Falconry, Rehabilitation and,Conservation

CRWN is dedicated to shining the light on the positive ways falconry helps birds of prey.  There are many ways that our relationship with them is mutually beneficial, but the general public has no idea.  Many see only one thing…a bird on the glove or perch, not flying.  Some think it is a one sided, selfish and even cruel thing to have a falcon or hawk.  What they don’t know is how falconers help them survive, help them recover by rehabilitating and releasing injured & orphaned raptors, and have even saved one species, the Peregrine falcon, from extinction.  If it weren’t for falconers like Tom Cade and falconry, there would be no more Peregrine!!  It was their idea to try breeding their falconry birds in captivity.  They did, and it worked!  The Peregrine is thriving and was removed off of the Federal endangered species list in 1999.

Conservation efforts are still happening.  Falconers are currently working on plans to successfully relocate predatory birds who prey on endangered terns and snowy plovers, to help increase nesting sites and improve habitat for forest dwelling raptors, to support lead-free ammunition which kills condors and other predatory birds that feed on lead infected carrion, to educate thousands of people on the vital role of  birds of prey for rodent and insect control, and more.

Here are some facts from research:

  • 70-80% of wild Red tail hawks studied die in their first year, mainly from starvation and parasites.  This holds true for most raptor species.
  • Parasites and disease flourish in weakened immune systems already stressed by lack of food.
  • By age 5, one in five survived.  Causes of death range from starvation and disease, but the greatest reasons being human caused.
  • Hit by cars, gunshot, poisoned, electrocution and wind mills kill many thousands of raptors each year.
  • In the care of a falconer or raptor educator they commonly live 20-30 years, and some species like eagles and Great Horned Owls much longer.
  • Falconers and their birds generally take one animal while hunting, if they are lucky.  Misses are common.
  • Falconers are the most heavily regulated hunters in the country.  We undergo a 2 year apprenticeship, must pass the hunter safety course, must pass the State required written test, and pay for expensive State falconry permits every year.
  • Falconers required to buy yearly hunting licenses and stamps for upland game and water fowl, and must hunt within state mandated hunting seasons.

Humans and birds have been partnering together in the hunt for over 4000 years.  Our relationship with them is deep and ancient! Raptors are intelligent creatures and have figured out on their own that humans walking through a field flush prey out of hiding providing hungry raptors more success in surviving. It is learned behavior sourced from the primal need for survival.

To this day, wild birds of prey will follow tractors plowing up fields feeding on scattering rodents.  There are falconers who’s birds live freely in the wild, waiting each morning for their human to go hunting with them.  These birds know they are more successful in the hunt because their falconer helps them find and flush out food.

Here at CRWN we are dedicated to helping conservation and rehabilitation efforts for all birds of prey.  Of our falconry birds, we have successfully saved two Red tail hawks from certain death had they been left in the wild.


~Liz Smith-Oettinger, Founder, Executive Director


  2 Responses to “Falconry, Rehabilitation and, Conservation”

  1. Hi. Do you know of any studies on survival of hawks used in Falconry after released into the wild?

    • There is a study in process for rehabilitated Golden Eagles used in falconry release program, but there is no current scientific data available for the survival of released falconry birds back to the wild other than individual experience of falconers. California Foundation For Birds Of Prey is in the process of research data.

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