What are the origins of falconry?
The origins are not precisely known, however it is known that falconry has been in existence for over 4,000 years.
How many falconers are there?
Currently there are approximately 4,000 falconers in the U.S. and only about 100 in Michigan.
What type of game do Michigan falconers take?
Game animals most commonly taken by Michigan Falconers are rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, and duck
How hard is it to catch game with a trained raptor?
Evolution, through the process of natural selection has resulted in the ability of game species to effectively evade natural predators. This means that hunting with a raptor is extremely challenging and that only a small fraction of the flights are successful at catching game.
Do falconers help in the conservation of wild raptors?
In addition to practicing their sport, falconers are dedicated to the conservation of wild raptors. Many take part in bird banding programs and the rehabilitation of injured wild raptors. Condition techniques that are used in falconry have been successfully adapted to recondition rehabilitated raptors prior to their release. Falconers are also involved in public education programs that stress the beneficial role raptors play in the eco system and the need for their continued protection.
How do I become a Falconer?
Falconry is the most highly regulated field sport in the U.S. A comprehensive set of federal and state falconry regulations have been enacted for the protection of the raptors. To practice falconry in Michigan, an individual must hold a federal and a Michigan falconry permit. In addition, a falconer must possess the hunting license appropriate for the game being hunted and observe identical or similar hunting seasons and bag limits that apply to other hunters. Be sure to check out the page with steps on Becoming A Falconer.
How do I get a falconry permit?
There are three classes of falconry permits, apprentice, general and master. To become an apprentice falconer, an individual must:
- Be at least 14 years of age
- Pass a written exam administered by the DNR
- Obtain the sponsorship of a general or master falconer
- Pass a facility and equipment inspection by a DNR conservation officer
How long is the apprenticeship?
An apprentice falconer may advance to the general class after practicing under a sponsor for two years and may achieve master class after practicing at the general level for 5 years.
How many raptors can a falconer have?
Regulations limit the number of raptors that a falconer may possess. An apprentice may have only one bird, a general may have two, and a master falconer may have three.
Are Falconry raptors banded?
Each bird must be fitted with a serialized identification marker issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
What types of raptors are used in falconry?
Falconer use different species of raptors based upon falconry class, desired quarry, local terrain and availability. The most common species used in the U.S. are: red-tailed hawks, kestrels (sparrow hawks), goshawks, coopers hawks, Harris hawks, prairie falcons, gyr falcons, and peregrine falcons. The species available to an apprentice level falconer are limited to a red-tail hawk or kestrel.
Are captive bred raptors used for falconry?
Strictly regulated captive breeding has become a significant source of raptors used in falconry. Falconers who pioneered the techniques of captive breeding are largely responsible for the recovery of the wild peregrine falcon population and their down listing as threatened and endangered wildlife.
Are wild raptors used in falconry?
Under very restrictive federal and state control, limited numbers of non-endangered raptor species may be acquired from the wild for falconry.
Does the taking of wild raptors by falconers affect the wild breeding populations?
The breeding population remains totally unaffected by restricting availability of wild raptor taking to sub-adults less than one year of age.
Are wild raptors taken frequently by falconers?
The small number of falconers, combined with the fact that birds are frequently kept for many years results in an infrequent need to take raptors from the wild.
What are the mortality rates of wild raptors vs. those used for falconry?
Biological research indicates that first year mortality rates for wild raptors is between 60 and 90 percent, in sharp contrast with the very low mortality rates for falconry birds
Are falconry birds ever released back into the wild?
Falconers sometimes release birds back into the wild where they quickly adjust and are known to successfully breed with wild mates.
What facilities and equipment are required for falconry?
The indoor enclosure used for housing a raptor is called a mews and the outdoor enclosure is called a weathering pen. Regulations require that both have certain minimum standards that must be met. Equipment including perches, bath pan, leash, swivel, jesses (leather straps) and a reliable scale to weigh the raptor are also required by the regulations. A leather glove and bells are other essential equipment
Where do I get the equipment?
Many falconers choose to fabricate their own equipment, but there are many companies that sell equipment for falconry. For more of these companies, please visit the vendors section.
How much can I expect to invest on initial equipment?
An estimate of the minimum initial investment required for facilities and equipment is $1,000.
How much time does falconry consume in care and training?
Typically, falconers spend 1 to 2 hours each day in the care and training of their bird.
How do you train a raptor?
Training begins with gaining the trust of the bird. During training, the birds learn that the falconer will assist it in hunting and securing food. Care, patience and understanding of raptor behavior and biology is required for success. Only positive reinforcement techniques are used. The falconer and the raptor establish a relationship built upon mutual trust.
How long does training last?
The initial phase of training takes approximately a month after which the bird is flown free. Training is never considered complete as the falconer is continually working to improve the teamwork that is required in order to successfully catch game.
Where do I start in order to take all the steps to becoming a falconer?
A prospective falconer must determine whether they have the time, commitment, knowledge and resources to be successful.
- The first step in this process is to learn about the biology of raptors, the sport of falconry and the federal and state regulations.
- Books are an essential source of such information. For a suggested list of books to read on falconry and raptors, visit the suggested reading list.
- Finally contact the Michigan Hawking Club for more details.