Building Your Falconry Mews
One of the most asked question when it comes to falconry equipment is how do you build the mews. You can make these enclosures as elaborate as you want. One chamber, one chamber and a small equipment room on the side. Two rooms and a weathering yard attached. It's really up to you and your budget. This design is as basic as you can get, but it's a good place to start.
This mews is designed with the panels on the outside. Many falconers put the panels on the inside to avoid any areas the bird might try to land. the only horizontal 2 x 4's in this design are for the windows, there are no areas for the bird to land.
I'll take you step by step on how to build this simple mews.
You can do 90% of the work by yourself. But will need at least another person to help set it up and to get the roof on.
The cost of this mews will be anywhere from $300 to $500 depending on the price of lumber in your area.
- 50 - 2 x 4 x 8' - Make sure they are actually 8' long. Studs are sold as 8' but are actually only 7' something. Also, don't buy kiln dried wood. It's just too hard
- 9 - 4' x 8' x 1/2" 3 ply CDX plywood - It's really not necessary to use thicker plywood, but you can if you want. There is also composite plywood used for roofing. These already have waterproofing added and can be used for the whole mews or just the roof.
- 4 - 2 x 4 x 8' Pressure treated wood
- 22 - 3/4" x 10' electrical conduit
- Large box of deck screws - for screwing the plywood to each frame. Might as well get two boxes. I hate it when I run out of something like screws and have to run the hardware store again
- Large box of 2 1/2" Screws - for screwing the frame together and to screw each panel together
- 3 - hinges for door
- 2 - handles for door - one for the inside and one for the outside
- 4 - 2 x 2's to brace the door. You can use 2 x 4's here too if you want
- 1 - hook and eye for the inside of the door
- 1 - latch for the outside of the door - This is so you can lock your mews. Find the kind where the "eye" of the latch swivels
- 1 - pad lock - Never leave your mews unlocked. Too many birds have been stolen or released by do-gooders
- Screening for all the windows. Lets face it, your mews may not be completely bug proof, but you want to prevent as many wasps, mosquitoes and flies from getting in.
- Garden cloth - enough to cover the 8' x 8' area with a couple of layers - This allows the water to drain out, keeps the dirt from working it's way to the top and prevents any weeds from coming up. this step is optional. It will depend on your area.
- "U" shaped stakes - You can find these in the garden section. They should be with the garden cloth. Get plenty. If you don't use the garden cloth, you won't need these.
- Hardware cloth or chicken wire - This is especially important if you live in areas where there are raccoons and skunks. The hardware cloth prevents these critters from digging their way into the mews and killing your bird. Again, this will depend on where you live. I have skunks in my area, but not raccoons. So I don't use this and have not had any problems. Gophers too can be a problem, but I trap them whenever I see them.
- Pea gravel - this is for the floor - you'll need enough to cover the entire 8' x 8' at least 2" deep. 3" is better.
- 12-16 - rubber mats - these can be found at the hardware store and are for shop floors to stand on. These mats go together like puzzle pieces. They lay on top of the pea gravel and makes the floor easier to clean and will keep your birds talons sharp as a surgeon's scalpel.
- Sealer - You will have to seal your mews from the weather. This can be deck stain, paint or marine varnish. Just be sure the wood has had plenty of time to dry and air before placing a bird inside.
To make the Feeding Shoot
- 1 - 4" PVC 90 degree pipe connector
- 1 - 4" PVC straight pipe connector with male thread at one end
- 1 4" PVC cap with female thread
- A very short piece of straight 4" PVC pipe. This needs to be just long enough to connect the two pieces through the plywood.
- PVC glue
For the "T" Perch
- 1 - 1" galvanized flange
- 1" connector with male threading
- 1 = 1" PVC 45 degree pipe connector
- 1 - 1" "T" PVC pipe connector no threading
- 1- length of 1" PVC pipe - small scraps will do just fine
- PVC glue
- doormat grass to cover the perch
- cable ties to hold the grass mat to the perch
- 2 - 1" end caps with no thread for the end of the perch - these are optional
Roof Style 1
- 5 - 10' corrugated sheets of aluminum
- roofing nails or screws
- silicone to seal the nails or screws from the weather
- 1 - 2 x 6 x 8'
- 1 - 2 x 4 x 8'
- 1 - 2 x 2 x 8'
Roof Style 2
- 2 - 2 x 6 x 8'
Tools Needed for this project
- electric drill with phillips bit
- Circular saw
- jig saw - to cut out the door and the opening for the feeding shoot
- 2 clamps - to hold the 2 x 4's together while you drill the holes for the window -
- ruler - to mark the placement of the holes for the windows.
- 7/8" paddle bit - to drill the holes for the conduits for the windows
Keep in mind when building this mews what weather you have. I live in Northern California and the weather here isn't overly wet or cold. Also remember to check with your local building codes to see if you need a permit to build the mews. Here, because it's not a permanent structure a permit isn't required. It's consider a shed.
If you live in a very cold winter climate, you might want to make a way to close off the windows with some kind of shutter or removable panel. You also might want to run electricity to your mews for heat and lights. But that's something I can't advise you with as I am not an electrician.
The first thing you need to do when you get all your lumber home is determine where the mews is going to go. I like to have the windows face East so the birds get direct morning sun. But this is going to depend on your location. Try not to place the windows facing either South or West as this will bake the inside of the mews. If you have any large trees, consider placing the mews under them. But be careful of any dead branches that might drop on the mews in a heavy windstorm.
A caution about trees. If you have eucalyptus trees, try to place the mews as far away from them as you can. Here in California eucalyptus has a higher aspers rate than any other tree. If you have no choice, be sure to keep any litter the trees drop cleaned away.
Preparing the area
OK, you've determined the best place for your mews and now it's time for the hard work. Leveling the area. It doesn't have to perfect, but it does have to be as close as you can get it.
To help you determine the size of the mews, lay down the 4 pressure treated 2 x 4's. Have a look at the diagram for the configuration of the layout. It helps to screw the frame together. You can screw them through the ends, or get 4 angle brackets and use them to hold the 2 x 4's together. They don't have to be overly large. The are just to hold it together until you get the walls up. Use just a couple of screws in one corner to start, then lightly attach the opposite corner. Be sure the frame is square. One way to make sure is to measure diagonally from corner to corner. If the measurements match, your frame is square. When it's square, secure all corners.
Here's the foundation - Place several layers of garden cloth. Make it larger than the 8' x 8' area.
Add the hardware cloth. This too needs to be larger than the 8 x 8 area. Use the "U" stakes to hold the cloth down. Use a lot of these. The hardware cloth will have a tendency to lift up and really try your patients. Work from the center out placing the stakes as you go. You will need a hammer to lightly tap them into the ground. If you have a couple of helpers, they can use some scrap 2 x 4's to stand on to help hold it down and move slowly outward as you go. When you get it all staked down wrap the extra hardware cloth up and around the pressure treated 2 x 4. Use a heavy duty stapler to staple the hardware cloth to the 2 x 4.
Now, having gone through all this, if you decide to skip the garden cloth and hardware cloth. then just make the frame and move on.
Building the panels
You will now need to build each panel. You can actually do this before you even start with the step above. It really doesn't matter.
Here are the panels and the number of each you will need
5 if using 2 window panels for the roof
4 if using two for the roof
As you make each panel, put them aside and stack them up out of the way.
For each panel you will need 3 - 2 x 4 x 8'. Leaving 2 pieces the 8', you will need to cut the third piece, but, it won't be cut to 4'. In order for the finished frame to be exactly 4' wide, the top and bottom piece needs to be cut 4' minus the width of the two 8' pieces. As you know, 2 x 4's are not 2 x 4. They are actually about 1.75" x 3.75". So you need to measure the two 8' pieces and subtract that from the 4'. When you screw the 4' pieces inside of the two 8' pieces, the finished measurement needs to be 4'.
A note about 2 x 4's - Be sure they are actually 96" (8') . Some 2 x 4's are actually shorter than 8'. So take your measuring tape with you to be sure you get the right ones.
With the frame finished, lay the 4' x 8' plywood on top. Even up one corner and screw it to the frame. Now go to the opposite corner and even up the frame and the plywood. This will square it up. Check all around to be sure it's all flush and put a screw in the opposite corner. Now you can screw the plywood to the frame all the way around. Be generous here. Try to put each screw about 9" apart. Spread your hand and fingers out as wide as you can. That's about right for the distance between the screws. If you don't put very many screws in, over time the plywood will start to warp right where there are no screws. Might as well put them in now.
You may find that the plywood is a little longer than the frame. That's OK, leave the extra hanging over the frame. This will be the bottom of the panel and overhang the pressure treated 2 x 4's
That's all there is to the full panels.
Make the frame the same as the full panel, but this time add another piece across the center. Screw this into the frame. Cut a 4' x 8' plywood sheet in half. You now have two 4' x 4' pieces. Lay one of them on the frame and screw into place as you did with the full panel.
The small window panel is made the same way, only the window is only 2' instead of 4'.
You need two more 2 x 4's to fit the inside dimension of each window. Clamp these two pieces together and mark the center down the long way. Mark every 2" across the entire length. You should have 22 marks. Place this "sandwich" of 2 x 4's on a couple pieces of scrap so you can drill through all the layers. Using a 7/8" drill bit, drill at each mark through both pieces of 2 x 4. Work slowly and keep your holes as straight as possible. DON'T REMOVE THE CLAMPS JUST YET. Cut each 10' length of conduit into 3 pieces, 2 - 4' lengths leaving 1- 2' length (this will be used for the small window panel).
If your using a circular saw, to cut the conduits, you must use a special blade for cutting these pipes. Using a circular saw will make a lot of sparks so be careful with what's around you and keep a hose at the ready for any fires that might occur. If you're using a reciprocating saw, it doesn't seem to make the sparks so you're OK. Just keep an eye on it.
When you have all the conduits cut, slide them into each hole. You can now remove the clamps. Take this package to your window panel and place the whole thing inside the frame. Work the two 2 x 4's apart a bit so you can place one at the bottom of the window and screw it into the 2 x 4 that is already there. Now work the second 2 x 4 to the top. A bit of heavy persuasion may be necessary to get it up there. Once it's flush to the top, screw it in. Viola! You have a window. Now you need to make the second one. This might be a good time to staple the screen on. It's a little easier to do as much as you can while it's on the ground. The small window panel is made exactly the same. Make the conduit window, insert it into the frame then add the 2 x 4 as you did with the full window panel. You can now measure for the plywood and screw everything in place.
You can staple the screening on the outside of the window now or wait until it's up. For a more finished look ant to help the screen stay up longer, add a small trim around the window. 1 x 1 would work just fine. This step isn't necessary, just finishes it off nicely.
There are a couple of ways to make the door. One is to frame it out and use a pre-hung door. Or maybe you can find some used doors. The method below is the cheapest way to make your door.
Using a square, mark the door for your needs. If you are 6', you don't want your door to be only 5' high. But you don't want your door to be any larger than necessary. Make it just large enough for you and your bird to get through. Using one of the full panels, pencil out your door. Before you cut the door out, make a mark somewhere across the line. This will be your guide to make sure you hang the door the right way up. I like to make a large "V" at the top. Or you can just write TOP at the top of the door. Using a jig saw, cut the door out.
Now you need to reinforce the door so it doesn't warp over time. Using the diagram above, use the 2 x 2's or any scrap wood you might have around and reinforce the door. On the inside of the panel, you need to cut 2 x 4's and frame the door. Screw on the handles both on the outside and on the inside. Add the hinges. At this point you might find it easier to put the door on after the walls are all up.
On the inside of this panel you will want to frame out the door using 2 x 4's for more stability. On the inside, place a hook and eye. This is to prevent the door from opening while you're inside the mews
On the outside of the door attach a padlock latch. Get the one with the swivel "eye". This allows you to latch your door closed when you have your bird on your glove without having to put the padlock on.
It's important to place the door panel the correct way. It may seem strange to have the door open into a wall, but this gives the most security from your bird escaping.
OK, all your panels are built, and you're ready to go. Since you already have the area leveled and prepped with the pressure treated 2 x 4's, you can start putting up the walls. You will definitely need at least one helper here, two would be better. If you placed your pressure treated 2 x 4's like the diagram above, all you have to do is place each panel directly on top of them. Be sure your plywood panels are on the outside. Start with a corner and place one panel then the other. While your helpers are holding the two panels, screw them together using your longer screws. Screw one from the left then the next from the right and so on. When you have them nice and tight together, screw through the bottom into the pressure treated 2 x 4's. It should stand on it's own now and you can start adding each panel.
Sometimes, especially if your pad isn't as level as it could be, your panels don't want to sit flush. Try using clamps to pull them together just long enough to screw them together. Pipe clamps work great if you have them or just a couple of guys pushing them together.
This is the hardest part because the panels are heavy. You will need at least one other person to at least get the panels up. I have three different designs you can do a roof, but there are many different ways to handle this tricky problem. Well it's tricky for me anyway. How to make the roof strong and secure.
This style has two full panels that sit right on the walls.
If you look at this diagram, you will see three separate pieces that hold the actual roof at an angle. The front piece is a 2 x 6 x 8', the center piece is 2 x 4 x 8' and the back piece is 2 x 2 x 8'. Then 5 sheets of 10' corrugated aluminum are placed across these three pieces. Each sheet should overlap the next sheet at least a couple of waves. The two outside sheets need enough overlap to fold down the side. The sheets are then attached to the three braces using either roofing nails or screws. Which ever you use, be sure to seal each screw or nail with silicone to waterproof them. With the sheets secure on the top, the two side sheets are bent down the sides and secured with screws.
This style may look a little odd, but it has one really good advantage. The air can go through the corrugated sheets and keep your mews quite cool.
Roof Style 2
This style roof still requires two full panels for the roof, but this time you will need 3 - 2 x 6 x 8' .
One of the 2 x 6 x 8' is cut at a diaganol from one corner to the other making two wedge shapes. These are then attached to the walls. You can use tie straps to make is really secure. A 2 x 6 x 8' is then attached to the front walls and screws to the side pieces. Now the two roof panels can be laid right on this wedge and screwed down. The top of the roof will need to be extended out past the walls for rain. This can be done with more plywood. For more waterproofing, you can cover the roof with any kind of roofing material. When nailing anything to the top, be aware that anything will penetrate to the other side, so you might want to finish the roof on the inside so it's smooth and safe for your bird. If you decide to finish the inside, why not put some insulation in the roof before you do. This will help keep the mews cool in the summer.
Roof Style 3
This my favorite design for my climate
This final roof style is perfect for climates that are hot and dry. It allows air to circulate through and gives the birds the choice of standing in the sun or rain or moving to the back for more protection.
To make this roof simply make two more "window" panels. If your climate is dry, then making the roof sit at an angle isn't necessary. I live in Southern California and have this type of roof. I like it the best. It's the easiest in the long run to make.
There you have it for roof designs. The design you choose will depend on your climate. If you get a lot of snow, then style 3 probably isn't a good idea. Here in Southern California, we don't even know what snow is.
Single mews with an Entrance Chamber
Using the basic design, you can build an entrance chamber where you can keep your scales, equipment and freezer.
This single mews puts the entrance to one side. Add a window to the door into the mews so you can check where your bird is. The feeding shoots can be in the chamber for easier feeding. This is built with a single 4' x 8' sheet of plywood wide and 2 sheets deep.
Double mews with entrance chamber
When you have two birds, you can simply add a second mews on the other side of the entrance chamber.
Poor mans's door safety.
If you're unable to build an entrance chamber right now, this is a way to create a security door.
When I first became a falconer, I had to build on a very tight budget, so I came up with this system. I still use this system after 13 years. Find one of your old flat sheets for your bed. Guys, be sure to ask your wife before using one of her good sheets. A twin size is perfect. If you only have queen size sheets, you can cut it in half. Staple the sheet across the top of the door on the inside. The sheet may not go all the way to the floor, but that's OK. Now, when you open the door, you have something blocking it and preventing your bird from flying out. It can take a bit of getting used getting in and out with your bird, but it's a cheap way to get started.
Later you can build a proper double door system outside.
Lattice Safety Door
This security chamber is easy to construct. Build the frame and attach pre-made lattice. The lattice can be a bit wobbly so be sure to add several cross beams for more security. Add the door on any side that works for you. Be sure to make it big enough so you can get in and out easily with your bird.
You can now finish the floor of your mews. Fill the inside of the mews with pea gravel. Level it out and add on top the rubber mats. The mats don't have to go all the way to the edge. I found 12 mats to be just fine. I found by adding on top of the mats cheap outdoor grass carpet it's a lot easier to clean. You can get this at the hardware store by the foot. Sometimes they have them already cut into squares. This doesn't need to cover the entire floor area. It just needs to cover the areas to catch the mutes.
NOTE: The pea gravel is optional. In wetter climates it helps with drainage when hosing out the mews. But if you have sandy soil like I do, you may find you don't need it.
CONGRATULATIONS! your mews is done!
Now for a few details.
Mark where you want your shoot to be. I like this to be high enough that I don't bump my head on it, but you can put it anywhere you want. Using a jig saw, cut the hole. Go slow and carefully. You want the 4" PVC pipe to just slip in the hole. A little tight is good. Dry fit the pieces together to make sure all fits well. Now using PVC glue, glue the outside piece to the short piece of pipe and slip it through the hole. On the inside glue the90 degree piece to the pipe coming through the hole. Adjust it so the 90 degree connector is straight down and silicone around them on both the inside and outside so they are sealed against the plywood.
The shelf can be anything smooth and easy to clean. I had a scrap piece of melamine wood. The wood that has a laminate on it. It's real easy to clean. I covered the top of it with a piece of grass door mat. Attach this shelf just below the shoot using two angle brackets. Drill the holes and bolt the brackets to the wall. Be sure to have the nut on the outside. That way there are no sharp protrusions in the mews.
Screw the cap on lightly and it's done. The cap is necessary to keep out flies and mosquitoes.
I have this up high so I don't bang my head on it, but you can put it down low in a corner without a shelf, or anywhere that suits you.
"T" perches are great to keep your birds tail from getting scrunched. This is an easy one to make. Be sure to use the highest grade of PVC. The size depends on the size of the flange you can get. I found the 1" PVC to be just right.
The threaded flange is made of galvanized steel. This is screwed to the wall where ever you want it. I have mine screwed to the two center posts between the windows. Next screw on the 45 degree PVC connector making sure it's facing straight up. The "T" connector is then glued to the 45 connector. I added a couple of scraps of PVC to each end of the "T" connector to lengthen the actual perch. Be careful you don't make it too long or it will become too weak. A few inches is fine. You can add two end caps if you want, but I found it really isn't necessary. Cover the perch with door mat grass using several cable ties and it's done. If the perch will get a lot of sun you may want to paint the PVC to keep it from getting brittle over time. Mine just gets the early morning sun so I didn't have to do this.
A few books to help you
Become a part of this ancient sport.
You can spend a fortune on all the equipment you might need. I'll show you how to make your own. From anklets and leashes, to lures and perches
Hoods can be expensive and hard to find the right fit. I'll show you how to make your own.
I hand tool and paint each feather for beautiful detail.
more being added
all the time.
Show your love of falconry with window decals for your car
Falconry art and graphics
My store, My art
To see my complete store click here
All the designs are my own work.
From birds of prey and hunting dog portraits, to falconry designs and cartoons.
T-shirts, hoodies, mouse pads, mugs and much more.
Soaring Red-tail Hawk
A beautiful red-tail hawk soaring across the sky. The red-tail is a powerful hunter and a favorite bird for falconry.
American Kestrel and Rabbit
A humorous look at the Kestrel. A cartoon of a rabbit poking his head out of a hole. A Kestrel with an attitude is standing on his nose. These little birds have the heart of a lion and the complex of Napoleon..
Falconer Medallion - Round
A gold medallion with the silhouette of a falconer and his bird with the words The Art of Falconry below..
For those that hunt ground prey. A great design for the field and the field meets.
This cartoon rabbit is all in knots with the shadow of a hawk right over it.
If you have any questions about this project, feel free to contact me.