Can You Keep A Falcon As A Pet | What Is Involved In Owning A Falcon?

Known as extremely strong birds, falcons are ferocious raptors that hunt a varied range of smaller creatures, like mice, frogs, and fish, for daily food consumption.

My curiosity increased about the birds when a few years back, one of my good friends decided to own a falcon.

With all the information I gathered through my friend, below I compiled all the information to help you if you desire to own falcons.

Can you keep a falcon as a pet?

Falcons, the birds of prey, cannot be kept as pets as they require highly-trained care and freedom to hunt. You cannot expect falcons to behave like a ‘pet’ because these birds are wild, aggressive, and cannot be your feathered companion. 

It is not in their character to be domesticated. They are not at all social, the least they can do is tolerate you. The birds are only devoted to their hunting behavior and survival. 

If you want falcons because of their unique character and appearance, it’s just not the right reason.

To keep them, one needs to be properly trained and seriously committed to their good health and happiness which majorly includes hunting.

Falcons have an innate desire for hunting and not allowing them from doing so while owning them can be worse for the birds. 

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Is it legal to pet a falcon?

Many countries, including the US and Canada, find it illegal to pet a falcon in their country without federal and state licenses. Whereas, in some parts of the world, there are no regulations regarding it. Therefore, the owning of falcons in those areas is completely legal.

People living in countries having strict falcon ownership laws can own a falcon if they fall into the following categories:

  • Zoos 
  • Educational Institutions
  • Rehabbers
  • Falconers

Those already working at Zoos and Educational Institutions get an allowance to own falcons because they have all the necessary knowledge to manage the birds and keep them healthy. 

On the other hand, Rehabbers are only allowed if they have a special license for a particular “education” bird. The bird that rehabbers keep must not be released. 

A falconer is legally allowed to capture falcons in the wild or purchase from breeders to keep the birds with them for hunting. One becomes a falconer when he acquires complete knowledge about the birds and obtains a license.

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How much does it cost to buy a falcon?

The average cost of a falcon can be between $200 to $1,000 or can even raise to $3,500, depending on the bird’s size, species, age, and the location of the seller. You also have the option to purchase online from various breeder websites.

What is involved with owning a falcon?

Owning a falcon generally involves licensing, apprenticeship, and captivity. The steps to own a falcon involve you becoming a licensed falconer if you are living in a country where keeping falcons is not legal. 

Before getting started, you must first find out about the federal falconry regulations in your country to know about the specifics. 

The following things that are involved with owning a falcon are:

1. Licensing

To own a falcon or other raptors and hunt with them, you must have a federal and state hunting license. You can obtain the license by passing a written exam that involves information about falcons’ care, their training, and veterinary requirements. 

The licenses are for three levels: master, general, and beginner. The master and the general falconers are permitted to choose their bird from a varied range of raptors. They even get an allowance for keeping multiple raptors, providing all their necessities.

You get a beginner’s license if you pass the written exam with at least a score of 80 percent correct answers. You can prepare for the test by studying the falconry manuals. Once you pass the exam, you have to look for an apprenticeship.

2. Apprenticeship

For apprenticeship, you must find a general falconer that will sponsor you. If you already know a falconer, it’s great to ask him for it. But if you don’t, you can find them through various organizations regarding falconry in your country. 

The apprentices begin with a passager, a raptor less than a year old with flying skills that have not been molted into its adult self. 

Apprenticeships are generally for two years where the beginner learns about the ethics and techniques of falconry, practice to get experience, and build a cordial relationship.

3. Housing

The housing of a falcon or any other raptor is too different from all the other pets and exotic animals. The raptors require special indoor and outdoor housing facilities which are generally called mews. 

The mews should meet the housing requirements mentioned for the bird in state regulations. The least dimension for any raptor’s mews is 8 feet on each side. It should also have a door for access and a window for sunlight and ventilation. 

The indoor and outdoor perches should be strong enough for the falcon. The outdoor area of the mews should be large enough that a falcon does not get hurt while attempting to fly.

4. Drive

Falconry needs drive, patience, and commitment. It is a complete lifestyle-changing decision that takes a lot of time and energy. You need to be with the bird every day, without taking a break, requiring all your attention. If you are fine with all of it and accept the challenge, you can be a master of such a unique sport.

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Peregrine falcon vs Gyrfalcon

On comparing both the falcons with each other on the following basis, the differences are:

1. Size 

Gyrfalcons are between 50 to 60 cm in length with wingspans of width 130 to 160 cm and 805 to 2100 grams of weight.  Whereas, the peregrine is 36-48 cm long with wingspans of width 95-110 cm. Their weight is generally between 582 to 1300 grams.

2. Appearance

Gyrfalcons are the largest falcons and extremely strong. They have grey upperparts and speckled, white underparts. The diffuse mustache strip is another feature of the birds. 

Whereas peregrines are athletic falcons with slate-grey upperparts and white and black barring in underparts. They have broad and contrasting mustache stripes. 

Broader and rounder wings, bulky bellies, and longer tails distinguish gyrfalcons from peregrines.  Gyrfalcons have contrasting converts in the underside of wings whereas in peregrines they are barred.

3. Flight action and pattern

Gyrfalcons are extremely powerful but show slower flying action than peregrines. Peregrines have a flight pattern similar to fulmar with stiff and shallow wing action. 

4. Sound

Peregrine falcons have a higher pitch than gyrfalcons. Gyrfalcons have coarse sounds whereas peregrines have harsh. Both the birds have shorter warning calls.

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Can you keep a peregrine falcon as a pet?

You cannot keep peregrine falcons as pets because they are not suitable for it. In many countries, they fall into Endangered Species Act and thus, are protected by it. 

It’s illegal to keep a peregrine falcon unless you are a rehabilitator with a federal license, following all the proper provisions.

Even if peregrines are not endangered in your country, they would still be safeguarded by the Migratory Bird Act. They are wild birds and hence, in no way kept as pets. If you abide by the instructions, you will commit Animal Cruelty.

Conclusion 

Since ancient times, falconry has been a way to connect with the falcons and other raptors.

After knowing the fact that they can’t be kept as pets, people who have a fascination with the birds and hunting start practicing falconry.

It is a must to know about the whole process that you need to follow to legally own a pet.

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