ChatterBank1 min ago
Keeping a hawk over winter
Now, to my point. Is it normal to treat a hawk this way over winter and, more importantly, is it distressing to the bird? My brother says that it is normal for a Harris hawk to scream "for the first year" until they get used to things. What do you think? I am close to contacting the RSPCA if things don't improve. He's had literally hundreds of exotic pets over the last few years and sadly none have been given what I would call adequate living conditions, and few have lived very long. I just don't want this to happen again.
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NetSquirrel, I can understand your concern for the welfare of the hawk, particularly as you say that your brother has has numerous 'exotic' pets in the past that have perhaps not been kept in suitable conditions, and have met an early demise.
Personally I believe that these sort of animal or bird should only be kept after adequate research into their care, which means reading books, talking to other owners, pet shops etc to get a good knowledge before even attempting to own one of these animals. It may also be that your brother needs a licence to keep the bird
Have a look at these sites
They all give very good information about keeping birds of prey.
I'd suggest trying to talk to you brother about your concerns, but if that's not possible and you have serious concerns for the birds welfare, then yes, I would call the RSPCA and ask for their advice.
Personally, as you say that your brother has lost most of his 'pets', I do not believe he should be keeping the hawk. Birds and exotic pets need specialist care. I think a visit from the RSPCA would be in order. Perhaps you should phone them anonymously to report him. I don't think they would prosecute because he has not been cruel, but they might offer him some advice and at least he will know what he should be doing. They might also take the bird away and put it in a proper sanctuary - no bad thing.
Please do something, otherwise the poor bird will probably go the way of the other animals he has kept. Birds are so intelligent and need plenty of flying and things to occupy them. The hawk is probably very lonely.
This is a cause for great concern NetSquirrel, and I believe you are showing the kind of responsible attitude which is clearly not shown by your brother.
The first point is does your brother belong to a Falconer's association and does he have a licence? The law is sadly very 'iffy' in this country but if there is any reason to suspect cruelty then it will come down on him like a ton of bricks - and rightly so!
Most Falcons are bred in captivity and it is strictly prohibited to acquire one from the wild, having said that there are still many unscrupulous dealers that will happily sell these foreign birds to just about anyone as long as the money is forthcoming. Harris Hawks come from the US so do make sure you know the origins of this poor creature. A screaming animal whether it be fur or feather is a sure sign of distress, and a raptor that has damaged the very feathers that it needs to hunt is far removed from what nature intended.
My inclination would be to contact the RSPCA but first do be aware of all the circumstances. This site might be helpful :
Thank you all for taking the time to answer. I should also apologise for making my brother out to be some sort of ogre - this is not the case. Before buying the hawk (she is called Tess) he did spend a week with a professional, who taught him how to care for the hawk, and the basics of training her to hunt. He has the proper equipment, and a freezer full of small animals for food. In fact, until now there have been relatively few problems (Tess was even silent for the first month). The problem though, and this has always been the case, is that I think he genuinely does not know when he is being cruel.
What I will do is try to contact some professional hawk trainers or breeders and ask them how they treat their birds during the cold months. Ideally I would like my brother to hear some advice from a professional, as there is no chance of him listening to me!
Thanks again, and happy Christmas!
i live in scotland, my next bird will be an eagle.