get your license. You should also have access to land in order for your bird to get exercise and for training. If you don't own the land, make sure you have permission to use it, as not all landowners permit hunting or are unconcerned about liability.

Complete Your Apprenticeship

Most falconry clubs and sponsors require apprentices to capture their first bird from the wild, but some will allow you to work with a captive-bred bird. Each state has specific laws as to the type and age of the bird. Usually, apprentices are restricted to a red-tailed hawk or kestrel under a year old. You can only have one bird at a time, but you can release him or her into the wild at a later date. You will need to train under your sponsor for two years before you can move up to a general or master's license.

Overall, becoming a licensed falconer requires a lot of time, dedication, and work, so make sure you really want to do the work before getting involved. Once you have your falconer's license, you will be allowed to own your own bird. General and master falconers can own more birds of a wider variety of species. If you already have your license or are thinking of getting involved with falconry, then talk to a breeder for more information.