Falconers In Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

Falconers In Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

In the United Arab Emirates, falconry is one of the oldest and most treasured traditions. The sport dates back to an age when falcons were used to hunt food. Today, it’s a social affair. Even the drones join in the fun.

Getty photographer Dan Kitwood recently went to Abu Dhabi, where he spent time with a group of friends who gathered in the evening to train their raptors (a.k.a. birds of prey). In one exercise, they used drones to float lures full of food which the the birds would snatch mid-flight. The presence of the quadcopter is undoubtedly a 21st-century addition, but adorning a lure flying displays with a bit of showmanship is a centuries’ old tradition. Still looks cool too.

A falcon perched on a wafer of fake grass waiting to be flown.

A close up of a falcon on sale at a shop in Abu Dhabi. Note the hand-painted decorations on the meticulously made hood.

In the absence of a drone, a lure may be displayed with a long stick.

A man returns home with his falcon perched on a leather glove outside his car window.

More falcons on sale in a shop, where they may fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s like cat nip but for falcons.

A group of friends pose with their falcons in the early evening moonlight.

Many men form deep bonds with their raptors. Here’s one, standing in the red glow of a trucks tail lights.

Pictures: Dan Kitwood / Getty