Is becoming a falconer right for me?

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What do falconers do?
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How to become a Falconer

Becoming a falconer in the United States involves a specific process regulated by federal and state laws. Here is a detailed guide on how to become a falconer in the US:

  • Understand Federal and State Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the regulations outlined in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, as well as the specific regulations enforced by your state's wildlife agency. These regulations determine the requirements for obtaining permits and licenses for falconry.
  • Research State Requirements: Each state has its own falconry program and requirements. Visit the website of your state wildlife agency or contact them directly to obtain detailed information on the state-specific regulations, application processes, and necessary permits.
  • Find a Sponsor/Mentor: In the US, aspiring falconers must find a sponsor who holds a valid falconry license. Look for local falconry clubs, raptor centers, or bird of prey organizations to connect with experienced falconers who can potentially sponsor or mentor you. Establishing a relationship with a sponsor is essential, as they will guide and oversee your apprenticeship.
  • Study and Pass the Written Exam: Study falconry literature and educational resources to gain knowledge about raptor biology, behavior, equipment, training, and ethics. Contact your state wildlife agency to inquire about any required written exams. Prepare thoroughly and successfully pass the exam to move forward in the application process.
  • Build Facilities: Before obtaining a falconry license, you will need to set up appropriate facilities for housing and caring for your raptor. This typically includes constructing a weathering area, mews (falconry enclosure), and perching arrangements that comply with the standards outlined by your state agency.
  • Obtain Required Equipment: Acquire the necessary falconry equipment, including falconry gloves, jesses, leashes, bells, and appropriate housing materials. Ensure that your equipment meets the standards set by your state agency.
  • Complete Application Process: Submit an application to your state wildlife agency, following their guidelines and requirements. This usually includes providing personal information, obtaining a sponsor's recommendation, and describing your facilities, equipment, and knowledge. Pay any necessary fees and submit the application within the designated timeframe.
  • Pass Inspections and Obtain Permits: Once your application is reviewed, wildlife officials may conduct inspections to ensure that your facilities meet the required standards. Successfully passing these inspections will lead to the issuance of your falconry permits and licenses.
  • Begin Apprenticeship: With your permits and licenses in hand, start your apprenticeship under the guidance of your sponsor. Follow their instructions closely, learn the practical aspects of falconry, and gain hands-on experience in training and handling raptors.

Helpful Resources
There are several helpful resources available for falconers in the United States. Here are some key ones:

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): The USFWS oversees the federal regulations related to falconry. Their website provides information on federal permits, regulations, and management of migratory birds. You can visit their website to access relevant publications, forms, and updates.
  • State Wildlife Agencies: Each state has its own wildlife agency that governs falconry regulations and permits. Check the website of your state's wildlife agency for specific information on state regulations, application processes, and resources related to falconry. They often provide detailed falconry handbooks, permit applications, and contact information for falconry coordinators.
  • North American Falconers Association (NAFA): NAFA is a leading organization dedicated to promoting the practice of falconry in North America. They offer resources, education, and networking opportunities for falconers. Their website provides access to publications, forums, event calendars, and a directory of falconry clubs and contacts.
  • The Peregrine Fund: The Peregrine Fund is a non-profit organization focused on the conservation of birds of prey worldwide. Their website offers valuable information on falconry, raptor conservation, and research. They provide resources for beginners, including an introduction to falconry, species profiles, and educational materials.
  • Falconry Forums and Online Communities: Engaging in online forums and communities dedicated to falconry is an excellent way to connect with experienced falconers, share knowledge, and ask questions. Websites such as,, and various Facebook groups provide platforms for discussions, advice, and support from fellow falconers.
  • Falconry Publications: There are several books, magazines, and journals dedicated to falconry that offer valuable insights and information. Some popular publications include "North American Falconry & Hunting Hawks" (NAFA), "Hawk Chalk" (The Hawk Board), "Western Sporting" (The Western Sporting Journal), and "American Falconry" (The North American Falconers Association).