The Falconry Lifestyle

The falconry lifestyle isn't always considered when thinking about falconry or when writing regulations. Some falconers have micro falcons like a Kestrel set up with a tiny perch in the bedroom with them. Some falconers have a perch in the corner of their living room where the bird is immersed in all the daily activity. Others have a mews set up in such a way that the falconer can always see their hawk, and the hawk can always see her falconer. Yet they are not pets. These birds are partners, more utilitarian and yet more revered. That relationship often benefits from close interactions. Even those close to the falconry community, such as those writing regulations, law enforcement, and others, do not get to see the relationships that develop or understand how integrated these birds are with their falconer's life. They benefit from being involved in the daily activities of her hunting partners, including the dogs and other companions. Falconers for centuries have practiced this lifestyle, each particular to their time and culture.

           Lifestyle image Young boys and their Kestrels. Cory and his Kestrel Finn. Image courtesy of Phillip Smith.

           Lifestyle image A young Cooper's Hawk who enjoys perching in the kitchen. Young raptors often have free roam of the house as they are still growing feathers and practicing to fly. Image courtesy of Lee Slikkers.

           Lifestyle image Getting to the field to hunt isn't always formal. This Goshawk will ride on the seat of the car attached to the glove which is heavy enough to secure the bird. Other falconers have a modified head rest where a bird can perch. In this case there was a falconer with the bird on his lap, the bird was just set down while other details were attended to. Leather seats clean off a lot easier than cloth.

           Lifestyle image An entire half of the car is given to the bird providing her sufficient space. This particular bird will bounce around inside a hawk box, but will ride comfortably in this setup. She will pull up a foot and go to sleep and be ready to hunt when we reach the field.

           Lifestyle image Three generations of the Layman family out for a hunt. Falconry is often a family affair with the whole family able to be involved.

           Lifestyle image Traditional falconry and modern falconry can have an extended partnership involving the human, the dog, and horses. Renowned falconer Harry McElroy daily hunts his bird from horseback.

           Lifestyle image Falconry is as much enjoyment of the hunt as it is enjoyment of the environment and the elements. The desert is one extreme to hunt in.

           Lifestyle image After the hunt, this bird likes to take a bath. The falconer and hunting companions are enjoying a cup of coffee around the kitchen table. The dogs are sleeping next to the stove. And a pot of soup is bubbling on the stove. She will bathe, then perch on top of the refrigerator where the warm air rising will help dry and fluff her feathers.
Steve Layman's wonderfully imprinted Goshawk can be seen as a well adjusted raptor who clearly accepts the hunting relationship.

           Lifestyle image The Goshawk soaking the blood off her feet and cleaning her feathers. While a bath outside in the cold damp would not be advisable, she can bathe and dry inside.
Steve Layman's wonderfully imprinted Goshawk can be seen as a well adjusted raptor who clearly accepts the hunting relationship.

           Lifestyle image A mature Red-Tail Hawk perched out in the house for the evening. It's cold outside, and there's a fire in the fireplace making it warm and toasty inside. The dogs are playing, wrestling, and chewing on their toys in the living room. Notice that the bird is comfortable and fully accepting of the dogs - as far as she is concerned they are her dogs, and the dogs see her as their partner. She will doze and fall asleep with everyone around her like this.

           Lifestyle image This immature Gyrfalcon is as curious about these boys as the boys are about her. While falconry birds are not pets, many often interact and have a social aspect to their nature. Gyrfalcons are notably more playful and social than many other species, and this Gyrfalcon demonstrates how they sometimes seek interaction with people.

           Lifestyle image This immature Great Horned Owl is quite comfortably perched with her falconer and her dog on a summer day. This team will soon be out hunting together looking for rabbits or squirrels.

           Lifestyle image This immature Cooper's Hawk is an Accipiter, and stereotypically highly reactive, yet she is comfortably relaxing in the living room with her dog, one foot is pulled up showing just how comfortable she is in this setting. A well socialized bird is routinely around the family and all the activities, accepts these, and is comfortable.

All images and text Copyright © 2004 - 2020 - Lydia Ash