Can You Have a Hawk as a Pet?

As a zoologist, I often think about which animal I would love to own as a pet… if I could. I daydream about tigers, manta rays, and lots of other crazy animals that are only ever going to thrive in the wild, it’s just not realistic or fair to these amazing animals. But it’s a fun thought!

There are some creatures that are kind of on the borderline. One of them is a Bird of Prey, perhaps a hawk. So let’s investigate whether you could own a pet as a hawk and what exactly would be involved.

Is It Illegal to Own a Pet Hawk?

It is illegal to own a hawk unless you are a falcon master. To own a hawk, a special certification is required. They are not the easiest animals to keep, but for the right person, they can make for excellent and very interesting pets. However, domestication goes against their true nature, and they must always be considered wild animals. 

This article explains everything you need to know about owning a hawk. From getting a certification to training, feeding, exercising, and housing, hawks are time-consuming, expensive but very rewarding pets.

How to Become a Falcon Master?

A falcon master is able to expertly handle and take care of hawks, as well as having a permit that allows them to legally own one. Birds, such as parrots, chickens, and budgies, are common pets. Hawks, on the other hand, are not. This is mainly to do with the legalities surrounding them. They are protected under federal law. 

Becoming a falcon master is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It requires a lot of training and is costly. You must study the art of falconry and it is likely you will need to pass a written exam surrounding this subject. 

Getting an apprenticeship and undertaking training is a major part of becoming a falcon master. An apprenticeship will take at least two years to complete and you must be sponsored by a falcon master. 

All required facilities and facilities and equipment must be purchased. This includes a hawk house which is large enough, perches, and a bath pan. Everything must be inspected by a wildlife agency. 

Once all the previous steps have been completed, your applications can be submitted, and then you should receive your permit.

Hawk being handled
Hawk being handled
Credit:  Dave-F by CC 2.0

6 Reasons Hawks Don’t Make Great Pets

Birds of prey are large and innately require large areas for their expansive style of flying. But there are plenty of other considerations when considering whether you could handle a hawk as a pet. With all of these considered a bird of this nature and character is simply too much for the average pet owner, living in the average home.

1. Diet

Hawks are carnivores, meaning they only consume meat. Their digestive system is unable to process plant material. This meat-only diet can make them difficult pets to feed. 

Hawks will consume just about any animal. Some prey species include mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and even carrion. 

In the wild, hawks feed mainly by hunting and killing their prey. However, they are also excellent scavengers. In captivity, they are fed raw meat, capitalizing on their scavenging behavior. 

Hawks have a high metabolism and burn a lot of energy. They should be fed a substantial meal every 1—2 days. They require around 1lb of meat a day, which can be very costly.

When feeding pet hawks, care must be taken as the raw meat can attract other predators. 

Hawk consuming its prey
Hawk consuming its prey
Credit: Steve Jurvetson by CC 2.0

2. Habitat

Hawks are birds of prey. They cannot be fully domesticated as they are wild animals and belong in the wild. This means, they cannot be caged or kept with other bird species, as is the case with most pet birds. 

Hawks are active flyers. They have large wingspans, high metabolisms, and lots of energy to burn. They need to be able to roam every day because if they cannot exercise, they will likely get sick. 

As well as being able to roam freely, hawks require an aviary. This open cage needs to be incredibly large in height, width, and length to provide the hawk with plenty of space to move. This can be very costly. 

3. Exercise

Pet hawks require a lot of exercise. Although they will be fed in captivity, they need to be able to fly freely and hunt on their own. Since they are wild birds, they have hunting instincts that they must obey. 

Hawks cannot be kept in cages or small spaces. They need to be exercised every day, often multiple times, and for long periods. This is very time-consuming. Hawks that are not exercised become stressed and depressed.

Hawk in its enclosure
Hawk in its enclosure 
Credit: Shankar by CC 2.0

4. Vet Bills

If a hawk becomes sick or injured, it cannot be taken to an ordinary vet. Instead, a special veterinarian is required. They will have undertaken specialized training in order to properly be able to handle hawks. 

This means that these specialized hawk vets can be very costly. 

5. Other Costs

Hawks make for very expensive pets, albeit very cool ones. The housing and equipment hawks require can rack up quite a sum. Their habitat will take up a vast amount of space and needs to be very large. Equipment, such as hoods are needed to help hawks remain calm by covering their eyes. 

Additionally, all the training required before you are legally allowed to own a hawk takes many years and will cost thousands of dollars. Moreover, the actual bird itself can cost upwards of $1,000 dollars, depending on the breed. 

6. Hawk Behaviors and Characteristics 

Although the behaviors of hawks vary between species, they all share many similar traits and characteristics. 

Hawks are raptors, meaning they are large, carnivorous birds. They are characterized by their sharp talons and hooked beaks. They are strong and powerful birds, that can reach speeds of up to 150mph when performing areal dives to catch their live prey. 

The majority of hawk species are solitary. They are terrestrial and will only come together to mate. They spend most of their lives hunting and resting alone. Generally, hawks perch on high vantage points or can be seen circling or hovering in the air. They use their sharp eyesight and excellent hearing to pick out unsuspecting prey. 

Are Hawks Protective? 

Hawks are territorial and aggressive birds of prey. They become most protective during the nesting season when they are caring for their young. They have been known to attack humans who come too close to their nests, seeing them as a threat. 

They attack people and animals that threaten their offspring and eggs, using their sharp beaks and talons to attack. 

Are Hawks Dangerous to People? 

Outside the breeding season, hawks are generally hostile toward humans. These solitary birds of prey tend to avoid humans and will actively fly away from them.

However, hawks can become dangerous when their nests, eggs, and offspring are threatened. Despite our large size, hawks are not afraid of us and will not hesitate to attack if they are provoked. 

There are records of defensive hawks attacking people they see as a threat.

FAQ Can You Have a Hawk as a Pet?