How to look after a bird of prey

Female Harris hawk

This is a female Harris hawk on a fist eating some food (see how it covers the food with it's wings) this is the birds way of saying this is mine.
This is a female Harris hawk on a fist eating some food (see how it covers the food with it's wings) this is the birds way of saying this is mine.
A female Harris hawk on a tree branch
A female Harris hawk on a tree branch

What to know when looking after a bird of prey

 

What you will need;

  • An aviary
  • Falconer's glove
  • Creance (string attached to bird incase bird flys away)
  • Food
  • Perch (to improvise tree branch)

 

Optional

  • Bird cam for bird safety

 

 

The aviary

You want the aviary to be at least double the wingspan of your bird so the bird is comfortable and is able to fly in comfort. You will need the following;

Wood (planks or panels), the wood needs to be tough and strong so the birds won't peck their way through. If you are going to planks.

A wire mesh to cover the whole aviary, make the wire on the inside of the aviary so the wood is protected from the birds, also try to make the mesh 1cm x 1cm or smaller to drive away unwanted vermin, I would also recommend double wiring the aviary for extra protection for the bird.

The floor, I would recommend cement as it is easy to make and easy to clean up, if the bird excretes, all you have to do is wipe it up.

A natural wooden perch, you will want a natural wooden perch to improvise a tree branch so the bird is at comfort in the aviary.

Size, make the size at least double the wingspan of the bird so it can fly in comfort and not feel confined.

 

 

Food

You want to feed your bird of prey meat as this is what they eat out in the wild. The portions depend on the size of the bird, bigger the bird the larger portions it needs. Don't overfeed him or he might be too heavy to catch prey.

 

 

Drink

This is the easiest part, just lay a bowl of fresh water on the floor for it everyday.

 

 

Weather

The weather plays an important factor in the aviary, you will need your aviary to be resistant to most weather types and your bird to be provided with the necessery requirements to survive the weather changes. Cover your aviary with a roof to shield the bird from rain and snowy conditions, if the weather is extremely windy consider buying covers for the aviary so the bird is comfortable.

 

 

Teaching the bird

Teaching the bird to fly to your fist is an amazing experience it takes time and dedication to master the art. To begin, just start stroking bird, start getting it used to you and talking to it. a few days later start trying to handling it, if it screams or starts biting don't start just yet, wait about a week of touching and stroking it. If then you are confident with it coming onto your fist with no problems, start teaching it how to fly to your fist. Attach your creance to the bird and your aviary or something stable and begin to apply food to your fist to entice the bird to fly to your first from about a distance of 15m - 20m to start off with and if it does, carry on. DO NOT feed the bird if it doesn't come to your fist. Only feed it when it comes to your first.

Start inceasing the distance between the bird and your fist and see if it will come. If you are confident with the bird coming to your fist, try releasing the creance and teaching it to come to your fist with food, eventually you will be able to take the bird out in fields and allow it to hunt, it will be a great experience for you and your bird.

 

 

Health

You may want to aquire health insurance for your pet incase it becomes ill or has a life threatening condition, do NOT attempt to heal the bird yourself as you may be making it worse.

Hopefully this guide will help you to look after and train your bird so it is a great step towards being a master falconer. Good luck!

Comments 13 comments

kayla 5 years ago

can you over feed a harris hawk i have put her back in the shed today but she has been living in my bedroom with the weather being so cold i lost one of my birds last week witht the icey weather she died so i brought my other 1 in what's the safest way to keep her alive in this weather


Luke Macaulay profile image

Luke Macaulay 5 years ago from Liverpool, England Author

If you are worried about her, I suggest to make sure she is safe in the house, feed her the same amount as you would in the shed. If she is going to be kept in the shed, I suggest trying to put some lining/insulator outside of the shed to keep her a little bit warmer, is she a game bird or just kept as a pet? if she's a game bird I would make sure her weight is kept to what it is normally at for your bird, if it is a pet, putting a little bit extra food for her will help to keep her a little bit warmer also. If she is a game bird, keeping her in the house will adapt her lifestyle to that of the house therefore losing the awareness of outside life. The longer in the house the more adapted she will be in the house. I would take her out for a fly for about 1 - 2 hours a day if she is kept in the house. Birds plump up their feathers to keep them warmer and in some cases will perch on one leg to keep the leg warm under the breast. Birds also will shiver for a few minutes as their body adapts to the temperature change, all these things are normal, if you don't see your bird doing these, please put it inside your house so then you know 100% for sure it's safe.

I am sorry for the death of your other bird and I hope this one will provide plenty of happiness within your life.

Though my understanding of birds are moderate, I suggest also looking at other sites for more information.


Charlotte B Plum profile image

Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago

Wow this is something that I have never read before, thanks for sharing this!


Tallers 5 years ago

Do you need a license to look after birds of prey?


Luke Macaulay profile image

Luke Macaulay 5 years ago from Liverpool, England Author

Hey Charlotte thanks for the comment, i'm, glad you enjoyed it! Hey Tallers i'm not too confident on the whole license/ID subject but I can share my views if it helps, as far as my knowledge goes, it depends on what the bird is, if it is a Harris Hawk for example, you do not need a license IF it is tagged with ID such as the ring around the birds foot, but if it is a bird such as a Golden Eagle for example then you definitely do need a license and ID and also I think you may need to contact your local government due to it being a rare and 'can be' a dangerous bird due to it's size. You also need a license to breed birds (breeding license). Birds like Kestrels I don't think need any ID or license but on that i'm unsure sorry, again, i'm not too confident on the matter so please don't take all the information to heart.

Thanks!

Luke


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Leah 5 years ago

Hi I don't know if this is an american forum but in the UK you do not need a licence to own a bird of prey, however, the above is a very basic requirement to keep a bird of prey.

You shouldn't be stroking the birds, they don't appreciate it, they're not sociable in the wild (mostly) and don't cuddle up themselves.

With regard to overfeeding the birds - you can't they'll only eat as much as they want - the differences come with regard to then flying the birds, if you've fed it as much as it can eat it definitely won't be flying anyhere - and bringing it indoors - with the heating you may have the posibilty of causing an illness called sour crop - whereby the bird has got food in it's crop that sits there and goes off.

Best thing to do is go and do a course at a proper falconry centre and they will teach you signs to look out for, (all pellets and poo!) how to feel the keel of the bird to check weight, and how to properly look after your bird.

Just a few points from above "wooden planks" should have astroturf or something on - stops them getting splinters, easy to clean etc...

Cement is fine for the flooring, however, you do need appropriate sized pea gravel for the flooring as the bird will take this in (like grit for parakeets)

The bird must be fed every day! otherwise you're starving the bird and it will not thank you for it, plus it is not healthy for it!

If you're looking at getting a bird definitely do a course first, above as mentioned is a very basic care - birds have to have time every single day, should be flown at least 5 times a week.

Sorry for the rant but my little Harris was mistreated through lack of knowledge and I work with the aftermath of people who buy a bird because it looks easy and fun and they're cute, and then the bird suffers.


lewis 4 years ago

Leah, great info and brutally honest. I think people need to know the reality of looking after such an amazing animal. Thanks for your advise.


lewis 4 years ago

Leah, great info and brutally honest. I think people need to know the reality of looking after such an amazing animal. Thanks for your advise.


logan 4 years ago

Hello, i need some advise on lisenses for owning a hawk. I live in california and we have tonsof red tail hawks and i have many different types of bird from laughing kookaburras to barn owls. I love holding them and really want my own hawk! Do i need a license and if so how do i register or earn it?


Mark 4 years ago

HI, Im looking to get my 1st bird of prey. I'v loved birds of prey for years and used to work at a falconry centre a few years ago while I was still at school.

Now I'm Working and have my own place I thought I could Take the opportunity to finally have the bird I have always wanted. I live out in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands so there's heaps of fields heather and moors around to fly. I was looking to get a Harris hawk, and any advise for me before I start would be much appreciated! Cheers. Mark


alex180 3 years ago

im thinking about getting one this was really interesting


Jan 2 years ago

falconry is very intresting!

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