Chuck's Falconry Home Page

The official falconry test is not very good. Some questions are ambiguous and have no definite answer. I wrote my own, which overlaps a little with the official test. The goal is to focus on issues that are relevant to a new falconer, plus some natural history questions, and general falconry questions. All questions are worth a point, but a missed true/ false and either/or should be counted as a negative 1/2 point, to eliminate guessing. 75% ought to be a reasonable score. The asterisk indicates a question that was very similar to one on the official exam. Because redtails are the preferred apprentice hawk, and the test is taken by apprentice applicants, there are a number of questions related to redtails.

Chuck Redding
Please email with comments or more test questions:



  1. Tethering a raptor as opposed to free-lofting: Give an advantage and disadvantage of each.

  2. Fact: Merlins hunt more birds in the wild than kestrels. True or false: A trained merlin is better than a comparably sized kestrel in hanging on to a starling.

  3. Regulations aside, what are four important attributes for a mew?

  4. The Red-tailed hawk thrives in North America from Alaska to the Yucatan. Its success, especially in the cooler regions, has to some degree been at the expense of what other large American hawk?

  5. Many experienced falconers consider a merlin to be like a tiny __________.

  6. American Kestrels have large heads, long tails, fluffy plumage, and hunt both birds and mammals. Based on this, Matthew Mullenix compares an American kestrel to what larger American falcon?

  7. Bigger raptors have a strong tendency to be faster than smaller raptors. True or False.

  8. Frounce or Trichomoniasis: Cause, symptoms, treatment

  9. Apergillosis: Cause, symptoms, treatment

  10. Bumble foot: Cause, symptoms, treatment

  11. Coccidiosis: Cause, symptoms, treatment

  12. Crop stasis, also called ______________: Cause, symptoms, treatment

  13. American Kestrels  are easy to man, easy to teach to fly to fist and lure, and make an easy transition to become small-bird catching game hawks. T or F

  14. Trained Kestrels  and Merlins  are extremely vulnerable to attack by Cooper's hawks. T or F

  15. Broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus) migrate in huge flocks called __________.

  16. Gyrfalcons, like most Prairie falcons, are very high strung and wild when trapped. T or F

  17. What are the three major genera for hawk-like birds? Give a couple of examples of birds in each. What is the fourth genus, which is represented by one well-known falconry bird, and what is that bird? No eagles.

  18. What are the six species of falcons observed in the United States?

  19. *What kind of raptor is commonly known to nest in abandoned crow nests? What raptor often drives redtail hawks from their nests, in order to raise their own fledglings.

  20. *What four falconry birds need to be banded according to federal law? 

  21. In Alaska only, an apprentice is permitted to fly a particular species of bird. What is it?

  22. The falconer can and should fly a bird at a higher weight in colder climates. T or F

  23. It is considered a good idea not to feed or fly your bird before she has ____________.   Note: Mavrogordato wrote that he believed that the negative consequences are greatly exaggerated.

  24. A freshly trapped bird is vulnerable to overheating. T or F

  25. The best jess for a hawk or falcon is the time-honored traditional jess. T or F

  26. What is the most commonly employed jess system today, and what is the main advantage?

  27. Gary Brewer invented a special protective anklet for Red-tailed  and Harris' hawks employed in squirrel hunting. What is it called?

  28. In general, it is better to tie your bird up on a shorter rather than longer leash. Explain.

  29. Licensed falconers may trap and keep haggard Kestrels  and Red-tails. T or F

  30. *A falcon flies overhead and appears to have a long dark triangle at the base of each wing. What is it?

  31. Ferruginous hawks sometimes nest on the ground. T or F.

  32. Ferruginous hawks are sometimes called "frogs" by falconers. Why?

  33. Ferruginous hawks have small, but extremely powerful feet. T or F

  34. A Harlan�s hawk is generally considered a subspecies of the redtail hawk. T or F

  35. The White-tailed hawk is another Red-tailed subspecies. T or F

  36. An Anglo-Indian hood is usually considered safer for a bird to wear than a traditional Dutch hood. Why?

  37. What North American falcon is the best representative of the desert falcons?

  38. Peregrine falcons are usually considered difficult to hood, especially compared with accipiters. T or F

  39. *A Merlin often hunts in the woods like an accipiter. T or F

  40. Red-tailed hawks seem to have a natural immunity to squirrel bite infection, which Harris� hawks lack. Why might that be?

  41. Peregrine falcons, as well as being generally hardy, seem to have a natural immunity to �frounce� or trichomoniasis not shared by other raptors. Why might that be?

  42. Large falcons have a greater tendency for bumblefoot than most hawks. T or F

  43. *In what general direction does a Prairie  falcon eyrie typically face?

  44. What characteristic other than their size and color often make migrating gyrfalcons particularly vulnerable to malevolent humans?

  45. The train of a Red-tail is more/less flexible and resistant to breakage than that of a goshawk or other accipiter.

  46. *What substance is put around a tree to keep raccoons from climbing and destroying a raptor�s nest.

  47. What raptor is often considered the diurnal equivalent of the Great Horned Owl?

  48. Match the first four terms with the last four. [jack, jerkin, musket, tiercel gentle] [sparrowhawk, merlin, peregrine, gyrfalcon]

  49. A Red-shouldered hawk looks almost as big as a redtail, but weighs considerably less. T or F.

  50. Relative to hawks, falcons look smaller for their weight. T or F.

  51. How many fledglings must be left in the nest or eyrie, according to law?

  52. A wild Red-tailed hawk will usually breed at what age?

  53. A Red-tailed  hawk takes about how many days from the egg being laid to the fledgling leaving the nest?

  54. A typical month for a redtail to lay her eggs would be ___________.

  55. Gyrfalcons can dive faster than peregrines, but are not as fast in level flight. T or F

  56. Of the traditional perch designs, which is the least likely to foul?

  57. The bal-chatri or BC trap is the best trap for large falcons, redtails and Harris's hawks. T or F

  58. In North America, what are the three main subspecies of peregrines?

  59. Which Peregrine subspecies is the most migratory?

  60. The western Red-tailed  (Buteo jamaicensus calderus) is larger and more powerful than the eastern (Buteo jamaicensus borealis) T or F

  61. When trapped, a hawk is more/less likely to bite than a falcon.

  62. The Red-tail hawk is closely related to the European common buzzard. T or F

  63. In general, within a species, northern birds tend to be larger than southern birds. T or F

  64. Goshawks seem to be very susceptible to Aspergillosis. T or F

  65. The American kestrel (formerly called "sparrow hawk") is quite similar to the European sparrowhawk. T or F

  66. Hood your bird or use a hawk box? Discuss pros and cons of each. What about using both?

  67. What are strong arguments for not hooding a kestrel.

  68. Fact: Though not a traditional falconry bird, the Harris' hawk is extremely popular in Europe. True or False: There is a European subspecies that is occasionally trapped to meet the demand for falconry birds.

  69. Redtails can generally be flown (hunted) in a wider range of weather conditions than Harris' hawks, and are usually easier in terms of weight control. T or F

  70. Although there are a number of Red-tailed subspecies and races, there is very little color variation among and within the subspecies. T or F

  71. It is generally believed that American falcons do not build nests. T or F

  72. Match the terms: [strength, intelligence, athleticism] [goshawk, redtail, Harris' hawk]

  73. When a small bird like a Kestrel  gets too low, it important to feed as much as he will eat, as soon as possible. T or F

  74. In winter, the moisture in the bird's food is adequate for a bird's hydration. T or F

  75. In captivity, though having sufficient nutrition for sustaining a small bird like a sharp-shin hawk, rabbit may be insufficient for larger birds; even those that prey on them in the wild, like goshawks, Harris' hawks and redtails. T or F

  76. The so-called �Let It Lay� law completely protects falconers from being prosecuted for inadvertently taking protected species. T or F

  77. Of all falconry birds, the Peregrine falcon should be the easiest to train to �wait on�. T or F

  78. "Mantling" has two meanings in falconry. What are they?

  79. "Cast" has three meanings in falconry. What are they?

  80. Puzzler: In some areas of the country, it may be dangerous to bell your bird. What is the danger?

  81. Almost any whistle can be used to effectively train a bird. Why use a whistle that does not sound man-made?

  82. You are ready to go hunting and your Cooper's hawk is in �Yarak.� This is always a good sign. T or F

  83. Match the terms: [eyas, passager, haggard] [nest, juvenile, adult]

  84. By law, a written letter must be provided if a falconer takes care of another's bird, at a different location. T or F

  85. What is the largest hawk in North America?

  86. What is the smallest?

  87. Name three principal threats to your hawk when you are in the field hunting. Do not include gun hunters.

  88. Unlike falcons, accipiters and buteos do not need telemetry as they will often just fly to the nearest stand of trees. T or F

  89. Small hawks and falcons have a greater propensity to carry than larger ones. T or F

  90. A manual light switch is an effective tool to reduce bating while training your freshly trapped hawk. T or F

  91. Fact: The "wake," or 24 hour per day manning of a new hawk can be very effective. True or false: If you cannot perform a true wake, then the closer you approximate it, the better.

  92. The law aside, what is a good reason for an apprentice's taking a passage bird over an eyas? Hint: this has to do with the welfare of the bird.

  93. You are trying to get your Red-tail to to soar hunt. It is a good idea to keep him at the lower end of his hunting weight so that he is less likely to fly off. T or F.

  94. Accipiters and Buteos are more closely related to each other than they are to the falcons. T or F.

  95. The dark malar stripe and dark eye are characteristic of the falcon. However, there are falcon species that lack one or both of these characteristics. T or F.

  96. It is legal for a falconer to keep molted feathers for imping, but it is technically illegal for a falconer to give them to another falconer for the same purpose. T or F

  97. Match the book with the author: [Bent, Boni, Brewer, Mavrogordato, McElroy, McGranagham, Mullenix, Oakes] [A Tale of Two Passagers, Life Histories of North American Birds of Prey, Desert Hawking, American Kestrels in Modern Falconry, A Hawk For The Bush, The Falconer's Apprentice, Buteos and Bushytails, The Red-tailed Hawk: A Complete Guide to Training and Hunting North America's Most Versatile Game Hawk]

  98. In the US, Aplomado falcons may now be flown by licensed falconers holding a general or master level permit.  T or F

  99. Fact: A bird like a prairie falcon is very vulnerable to raptor attack while on the ground with prey. True or False: once airborne and up to speed, the same bird would have little to fear even from an eagle.

  100. Contrary to what is circulating on the Internet, DDT, like most other insecticides, has produced major immunity in insects in the areas where it was over used. T or F

  101. Dr. Pat Redig wrote that all falconry birds, except possibly peregrines, should have the WNV vaccination right away. If your bird has had the two shots already, then she should have a one shot booster. T or F

  102. In Europe there is no indigenous accipter hawk similar in size to the Cooper's hawk. T or F

  103. A small Cooper's hawk and a large sharp-shinned hawk are sometimes difficult to positvely identify in the field. What is usually considered the best physical attribute to distinguish between them?

  104. What is the primary condition for safe flying on the creance?

  105. Former NAFA VP, Jim Ince, wrote: If necessary, you may have to have a little wrestling match to prevent your bird from eating something she shouldn't, like a long bone. Statement 2: If a bird can swallow it, she can digest it. That's what they do in the wild, and rarely are there problems. Discuss.

  106. The mosquitos that carry West Nile virus are most active at dawn, dusk and early evening. T or F

  107. Screening your mew is good practice. T or F

  108. If you are unsure of your bird's flying weight, it is better to err on the low side so that you don't lose the bird, and she does not lose her keeness to hunt. This is especially true of smaller hawks which can lose their edge quickly if overweight. T or F

  109. In the latest version of J.G. Mavrogordato's A Hawk For The Bush, Dr. Neil Forbes recommends that a bow perch should be just high enough for tail clearance and no higher. Why?

  110. What's wrong with this statement?  "A Great-horned owl that I was trying to rehab got sour crop."

  111. In the picture below, identify the five raptors. Upper Left:______ Lower Left______ Center______ Upper Right______ Lower Right_______

Bonus Questions:

  1. The house sparrow is the most common carier of WNV. T or F
  2. What by-product of DDT has been shown to reduce the thickness of egg shells in some diurnal birds of prey?
  3. What is a "Hollywood" jess? Is it legal to use? What is the advantage , if any? Why the name?
  4. The Alymeri jess was named after whom?
  5. What's a "sore" hawk?
  6. Mavrogordato, in his book on European Sparrowhawks, recommended what meat for the primary diet? He stated that this was a good substitute for freshly caught birds. Note: as a kid I raised a healthy redtail from a downy chick, mostly on this meat, though I don't feed it to my hawks anymore.
  7. Harris' hawks, often hunted in groups by falconers, is the best known of the two or three hawk species known to pack hunt in the wild. What is another?
  8. Owl castings tend to have more bones than the castings of hawks and falcons. T or F
  9. Typically sparrow hawks are small accipiters. Yet the ___________ sparrow hawk of central and south Africa is as large as an American goshawk.
  10. The captive bred tiercel Harris' hawk is a hugely popular falconry bird. The passage tiercel Harris' hawk is less popular because it has a reputation for _____________.
  11. When molting, buteos, accipiters, and falcons, drop the innermost primaries (#10 for falconers, #1 for ornithologists) first.  T or F
  12. Can hybrid falcons cannot produce offspring? An full explanation is required for one point.
  13. A common frequency for telemetry is 216 MHz. T or F
  14. See the picture above (question #110). Although it is not clear in the picture, the bird on the lower right is a young adult. How would you know that? If you have the answer, give yourself a bonus point.
  15. John Blakeman stated that although a sleeping Red-tailed hawk is vulnerable to attack by great horned owls, they rarely or ever are attacked. They share the same woodlands, are competitiors, the owl is larger. Both redtails and horned owls attack other hawks and owls. There is a compelling reason why the owls should not attack red-tails. What is it?
  16. According to the proposed federal regulations, another bird will be added to the acceptable apprentice bird list. What is it?
  17. Red-tailed hawks are larger and more powerful than Harris' hawks. Yet where the geographical ranges overlap, the redtail is said to steer clear of the Harris's hawk. Why?
  18. What is a Darian?
  19. In a widely circulated DVD on squirrel hawking (with Manuel Carrasco and "Dakota," his red-tail), there is a scene with a dead fox squirrel,teeth buried in the squirrel chap, demonstrating how the chaps prevent bites. On the other hand a chap might actually make it more likely for your hawk to be bitten.  Discuss.
  20. A study of Great-horned owls and Red-tails that shared the same woodlands, indicated a prey species that was the largest component of the Red-tails' diet and a significant one for the owl.  It was a little surprising, and will take some research on the Internet to find it.  This question is worth 5 points if you know it already, 2 if if you the research.