Posted Jan 02, 2015
Owning any raptor is a big responsibility, and the larger the species the more risks you are taking. Caring for a raptor is no joke, and any inconsistencies, or reasons for the bird to feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or frustrated could result in a serious injury to you. Therefore, it is incredibly important to always be super careful, slow, and deliberate with your actions around a raptor, and to make sure you are always reinforcing behavior that you want to see, while ignoring behavior that you find to be undesirable. In the case of the Red-tailed hawk that I work with, he needs to be on a constant fitness plan. This means that everyday he flies for his entire diet - otherwise he will get fat pads under his wings. We do not want him to associate us with his food (as he can get food aggressive) and we also do not want him to decide that he doesn't want to fly because the piece of food he will get for it isn't good enough/not his favorite. Because of this we do not let him see the food until he is already flying to the location that we have cued him to.
With any raptor, I would absolutely make sure that you are properly certified, licensed, and permitted before attempting to acquire one. These guys can inflict an incredible amount of damage on you, and if you're looking for an animal that will provide you with love and affection... a raptor is not the right animal for you. When feeding a raptor it is incredibly important to remember that they not only need the raw meat from the animals, but the feathers/fur/bones as well. All of it is an important part of their diet, and lacking any of it can cause them serious health problems.