Domesticating Birds of Prey
As strange as it sounds, it’s possible to not only domesticate wild birds, but to domesticate birds of prey or raptors. Domesticating, also called naturalizing, refers to the gradual but systematic process of adapting a wild bird to its new environment in your home or in your bird rearing facility. Among all the hectic activities involved in falconry, this is perhaps the most hectic task of all. Considering that all birds are generally wild, even home-bred chickens, it must be nightmarish to try and tame/naturalize/domesticate a bird of prey.
Luckily, you are in skilled hands here. I have been in the wild bird rearing field since I was a child, having grown up in a falconry sporting family. After attaining adequate observatory and experiential learning skills in my childhood, I engaged in in-depth scholarly and empirical research regarding this issue.
I have owned raptors since I was a toddler and I believe I have learned a great deal regarding the domestication of these amazing creatures. In the following discussion, I will share my wealth of knowledge insightfully on this subject matter; hoping that you will learn a thing or two about domesticating falconry birds.
Choosing a Good Falconry Bird
The journey to domesticating a raptor starts with choosing and acquiring a suitable bird for rearing. In order to make a good choice, you must consider your level of experience and expertise in wild bird rearing. Various species of falconry birds are recommended for specific expertise levels. For instance, beginners are advised to start with either the Harris hawk or the red-tailed hawk. These birds are easy to breed and train in your home, they are physically robust, and they feed on a wide variety of commonly available prey.
For professional falconers, several attributes and traits should be considered but the peregrine falcon is a popular choice. Generally, imprinted birds are always the best; however, seasoned bird keepers should strive to improve species quality by creating superior quality hybrids through continued selective breeding. Remember to acquire a young bird for rearing. After settling for the most suitable bird type, you must consider and address all bird husbandry needs and requirements before bringing the bird home.
Bird Husbandry and Proper raising of the Bird
The first step is to construct an adequate and suitable home/mews for the desired bird. When designing the mews, you should consider the physical size of the bird to apply befitting dimensions to ensure comfort. You should also consider the bird’s health and safety needs, weather changes, and feeding equipment.
The mews should also include the bird’s perching support. The next consideration is the bird’s diet and nutrition. It is recommended that the bird is fed a strictly carnivorous diet of adequate meat rations. Every meal should contain fur and water to ensure proper digestion.
When the bird starts to come of age, you should be prepared with the necessary training equipment in order to achieve optimal results. Some of the most important training tools include: a hood for the manning process and a jess and creance for restraint.
General Bird Care and Conservation
As you continue with your domestication and bird training process, you should be very careful not to lose the bird during free flight. In this light, you need to attach a bell to the bird to track its movements from a fair distance. A telemetry transmitter is also very useful for tracing the bird during free flight. You should also tie an identity band to the bird’s leg to ensure that it’s identifiable and traceable in case it flees or gets lost.
As a wild bird keeper, you should play an active role to ensure that the population of wild birds is protected and conserved. Wild birds, especially raptors, succumb to a variety of life threatening factors including habitat encroachment, chemical poisoning and systematic annihilation. As you continue with your domestication process and proceed to bird breeding, you can practice captive breeding, which refers to the use of artificial insemination to improve and sustain falconry populations.
Finally, private breeding can be used to produce surplus birds, and some of them can be released back into the wild to sustain the falconry species. As you join the global falconry team, feel the responsibility to ensure that these wonderful birds are safe and healthy.