The Falcon Hospital

Abu Dhabi Travel Blog

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Recovering falcon

Visiting the Falcon Hospital is a chance to glimpse specialists at work within the context of this traditional desert sport. April loves this place and is a great promoter of the Falcon Hospital which is about 40 minutes drive out of Abu Dhabi city. I am the seventh visitors she has taken this year. She'd warmed me up to going by describing how some of the sick falcons had their own private rooms with a chart hanging by the door together with their hoods! How could that not be appealing? And the chance to have a falcon on my wrist. These birds are synonymous with hunting by the bedouin desert dwellers.

Next patient
Now falconry is a hobby for many of the sheikhs. I am keen to go. So we booked in for a two hour tour. What is evident with this opportunity is that the people at the hospital love their work with the falcons, so they are more oriented to the birds than to us as visitors. It is a real priviledge to see the birds and their minders at work. So if you expect to be entertained, this visit isn't for you. Our guide had worked with falcons for seventeen years and his expertise showed as he let us know of the work of the hospital, mended damaged and broken feathers of one bird, and completed a minor operation on another.

Arabic coffee and water is available in the waiting area, and on our tour there were only seven of us. The tour begins in the museum where the history of falconry is described as we sipped fresh orange juice.
A falcon on my wrist!
Walking into the main work area, there are falcons of every description, each with its eyes covered with a distinctive hood. The birds are all colours and sizes; from silvery greys to browns, they patiently wait, and regain their health tended by the hospital staff. We gather around a particular bird chosen for our scrutiny. A minor operation is being performed. I can't look as the bird is expertly injected and falls limp. However I am completely fascinated with the tender care of the falcon vet as he works with this bird. He opens a drawer which has hundreds of sections filled with feathers; each bird having a range of feathers stored for future use.

These are birds of prey and even in this environment, remain so. One of the interns feeds a falcon which tears at its food. This visit is not for the fainthearted.
Waiting for attention at the Falcon Hospital
With a suede glove on, a falcon is placed on my wrist. How fantastic is that? Hood off, it eyes me warily and stretches its wings, wondering where on earth it is and who on earth am I. I loved this chance.

We are taken through the hospital, peer through a window where an operation is in progress, then walk down a corridor to meet the woman in charge of the bird diseases area. Her room is filled with technical machines for testing blood and tissue. She generously describes her work to us and the services they provide to other countries. We visit the recovery area where birds have their private rooms. Here we learn some birds cost equivalent to a SUV! Outside there is a large netting covered recovery area with 20 or so birds. Here the birds fly freely. I ask about compatibility, and what prevents the birds attaching one another. The vet says they choose the birds carefully for this area. A new bird is introduced at night, so when the birds wake in the morning the new bird is already in their midst and is not seen as an interloper and the new arrival accepts it companions. We complete our tour with a refreshing drink then drive back to Abu Dhabi city. You can book a tour online through www.falconhospital.com

Vikram says:
Another great writeup Diana.
Posted on: Jun 02, 2009
reikunboy says:
sounds great, thanks for sharing
Posted on: Jun 02, 2009
jaeden says:
What a great opportunity!
Posted on: May 28, 2009
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Recovering falcon
Recovering falcon
Next patient
Next patient
A falcon on my wrist!
A falcon on my wrist!
Waiting for attention at the Falco…
Waiting for attention at the Falc…
Owl in outside enclosure
Owl in outside enclosure
One of the birds of prey
One of the birds of prey
Abu Dhabi
photo by: JP-NED