Owning a falcon can be an extremely rewarding experience, but also requires a major financial investment and long-term commitment. From purchasing the bird and equipment to permits, housing, training, and healthcare, the costs quickly add up. Here’s a complete overview of what’s involved in owning a falcon and how much you can expect to budget.
Falconry, the art and sport of hunting with trained falcons and other birds of prey, has an ancient history across many cultures. Today, people are drawn to falconry for the chance to connect with a powerful hunter from the natural world. However, deciding to take on a bird of prey as a pet is no small matter.
Falcons are exotic, live for decades, and require specialized care and facilities. It’s essential to consider the substantial expense required in terms of both money and time. This investment is worthwhile for passionate individuals, but needs ample research and preparation.
How Much Does a Falcon Cost?
The first major outlay when acquiring a falcon comes from purchasing the bird itself. Other startup costs also quickly accumulate with the necessary equipment, housing, veterinary needs, and licensing fees.
The species of falcon plays a significant role in determining price. Rare or high-demand species tend to cost more.
Peregrine falcons are popular for their athleticism and speed. A captive-bred peregrine can cost $2,500 to $5,000. Price is impacted by factors like lineage and whether the bird is imprinted for falconry.
Gyrfalcons are prized for their versatility and regal appearance. Buying a Gyr falcon comes with an average price tag of $8,000 to $10,000 or more. White color morphs are particularly valued.
Saker falcons have an ancient pedigree in falconry history. Their substantial size gives them versatility in hunting prey. Purchase price is $4,000 to $8,000 on average.
Rarer or hybrid species like goshawks can cost $10,000 to $15,000. Conservation efforts have also worked to reestablish peregrine and gyrfalcon populations, increasing availability and reducing cost over time.
Misfit Animals, for example, reports that a falcon costs between $200 and $2,000, with the potential to reach as high as $10,000 depending on the species and the level of training the falcon has received.
Bird of Prey Centre states that falcons can cost from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars based on the species, age, and talent of the bird. It emphasizes the importance of researching to find a reputable breeder or seller.
Simply Ecologist mentions that falcons can range from $200 to $2,000, depending on species and training, with pre-trained falcons being more expensive. The site also discusses additional costs associated with falcon ownership, such as food, shelter, equipment, veterinary care, and necessary permits and regulations.
My Bird Garden explains that the price of a falcon varies widely, from $500 to $10,000, influenced by the species, age, training, and whether the purchase is from a breeder or dealer. It notes that some breeders may charge more for rarer species of falcons, with the average cost of a trained hunting falcon around $2,500.
Equipment and Housing
The falcon requires specialized equipment for training and hunting, including jesses, leashes, gloves, telemetry gear, and perches. A basic setup costs approximately $500 to $1,000.
An outdoor aviaries or mews must be constructed specially suited for housing falcons, from simple shed structures to elaborate customized facilities. Initial cost is $2,000 to $5,000 or more depending on materials and size.
Initial vet exams, vaccines, and health clearances will likely run $400 to $800. It’s crucial to partner with an avian vet before acquiring a falcon.
Falcons and the Sport of Falconry
To fully grasp the commitment required for falcon ownership, it helps to first understand these magnificent birds and the heritage of falconry.
Falconry arose over 4,000 years ago across cultures from Europe to Asia to the Middle East. Training hawks and falcons to hunt wild quarry was a way to obtain food and furs. A strong bond developed between falconers and their birds.
Today, falconry persists both as an established sport and as a means to preserve a historic tradition. Common falconry birds include peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, Harris’s hawks, and more. Each has their own expected costs for care.
Factors That Determine Falcon Price
Several key factors impact the purchase price when buying a falcon. These include:
Species and Demand
The species influences cost significantly. Rare or highly desirable species like gyrfalcons or hybrids are more expensive. Popular animals like peregrines carry higher demand.
Captive-Bred vs. Wild-Caught
Most falconers purchase captive-bred birds who are hand-raised from breeders. This provides extensive handling and training early on. Captive-bred falcons tend to cost $2,000 to $8,000.
Importing wild-caught birds is restricted, but possible with permits. Wild falcons sell for $1,000 to $5,000 but require extra work taming them.
Breeding Quality and Lineage
Like purebred dogs, falcons are bred for desired traits like athleticism, hunting prowess, and temperament. The quality of lineage can increase a bird’s price.
Imprinting and Training Level
Spending time and effort imprinting and preparing a falcon for falconry also raises the price. A highly trained bird commands a higher investment, but also higher hunt readiness.
Rarity and Unusual Markings
Due to conservation, not all species are readily available. Plus unique color patterns like white gyrfalcons also fetch higher pricing in the market. Rarity increases price.
Age and Experience
Younger birds tend to cost less but need more training. Mature birds are pricier but can begin hunting sooner. The age and experience of a falcon influences cost considerations.
Ongoing Falconry Costs
Once you’ve acquired your bird of prey, expenses continue with daily upkeep and care for your falcon.
Food and Vitamins
Feeding a falcon a proper diet of whole quail and supplemented with vitamins ranges from $15 to $30 per week. Quality nutrition is important to falcon health.
Medical Care and Checkups
Annual vet visits run $400 to $600 per year. Plus any medications, lab work, and emergency care. A falconry bird needs specialized veterinary expertise.
Facilities and Equipment
Over time, facilities, jesses, telemetry gear, etc. requires maintenance or replacement to the tune of $500 per year or more. Proper upkeep is essential.
With dedication, daily interaction, and proper care, a falcon can live upwards of 25 years in captivity. The costs continue but bring rewards when a strong bond forms over decades with your bird.
Legal Requirements and Conservation
Extensive legal requirements exist related to acquiring, housing, and flying falconry birds. Permits help ensure ethical practices.
Permits and Licensing
Federal and state falconry permits cost $100 to $500 initially, with smaller renewal fees. This covers facilities inspections and demonstrating experience.
Extra regulations apply to threatened species like gyrfalcons and peregrine falcons. Buying requires more permits and oversight.
Many falconers make additional donations of $50 to $200 per year to raptor rehabilitation and conservation efforts. Giving back helps threatened populations.
Finding an Ethical Falcon Breeder
For long-term success, finding the right breeder is key. Indicators of an ethical breeder include:
- Membership in a falconry organization
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife breeding certification
- Focus on captive bred birds
- Care about birds’ wellbeing, not just transactions
- Willingness to mentor new owners
- Active in conservation and rehabilitation
Connecting with regional falconry clubs helps identify reputable breeders. Be extremely wary of those selling wild-caught birds illegally.
With research and mentoring guidance, buying a falconry bird can set the stage for an enriching, rewarding experience.
Deciding to become a falconer and purchase a bird of prey represents an extensive commitment in terms of time, finances, and obligation to provide top-tier care. With adequate preparation and investment, owning a falcon can be immensely meaningful. Take time to realistically assess the costs in terms of housing, equipment, healthcare, food, and licensing. Finding a reputable breeder and training mentor is essential.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Own a Falcon in the US?
Yes, you can legally own a falcon in the United States with proper permits and licensing. The practice of falconry is regulated but an allowed activity under both federal and state laws.
Can a Falcon Take My Dog?
It’s highly unlikely a trained falconry bird would attack or fly off with a dog. Falcons pursue prey appropriate to their size, not random pets or animals. A lost hunting falcon focuses on returning to their human companion, not straying off. Responsible falconers also maintain control of their birds.
How Do Falconers Make Money?
There are a few ways falconers can make an income through their practice:
- Providing falconry lessons and educational encounters.
- Breeding and selling captive-bred raptors.
- Charging for hunts on private land or pest control services.
- Working in conservation programs to rehabilitate raptors.
However, most do not pursue falconry as a get-rich scheme. For many, it is a personal passion and they invest considerable funds into proper bird care. Some may recoup partial costs but most spend substantially more than they earn. Falconry is rarely a money-making endeavor. The true rewards stem from connecting with a hunting partner from the natural world.