Housing of the Bird

For all permanent housing intended to last for more than a very short time or for use only in fine weather, then shelter from rain, intense sun and especially from draughts has to be provided. Every day, if it is not frozen, a water bath has to be available for several hours. Attention has to be paid that the bird does not come into contact with its mutes (faeces). Security against free ranging predators has to be provided; domestic cats and even rats can actually kill smaller birds of prey especially in an urban surrounding.

For housing the bird, two different methods are in use:

♦ Essential for initial training is the use of the traditional falconry method with jesses (as mentioned above and  perches). There are different types of perches specially designed, such as screen perches, block or bow perches and flight line arrangements. The falconer will choose the perch depending on the species of hawk, the state of training and the location. Falcons like to stand with outstretched talons as on a rock so “block perches” would be preferable for them.

Goshawks or buzzards stand mostly with bent talons, as on a branch, so bow perches are suitable. In the very first few days of the training, it is important that the bird does not learn to jump away, so a screen perch can help.

While travelling e.g. to a hunting ground or a falconers’ meet, a flight line arrangement cannot be transported, whereas, at home, it is a very useful tool, especially for Accipiters, like goshawks, giving them almost the same freedom as an aviary with much less danger of damage e.g., feather damage on wire mesh.

Tethering is exclusively recommended for birds that are regularly flying free, as when hunted or during training – or for the rehabilitation of free ranging birds found injured or debilitated. If birds are not flown during the molting period, they are best kept in aviaries, or tethered with flight line arrangements.

♦ Aviaries are a perfect housing system for most of the species in the molting period and are crucial for breeding pairs. The absolute size of the aviary is not the crux of the matter, but attention has to be paid so that no damage can occur due to the construction of the pen, especially to the primary feathers. Some very tame and calm individual birds, especially Buzzards, Eagles and Harris Hawks, can be kept in aviaries made completely from mesh wire, but for most raptors, wire-mesh must be shielded by “shade-cloth” or silage-protecting net to avoid damage to the beak or cere and the primary feathers.

Most of the birds will do better if up to three walls of the aviary are built with non-transparent material. For most breeding pairs and for some particularly anxious individuals, such as Goshawks, sunlight and seclusion pens work best. Ventilation is important in open roofed pens and ample ventilation needs to be installed above floor level in the form of a ventilation point or slot. This will create a chimney effect drawing clean cool air in and expelling warm air out the top and will also aid in drying the floor surface after rain. To avoid stressing the hawk by entering the chamber, a flap type system to accommodate removal of bath to change the water is recommended. A food chute for the same reasons, is also advisable.

Every solid wall should have a smooth surface. Mesh wire, if used, shall be covered with plastic; in many cases wooden vertical bars would be better as a wall than mesh. Very fine but strong nylon nets, such as those used by farmers to protect their silage from crows (shade cloth), can also be used. The roof should be partly closed to protect from bad weather, and partly open to give access to sun and rain. The mesh wire on the roof should be double laid and/or small meshed to protect the inhabitant from wild raptors and other predators.

Every aviary must have a double door system to avoid unintended exit of the hawk.