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redfeather's avatar

Let's say I wanna be a falconer. Where does one learn the ropes?

Asked by redfeather (6485 points ) July 29th, 2011 from iPhone

I was wearing an oven mitt and holding my cockatiel this morning and being dumb and pretending. Yes, I’m in my twenties and I play pretend, sue me. But then I got to thinking. Do you join an association and practice? How does one get into falconing? I even looked up Kestrels. Do any of you jellies falcon?

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18 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

If this were my ambition, I’d call my local bird sanctuary and see about volunteering. There are two nearby that are always in need of assistance. I’m certain that’s how all of the volunteers I see holding the falcons, owls, vultures, kestrels and the like at local events to raise monies for the sanctuaries got started.

If you wanted to do it professionally, I’d still start out the same way, then find out where the handlers got their zoology degrees from.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I met a lady who hunts with them.She also rehabs birds of prey.You might want to try rescue groups or even look up falconer clubs in your area.

YoBob's avatar

Yes, I am a former falconer. The regulations depend on your state.

Falconry is regulated at both the federal and state level. At the federal level, birds of prey are covered under the migratory bird act. At the state level, falconry is covered under the fish and game regulations of the state. So… bottom line is you apply for a license through your state which is in turn signed off by the federal government.

I can ramble on about the regs and requirements in the state of Texas if you wish, but the short version is there are three levels, you start as an apprentice and must have a general or master falconer as a sponsor, after two years you can get your general license, after a couple of years as a general falconer you can get a masters license. Each level carries with it differences in the number and type of birds you can keep along with privileges to sponsor apprentice falconers. You really need to contact the fish and wildlife department in your state to find out how they do things.

From a practical standpoint, be advised that it is a very labor intensive hobby, and if you are just interested in taking a passing interest or simply want a “cool” pet, falconry is not, I repeat NOT for you. You will need to spend at least an hour a day with your birds and you will need to have the location/ability to take them out to hunt at least once a week.

Kestrels are fun birds to have, but more difficult than you might think as falconry birds. In falconry, weight is everything, and controlling the weight of such a small bird is challenging. Additionally, their prey are things like field mice and not exactly fun for we humans to hunt. A red tail is great for rabbit hunting, but there is nothing like hunting ducks with a peregrine!

Anyway, good luck in your endeavor, but please don’t take the responsibility lightly.

redfeather's avatar

@YoBob I’m not gonna do it. Just wondering how one would get into it. The site said kestrels are good beginner birds and I’m not a hunter so mice would be fine for me if I ever did own one. I think it’d be cool but I don’t have the time.
GA though. What kinda birds did you have?

YoBob's avatar

@redfeather – I had a red tailed hawk named Isabo for a couple of years. She was my first bird. Shortly after having our first child the thought of having a large bird of prey around an infant seemed unwise, so I changed to a male kestrel named Bob. Bob was a fun little bird, but as I said, not really great for hunting. I have also had the pleasure of hunting with a peregrine (kept by the guy who sponsored me). Although I went through the process of getting my general permit, the demands of being a parent just did not allow time for this labor intensive hobby so I gave it up with the intent of picking it back up in my empty nest years.

rebbel's avatar

@redfeather wants to be a falconer.

redfeather's avatar

@rebbel so what if I do! I’d have a whole leather get up and live in the woods with my toddler and falcon haha

Blueroses's avatar

Falconry is so cool! What an excellent answer @YoBob. I would never have the dedication to engage in the hobby but I love to watch it.

You know where I ran into falconers? At a LARP event a friend dragged me to. He went off to do whatever Middle Earth things were happening and I hung around the people who had actual skills, like the faloners. One man told me he attends a lot of SCA meetings too, so that could be a good place to go see them at work.

mazingerz88's avatar

@redfeather In case you ever have a Kestrel can you name it Redfeatherhuntsmazingerz88?
Also, these guys might be of ( no ) help : )

@YoBob Isabo? That is not from my favorite medieval movie Ladyhawke is it?

redfeather's avatar

It’s totally from Ladyhawke. What’s the line? “Always together eternally apart”? Or something like that?

mazingerz88's avatar

@redfeather “Yes, my lady that was the line it seems. It’s me, Navarre.”

YoBob's avatar

@mazingerz88 – Yes, it was… ;)

crisw's avatar

When I was living in Jamul there was a woman and her son who regularly hunted the property next door with their Harris hawk and their Jack Russell terrier. Technically, I guess they were austringers since they had a hawk and not a falcon :>) That bird was pretty lazy; they would send out the terrier to try and scare up some rabbits and the hawk would perch in an oak tree or maybe glide lazily overhead. Never saw them catch anything.

I do know falconry is very, very tightly regulated in California.

Earthgirl's avatar

Wow! YoBob Why am I not surprised that you know about falconry? You really are a renaissance redneck,lol.
redfeather In the Autobiography of Augie March by Saul Bellow the main character’s girlfriend gets this obsession to become a falconer. The story goes into how they train the bird and how grueling it is. They even move to Mexico to live for a while. She is a very passionate intense character. I wondered when reading it what would inspire someone to want to take up that pursuit. I think as I remember it the girl is inspired by the strength, beauty and power of the bird. What about it appeals to you?

YoBob's avatar

@Earthgirl – Regarding “training” birds, it has been my experience that training does not really convey the nature of the relationship. The birds are already well equipped to instinctively do what is required and you don’t have to teach them things that nature has already built in. It’s really more a matter of convincing the bird that you are a worthwhile hunting partner. (i.e. any time you go out there will be prey available if they stick with you)

Earthgirl's avatar

YoBob Yes, I guess you are right about the “training”, it’s more like the falconer being trained than the bird! From what I read one of the most important things is never to take the bird out unless he is hungry and ready to hunt. The falconer needs to know and understand the signs. If he/she doesn’t they will not be successful.

YoBob's avatar

@Earthgirl – Never taking the bird out unless he is hungry and ready to hunt is absolutely correct. Unless the bird is ready to hunt they have no motivation to do anything other than soar or perch until they get hungry, which is a recipe for loosing your bird. This is why monitoring and controlling weight is absolutely critical and why Kestrels, being a smaller bird, are more difficult to manage than larger birds.

YoBob's avatar

@Earthgirl – I guess I never really answered your question about why Falconry appeals to me.

There are several reasons I became attracted to Falconry. Firstly, I have a general interest in arcane arts, and falconry falls squarely in that category. Secondly, I have a general fascination with working animals, in particular the relationship between the working animal and the human counterpart (as I have said before, anyone who believes animals are just dumb brutes has never really known one of them). Lastly, and the most difficult to explain is much more spiritual in nature and is tied in with being raised in a hunting family and steward of a small chunk of land in North Texas. There is a side to active participation in the predator/prey relationship that connects one to “life the universe and everything” that is quite difficult to explain.

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