If you are interested in getting into falconry, there are a few things to know beforehand. Two things that falconry will cost you are time and money. Falconry requires being with your bird every single day. Sometimes it may only be 15 minutes, sometimes all day. The birds must be hunted though (taken out to go for a hunt) and a good hunt is usually around 3 hours.
Is falconry expensive? Yes, it can be, easily, the most expensive part is the mew, or the area in which your falcon will rest when not hunting. A good mew can be anywhere from $300-$2000! A glove can cost up to $150 [for a very expensive one]. Food such as frozen mice or frozen quail can be up to $3 a day.
Falconry is one of the most regulated sports in the USA. In the USA, there are state as well as federal falconry regulations. You also must be a certain age for specific permits, and you must pass a falconry exam. Falconry is not something you simply stumble into. It requires many hours of study, as well as a good amount of money. In the USA, you also need to have another falconer who is willing to "sponsor" you, or be your mentor for a minimum of two years.
This is the first level of permit in the USA. All new falconers must start out as an apprentice. In most states, and apprentice must be at least 14 years old. In all states, an apprentice must have a sponsor, or mentor to show you the ropes. To become an apprentice, you must first pass your states falconry exam.
As an apprentice, in most states, you are only allowed to have 1 bird in your possession at any given time, and you are only allowed to have a maximum of 2 birds per year. You are also limited in what raptors you may have. Most states only allow passage Red-tailed Hawks, as well as the American Kestrel. Alaska allows take of the passage Goshawk, and a few states allow passage Red-shouldered Hawks.
After being an apprentice for two years, and assuming you’re at least 18, you can become a general level falconer. As a general, you can now legally sponsor an apprentice. In most states, you are allowed 2 birds at any one time, with a maximum of 3 per year. You have a wider range of birds, and each state can have a different list of what you may and may not have. Many new general falconers move to a captive bred Harris Hawk as their first bird after the Red-tailed Hawk. It is an easy transition to make, and it opens new doors as to game that can be taken.
Master level falconry permits are as high as falconry permits go. The exact amount of time you are required to be as a General prior to Master level varies by state. The list of birds you are allowed to have varies by state as well, but in general you can have many more birds [species wise, not amount wise] than you previously were able to legally have. At any one time, you usually can have 3 birds, but no more than 5 birds per year. This is the permit level falconers aim for, and if they stick with it long enough, eventually earn.
Taking care of birds of prey is serious business as it involves giving them proper care, keeping them healthy, ensuring the birds of prey’s diet are balanced, and giving them a good home. This is not a sport that you pick up and put down easily, it takes a lot of dedication, but the rewards are well worth it.