What do Pet Falcons Eat? Falcons prey mainly on birds of medium size. Doves, pigeons, ducks, songbirds, and shorebirds are some of their most common prey species. Most of the birds they catch range in size from less than an ounce to two and a half pounds, but up to six pounds have been known to hunt prey! Peregrines fly high above their prey when hunting and dive at immense speeds to strike and stun them.
Keeping the Falcon as a pet, you have to provide fresh, clean water; you have to provide your bird with daily meat in a container suitable for drinking and bathing. Your bird should preferably feed the raw flesh of the same kind of animal he would catch in the wild. You can purchase frozen mice or quail and feed the thawed bodies if that’s not possible.
You must train this wild creature to accept you as his only food source to keep a falcon. It would help if you spent hours carrying the tethered bird on your glove to do this, also feeding it there.
The falconer puts the tethered bird a short distance away as confidence builds and urges the bird to come to him, rewarding the effort with food. Length increases over time. Once the bird flies quickly to the falconer, he can go hunting and fly freely.
To catch the raptor, falconers often use hunting dogs to drive game into open areas. Prey birds are not hunting dogs, and they will not bring prey back to the falconer. When the target is killed, the falconer must be in the area, take the downed animal and give the Falcon a raw meat treat.
What do Pet Falcons Eat / Nutrition Requirement
It is important to remember, as a fundamental principle, that each species of Falcon has evolved over millennia to fill a particular ecological niche. A Falcon’s consumption of a prey animal includes the casting of the bird-eating (fur & feather), muscle, bone, viscera, and prey’s gut content.
All these elements should be considered in supplying food to captive birds. Any modification to birds’ diet, even from one prey species to another, can result in a change in the relative proportions of these materials consumed in either captive or free-living individuals.
It has been established that the requirement for food from raptors varies with body size.
Falcon requires about 10 percent wet weight of their body mass per day in food, 10-15 percent of large falcons species, while small falcons and accipiters 20-25 percent Total food requirement can therefore be seen as a correlation between the digestive efficiency of an individual bird and its metabolic rate
The metabolic rate influences the Falcon’s ability to maintain a positive energy balance by controlling morphological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations. Several factors, including climate and latitude, affect the metabolic rate. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) = The number of kilocalories of energy required by a resting animal to maintain breathing, circulation, metabolism, food digestion, the immune system, and body temperature maintenance.
Birds have some of the highest vertebrate BMR levels, as they are endothermic: food conversion into energy maintains body temperature. There is also an inverse relationship.
The smaller the raptor, the greater the BMR between body size and metabolic rate. Although larger birds eat more food, they require a much smaller proportion of their body mass as daily food.
Unfortunately, it is not a simple method to calculate and match the kilocalorie content of the food we feed to our birds’ BMR. The bird is not available for all the kilocalories of the food we provide to the Falcon.
Diet of Wild / Domestic Falcons
Falcons are mostly bird hunters; a hungry Falcon is a fair game for starlings, pigeons, blackbirds, jays, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Mammals, reptiles, and insects are also occasionally hunted, and there have even been reports of some Falcons specializing in eating bats.
A hunting Falcons uses many methods for catching a good meal. Still, with fast pursuits, fast dives, and other impressive aerial maneuvers for which these falcons are known and admired, they typically see their prey in the air. Probably his most popular hunting method is swimming.
The Falcons ride up into the clouds to pull this off, using their sharp eyesight to spot birds flying below.
The Falcon folds its wings as it finds its target and sinks into a nose dive, or stoop, gaining speeds over 200 mph. The Falcon shuts her feet and uses them to drive away from the prey from the sky.
Falcons go after their quarry in a swift aerial chase, flapping their wings vigorously in hot pursuit of a meal when not bowing after their prey. Though it does not fly as rapidly as in a nosedive, a Falcon can still contend with a cheetah for pace in horizontal flight!
Falcons will even stalk from the perspective of an open perch, utilizing their eyesight to seek out a simple meal once again. At the shore, the Falcons use ships to search for seabirds that have high nests.
Sometimes the falcons will dismember their prey and eat it in flight, or they will land in a safe place with their target, pluck their feathers, and eat. Pairs often search together for their prey to flush, pursue, and capture.
Where do Falcons Live?
Peregrine falcons are among the most abundant birds of prey worldwide and live on every continent except Antarctica. They like wide-open spaces and thrive near coasts where shorebirds are plentiful, but they can be found anywhere from tundra to deserts. In big cities, peregrines are also considered to reside on bridges and skyscrapers.
Nesting and Migration
Their name means “wanderer.” While some people are permanent residents, many migrate. These birds can fly extensively beyond the breeding season.
Many that nest in South America on the Arctic tundra and in winter fly as many as 15,500 miles a year. Yet they have a great instinct of homing that takes them back to favorite aeries. Several breeding sites have been in continuous usage for hundreds of years, inhabited by various generations of falcons.
By the mid-20th century, Falcon numbers were in drastic decline, and these lovely falcons became an endangered species in the United States. Since the usage of DDT and other chemical pesticides was curtailed, the birds have rebounded strongly.
Captive breeding projects in the US and Canada have also tended to raise bird numbers. In certain countries, demographics are still high, and in some regions of the world, there might even be more pilgrims than existed before the downturn of the 20th century. Peregrines are preferred by falcons, which have been used for several years of that sport.
Can a Wild Falcon become a pet?
As Falcons are birds of prey and not regular “pets,” it is challenging to procure one. Falconry, in many nations, is a federally mandated sport. For a two-year apprentice period, you must have a sponsor before receiving a general license for falconry. You must hold a local and federal hunting license to shoot a bird of prey.
A written exam containing documentation on raptor treatment, preparation, and medical needs requires acquiring such a permit. It would help if you became an apprentice to a master falconer after graduating, who decides to sponsor you. An apprenticeship as a falconer lasts at least two years. Contact the state wildlife department for more detail.
Obtaining a Raptor
Make no mistake: no dogs are these birds of prey. A licensed falconer would capture his raptor, most commonly a red-tailed hawk or American kestrel, in the first year of existence and already soaring. Only master falconers, those with at least seven years’ experience in the area, will capture other organisms or birds who have not left the nest. Master falconers can often purchase Captive-bred birds.
A jess, an apparatus consisting of a grommet and anklet, along with a flexible brace to tie it to a swivel, are simple falconry materials. You may still need a leash or tether of high-quality and heavy-duty leather gloves or gauntlets.
A commercial birdcage can’t be used to shelter the raptor. The mews, the indoor, and outside buildings that hold the bird must conform with state regulations. It must be tested and passed by a state fish and wildlife official before you can catch a raptor to live in your mews.
The indoor mews must have a minimum dimension of 8 feet in either direction, with an entry door. It must have at least one window for airflow and sunshine on the eastern or southern side.
Indoor and outdoor perches must also be sturdy and robust enough to grip the bird firmly. The outside mews have to be wide enough that a tethered bird can try to escape without touching the sides or top of its wings.
Intend to hunt your bird at least three days a week, each day for many hours. You have to have keys to federal or state game land or authorization to hunt on the grounds of a private landowner. For the sport, all municipal hunting laws apply.
Common Health Issues
Wild species should be deemed to be falcons. Until they are severely ill, they have no symptoms of the disease, they have a higher respiratory rate than humans, but they move from sick to critical, and then die faster than mammals.
For this cause, ill or wounded birds of prey need timely attention to stabilization, fluid and dietary care, proper hospitalization, and plumage protection. If necessary, a precise diagnosis of adequate therapeutics, such as analgesia, antibiotics, and parasiticides, is needed on the first day of presentation. Few critical health problems with Falcons are as follows.
Trichomoniasis in Falcons
Trichomoniasis is the most prevalent disease in all birds, more common in Pigeons & Birds of Prey such as Falcons, Hawk, Golden Eagle, Black Kite other Raptors. It is commonly transmitted by direct contact. Trichomoniasis is a protozoal disease caused by Trichomonas gallina.
The most prevalent transmitting mechanism of the conditions is the infected prey in birds of prey. Also important are the predisposing factors, tension, and physical damage incurred by the sharp bones ingested with the Prey food.
Dullness, exhaustion, anorexia, vomiting, and ruffled feathers are often found in some falcons. Delayed casting or absolutely non-casting of specific falcons. The birds continuously move the neck horizontally, and the feathers on the crop are inverted in advanced stages when there is a large Trichomonas lesion in the harvest. When wearing the hood, the Falcon displays annoyance.
This is the most common and significant issue caused by Aspergillus spp in the Falcon Practice (Most commonly, Aspergillus fumigatus). This massive loss of disease affects the birds’ respiratory system, affecting the birds’ flight. The captive birds are more vulnerable than the wild Falcons to aspergillosis. The Falcon is more susceptible to aspergillosis and survives under heat.
There is also widespread candidiasis or yeast infection in Falcons. There are numerous kinds of signs of sick birds, vomiting once or frequently delayed emptying of crops—inadequate casting (the undigested bones and feather mass).
Avian Influenza in Falcon:
In terms of public health, avian influenza or bird flu is highly infectious and essential. It is mostly caused by feeding the waterfowls or other prey birds such as quails or pigeons etc., to the Falcons.
The Falcons die without showing any symptoms in most cases. Vomit, indigestion, off feed, dark greenish colored diarrhea, head shaking or head jerking, and sometimes abnormal sounds are the most common symptom.
A prevalent disease is a bacterial disease triggered by Emiria Spps in the Falcons. It is causing bad flight, depression, and dullness.
Infestations of liver fluke are often widespread in falcons, most commonly contaminated with Wild Peregrine or Wild Sakers.
Infection with Capiliriasis or Hairworm or Seed Worm condition or sometimes referred to as infection with threadworm. It is often used most frequently in the Peregrines of the Wild Falcons. But it may also infect captive birds too. The bulk of common subclinical infections are standard. In the case of crop capiliriasis, weight loss, reduced appetite, and vomiting can occur.
Air sac Worms
In the Peregrine and Saker Wild Falcons, the most prevalent concern is that of captive birds. Poor results, sneezing, gasping, the falcons with the air sac worms in training birds do not pursue the prey and often return without chasing.
Avian Pox or Falcon Pox.
Falcon pox is an infectious illness spread by birds to birds and is an incredibly contagious falcon disease. Typically, the lesions are found on the forehead, close to the eyes, and the toes’ dorsal side.
It is essential to treat skin vesicles with antiseptic agents. In some instances of Avian Pox, Falcon Pox cream is helpful. Preparations for corticosteroids may also be used. It is essential to vaccinate healthy birds.
New Castle Disease in Falcon
Like other avian species, the Paramyxovirus or the ND virus can infect Falcon. An extremely infectious infection that spreads by close communication. The contaminated falcons display nervous symptoms, torticollis, and stargazing.
Difference Between a Hawk and a Falcon?
Hawks and falcons are birds of prey or raptors. They are also professional hunters, but in separate forms, they go about their hunting practices. Their changes in height, paint patterns, and diets often set the two apart from each other.
Taxonomy, Size, and Speed
Both falcons belong to the same genus—the above-species and below-family taxonomic category—while hawks come into many genera. The Falcons have long legs, and at high speeds, they fly.
In reality, the peregrine Falcon, soaring about 60 miles per hour and diving up to 200 mph, is the fastest moving bird on record.
Hawks’ wings are narrower than those of falcons, and they travel in the air even more steadily. Hawks are heavier than the falcons as well.
Color Patterns: Gray vs. Brown
Color differences will help decide if you see a hawk or a falcon, based on the animal. For starters, red-tailed hawks have white chests and brown spots on their heads, wings, backs, and abdominals.
The namesake red-tails are only for adults; juveniles have brown, striped tails. Peregrine falcons have white chests like hawks, but their shading on their belly and legs usually is gray and white and contains horizontal lines. There are gray “sideburns” called malar streaks in Falcons, while red-tailed hawks do not.
Hunting Habits: Beak vs. Talons
Falcons use their stout beaks, often in the middle of a dive, to catch and slash prey. To attack their target, hawks use their paws, known as talons. The beaks of Hawks have a gentle bend towards them, while the nibs of falcons have a scratch on them. The shorter wings of Hawks allow them to fly in search of prey across shrubbery and trees. The longer appendages of the Falcons prohibit them from going this way effectively; they excel in open space.
Flying Food or Ground Grub
Both hawks and falcons are carnivores, so they consume several species. Falcons prefer to eat birds and other aerial critters using their mid-air abilities. They sometimes fly over and behind their prey when hunting, then plunge into it with their beaks.
With afoot, they can shock the target and then fly below to catch it when it falls. Few hawks feed by humans, however often, including rodents, rats, rabbits, and squirrels, creep up and capture ground-dwelling food.
Falcons are incredible target birds who are renowned for their agility and excellent hunting skills. Nothing on the world, for instance, is quicker than a Peregrine Falcon as it dives for food.
They captured these amazing raptors at speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h)!. Here is a compilation in the United States of the six species of falcons!
Peregrine Falcon-(Falco peregrinus)
In the United States, Peregrine Falcons can be seen anywhere and are currently present on every continent except Antarctica. These falcons are famous in towns where they can become quite the local celebrities thanks to their love of nesting on the sides of tall buildings!
American Kestrel-(Falco sparverius)
The American Kestrel is the United States’ smallest Falcon and is roughly the size of an American Robin. Nevertheless, don’t let the little stature fool you, for this raptor is an accomplished hunter. You may have heard of an alternate name for a kestrel, which is the Sparrow Hawk. This name was given because sparrows and other birds of that size will be taken right out of the air!
Merlins are small, fierce falcons common in the United States. With that said, in terms of their range, they are not that common and are unpredictable. They are a little larger than the Kestrel of America, with a more robust structure, sharply pointed wings, and a medium-length tail.
Prairie Falcon-(Falco mexicanus)
In the openness of the West, you’ll encounter the Prairie Falcon. Specifically, in grasslands, shrubby deserts, agricultural fields, and pastures, search for this raptor. If there are so many trees about, so this stunning bird of prey will possibly not be seen!
The Falcon Prairie and the Falcon Peregrine appear close to each other. In reality, around 4 million years ago, these two organisms diverged from a single ancestor. While around the same height, the Prairie Falcon is a slightly smaller bird and, as a result, needs less food.
The Gyrfalcon, also known as the Gyr, is the world’s largest falcon species! These raptors are Arctic species, and in isolated parts of Alaska and Canada, they nest on the sides of cliffs. Fortunately, Gyrfalcons survive in rural places and are protected from human threats, but they face climate change risks.
Gyrfalcons are a very polymorphic genus, indicating that their plumage and feathers differ a bit. These falcons vary from almost entirely white to very dark in color. Any of the morphs render a Peregrine Falcon appear identical to the Gyrfalcon. Males and females still do not exhibit variations in color. The only gender disparity is that women are heavier and bulkier than men.
Aplomado Falcon-(Falco femoralis)
This Falcon is unbelievably stunning and bright. The Aplomado Falcon used to be prevalent in the southwestern United States, but it is now in threat. Before the 1930s, when rampant pesticide usage (DDT) created damage by having their eggshells so small that they could not hatch, they performed very well. Luckily, since 1972, the use of DDT has been prohibited.
The destruction of their environment is another ongoing concern for these birds. The Aplomado Falcons are reliant on grassland. Unfortunately, an incredible amount of property has been turned to farms and pastures over the last hundred years, which is counterproductive to these raptors!
Peregrine falcons primarily consume other animals. Approximately 450 North American species have been recorded as prey, and the total could be as much as 2,000 internationally. They eat a range of species. Falcons ate birds as big as sandhill cranes and as small as hummingbirds. Shorebirds, ducks, grebes, gulls, pigeons, and songbirds are their common prey. Peregrine falcons often consume bats, and they also steal food from other raptors, including fish and mice.