Module C4. Catching, restraining and moving birds of prey

Please read these notes carefully!

  1. This is the lesson and assessment module for ‘C4. Catching, restraining and moving 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 how to safely handle un-trained birds of prey including injured 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 safely handle most birds of prey.  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

Catching, restraining and moving birds of prey:

There can be many reasons why you might need to catch a bird of prey.  For example:

  • To move it to a new aviary
  • To inspect it for health
  • To take it to a vet for treatment
  • To cope beaks or talons
  • To inspect or change any furniture that it wears.

As a bird of prey keeper you may be required to catch up a bird of prey in an aviary.  If you are a wildlife officer or rehabilitator you may need to catch an injured or sick wild bird of prey.  The principles are the same in both cases, but you will need to apply our knowledge to the specific situation.

If the bird of prey in question is fully trained to fly free, then catching and moving it will usually be straight forwards.  The exception would be where the haw has sustained an injury, or has become ill.

Your main consideration when handling an untrained bird of prey is to ensure that you do not cause any injury, and to reduce the amount of stress the hawk faces to the absolute minimum.  If the subject is injured then you will need to plan the catching and handling process to minimise the possibility of making the injures worse or causing unnecessary suffering.

Finally you have a duty to ensure that yourself and other people involved in catching and moving process are not injured by the subject or other hazards in the area.


You will need suitable equipment, especially where injured wild birds of prey are concerned.  Your Instructor will show you suitable examples of the equipment required, including:

  • Nets
  • Boxes
  • Emergency first aid kit
  • Gloves
  • Cloths, towels, casting jackets or other suitable restraints

However, the most important thing you must have is the knowledge and skill to safely catch and restrain the bird of prey.

This module is fundamentally about helping you to develop an understanding of the skills you need, and the opportunity to develop the basic knowledge that will underpin your actions.

Do No Harm:

The Hippocratic oath taken by Doctors begins with the statement that in the first instance the Doctor should ‘do no harm’ to his patients by his treatments.

It is the same responsibility that you have when you are required to catch and restrain a Bird of prey (especially one that is untrained, wild or injured).

You must learn a little about the physiology of birds, especially their respiration systems which are fundamentally different to yours and mine.

You must learn how to hold birds of prey safely and firmly, but not so firm that you restrict their breathing or damage them.

You must learn about the correct types of box for transport, the dangers and stress experienced by birds of prey during transport, and finally how to safely transfer the bird of Prey into and out of any travelling box.

Recommended reading:

  1. Catching and Handling of Birds of Prey.  Twycross Wildpro.  Click here.
  2. Falconry: Care, Captive Breeding and Conservation.  Jemima Parry-Jones.  Chapter 8


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



Back to: Keeping Birds of Prey