The sport of falconry has a rich history
throughout the world that involves a
dedicated and knowledgeable falconer,
and a healthy well-trained raptor
working together as a hunting team.
Pictured above is an American kestrel,
a perfect bird for an apprentice falconer
~Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and
The falconry license authorizes a New York State resident to participate in the sport of falconry, which includes hunting small game with a raptor such as a falcon, hawk or owl. The license allows a person to obtain, buy, sell, barter, possess and train raptors for falconry purposes.
Falconry is a sport that demands dedication, time and money. A person thinking about becoming a falconer must understand they are responsible for meeting the day-to-day needs of the raptor, including food, shelter, exercise, equipment and veterinary care.
Levels of Falconry Licenses
- Apprentice - must serve two years under the guidance of a sponsor (General or Master falconer). An Apprentice falconer can only possess either a red-tailed hawk or an American kestrel.
- General - must have at least two years experience as an Apprentice falconer and provide recommendation for advancement from their sponsor and at least one other General or Master falconer. A General falconer may possess other raptor species in addition to red-tailed hawks and American kestrels, and may possess up to two raptors.
- Master - must have at least five years experience as a General Falconer, provide recommendation for advancement from three Master falconers, and be approved for advancement by the New York State Falconry Advisory Board. A Master falconer may possess up to three raptors for falconry.
How to Get a Falconry Apprentice License
You must be at least 14 years old to apply for the Apprentice Falconry License; however, you may take the examination at any age.
Download the exam study guide (PDF) (2.6 MB)
and the practice exam manual (PDF) (622 KB)
to prepare for the exam and learn more about
The first step to obtaining a Falconry License is to take the DEC Falconry License Exam and receive a grade of 80% or higher. The 100-question examination tests the applicant's knowledge of falconry laws and regulations, falconry techniques, handling methods and more. Details on the exam are below.
- Exam Fee: $0
- Exam Dates and Locations: Exams are held on the second Friday of April and August each year at most DEC regional offices statewide. Exams start at 10 AM, unless noted otherwise.
- Exam Registration: To sign up for the exam, complete and submit the Falconry Apprentice Exam Registration Form (PDF) (155 KB) at least two weeks prior to the exam date.
- Exam Study Guide: Both the study guide and practice exam manual can be downloaded for free from the following links.
If you pass the exam, you will be sent the following forms to apply for the license:
- License Application Form
- Sponsor Evaluation Form. Your sponsor must be a currently licensed NYS General or Master Falconer
- Falconry Housing Facility and Equipment (Mews) Inspection Form.
Follow the instructions to complete the forms. Once submitted to DEC's Special Licenses Unit, it will take approximately 45 days to process your application and mail your license.
Application/License Fee: $40
Current Licensed Falconers
Capturing a Raptor
When attempting to trap a wild raptor for falconry purposes, you must follow the limits for the species, age and quantity of raptors that can be captured as specified on your license.
Raptors may only be taken from the wild during the following authorized seasons:
- Eyas (nestling):
- February 1 - July 31 (great horned owls only)
- May 1 - July 31 (all other raptor species)
- Passage (first year raptors):
- September 1 - January 31 (all raptor species)
An Annual Report (PDF) (22 KB) must be submitted to DEC's Special Licenses Unit by December 31 each year.
Licenses expire on December 31, every 5th year after the license was issued. DEC's Special Licenses Unit will mail renewal forms four weeks prior to license expiration (If you do not receive a renewal form, please call 518-402-8985 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Send your renewal form, license fee and a copy of a valid New York State sporting license for small game hunting to DEC's Special Licenses Unit.
Falconry Laws and Regulation
New York Codes Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR)
New York Environmental Conservation Law (ECL)
The following links leave DEC's website:
- DEC Falconry Regulations for Hunting Game Birds - summary of special rules that apply when taking migratory game birds (ducks, geese, brant, coot, rails, gallinules, woodcock, snipe and crows) with a trained raptor
- NYS Falconry Association (External Link) - statewide association for prospective and current falconers. The Falconry License examination is usually held at the NYS Falconry Association field meet each November. To take the exam during the field meet, please contact DEC's Special Licenses Unit.
Contact DEC's Special Licenses Unit by e-mail or by phone at (518) 402-8985 with any questions about this license.