Factors to Consider When Choosing a Harris Hawk for Falconry

harris hawk

When choosing a Harris Hawk for falconry, I consider their temperament, hunting skills, physical attributes, age, adaptability to training, and health. These factors are important as they can greatly affect the success of a falconry partnership and the well-being of the bird. So, let me share with you what you should be looking for when getting a Harris Hawk, with everything highlighted in the content below.

Temperament and Behavior

When selecting a Harris Hawk for falconry, the temperament and behavior of the bird are paramount. Ideally, you want a hawk with a calm and manageable demeanor, as these traits suggest a bird is more likely to adapt well to training and handling. An overly aggressive or excessively shy hawk may pose challenges during training and may not work well in a falconry setting where adaptability and cooperation are key.

A good temperament in a Harris Hawk facilitates a stronger, more harmonious bond between the bird and its handler. 

harris hawk perched

This relationship is the foundation of a successful partnership, allowing for effective communication and mutual respect. Hawks that are curious, alert, and responsive to their environment, yet not overly startled or fearful, tend to learn faster and perform better during hunting expeditions.

Therefore, when assessing a Harris Hawk for falconry, observe its reactions to various stimuli and interactions with humans. 

A bird that shows a balanced level of alertness and calmness is often a good candidate, indicating a temperament suited to the demands and partnership of falconry. This aspect of selection is crucial not only for the success of the falconry experiences but also for ensuring the well-being and happiness of the bird throughout its life with its handler.

Hunting Skills and Experience

When selecting a Harris Hawk for falconry, lineage and previous training experience are significant factors to consider. A hawk hailing from a lineage known for its exceptional hunting skills often inherits those same instincts and capabilities. Such birds typically demonstrate a natural aptitude for tracking and capturing prey, making the training process more streamlined and effective. 

In addition to lineage, a Harris Hawk with some sort of training experience, even if basic, brings a considerable advantage. These birds are not only accustomed to human interaction but also familiar with falconry’s basic commands and routines. 

This foundation can significantly reduce the time and effort required for further training, allowing the falconer to focus more on advanced techniques and fine-tuning the bird’s hunting skills. Therefore, when selecting a Harris Hawk, prioritizing individuals with a strong lineage of hunters and those with preliminary training experience can lead to a more fruitful and rewarding falconry partnership.

Size and Physical Characteristics

The size and physical characteristics of a Harris Hawk are crucial factors to consider when selecting a bird for falconry. These attributes directly impact the bird’s hunting prowess and its ability to adapt to different falconry techniques and environments. Larger Harris Hawks, for instance, possess greater strength and may be more suited to hunting larger prey, offering a significant advantage in certain types of hunting scenarios. Conversely, smaller hawks, being more agile and nimble, may excel in environments that require quick maneuvering through dense vegetation or in pursuit of smaller, agile prey.

Physical condition is equally important. A bird that is in peak physical condition, with well-maintained feathers, robust muscle tone, and clear, sharp eyes, is more likely to perform effectively in the field. These characteristics not only signify a healthy bird but also one that has the stamina and resilience required for the rigors of falconry. Furthermore, attention should be paid to the bird’s wings and tail for any signs of damage or irregularities, as these can affect its flight efficiency and hunting ability.

In evaluating the size and physical characteristics of a Harris Hawk, falconers should consider the specific hunting conditions and prey they intend to pursue, aligning their selection with the bird’s natural physical capabilities. This strategic approach ensures that the chosen hawk is well-suited to the falconer’s needs, maximizing both the bird’s welfare and the success of the falconry partnership.

Age, Maturity Level, and adaptability to training

In my experience training Harris Hawks for falconry, I have found that their age, maturity level, and adaptability are key factors to consider. When selecting a Harris Hawk for falconry, assessing their readiness for training is crucial. Younger hawks may require more patience and specific training techniques, while older ones might have established behaviors that need to be addressed through socialization and bonding processes.

The flying skills of a Harris Hawk are influenced by its age and maturity level. Younger hawks may need more time to develop their flying abilities and coordination. Additionally, their feather condition and fitness level significantly influence their adaptability to training routines. A healthy hawk with well-maintained feathers is more likely to excel in falconry activities.

harris hawk flying

Health and Veterinary Considerations

Maintaining the health and well-being of a Harris Hawk in falconry requires regular check-ups and preventive care by a qualified avian veterinarian. When it comes to nutrition requirements, a well-balanced diet is crucial for the hawk’s optimal health. I recommend reading our post on what to feed a Harris hawk. Regular vet check-ups should include monitoring the bird’s weight, plumage condition, and overall physical health to catch any medical concerns early on.

Preventive care is essential in falconry, encompassing parasite control and a vaccination schedule to prevent common avian diseases. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures to handle any unforeseen health issues promptly. Additionally, incorporating exercise into the hawk’s routine is vital for its physical and mental well-being. Stress management techniques should also be employed, as stress can impact the hawk’s health and performance. 

After considering all the factors when choosing a Harris hawk for falconry, it is important to remember that each bird is unique. It is crucial to evaluate their temperament, physical characteristics, age, and health before making a decision. By carefully selecting a Harris hawk that meets your specific needs and requirements, you can ensure a successful and fulfilling falconry experience. Remember, the right bird can make all the difference in your journey as a falconer.


Welcome to my falconry website! My name is Richard, and I have been practising the art of Falconry for over 15 years. My fascination with birds of prey began at a young age when I visited a falconry sanctuary as a kid. The experience was truly captivating, and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to learn more about these majestic birds. So my dad and I started to adventure towards the possibility of one-day becoming falconers, and that's how my journey in Falconry began. I find birds of prey to be remarkable at hunting prey. Their strength, speed, and intelligence are truly remarkable, and I've always been fascinated by the relationship between a falconer and their bird. The first bird I started my falconry journey with was a Harris Hawk, as I knew these were the easiest birds to start with. Unfortunately, I lost my Harris Hawk during the early days of training, which was devastating. However, this loss only made me want to try harder and do better in perfecting the art of Falconry to ensure I never lose a bird. Over the years, I have mentored many apprentice falconers and shared my knowledge and skills along the way. I have experience with a variety of birds, including different species of Hawks, Falcons, and Owls. Although my Best choice of bird to hunt with has always been my Peregrine falcon Jules. I have also worked with many experienced falconers and bird trainers, greatly expanding my knowledge and skill set while observing and learning. Unfortunately, due to a lack of information on the web, I struggled to find what I needed when I started in Falconry. Thus, I created this website to make learning about Falconry easier and faster for those interested. Now with the information and experience, I will provide throughout this site, understanding Falconry should be much easier than when I started out.

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