Choosing a bird of prey for beginners in the UK requires careful consideration, as keeping a bird of prey is a serious commitment and requires knowledge, dedication, and the necessary facilities. Here are some bird of prey species that are commonly recommended for beginners in the UK:
Harris's Hawk: Harris's hawks are social birds and are easier to train than some other raptor species. They are also known for their intelligence and versatility in hunting various types of prey. However, they do require a lot of interaction and attention.
Red-tailed Hawk: Red-tailed hawks are one of the more larger hawks and are known for their power and adaptability when hawking in the field. They can be trained relatively easily and are very popular as falconry birds in the UK. The females can be extremely aggressive, the males having a slightly more milder temperament.
Common Buzzard: Buzzards are more of a medium size and easy to manage. They are known for feeding in the wild on carrion. They are less powerful and aggressive as the Redtail and have rather small feet for their size so success hunting in the field is less likely than the Redtail, however, they are good choice for beginners due to their manageable size and relatively less aggressive nature.
When considering a bird of prey as a beginner, it's crucial to:
- Check and adhere to all legal requirements and obtain the necessary permission for going out hawking.
- Have appropriate housing and facilities, including a secure aviary or mews.
- Be prepared for the time and financial commitment required for the bird's care, including any veterinary bills and a regular and reliable supply for a suitable diet.
- Seek proper training and mentorship from an experienced falconer or bird of prey handler.
- Be aware that birds of prey are not pets in the traditional sense and have specific needs and natural behaviours that must be respected.
It's essential to do thorough research and consider your personal circumstances and commitment level before deciding to keep a bird of prey as a beginner in the UK. Additionally, joining a local falconry club or organisation can provide valuable support, guidance, and resources for newcomers to the world of falconry.