So you want to become a falconer?
This guide has been put together to advise you on your first steps to becoming a falconer:
Research and Read
Books and videos won't teach you everything that you need to know before getting a bird. But they will give you a great introduction into the world of falconry, as well as some basic management of raptors.
There is a world of resources at your fingertips, so to start with check out:
Nothing will beat plenty of practical experience! Reading a book paints a picture in our minds, but experiencing the reality of working with raptors is vital before getting your first bird.
There are lots of ways to gain experience:
- Volunteer your time with a local falconer who flies the species you are interested in.
- Volunteer at a reputable bird of prey centre.
- Attend courses and instructional days at bird of prey centres.
These activities should allow you to help you decide which kind of bird you would prefer to work with, and allow you time to learn more from more experienced falconers.
It is very important to find someone who can guide you before, and once, you aquire your own bird.
Finding someone who is local to you is vital, and ideally they should fly the same bird species as you.
When you find someone willing to mentor you it is often wise to ask around for a wider opinion to make sure they are suitable.
Joining a falconry club will also help you to network with other falconers, and potentially meet a suitable mentor.
Join a club
Although falconry can often be a quite solitary activity, joining a club can really increase your expereince, and keep you connected with what is going on in the wider community.
Meeting other falconers allows you to ask questions, share experiences and just enjoy some time with like-minded people! Clubs often hold events and field meets through the year too.
Find Land Permissions
Without any land to fly your bird on, there is no point in getting your own bird. Knowing what land you have available to you, locally and further afield, will help with your decision making on a suitable bird. Take time to ask local landowners whether flying a bird on their land would be okay.
Your permissions should be private land, not public spaces such as local parks/common land.
Once you gain permission on land you also need to assess the features of the ground which will affect your bird's flying and hunting conditions (woods, hedgerows, open fields, cover etc) and what quarry is available to you.
Aquire everything you need
As you begin to delve into falconry you will want to start putting a shopping list together of all the things you will need to get - before aquiring your bird.
Make sure everything else is in place first. The bird's mews, the bird's equipment and furniture, perches, baths, telemetry, food storage & suppliers, your glove, hawking bag, first aid kit etc. The list will get rather long!
"The bird should be
the very last piece
of the puzzle"
time & commitment
When you commit to a bird of prey you commit to a change in your lifestyle, and the responsibilities of owning an animal with many needs.
Falconry can be an incredibly special and rewarding lifestyle choice, but you need to make sure you have ample daily time in daylight for your hawk. Those with busy lives, lots of travelling and "9 till 5" jobs will struggle to find time to fly their birds. Birds of prey need routine and regularity to their days.
If your life does not currently allow you the flexibility to own and fly your own hawk, you still have the option to volunteer with others, to develop your skills and enjoy the art, without the daily commitment of your own bird.
There are no timescales or any need to rush to get a bird of prey.
If you take your time to learn, plan and prepare - both you and your new bird will be thankful!
Birds of prey can live in excess of 15 - 40 years, depending on species, so careful decisions and plenty of planning needs to be made before you make the leap.
Connect with falconers, ask questions and explore falconry in its many different forms. Good luck on your journey.
A falconer holds his falcon up, ready to take flight.
A juvenile goshawk, perched on her falconer's glove, searches for prey.
A group of austringers, on a field meet together, scan the land.
Hawking can take you into unexpected places to retrieve you bird!
A young falconer flies a harris hawk
with the support of her dad.
A realiable pointing dog can be critcal to a successful flight.
A falconer prepares to pick up her hawk from it's quarry after a flight.
A father and son enjoy the great outdoors together with their falcons.
An austringer, his goshawk and dogs. The perfect team.
A falconer exercises her falcon to a swung lure.
Falconry can take you to some amazing places.
Falconry feeds her peregrine after a flight, on a rather wet and soggy day!
A club field meet 3500ft up
in the Scottish hills.
A falcon is recalled to the lure.
Sharing in the hawk's success - a bonding moment for falconer and bird.
A falconer on the moor after a successful day's flying.