Using Drones to Train Hunting Falcons in Dubai

By: Christopher Hassiotis

Teaching falcons to hunt with drones CNN
Teaching falcons to hunt with drones CNN

Falconry has a long history in Dubai, but that doesn't mean its practitioners won't embrace new technology to improve their birds.

CNN recently investigated the way technology's changing falconry in the United Arab Emirates city, where the news crew met up in the desert with professional falconer Peter Bergh.

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In the video above, you can see Bergh display a new way of training falcons. He baits drones, fixed-wing planes and artificial birds with something to catch his falcons' attention, then sends them skyward. He tries to outmaneuver the bird with his motorized prey, altering its moves on the fly. In this instance, Bergh sends a 5-year-old female peregrine falcon named Thunder after the drone.

Different maneuvers build different muscles, for instance, so when a drone entices a falcon to climb in a rapid spiral, Bergh explains, that builds the bird's back muscles. Bergh also uses trackers to measure the airspeed and altitude of his falcons.

"Training a falcon, just like any other pet, is all about the food," says CNN correspondent Jon Jensen, as he holds a falcon feasting on quail meat.

The birds are so fast that they even catch the drone or plane itself, rather than the attached bait. Perhaps it's time for these Emirati falcons to team up with the eagles recently tasked by Dutch police to catch errant drones, forming a transnational avian defense force.

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