Things to Avoid
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All falconers have made mistakes at one time or another. Many of these might have been prevented by a timely word or warning. The following list is not all-inclusive, nor does it imply that the items covered are widespread, but it might be helpful in providing some basic guidance to the newcomer to the sport.
DON’T attempt to acquire a bird until you have:
* Checked all state laws and regulations to determine whether you may do so legally.
* Determine that you have sufficient time to devote to training a hawk, and adequate facilities and space for its care and training.
* Read at least two recommended books on the subject of falconry and have some idea of what is expected of you in terms of time, patience, facilities, funds and effort.
* Obtained a falconry permit from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Permits do not authorize the possession of raptors as pets.
DON’T try to start out with a peregrine, a gyrfalcon, a prairie falcon, a goshawk, or a Cooper’s hawk.
Besides being illegal for a beginner to possess, these birds are relatively rare and hard to obtain, and they require a higher experience level on the part of the falconer than do other hawks. DO start slowly with more common birds, such as the American Kestrel (sparrow hawk) or Red-tailed Hawk.
DON’T be misled by so-called expert articles on falconry in popular sports or adventure magazines.
These are frequently written for sensational effect, and they contain many inaccuracies which, if followed too literally, can only lead to grief. DO read recognized books on falconry, and seek the counsel of experienced falconers.
DON’T keep banded birds or remove a band from a live bird (refers to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aluminum bands).
We need to know much more about the birds of prey, we cannot do so if we interfere with legitimate research methods.
DON’T keep more birds than you can handle.
One bird is all a beginner should try to keep, for it will take his full attention (regulations allow a beginner only one bird in possession at any one time).
DON’T ever leave a bird where it is unable to escape the direct rays of the summer sun, or in an enclosure, such as an automobile, where there is no air circulation on a hot day.
Raptors can adjust quite well to almost any degree of cold weather, but they cannot stand excessive heat.
DON’T fasten a bird to an out-of-doors perch or block with a “dog lease” snap.
The bird may escape with its jesses linked together by the swivel.
DON’T ever cage a hawk.
They will injure or kill themselves trying to escape if kept in a cage.
DON’T trespass on private land to obtain or to fly a hawk.
This illegal act can only discredit falconry. DO respect the rights of others and obtain the permission of the landowner.
DON’T disregard precedents and attempt innovations in training or equipment.
Many novices fail to comprehend the necessity for some of the techniques and practices of capable and successful falconers. Shortcuts and innovations usually bring grief. There is very little which is new and which has not been tried in a sport which is more than 4,000 years old; the beginner will do well to learn by example. After experience has been acquired, one may wish to experiment with innovation.
DON’T make a public spectacle of falconry, particularly in the presence of those not known to be sympathetic to the sport.
Unfortunately, many uninformed people believe to be cruel and inhumane. The sport will surely suffer if thoughtless conduct on the part of the novice fosters this viewpoint.
DON’T keep a bird you are not able to fly.
Hawks do not become pets and should not be kept captive if they cannot be flown free.