Many people see the word ‘falconer’ and immediately think of a renaissance fair or imagine someone carrying a bird on their arm at a medieval hunt.
Modern falconers still exist, and the practice is more widespread than you might think.
All around the world, hunters bond with birds of prey to hunt small animals like squirrels and foxes.
In the united states, there are around four thousand falconers operating today.
- What Is a Falconer?
- Work Opportunities in the Falconry Industry
- What It’s Like To Be a Falconer
- Falconer Salary and Income
- Overview of the Falconer Industry
- Requirements: Skills and Education Required for Falconers
- Falconer Education and Schooling
- Wrapping Up
What Is a Falconer?
A falconer is a hunter that uses a bird of prey to take down small animals in a way that flows seamlessly with a natural world.
This involves a bond with a bird that can take many years to cultivate.
A falconer can also be called a hawker or austringer, though these two names typically imply working with a hawk rather than a falcon.
What Does a Falconer Do?
A falconer hunts with a bird of prey to hunt smaller creatures over large swaths of land.
Although a hawk can hunt smaller territory than a falcon, both require access to a lot of space.
A falconer needs to be both an animal trainer and hunter, willing to finish off a kill if the falcon brings it back alive.
Work Opportunities in the Falconry Industry
Although there aren’t many variations on the kinds of work a falconer can do, many jobs are available.
Falconer Job Description
Developing a bond with a large bird of prey is a daily task and not one that can be forgotten about.
A falcon or a hawk is not a pet, and there will always be something wild about the bird.
That means the bond between bird and hunter must be reinforced and tended to every day.
A falconer is expected to understand how to operate a tracker to keep tabs on where their bird is when it has flown off and know how to quickly kill the small animals the bird brings back if they aren’t dead on arrival.
Top Falconer Jobs and Careers
Most falconers are self-employed and find contract work.
These are some of the most likely places for falconers to find those jobs.
1. Farms and Vineyards
Farms and vineyards hire falconers to handle pest problems and protect the crops.
Smaller birds and rodents can be a big problem for people trying to raise grapes and berries.
2. Golf Courses
Keeping a golf course free of pests is no easy task, and a falconer may be called in to remove burrowing creatures that are tearing up the terrain.
3. Renaissance Faires, Zoos, and Wildlife Exhibits
Some falconers find standing work bringing in birds to show people as an example.
You’ve likely been to a bird show where someone has brought out a bird of prey for exhibition.
That person was likely a falconer.
What It’s Like To Be a Falconer
So what is doing the job of falconer actually like?
If you enter this field, what can you expect your life to look like at that point?
It certainly isn’t a job for people who live in the city!
Is Being a Falconer Hard?
Although ‘hard’ is subjective, the answer is yes by most measures.
It takes at least seven years of training, two of which are spent in an apprenticeship.
After that, falconry is an everyday commitment that requires housing, feeding, and bonding with a natural predator.
Is a Falconer’s Job Stressful?
That is going to depend on what stresses you out.
If the idea of killing an already dying and possibly suffering animal bothers you, this probably isn’t the job for you.
Additionally, as with any job that is primarily freelance, there will be times when the work just isn’t available, and you will still have to find a way to keep yourself afloat.
Common Falconer Work Day
It’s important to remember that even on days when you aren’t taking your falcon hunting, many of these things will still apply.
The bird is a full-time commitment.
Falconer Tasks and Duties
Of course, there is the basic care and feeding of the bird.
A lot goes into falcon maintenance regarding taking care of the creature and tending to your bond with it.
Work in the typical day of a falconer also often includes driving to out-of-the-way locations, tracking prey, and a lot of killing.
This is unavoidable unless you manage to get a job doing exhibition falconry.
Falconer Work Hours and Schedule
You will often find yourself working the hours that the bird prefers.
Falcons are most active at dawn and dusk, so there will be a lot of early mornings and late nights in this career path.
Falconer Dress Code
A falconer’s work attire is casual, with the most distinguishable piece of personal protective equipment being a gauntlet or glove.
Gauntlets are longer than gloves and make the perfect perching area for larger birds like falcons, hawks, or eagles.
Does Falconry Embrace Work/Life Balance?
Yes and no.
This is not a typical career, and the dedication it requires, first to training and then bonding with your bird day in and out, are not things someone can do when they live an ordinary schedule.
On the other hand, the fact that the job is typically freelance will allow you to choose what days you actually work.
If you don’t want to work major holidays, don’t schedule yourself on them.
Falconer Salary and Income
According to ZipRecruiter, the average yearly salary for a falconer is around $38,000, with the top earners in the field earning around $49,000.
Some Falconers earn as little as $11,000 annually on the lower end of the spectrum.
Overview of the Falconer Industry
So is falconry for you?
Do you have what it takes to put the hours in and dedicate much of yourself to bonding and hunting with a bird?
The idea sounds very appealing and romantic, but some realities exist.
Falconer Field: Career Progression
To work as a falconer, you will require much training and several permits, depending on where you live.
Some places prohibit keeping birds of prey, and the requirements are more strict in some places than others.
Becoming a falconer requires a two-year apprenticeship and five years of additional training before getting started.
Is a Falconer a Good Career?
For someone that already spends a lot of time outdoors, likes to work with animals, and doesn’t mind killing, a falconer can be an excellent career.
If you already do a lot of hunting, it might be one to consider seriously.
Falconer Job Outlook
Falconry is a field that is still very much in demand in the modern era, and few people are doing it.
In the United States, there are around 4000 falconers operational today, with many farms and vineyards opting for this more natural pest control method.
Jobs Related To Falconer
If pursuing a career in falconry doesn’t specifically suit you, there are other options where you can work with animals or in similar environments.
A few options to consider are:
- Animal breeder: Animal breeders work with various animals such as dogs, cats, birds, fish, and reptiles.
- Farm manager: Farm managers oversee the full operation of a farm.
- Veterinary surgeon: A veterinary surgeon, or “vet,” is essentially an animal doctor.
Requirements: Skills and Education Required for Falconers
Falconry is not a job that just anyone can pick up and do.
Not only does it require dedication, but there is a certain lifestyle that lends itself to the job.
Who Should Consider a Falconer Career Path?
People who already spend a lot of time outdoors might be drawn to falconry.
If you already hunt, this might be a good job for you.
Who Should Not Consider a Falconer Career Path?
If you don’t like spending a lot of time outdoors, have severe allergies, cannot tolerate extreme temperatures, or are squeamish about blood, this is not the job for you.
Is It Hard To Become a Falconer?
There is a much higher barrier of entry to falconry than most other careers.
A two-year apprenticeship, a plethora of other training requirements, and in some places, many permits as a necessity make it quite difficult to become a falconer.
What Do I Need To Become a Falconer?
To become a falconer, you need at least seven years of training, whatever permits are necessary to keep a bird of prey in your state, and the falcon itself, as well as everything it takes to care for it.
This includes tethers, a good amount of expensive equipment, a tracker for your bird, and whatever equipment you need to tend to kill the animals it brings back if the bird doesn’t do it–and it often won’t.
Falconer Education and Schooling
Falconry isn’t something you go learn in a classroom.
You have to undertake a minimum of a two-year apprenticeship with a licensed falconer.
In most states, you must get several permits and pass tests first.
This isn’t a field you just get a degree in.
In most states, to become a falconer, you apprentice under one that already has a license, and then you take tests and have your work areas inspected.
During your apprenticeship, you’ll learn how to hunt with a falcon and bond with one.
This apprenticeship takes a long time.
Two years is a significant time commitment, and it will be one spent at the bottom rung of the industry ladder.
The good news is that once you are finished, many jobs are available, with not many people to fill them.
Steps To Become a Falconer
Because the requirements to become a falconer are so prohibitively difficult, if you have it in you to finish training and do the work, you will be one of the very few people with a specialized set of skills that will open doors to you in most places.
There are so few falconers in the United States that there isn’t a formal school to attend to learn to do it.
Becoming a falconer requires getting involved in the community and learning from people who have already put in the time.
Current Career Job Openings
There are falconer jobs readily available in the United States, with Green River, WY, and Atkinson, NE being two of the highest paying cities in the industry.
If you’re considering a career as a falconer, you want to be sure that you have the time and room in your life to commit to a demanding but rewarding relationship with your bird.
If you are already someone that spends a lot of time outside and a hunter that simply wants to move into another form, this might be a good move for you.
Understand that it will demand much of your time and energy and involve spending long hours outside, in addition to the time you have to take out of your day to tend to and bond with your bird or birds of prey.
Your relationship with your bird will be like nothing else you could ever experience.