Haynes Werner is a master class falconer and third-year veterinary student at Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU). So when a professor encouraged him to apply for an internship in avian medicine and surgery at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he did so. Werner was accepted — one of only four students selected for the internship — and off to the UAE he went.
The four-week program at the ADFH consisted of anatomy and physiology lectures, handling the birds, taking blood, shadowing surgeries and practicing clinical skills. Werner shares that although the final clinical scenario was nerve-wracking with the director of the hospital playing the role of the average Emirati client bringing her falcon to the hospital, he was confident and prepared. “Our curriculum at LMU stresses the importance of clinical skills and client communication. Each semester our skills are put to the test. The tests at ADFH were very similar,” Werner said.
The ADFH is the largest falcon hospital in the world. It is the leading center of raptor medicine and has treated over 75,000 falcons since the doors opened in 1999. The hospital is directed by avian veterinarian, Margit Muller, DVM, and is the first public veterinary hospital built specifically for falcons in the UAE. During the peak of hunting season, the hospital treats more than 200 falcons a day. The facility is equipped to handle nearly any veterinary issue a falcon may have, from basic wellness checks and examinations to complex orthopedic surgeries, breeding and emergency care.
As a child, Werner’s fascination with the sport of falconry began when he was 10 years old after attending a demonstration by falconer Steve Hein of the Georgia Southern Raptor Center. Hein told Werner to contact him when he turned 14 to discuss getting his falconer’s license. He later agreed to sponsor Werner for a three-year apprenticeship. Werner is now a master class falconer himself and has flown two Red-tailed Hawks, a Northern Goshawk and a Peregrine Falcon.
Future plans for Werner are to continue to take advantage of opportunities that include falcons and complete his veterinary education. “My time in the UAE was an incredible experience, valued both as a master falconer and veterinary student. I hope to be able to return to the ADFH in the future to continue honing my skills in the field of avian medicine and to gain from the rich cultural history of falconry in the UAE,” he said.