Like other well-travelled residents of the United Arab Emirates, the falcons will make the journey with their devoted owner on a well-worn route from a country where the creature is both a national symbol and treasured tradition.
“This has been a hobby of mine since 2007,” said the 26-year-old, gently stroking one of the prized birds of prey, which wear leather hoods to keep them calm and quiet.
After waiting in the pristine white-marbled reception area of the animal hospital, the falcons will undergo blood tests in order to complete paperwork for the trip.
They are among about 11,000 falcons the hospital treats annually, a number that has more than doubled in the past 10 years.
“Falcons have a very special place in the heart of the Emiratis,” said the hospital’s director Margit Muller.
“Here, falcons are not considered birds, they are considered children of the Bedouins because, historically, falcons were used to hunt meat, allowing the Bedouin’s family to survive in this very harsh desert life.”
In 2010, UNESCO added falconry to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.