Throughout the Middle East, falcons have been flown for hunting and sport for thousands of years. But devotees of this ancient tradition have brought falconry into the technological age with falconers using quadcopters to train their birds.
The birds’ owners try to maximize the falcon’s hunting area by training them to fly higher. When hunting, birds of prey have a restricted ‘cone’ of vision in which they can scan for food – the higher they fly, the wider the cone. In the past, kites (and later, balloons) were used to carry lures hanging on line as far as possible above the ground. When the bird successfully snatched the lure and flew it back to the trainer it would be rewarded with food. This technique accustomed the falcons to fly higher when on the hunt and so gave them a much wider effective range.
The use of quadcopters for training falcons is proving attractive as Northwoods Falconry in the United States begin to use a parachute with lures attached to a quadcopter. The kit consists of an 18 inch diameter parachute folded into a lightweight plastic tube. The tube is attached to a 25 ft. lead fixed to the bottom of the quadcopter or kite line. The parachute in the tube has a six foot line attached to a swiveling padded lure. When a falcon or hawk grabs the lure and tries to fly away, it pulls off the tube followed by the parachute which acts as a kind of drag as the bird descends.
Source: Red Orbit