One of the great pleasures of becoming a falconer is the process of designing and building the housing for your bird. The regulations are clear as to what is required for your mews and weathering, but creative license is granted provided that the resultant structure is safe, sanitary and sound. The Georgia requirements are found here: http://georgiafalconryassociation.com/becoming.htm
I had the pleasure of visiting several facilities, including those of my sponsor and another local falconer. Seeing an actual facility helps immensely. Books and the internet provided other ideas and suggestions, ranging from small and simple to grand and elaborate. Books we reference include: “Modern Falconer” by Durman-Walters, “The Red-Tailed Hawk” by McGranaghan, “The Art of Falconry” by Hohenstaufen, “Falconry and Hawking” by Glasier, “Falconry: Art and Practice” by Ford and “North American Falconry and Hunting Hawks” by Beebe and Webster. We also found www.themodernapprentice.com and www.nafex.net to be quite helpful.
After reading about the many respiratory health issues that can be caused by poorly designed facilities, we started with a sloping grade and French drains to make sure that the flooring stayed dry and was easy to clean.
The floor is pea gravel and I think that we ordered 5 tons to cover the 20’x20′ space, plus the hallway.
The barred walls required the most engineering. We used metal to avoid the wear and cracking issues common to PVC installations over time. We managed to modify a $79 drill press to facilitate holes of a common depth and vertical profile. We spaced the bars for everything from a Kestrel to an Eagle. Here is what they looked like before we put it all together.
The solid walls are Hardy plank, and their natural color somewhat matches the hawk mutes, for those concerned about the aesthetic value of the installation. Add to that the ease of cleaning and the durability and you have a good material choice.
The mews/weathering and the barn are separated by an enclosed hallway, which provides the extra security of a double-door while moving the birds from the mews to the equipment room. The barn door is typically closed when we are working with the birds, so I suppose you could say that we have a triple-door system.
Fortunately for us, our barn suffered hail damage and we were able to time the roofing of the mews with the barn re-roofing. The first 10′ of the mews are covered by a shingled roof and the remaining 10′ of the weathering are covered by horizontal bars.
I’ll follow up this post with more pictures so that you can enjoy the final product!