Falconry may sound like something out of a myth or fairy tale, but the practice of training and using birds of prey to assist in nuisance bird removal is real and effective. Since this practice is obscure to many people, this article will dive further into the practice of falconry to shed some detail on just what falconry is and how birds of prey are trained.
What Is Falconry?
In the most traditional form, this practice is the hunting of small animals in the wild with a trained bird of prey. Alternatively, falconry can also be used to scare away nuisance birds simply by their presence in a nesting habitat of pest birds.
When falconry is used as a method for hunting, the process can be tedious and time-consuming. Although birds of prey are trained to hunt small animals such as squirrels and rabbits, birds of prey take their time in the hunting process.
There can also be some confusion with the term falconry; a falcon is what gives the term its name, however, hawks and even eagles can also be used in falconry, as can virtually any type of bird of prey that can be adequately trained. When using a hawk, the term hawking can also be used, but falconry is the popular and generally excepted term that is used most often.
How Old Is Falconry?
The practice of falconry is said to date all the way back to the beginnings of civilisation in Mesopotamia. When small game or quarry, needed to be caught, the training of birds of prey has long been a common practice in assisting hunters during times when less-advanced weaponry existed.
The need for smaller quarry grew rapidly as civilisation continued to rise over the centuries. Hawks and other predatory birds used for quarry would soon diminish throughout Europe and other parts of the world with the rise of firearms as the preferred choice for hunting.
During the 20th century, this practice began to decline in popularity in quarry hunting and particularly in the 1970s when the peregrine falcon was listed as an endangered species. Now, falconry is primarily used to intimidate and scare small birds and is common throughout the UK as a humane and legal remedy for nuisance pigeons and seagulls.
What Birds Are Used in Falconry?
Falcons, true hawks, and any predatory bird can be classified as acceptable for use in falconry; however, hawks are the most popular bird used. The Harris Hawk is a common bird of prey used due to this bird’s easy adaptability to training and aggressive and territorial behavior that many small and short birds respond to with fear.
In addition to the Harris Hawk, many breeds of a falcon, including the peregrine falcon and the red-tailed hawk are also common types of birds that were frequently used in quarry scouting and now nuisance bird control. The type of bird you choose is really based on which bird you think is the easiest to train and work with.
Hawks are always the recommended species for beginners, but you can opt for any bird of prey granted the bird is not too short or small; these birds are prone to health problems and are far too delicate to handle for beginners. Although hawks are the most popular for beginners, if you truly want to train the fastest bird of prey, the peregrine is the species to go with.
How to Get a Falconry License
It is illegal in the UK to capture wild birds of prey, no matter what purpose you intend to use the birds for. Only birds that are bred in captivity can be used for falconry.
To obtain a license for your bird of prey that has been raised and trained in complete captivity, simply pick up and fill out an application for licensure from a local post office.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Bird to Start Falconry?
The best bird, to begin with, is typically a species from the hawk family. We previously discussed both the red-tailed hawk and the Harris hawk, and these two birds respond well to training and are certainly the most level-headed of the hawk family.
Red-tailed hawks can be a bit moody, but this can typically be cured by providing the hawk with ample space and stimulation. These two examples of the hawk family have a natural fear of humans, which once you make the bird feel comfortable, easily diminishes, and makes the hawk very responsive to your commands.
It is probably a good idea to avoid a peregrine, as this bird flies incredibly fast and will need extensive training to fully rein in. Therefore, a hawk of your choosing is usually the best bird to start out with.
The species of hawk should be based more on easiness during the training process as opposed to your initial preference. You can always advance to a more problematic hawk once you have gained some experience with a species of hawk that is responsive to humans.
Do Falconers Release Their Birds?
Most falconers will release their bird back into the wild after a certain amount of time. Some falconers will release their bird hawk after only one season, whereas others may spend years with their bird before sending them back to the breeding population in the wild.
UK laws and regulations are not as strict regarding falconry as seen in other places in the world. Since the birds are bred in captivity, it can be custom to keep the birds for many years at a time; however, since a bird of prey’s natural instinct is to roam and hunt in the wild, it is only fair to release the bird back to the wild at some point.
Where Is Falconry Practiced?
Falconry is practiced in most of the world’s countries and has been for several centuries. The practice is highly common in both Europe and the United States, where a wide array of species are used in the practice.
Since Britain has a strict law regarding the practice, other measures have been introduced over time to best utilise the abilities of the birds; such as for scaring off smaller birds causing a nuisance to home and business owners.
Many nations throughout Asia and the Middle East also practice falconry, and laws and regulations for the practice are much less strict in these parts of the world when compared to Europe and the United States. The biggest difference when it comes to falconry and a particular region is the purpose of the practice.
This article covers a bit of what falconry is and how it has evolved throughout the centuries. Although most people will normally think of hunting or sport when they hear the term – falconry can actually have other beneficial uses as well.
If you are dealing with nuisance pigeons or seagulls, contact us today to consider using falconry to help alleviate the stress these birds are causing. Our birds have been expertly trained and are certain to scare off any and all smaller birds that have taken up residence where they are not wanted and prevent the birds from nesting.