Learning the art of falconry in Bahrain
While in Paris we had the chance to meet up with our good friend, May. We have a tradition of meeting her in a new country every time. The most memorable of which was in Bahrain. It didn’t take long for us to get to talking about the good old days and we started remembering fondly the time her father took us out in Bahrain to see how they train the Royal Falcons. Yes friends, falconry, the sport of kings! In this case… quite literally.
How did falconry not make it into Manuary?
The process is fascinating. Falcons raised in the royal aviary have to be taught to hunt. Ridiculous, I know. However it’s true. These winged jewels aren’t just born knowing how to capture prey for princes. The process starts with teaching them what prey is. Their prey of choice is pigeon, in this case. While it might seem cruel to the pigeons we also brought into the equation that the falcons would be hunting pigeon on their own. The pigeons themselves are caught the day before and therefore are living in the dream in the wild until then.
Interesting fact, the art of falconry dates back to around 700 BC and has several modern-day applications outside of recreational hunting. Falcons are often used at major airports to chase away birds in the area that can easily get caught in jet engines. A problem for both the bird and the people on the planes, obviously. Modern day falcons are also used to control gull populations over landfills.Seriously, it’s an issue.
Falcons have to graduate to pigeon however. For their first training sessions the falcon master swings a ball with feathers just out of reach of the falcon. A process that requires split second timing and intuition. The falcons can reach speeds of up to 100 mph in a dive. After a few passes the falcon master will reward the falcon with a treat. This process helps reenforce in the falcon that it is the falcon master that feeds them. When on an actual hunt the falcon brings down prey and then waits for the falconer to arrive. You want to make sure that the falcon doesn’t eat what you’re hunting, but only what you provide for it.
Another interesting way to train the falcons, once they’ve graduated to pigeon, is to attach live prey to a parachute and kite. This allows the falcon to practice hunting aerial prey without hurting itself. You’ll have to watch the video above to get a better look at the process.
Some last-minute tips before you visit Bahrain.
We lucked out getting the chance to head out and see how the falcons are trained. Bahrain can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. If camel racing and high performance cars are your forte then you might want to convert your money into Bahraini Dinar here and get it done in bulk. You’ll need it. If you only have a little to spend and you want to save some money, check out the Bahraini Travelex. They’re your best bet for changing your money. They don’t have a card yet but, we’ve used our Travelex card while in Europe and it has saved us a ton of money in service and international fees.
17 thoughts on “Learning the art of falconry in Bahrain”
I had little info on the falcon before this. Just figured you pull the hood off, give him your entree order and off he goes to track it, kill it and deliver it
What an awesome experience. Of course, all I could think of was an episode of Big Bang Theory.. “They have an entire sport built around it…. Falconry.”
700 BC?!! That’s longggg ago. I also didn’t realized they were so fast! And to practice on pigeons.. I don’t know why I found that funny. lol. Fascinating stuff.
Crazy the training that goes into falcons! never would have thought! (never thought much about falcons in general though) but what a cool thing to experience in bahrain!
This must have been an amazing experience – what a privilege to witness this and in the Bahrain desert too!
I loved when I did this with a hawk in Ireland. They really are amazing creatures. Unreal experience.
ugh, as new yorkers, we’re all for the pigeon massacre. the less flying rats the better, ahthankyouverymuch.
Wow, what an experience! Wow! And stunning photos!
If I was the King of Bahrain, I would get a more exciting private game reserve. That looks like a barren desert. Cool post though unless you are a pigeon lover. I am not a pigeon lover.
Yeah, Bahrain has a lot to offer, but not a lot of ground to cover.
Wow! This must be a one-of-a-kind experience! You guys are the best reads when I am super bored at work! Thankyouverymuch! 😉
I was always warned away from Bahrain because “there is nothing to do there.” When I end up going to the middle east, I’ll keep this post in mind. I love animals and used to see eagles on my way to school when I was in college.
Cool post! I was recently spent a day in Bahrain, but didn’t take the time to head out into the desert. I focused on seeing things in and around Manama. If I end up with another layover there, maybe I’ll have to take a trip out to the desert to see (and photograph) these falcons.
Wow! you must had a great experience. Now i have started to wishing that i could be there for having this great adventurous experience. Thanks for the lovely post mate!
Can I have your email I am interested to your post for possible feature about Bahrain Art of Falconry
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