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Avian Practice
Introduction to raptor management and husbandry
  1. Michael Stanford

    Michael Stanford qualified from Liverpool in 1987, and after working in an avian and small animal referral practice in North Yorkshire, he moved to Cheshire to open his own clinic specialising in birds. He currently works part-time in practice, enjoying a varied workload that includes exotic pets and zoo and wildlife cases, and is also a claims consultant for the Veterinary Defence Society. He is an RCVS specialist in zoo and wildlife medicine and an FRCVS by thesis for his work on calcium metabolism in grey parrots.


FALCONRY is defined as the pursuit of wild quarry in its natural environment using a trained bird of prey. There has been a dramatic upsurge of interest in this sport in the UK over the past 30 years, with raptors being kept for educational, demonstration or conservation purposes in private collections, and for vermin control on airfields and landfill sites, and in city centres and sports stadiums. A wealth of anecdotal and practical literature associated with the health of raptors has been published worldwide, and as the popularity of the sport has grown, veterinary input, including the emergence of scientific peer-reviewed information, has dramatically increased. Falconers are potentially the most well-informed clients seeking veterinary advice and consider their birds to be highly trained athletes. To gain their confidence, a clinician must endeavour to understand the complex bewildering language that surrounds the sport, as well as the management practices of the hobby. Once the principles of falconry are understood, veterinary work with raptors can be incredibly rewarding. This article provides an introduction to these birds, giving details of their husbandry and training, and describes how to perform a clinical examination.

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