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Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Adult
- Photo by Kathy Munsel-
The Falconry Program - Becoming a Falconer


  What it Takes to Become a Falconer in Oregon

Time, Dedication and Patience

Learning about falconry takes many hours of studying. Some of the most important demands of being a falconer are the time, dedication and patience that training, flying and caring for a raptor requires. A trained raptor requires a significant amount of time each day, 365 days a year, and a raptor in training requires substantially more time. You may need to spend a minimum of 20 minutes a day or sometimes hours working with your raptor. Your raptor will require daily care with quality food and fresh water. Weighing your raptor daily is important to make sure your bird stays healthy and in condition for hunting.

Ethics and Effort

Of all field sports in America, falconry is unique and is the only one that utilizes a trained wild creature. Falcons, hawks, eagles and owls are essential elements of our native wildlife natural environment. The competent falconer takes care to follow sound conservation principles in the pursuit of the sport. The federal government's environmental assessment states falconry has "no impact" on wild raptor populations, a careless, uninformed individual, attempting to satisfy a passing fancy, can do great harm to one or more birds and cast the shadow of discredit on the sport of falconry itself. Most falconers, therefore, before they will agree to help anyone newly attracted to the sport, will require evidence of a serious, committed interest in falconry. The ethics of practicing quality falconry are an important part of a falconer's everyday life. 

Each falconer is under a moral and legal obligation to observe the laws and regulations with regard to falconry, the taking of quarry and access to the land.


Listed below are the approximate costs of equipment, facilities and food that are required for a typical first-year apprentice falconer. The actual price ranges vary based on inflation and location. Some individuals may be able to minimize the costs of certain items. In general, the costs listed below are a fair representation of the amount of money that a new apprentice can expect to spend in order to begin to practice falconry.

  • Your mews (“hawk house” or outdoor housing facility) will be your most expensive item. Costs can run from $250 (raw, used supplies) to $3,000 (ready made or built for you). If you can do all or some of the construction, you can minimize the costs.
  • Daily feeding of your raptor can run from $1 to $3 a day ($30-$90/month) depending upon species. Falcons and hawks have very specific dietary requirements for fresh, lean, raw meat. You can minimize the cost of feeding if you trap wild pest birds (starlings/sparrows), hunt wild game (rabbits), or raise your own food (mice, rats, quail).

You will need to obtain your basic falconry equipment items in order to pass your state inspection. These costs range from $300 to $600. There may be some equipment you can make yourself.

  • Travel and vehicle costs include trapping a raptor, visiting other falconers, training and hunting
  • Permits and other applicable fees
  • Facilities Inspection Fee: $20
  • Oregon Falconer License: $147.00 (renewal every three years)
  • Capture Permit:  $27

Recommended Reading and Resources

Oregon-specific material

  • Marshall, David B., M.G. Hunter, and A.L. Contreras, Eds. 2003. Birds of Oregon - A General Reference. Oregon State University Press. Corvallis, OR. 768 Pp.

  The Legal Aspects of Falconry

Falconry is highly regulated by federal and state agencies. Every potential falconer must obtain the required permits and licenses (including a hunting license) before they can acquire a raptor or practice falconry.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
- Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

Hunting Regulations and Seasons

Hunting Regulations and Seasons

Falconers Moving to the State of Oregon

If a falconer with a current valid falconry license issued by another state, territory or tribe moves to Oregon, he or she must notify the ODFW and apply for an Oregon falconry license. Your application must be accompanied by documentation showing falconry experience from another state having a federally approved falconry program (provide a copy of your current or most recent state and/or federal license). With this notification, you may continue to hold all raptors legally held before the move. The ODFW will most likely issue the same class of permit as currently held in another state.Application (pdf)

Non-Resident Falconers Hunting in Oregon

Non-resident falconers wishing to hunt in Oregon must have a valid falconry license from a state having a federally approved falconry program, a non-resident hunting license, and any permit or stamp that is required in Oregon.

Reporting Requirements

All acquisitions, captures, purchases, gifting, sales, transfers releases, banding, escapes, losses by death, and all other changes in status and possession of falconry birds MUST be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ODFW by online filing of Form 3-186A.

Animal Import and Export: Falcons, Hawks and Other Raptors

General requirements: A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) and import permit are required for this class of birds prior to a permanent move to Oregon from another state.

The possession of these types of birds is highly regulated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). A license is required from ODFW for possession of use of raptors in falconry. In certain instances such as propagation and abatement, a federal permit issued from the US Fish and Wildlife Service may also be required.

Import permit: An import permit is required. Please call the Oregon Department of Agriculture to obtain an import permit prior to shipment. Telephone: ODA Animal Health: 503-986-4680


Many falconers are involved in propagation, the captive breeding and rearing of raptors. Propagation is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You must have both a state falconry license and a Federal raptor propagation permit before capturing or transferring a raptor for propagation. See 50 CFR 21.29 (3) (10) (pdf) and 21.30 for falconers using birds for propagation. You do not need to transfer a falconry bird to a propagation permit if you use it for less than eight months in a year in captive propagation.


Oregon’s permitted wildlife rehabilitators care for sick, injured and truly orphaned wildlife. Rehabilitation of raptors requires a state rehabilitation permit and a federal Migratory Bird Rehabilitation permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In some circumstances master or general falconers may assist authorized rehabilitators in conditioning raptors in preparation for release into the wild. In such circumstances the falconer will need to work closely with the rehabilitator who must issue a letter or form of authorization to the falconer. The permitted rehabilitator remains responsible for birds in their or sub-permittee’s care.


Abatement is the use of trained raptors to flush, scare (haze), or take birds or other wildlife to mitigate depredation, agricultural damage or other problems, including risks to human health and safety. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has permitted this activity under special purpose permits since 2007. Federal regulations currently allow master falconers to conduct abatement activities with birds that are possessed for falconry; general falconers may conduct abatement as a sub-permittee under supervision. Only captive-bred birds may be used for abatement activities.

A Federal Abatement permit authorizes the use of trained raptors protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The Service is however currently preparing specific migratory bird permit regulations to authorize this activity. The use of exotic species (i.e. not listed by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) e.g. Lanner, Saker or Barbary falcons are not regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (See USFWS for further details). Federal Abatement permits are issued and regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Access to Land: Taking Raptors and Hunting

You will need to find adequate and convenient locations in which to fly your raptor and there must be appropriate game available too. You must always ensure you have permission to enter any property other than your own to practice falconry (flying, hunting or capturing raptors.) Permits from ODFW do not confer rights of access. Remember too that in some locations written permission of the property owner is required. Falcons require wide open expanses of land where they may be flown high over the falconer, while hawks and small accipiters may be hunted in smaller fields or farms. Gun hunting, roads, power lines, urban settings and barbed wire fences may render an otherwise suitable location unusable because of the potential threats to the raptor and/or the falconer.

  Steps to Become a New Falconer

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Adult
- Photo by Kathy Munsel-

To obtain a falconry license in Oregon requires an aspiring falconer to:

  • Complete an application (pdf) (must be 14 years of age or older.) If between the ages of 14-17, you must have a parent/guardian consent and signature.
  • Secure a sponsor (if you are a new falconer at apprentice class). 
  • Become familiar with falconry from studying the resources outlined and from your sponsor. Become familiar with the laws and regulations governing falconry in Oregon.
  • Pass a written exam provided by ODFW (passing grade must be 80% or above)
  • Build your housing facility (mews) following specific federal and state guidelines: Proper housing for your bird is an essential element of successful and humane falconry.
  • Obtain required equipment
  • Have your mews and equipment inspected by a designated ODFW biologist
  • Apply for state falconry license
  • Obtain a state hunting license

Inform & Educate Yourself

  • Become familiar with all aspects of falconry including Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR Division 55) and Federal regulations 50 CFR 21.29.) Become knowledgeable about the art and history of falconry, the responsibilities of being a falconer, and caring and living with a raptor.
  • There are a number of resources that you can use to educate yourself about birds of prey and falconry. Libraries, bookstores and internet web sites are good resources. There are a number of recommended falconry books and manuals that have been published, Resources and References. Your sponsor will be another good resource for you.
  • Based on the materials and information you gather, decide if you will have the time, energy, space and other necessary requirements to train, care for and hunt with a bird of prey. This is a huge commitment on your part and a big investment of time and money.
  • Find a falconer who will be willing to talk with you about falconry and be prepared to spend considerable time answering your questions. Be prepared to demonstrate your commitment to falconry.


New falconers (called apprentices) are required to have a sponsor for the first two years after receiving their license. After becoming familiar with falconry topics, you will need to secure a sponsor who holds a General or Master class falconer license. If you do not have a sponsor, contact the Wildlife Division Falconry Program for assistance: (503) 947-6314.

During your two-year apprenticeship, you must convince your sponsor through interaction, observation and conversation that you have made sufficient advances to qualify for General falconer status.

What Your Sponsor will Expect from You

  • Significant commitment in all phases of falconry training.
  • Patience with progress – slow and steady is a virtue in falconry.
  • Constant communication and contact and extensive field time.
  • Questions: Do not expect to know everything and do not assume anything. If you have questions, ask your sponsor or another General or Master falconer. When seeking advice from a falconer other than your own sponsor, the advice received should always be discussed with your sponsor before taking action.
  • Reading the recommended books and references.
  • Discuss mistakes, questions and concerns.
  • Capture, train and hunt with an American kestrel or a red-tailed hawk as your first falconry bird.
  • Provide many hunting opportunities for your raptor.
  • Provide free-flying opportunities for your raptor.

Falconry Application

Complete and submit the Oregon Falconry License Application (pdf).

Falconry Examination

After your application has been submitted, you will be contacted with instructions on how to make an appointment to take your examination. The exam consists of questions designed to test your knowledge of birds of prey, raptor biology, health care of the birds, laws and more. You must pass the examination with a score of 80% of higher This is a requirement of current federal and state regulations.

The single best source for exam preparation is your sponsor. Other resources include the Apprentice Study Guide from the California Hawking Club and others listed below.

Apprentice Manual: California Hawking Club. Fourth Edition, July 2004. This is a narrative supplement to the California Hawking Club Apprentice Study Guide.

Other Helpful Resources

RECOMMENDED BOOKS for APPRENTICES and those interested in joining the sport:

Study Guides for the Exam and Starting the Sport:

1. Apprentice Study Guide by California Hawking Club
2. Apprentice Manual by California Hawking Club

All apprentices in Oregon must start with a passage Kestrel or Red-tailed Hawk:
1. American Kestrels in Modern Falconry by Matt Mullenix
2. The Falconer’s Apprentice: a Guide to Training the Red-Tailed Hawk by William Oakes

Basic knowledge required for apprentices on Raptors, Falconry, and Equipment
1. Understanding the Bird of Prey by Nick Fox
2. North American Falconry & Hunting Hawks by Beebe & Webster
3. Falconry & Hawking by Phillip Glasier
4. Falconry Equipment by Kimsey & Hodge

Facility Construction

Construct your facilities that will house your bird, under the guidance of your sponsor, so that specifications meet or exceed the legal requirements. Proper housing is one of the most important elements of successful and humane falconry. A mews can vary in size and construction. Adequate housing will require ample space, adequate perches, and protection from adverse weather, predators and disturbance. A check list is provided to ensure that your facility meets the required specifications.

Note: If you fail to pass the examination or facilities inspection, the test may be retaken in 30 days and a second inspection done.

Facility & Equipment Inspection

Have your facility inspected by an ODFW representative. This is by appointment only and is coordinated through ODFW headquarters. You will receive information on this when you apply for your inspection. An ODFW biologist at a regional or district office closest to you will be assigned to conduct the inspection.

Have all your equipment available prior to your inspection. It too will be inspected by state wildlife officials.

Falconry License and Permits

  • After you have passed the written exam and inspections, submit the required fee for the falconry license.

  • Apply and receive your license, capture permit and other documents before attempting to acquire your first bird.

  • Always ensure you work closely with your sponsor when attempting to capture your first bird.

  • Have your raptor certified by an ODFW biologist, complete the state permits and forward a copy to ODFW in Salem. Complete the required federal 3-186A form electronically.

Note: You are required to carry your hunting and falconry license when flying or hunting with your raptor.

  Classes of Falconry

There are three classes of falconry permits. Information on each level is listed below so you can learn what is required for each type of permit:

Apprentice Falconer: As a new falconer, you will start at this level.

Age Must be 14 years of age or older (if applicant is between 14 and 17 years old, parent or guardian must cosign application.)
Sponsor Must be sponsored by a Master or General class falconer with at least three years falconry experience. The sponsor shall supervise and guide the Apprentice falconer on care, capture, and training of raptors and shall submit a written recommendation to the Department when the Apprentice is qualified to become a General falconer.
Possession limit One
Species allowed Kestrel or red-tailed hawk less than one year old, except nestlings.
Source Wild-caught
Take from wild May not obtain more than one raptor for replacement during any 12-month period (i.e. no more than two birds during any 12-month period).
Duration before upgrade to General At least two years (in which four months of each year must be actively practicing falconry).

General Falconer: After you have two years of training as an apprentice falconer you can become a general falconer.

Age Must be 18 years of age or older.
Sponsor endorsement Submit a document from the Apprentices’ sponsor (Master or General class falconer) stating that the applicant has practiced falconry with raptor(s) at the Apprentice falconer level or equivalent for at least two years, including maintaining, training, flying, and hunting with raptor(s) for at least four months in each 12-month period. That practice must include capture and release of indigenous raptors; or by showing documented falconry experience at the General class level from another state having a federally approved falconry program.
Possession limit Three (including captive bred)
Species allowed All species listed in OAR 635-055-0030; except gyrfalcons and golden eagles.
Source Wild or captive bred
Take from wild Up to two raptors annually; including no more than two raptors for replacement during any 12-month period.
Duration before upgrade to Master At least five years

Master Falconer: To become a master falconer usually takes a minimum of five years of experience as a General Falconer. The master falconer permit level is the highest you can obtain.

Possession limit Three wild raptors, three of which may be golden eagles. Unlimited captive bred raptors if used for falconry.
Species allowed All species listed in OAR 635-055-0030.
Source Wild or captive bred
Take from wild Up to two raptors annually; including no more than two raptors for replacement during any 12-month period.

For Assistance or Questions
Telephone: (503) 947-6301


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