These guidlines are compiled by the Hawk Board for everyone keeping diurnal or nocturnal birds of prey in captivity. They outline the basic standards of management needed to ensure the welfare of the birds.
Birds of prey in captivity need a 24 hour commitment, they cannot be a passing fancy. It is not easy to find someone else able to look after your bird when you are away. Before obtaining a bird, carefully assess what time, facilities and funds you have.
Before you start
Spend some time with people who already keep birds of prey. Get some hands on experience of basic handling and a realistic idea of the commitment you must make.
The Hawk Board has lists of useful addresses, including Clubs, which may be obtained by sending a SAE to Mike Clowes, Hawk Board Co-ordinator, Le Moulin de l`Age, 86390 Lathus St Remy, France.
a) Join a reputable falconry or bird of prey club which may well have an apprenticeship scheme for beginners.
b) Go on a suitable good quality course.
c) Seek out private assistance from an experienced and willing falconer or breeder living nearby.
It is unlikely that sufficient understanding will be gained from videos or books; although these are a most valuable tool to refer to, they cannot substitute for hands on experience.
These must be prepared before the bird arrives. Any individual quarters, aviaries or weathering areas should be ideally a minimum width and length of at least double the wingspan of the species to be kept. Wherever possible more space should be allowed to give the bird maximum room and comfort. If a bird is showing physical signs of stress or damage, it should be obvious that the accommodation is not satisfactory, and should be altered.
As no bird can be flown continuously year in year out, it needs a suitable aviary for when it is not being flown or tethered such as during moulting. All forms of housing must be safe from dogs, foxes, rats, mink, cats, badgers or unwanted humans.