Raptor facilities come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The primary design consideration is the protection of the bird from harsh environmental conditions, predators, undue disturbance, and self-injury. These guidelines outline the typical, generally accepted norms for the proper housing and care of raptors held under a falconry licence. Although they are intended to allow for flexibility and ingenuity, the reader is reminded that these designs are time-tested. Experimentation and innovation are one thing; cutting corners is another!
The health and well-being of the bird is every falconer’s first responsibility. With proper equipment and attention to detail a bird can easily be maintained in excellent physical condition. Conversely, damaged feet, cere or excessive feather damage are signs that something is wrong, and it is a falconers duty to find the problem and rectify it without delay.
Barred windows. No chain link or chicken wire.
Light, dry, well-ventilated, and protected from the elements.
Secure double door.
Weathering Area Requirements
Protection from excessive sun or cold wind.
Protection from predators.
Bird’s wings cannot touch the fencing material when bating.
There many other excellent sources of information that provide much greater detail than is possible here. The Modern Apprentice has an excellent section on mews and perch design. Other sources of information can be found in the recommended reading list.
Mews or Indoor Facilities
The mews shall be large enough to allow easy access and to allow the bird to fully extend its wings. If more than one non-breeding raptor is to be kept in the mew, the raptors shall be tethered or separated by partitions. Recommended sizes are as follows:
Kestrel or similar size bird 6′ x 6′ x 6′
Peregrine Falcon or similar size bird 6′ x 8′ x 7′
Red-tailed Hawk or similar size bird 8′ x 8′ x 7′
Larger birds 10′ x 10′ x 8′
There shall be at least one window or a partially open roof. Windows shall be protected on the inside by vertical bars, spaced narrower than the width of the bird’s body. Poultry netting, fencing or similar material may not be used on vertical surfaces where a bird is allowed to “free loft” (i.e. is not tethered to a perch). Open roof sections should be barred or covered with fencing or netting. The main door should be secure and easily closed. The floor of the mew shall permit easy cleaning and shall be well drained. Adequate perches shall be provided.
Weathering Areas (outdoor facilities) shall be fenced and covered with netting or wire, or roofed to protect the birds from disturbance and attack by predators except that perches more than 6.5 feet high need not be covered or roofed. The enclosed area shall be large enough to insure the birds cannot strike the fence when flying from the perch. Protection from excessive sun, wind, and inclement weather shall be provided for each bird. Adequate perches shall be provided.
Perches and Baths
Perches are critically important. The perching surfaces must be easy to keep clean, quick-drying, and not too abrasive. The perch must be designed such that snagging of the leash is impossible. Also, a bird should never be left unattended when tethered to a perch from which it can hang upside down. It should always be able to reach the ground or other flat surface.
The 3 main types of perches are block perches, normally used for falcons, bow perches, normally used for hawks, and shelf or wall perches which are useful in mews and other indoor situations. Typically examples of these perches can be seen in the illustrations below.
Under normal circumstances raptors are capable of going for extended periods of time without drinking. Although they do not need continuous access to water, they should be given the opportunity to bathe and drink on a regular basis. Bath pans should be wider than the length of the bird and 5cm to 12cm deep. During the winter, when extreme cold makes bathing impossible, water can be added to their food to ensure that the birds do not become dehydrated.
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