There are many different kinds of perches you can use for your hawk or falcon. Some of them are better for longwings and some for shortwings – it mostly depends on the general way the bird stands while hunting in the wild. Most hawks hunt from tree limbs or other round structures, while most falcons hunt from cliffs or other flat surfaces. There are of course exceptions – kestrels, for example, are falcons but can stand on either round or flat perches. This makes sense as they often hunt from tree branches or power lines in their native habitat. The Modern Apprentice has an excellent section on different perches.
A bow perch is perhaps the best perch for an apprentice falconer if they only have the money for one perch. It looks, as the name suggests, like a strung bow that has be stuck in the ground. They are small enough to be used in the mews or moved outside when the bird is weathering, and can be used for red-tails and kestrels (though must, of course, be sized appropriately). They are relatively simple to make with a welding machine. If you don’t have your own welder it might be possible to find a metal shop that will make one. That’s what I did; it cost me $78 after taxes and only needed a few modifications. Prefabricated bow perches are also available online, but they of course cost more.
The Arkansas Fish & Game Commission falconry coordinator was nice enough to send blueprints for a bow perch in the falconry packet. The base is 1/8″ thick stainless steel 5″ x 32″. The bow is 1/2″ stainless steel tubing 24″ wide and 12″ high. The guy who built my perch said he formed the tube around a 55 gallon drum with a hammer. The captive ring is 3″ in diameter.
A perch still needs a covering where the bird will stand. Many people use long blade astroturf. I couldn’t find any around town so went with manila rope. Each end of the rope is zip tied into place and then I wound it around the tubing. This will have to be replaced in a while after it gets soiled too heavily. Both the astroturf and rope serve to make an uneven surface for the bird to perch on. An even surface will eventually cause sores than can lead to bumblefoot, a catch-all term for a bacterial infection in the foot of the bird. While bumblefoot can be cured with antibiotics the best defense is proper equipment. That’s always cheaper than a vet bill.
I also made a second perch for inside of the mews. With just the bow perch the bird is near the ground and wouldn’t be able to see out the windows if it so desired. I have to admit that the design isn’t my own, but one I saw in my sponsor’s mews.
It’s quite simple to make, just some 2x4s and a 4×4. The 4×4 is 6.5″ tall, the 2×4’s for the feet are each 18″. The 2×4 for the perch is a single piece of wood 2′ long. I measured out where it would attach to the 4×4 and cut one side into a round shape 1.5″ in diameter. This will allow the bird to choose if it wants to stand on a round or flat surface. I wrapped manila rope around the round and flat ends and attached the rope with staples.