Haliburton, ON
(289) 979-7193

Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics
At Royal Canadian Falconry we take pride in the standard of care we uphold for our raptors. Acting as ambassadors for our sport we represent falconers, raptor trainers, and RVT's alike and maintaining a strict code of conduct is integral to our mission.

Caring for our raptors isn't as simple as caring for other species as they are entirely undomesticated animals. Although at times our birds may appear 'tame', they are wild in their nature. First and foremost we must never think of birds of prey as pets. The love between a falconer and their raptor is unrequited, and the bird merely cooperates to use us to their benefit.

In any other animal care facility top quality care would include providing food, water, exercise, veterinary care, enrichment and affection. It is a simple formula especially for dogs as they closely mirror human social constructs, making it is easy for us to coexist in harmony. They are called 'man's best friend,' after all.

It can be easy for humans to take this sentiment and project human qualities, desires, or ideals onto animals. This is called anthropomorphism. We can walk a thin line between helpful and harmful if we fail to recognize when we are anthropomorphising an animal. There is certainly less harm in anthropomorphising an animal such as a dog that mirrors our social structures than there is in anthropomorphising an animal that has vastly different needs than our own.

Things someone might do if they anthropomorphise a bird of prey include:
-petting, stroking, or hugging them
-misinterpreting body language or other signals indicating stress
-feeding them inappropriate food items

These things may seem innocent enough however keeping an animal in aversive conditions long term has drastic negative effects.

Stress is a physiological response, not just an 'emotional' response. Stress is signalled in the body by the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Having raised levels of cortisol long term can cause physiological effects such as suppressing immune function which can lead to illness.

Birds of prey are wild animals and it is paramount that we always remember this in order to maintain their dignity and wellbeing. We must always consider their way of thinking and how it differs from our own. This perspective is entwined into everything we do in falconry from our everyday handling all the way into our training regimes.

I often say that I dislike the word 'training' when it comes to birds of prey. What we are really doing is learning raptor psychology in order to manipulate their natural behaviours to elicit a predicatable response. We do this with gradual desensitization, routine and postive reinforcement.

Some of the things we do to ensure the wellbeing of our birds include:

1 - Gradual and meticulous desensitization to new scenarios with positive re-enforcement. We never flood our birds with stimuli and expect them to 'get over it.' We utilize tools such as hoods, strobes, and darkness when possible to avoid unnecessary stress to our birds.

2 - Careful weight management to track fitness, metabolism, and in turn the willingness of the bird to partake in training or hunting. Each bird must be a willing participant in order to be trained.

3 - Never petting or stroking our birds beyond what is necessary for physical health checks. Petting is for the benefit of the human only. We see it as an act of affection, however birds of prey see it as an annoyance and tolerate it at best. We do not force them to tolerate our touching any more than necessary to maintain their wellbeing. Not only do they dislike it, but it is harmful to them. The oils from our fingertips ruin the waterproofing of their feathers. To be blunt, any falconer that allows people to stroke their bird has a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of their bird. We are vehemently against 'poke and stroke' type falconry centers and displays.

4 - Determining the suitability of each individual bird for certain displays or jobs based on their temperament, training, and willingness. Each bird is an individual with their own personality and preferences, and some birds are naturally more high strung than others. Not every bird is suited to every environment.

5 - Providing our birds with preventive health care such as dewormings and treatment for ectoparasites as well as veterinary diagnostics and treatments when necessary.

6 - Providing our birds with opportunities to display all of the natural behaviours that they would exhibit in the wild including flying and hunting.

7 - Partaking in courses, clubs, and seminars to stay up to date on the newest in medicine, behavior, and technology pertaining to birds of prey. We must constantly challenge our own knowledge and beliefs in order to improve and become the best that we can be. Good falconers do not get good on their own, but with the mentorship of others and continuing education.

8 - Putting the wellbeing of our birds above all else- even if it means declining jobs.

Proud members of:

© Copyright 2017-2022
All rights reserved.