Falconry has always fascinated me – never enough to pursue it as a hobby, but enough to enjoy reading about it. This afternoon while studying how the Kazakhs of Mongolia train their golden eagles which they use to hunt foxes and wolves, I came across some interesting photos from festivals that are held to celebrate the craft. From boston.com:

Hunting with Golden Eagles
Could you imagine having one of the largest birds of prey perched on your arm? It could quite easily take something off your face and not think anything of it. In order to build their relationships, both the hunter and bird go through lengthy training together:

Young birds are kept for about a month or two during which they are fed with washed out meat from master hands and become used to the presence of humans.

In late summer they are ‘broken’ by being tied to a wooden block so that they fall when they try to fly away. During this time they are not given food. After few days they become exhausted and ready for training.

They are sat on a pole called a tugir and one of young men pulls a lure made of small animal skins in front of the bird. When she attacks the lure called shirga, they are given some meat as reward. The eagles are trained to hunt marmots, rabbits and small foxes. The hunters eventually train the eagle to hunt down foxes, even wolves.

This type of hunting has been done for supposedly thousands of years, and the practice is passed down through families.

Hunters with Eagles Painting
More photos on flickr.