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How to become a Falconer in Florida

dan frankian eagleFalconry is the process of hunting wild game in their natural state and habitat by using trained birds of prey (raptors) such as an eagles, falcons, owls, or hawks. The animals that are hunted vary in size and environment depending on which type of raptor you choose to hunt with. These animals can include squirrels, rabbits, voles, mice, fish, and often other birds. A well trained bird of prey and its handler have a close relationship, resulting from months and years of working together. For many falconers, falconry is not only a hobby, but a way of life.

In modern times, falconry is increasingly used by bird control companies to manage and control the overpopulation of pest birds, like seagulls, for example; this process is called abatement. The specialists who train these predatory birds to hunt and scare away pest birds are called Falconers.

So how how does one become a falconer? Is falconry legal? Which bird of prey are best suited? How can you get started? Here’s everything you need to know!

Which Birds Are Used for Falconry?

Despite the name, falcons are only one of four bird of prey species used in falconry. Here are the different types of birds used for falconry:

  • HAWKS: Hawks are divided into two categories
    Buteos: Red-Tailed Hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Harris’ Hawk
    Accipiters: Eurasian Sparrow Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Goshawk, Cooper’s Hawk

  • EAGLES: Golden Eagle

  • OWLS: Eurasian Eagle Owl, Great Horned Owl

  • FALCONS: Peregrine, American and European Kestrel, Gyrfalcon, Merlin

What Is the Best Bird to Start Falconry?

The Red-Tailed Hawk is most often used by beginning falconers in North America. This is due to its ease of breeding in captivity, inherent strength, and its capability to hunt prey such as hares and other small mammals. The Harris’ Hawk is also a common bird used for emerging falconers.

Is Falconry Legal in Florida?

Falconry is legal in Florida, but you must obtain a Federal and State license. You can do so through your State Game and Fish Department.

How Do I Obtain a Falconry License in Florida?

Before being permitted for falconry, you are required to take the written falconry examination. You must pass the examination with a score of at least 80 percent before a permit will be issued. To be permitted as an apprentice falconer, you must obtain a sponsor falconer, who is willing to take you on as apprentice for two consecutive years and several thousand hours of documented mentoring. For more information click here.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Falconry License?

Anyone 14 years of age or older may take the Falconry Exam; he ore she must score at least an 80%. The exam seeks to test knowledge in the following areas:

  • Laws and regulations
  • Raptor identification
  • Raptor physiology
  • Raptor behavior
  • Raptor ecology
  • Raptor healthcare and diseases
  • Raptor facilities
  • Falconry equipment, terminology, and techniques

In Florida, falconers can progress through the classes of falconry permits (Apprentice, General, and Master) as they gain more experience. The difference between these classes is the type of raptors one can obtain, and the number of raptors they are allowed to house and have under their care.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Falconry License?

Getting into falconry can be an expensive hobby. Not only do you need to pay for your permits, but you also must consider the costs of appropriate facilities, equipment, food, and veterinary bills. Just to get started, you may need to put down $2,000 to cover the cost of books, a five-year license, an annual capture permit, annual hunting licenses/stamps, starting equipment , enough food to supply your bird for a year, and permanent and travelling raptor facilities. You may also need to invest an additional $600 to $1,000 in radio telemetry equipment to track your raptor.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Falconer?

Becoming a falconer always takes time, heavily depentant on the individual’s time commitment, dedication, and ability to obtain a sponsor. This process could take anywhere from six months to seven years, depending on whether you want to become a Master level falconer or stay as a Beginner. Raptors are live creatures that require a significant amount of time training and caring for. You’ll need to dedicate 365 days a year to training and caring for your bird. You will also need to consider how long it may take to get a sponsor. Falconry is better described as a lifestyle than just a hobby.

Getting your feet wet: Consider a Falconer's Experience

Are you interested in falconry classes in Florida or want to learn more about what it entails? We can help! Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control LLC offers 60-90 minute experiences, as well as half or full day classes or workshops to give you a better insight into falconry.

At Hawkeye, we provide unique hands on experiences that allow you to get up close and personal with birds of prey without making the full commitment of becoming a falconer. Using classes and workshops we teach clients how to train and work with these magnificent birds. Want to register for falconry classes in Florida? Call us at 1.833.833.42595

Another way to gain experience without a full commitment is by volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation center or a nature center that handles raptors. You will get to interact with birds of prey and determine if falconry is an interest you want to pursue.


Lesley Riedstra

Loved this outing, even in the sweltering heat we had a great visit with these beautiful birds.

Greg McNeil

We had a great experience, got to see all the birds of prey before getting to meet an owl and falcon up close. We got to see the owl be fed and fly the Falcons ourselves with some assistance which was the best part of the entire session. 10/10 recommend!

Khrystsina Dubavik

Amazing experience! Very friendly people. We fully enjoyed our time spent there. Absolutely worth going!