EMAIL QUESTIONS: Marilyn M. : Hi! I am hoping you can help me with something. You helped my brother Paul (in Oregon) about seven years back with re-homing his birds after his divorce. THANKS for that! I have a problem. I have a rescue which is a saker falcon who will never fly again due to a bad break in the wing when i got him. Answer: Please breed him. When you have an endangered species with proper understanding of their care, research and please and BREED THEM>
JAMES C. : I am new to falconry. What would you suggest for a first bird if I am not really interested in hunting? Also, who could I go to for help learning? Answer: First of all, congratulations and welcome to the ancient Art and Science of Falconry! Secondly, READ, READ, READ. Learn all you can to get started. Then you will be ready to begin your journey. Thirdly, Like many micro-niche specialities, Falconry is riddled with elitists whom prefer to keep the knowledge for themselves, alone or for their own cliques. We completely disagree with this philosophy. Please don't let a few recalcitrant people turn you away for this fine heritage. There are plenty out there whom are in it for their own pleasure, but not necessarily to spread the Art and Science of Falconry, and certainly are not in it for conservation reasons. While we may be the guardians of knowledge from the past, that means NOTHING if we do not pass it on to the next generation for the FUTURE. So please, do not be put off by critics and others whom are not interested in passing on the love and knowledge. Last, I see you are in U.K. We are in Scotland. Honestly we know wonderful people who would be happy to help you along the journey, however, unlike us they usually raise or keep only 1-3 species of raptors. So, once you make up your mind as to which species you prefer to begin with, I will be more than happy to direct you to warm people who will welcome you with open arms and set you firmly on the path. If they cannot find the time, then we will try to help you personally. As to beginner birds, you will find everyone has different opinions. Generally, stay away from the very large and very small. Large raptors need daily, or nearly daily exercise and there really is no such thing as a "large enough flight." Which means you need open land, and a lot of it. Small raptors are to be avoided because they are extremely delicate. So much so that I know very experienced falconers whom have sadly lost birds due to this fact alone. So, to try to answer you briefly, if you are not interested in hunting per se, I would stay with the owls. And of the owls, I would probably recommend an easy-going species such as Barn Owl.
Sara H. : Is falconry dangerous? I have always been interested but I have been told it is very dangerous so my husband is concerned. Answer: In a word, yes. It can be. Some of the larger raptors such as Eagle Owls, have massive talons which exert over 500 ppi pressure. Imagine if that ever caught you in the neck, even accidentally. I also knew a very experienced falconer in America many years ago, who died of sepsis after a talon puncture on his forearm became infected. Horribly sad. But that was a freak accident and almost never happens. That said, this is honestly difficult for me to answer, because everything is relative. Obviously if you are a novice, you have no reason to be managing eagles (who can be dangerous, mostly inadvertently due to talon strength and sharpness).
But frankly, my early background was in parrots--HUGE parrots, like Hyacinthine Macaws, who can remove two of your fingers at once, should they choose. Hardly something an eagle could accomplish in one snip. I remember many years ago, when I lived in America there was a zookeeper who had two fingers broken because he put his hand into a wild-caught Hyacinth Macaw's cage. He was wearing a leather glove. Not a smart thing to do. I have a few small scars from rescue macaws, but I accepted that would happen long before my journey began. So when someone talks about falconry as "dangerous" I smile a little because it just seems so tame working with these magnificent birds next to working with large macaws who practically have a sharpened hedge-trimmer on their face. The short answer is, with proper training, a good novice choice bird, and basic precautions (which include sanitation, not just gauntlet choices) the "danger" is quite ameliorated. I hope this helps.
Blue Highlands Raptor Conservation Centre, Int'l Scottish Highlands