6 Things You Learn Having Birds of Prey

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Having Birds of Prey is a feat. Most people just consider them the same as hamsters, or guinea pigs, and put them in crates until they want to do something with them. 

Birds of Prey are not pets. They will not nor ever will be. Please don't consider getting a Bird of Prey until you have considered everything. It cannot be a last minute decision to suddenly buy an owl. Unfortunately, the rules are very relaxed in the UK, which means people are allowed to buy Birds of Prey relatively easily. This is a horrible decision in my eyes, because I have witnessed people keep Birds of Prey in little cages in their living room, or crates in their conservatory, etc. There is too much abuse or mistreatment. 

Keeping Birds of Prey is lovely, it's a great hobby, do not get me wrong. However, not everyone should be allowed to do it. It's a lot more of a commitment that a dog or a cat. 


Okay, rant over. Here are 6 things you learn from having Birds Of Prey!


1. The Art of Patience

These animals are not ones that you can expect everything of straight away. It can take up to several months to mann down a bird. It can take any length of time to get them flying to the fist. 

There are many variables that play about, which can change sporadically. These birds can change behaviour, change emotions, change thoughts in a split second. You need to constantly be alert to know of these changes. If you spend enough time with your bird(s), then you gradually start to notice little things which indicate a change. This will depend on bird. For example, if Bear is scared, he will do one of two things. He will either try to jump as far away from the danger into me, as possible, or he will puff himself out to act as a deterrent. Sometimes I will know which one he will do, sometimes I'm surprised. 

To get to know your bird you have to have patience. You have to be able to spend up to several hours with your bird everyday. You need to build and keep that trust. 

It takes time to build up a friendship with your bird. It takes time to get the birds to where you want them. It takes time to train them. It's not something that happens overnight. Nor in a day, nor a week. It takes as long as it takes. 

I really think that now I have a lot more patience. 

2. Birds Over Everything

The birds will always come first. No matter the situation, the birds always come first in my opinion. They are not just my 'pets', they mean everything to me. I may dislike them sometimes, but they are always my first priority. 

This doesn't mean I don't have to have a social life, or not spend time with my family. It just means I have to be back by a certain time or have to go meet with them later in the day. Everything is adjusted to fit my life around the birds. 

However much I want to go out, or spend the night with my grand-parents, I have to think of the birds first. Especially in the winter. It gets dark around 4-5pm, which means I have to be back before then to turn the lights on outside and make sure they are all safe and well and happy. 

3. Can No Longer Be Selfish

This links to 'Birds Over Everything'. You can't ever really be selfish. Sure you can have private moments, however you can't just spend all day in bed. 

Since getting the birds, the latest lay-in I have had was until 8:30am. I've never really been a big fan of lie-ins, but now we don't have a choice. We like the birds to be outside for as long as possible, this way it means they get less time in their boxes, and more time in the sun, and with fresh air. 

You have to be able to view them as something more than anything else. You may want to go out with the friends, but you have to adapt and change the plans due to the birds. We've had the birds so long now, that my friends try to make sure I can see them, and still be home to do the birds. 

4. They are a Life-long Commitment

If given the right treatment, food, nutrients, exercise, etc. these birds can live for in excess of 20 years. This is obviously much more than a dog, or a cat, or a budgie. They can live a long life if given everything they deserve. The bigger the Bird of Prey, the longer their life span in captivity. Snowy Owls through to Eagles can live till around 40+ years. They are a life-time commitment. I am going to hopefully grow older with my birds. They will hopefully move in with me when I find a house, and I would like to introduce my children to my birds. Although there are lots of variables, like illnesses and diseases, I'd like to think I will still have all my birds (and more) in 10 years. 

5. They Are Family

There is no other way to describe what these birds mean to us. They are family. They will always be a part of my family. If something happens to them, we are heart-broken. It's not something you take lightly. When my gorgeous Breeze died last December, it felt like a part of me was missing. She had a been a constant for 5 years. 

You know if you have a dog and you've had it for around 10 years, and it dies. It's like you don't know how to function without them. It's been a constant for many years, and it's hard to think of a time when you didn't. I felt the same way last December. I missed having a Barn Owl. I missed their friendship and I missed the closeness that I only really felt with Breeze. Now I didn't buy Bear to replace Breeze, but I simply couldn't function without a Barn Owl. It's strange, but I hope you understand. 

They all mean a lot to us. The memories mean a lot to us, even the bad ones. I can remember the day we picked up all of the individual birds, and that is something I will really cherish. 

6. The Treasure of Friendship

^- Let me explain this!

To be a falconer, you have to have the trust. Which as I explained is through a process called manning. This is essentially where you let the bird sit on the fist, you can stroke it, you get it used to several things, until you have built the trust. With trust, comes friendship.

Having a friend that is an animal isn't that much different than a human. A human you go to speak to, you go for reassurance, or comfort. A friend is someone you trust, and can joke around with. It's a lovely thing to see and feel. 

I go to my birds for those exact same things. When I couldn't function during exam period, I went to Scooby. Although she cannot speak, I valued the amount of comfort and calmness I could receive from her. This sounds silly, but it's true. I have friends who say the same things, except it's with their cat or dog. My relationship with my birds is exactly the same. However, I believe my bond is much more extreme. I've trained these birds since they were young, I fly them everyday (weather dependent), I sit and talk with them throughout the day, I take them on walks. If you ask any falconer, they will say there is nothing better than the friendship between falcon and handler. This is something I couldn't agree with more. 


Please don't think this is true for all Birds of Prey. Also, please don't go out and buy one. Although there are lots of pros, there are a lot more cons. It's not something you should ever take lightly. 

This post is dedicated to Breeze, who I miss everyday.


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