Module C2. Feeding and nutrition in Birds of prey

Please read these notes carefully!

  1. This is the lesson and assessment module for ‘C2. Feeding and nutrition in birds of prey Birds of Prey’.
  2. You can study this module on its own, or as part of a larger course – your Raptor Awards Instructor will advise you about this.
  3. The notes and references are here to help you understand the nutritional needs of Birds of Prey, but you must also work with your Instructor to be sure you cover the whole topic.
  4. The lesson ‘quiz’ at the bottom of this page will help you demonstrate that you have the correct knowledge to keep a bird of prey properly fed.  Your Instructor will give you more guidance about demonstrating your competence.
  5. This assessment of your knowledge (lesson quiz) will help provide evidence that you are ready to receive your Certificate from Raptor Awards

What should I know about food and feeding?

Feeding FalconGood food and proper feeding regimes and practices are key to the health, long-life and flying ability of all Owls and Raptors. Poorly fed birds of prey will suffer more illness, and will either live shorter lives or cost more in veterinary fees. You should always aim to feed the best diet you can for the species you are keeping.

Over-feeding of birds in zoos and collections can lead to high cholesterol build up. Under-feeding leads to lowered immune response and ultimately death by starvation. It is your role to ensure that the foods you give meet all of the dietary needs of the birds in your care.

Please note that Day old Chicks (day old Cockerels or DOC) have received poor recommendations in the past, and even up to a few years ago DOC were regarded as a poor quality food that should only be used if other ‘better foods’ were not available at the time. Text books written before about 2005 will still repeat this assertion. However, more recent analysis and academic studies have shown DOC to be an excellent foodstuff for many species and they can be used as the basis of many feeding plans.

However, the needs of some species vary and it is important that you have a good knowledge of the needs of your own Bird of Prey.

{Note: if you intend to breed your Owls and Hawks, then you should study the nutrition of raptors and the dietary requirements of growing birds of prey in more detail than is required for this course – ask your Instructor about the ‘Breeding Birds of Prey course from Raptor Awards}

Should I feed supplements?

Food supplements should not form part of the normal day to day diet of your Bird of Prey. They are useful where the health of the hawk has been compromised, but should not be given in normal circumstances. Your Owl or Raptor will get all the essential dietary components from a properly balanced diet PLUS regular access to direct sunlight.

There are dangers from the overuse of food supplements. Never give more than the recommended amount. Stop using them when the need has passed.

One of the best sources of information on raptor nutrition is the booklet written by the UK’s leading Raptor Veterinarian Neil Forbes – Download and read this booklet. Link to Raptor Nutrition Booklet

Other recommended reading:

  1. Bird of Prey Management Series (Nutrition) – Nick Fox. DVD and associated booklet. Only available direct from
  2. Falconry Art and Practice. Emma Ford – Chapter 2.
  3. Training Birds of Prey. Jemima Parry-Jones – Appendix ‘ Vitamins and Birds of Prey’


This worksheet may help you keep your notes in good order – CLICK

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