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Why Falconers Hold Birds On Their Left Arm

Ancient yet still exclusive, falconry is one of the very narrow spaces where humans and birds of prey cooperate. In a photo essay published by the Christian Science Monitor, Antonella Pintore, a distinguished Italian falconer and archeologist specialized in Etruscan civilization, spoke of her passion for birds of prey, which started during a childhood visit to the Grand Canyon. At the time, in the 1970s, she lived in El Paso, TX. It was to be a lifelong affair for Pintore, who sadly passed away recently. “We usually hold falcons on our left side, so they feel the beating of our heart,” she told Avo Hadjian.

Now a poignant story because of Pintore’s untimely death, it was also challenging to capture the birds in action, requiring thousands of shots at various venues, including the Marco Polo airport of Venice, where falconer Stefano Negri relies on Lady, a Harris’s haw, for bird control. Like every falconer, Negri runs health checks on his birds every morning. To protect themselves from potential predators, birds of prey disguise any weaknesses or illnesses until their last breath.