Understanding Falconry

Understanding Falconry

Understanding Falconry

What is Falconry Bird Control? 

Falconry bird control is the use of trained Hawks and Falcons to disperse pest bird species. It’s a technique that is widely used to discourage pest birds from nesting or roosting on a building or on sites. The unique thing about this form of bird control is that it can be deployed almost anywhere from train station platforms to power stations, landfill sites, land reclamation, and everywhere in between. 

Falconry bird control is a non-lethal and humane service that utilises traditional falconry and bird of prey management techniques. The practice is believed to have originated in the Orient in around 2000 BC, and Falconry as a sport is recognised by ‘UNESCO’ as a World Cultural Heritage.   

We typically fly Harris Hawks, a species native to central and southern America, and hybrid falcons of peregrine, the largest of the native British falcons. We use the Peregrine crosses for speed and size; they are large high-flying falcons that dominate the skies. The Harris hawks are one of, if not the most biddable of all hawks. They hunt and live in a family group in the wild and they adapt well to urban environments, accepting traffic, people, and the busyness of human life, making them the perfect choice when ‘bird control’ trained for busy industrial and commercial settings. 

So why would you consider falconry bird control? 

Falconry bird control is a humane, non-lethal form of bird control. It is proven that birds never habituate to the presence of predatory birds of prey. The presence of the hawk or falcon instantly evokes their flight or fight response and causes the birds to leave the area at once.  Flying the hawks and falcons at various times of day and even at night in some instances will disrupt and disperse all manner of bird species including Gulls, Pigeons, Starling, and Geese.  

In recent years, Falconry has become popular as a field sport and you probably know someone who knows someone with a hawk. I imagine you’re thinking ‘couldn’t they just do it?’ and save you money, rather than hiring a company like Contego or NBC. The honest answer would be yes, they probably could on an hourly rate basis, but not in terms of risk, reporting, service delivery, and the level of bird control training we complete with our Hawks and Falcons. If an untrained Hawk or Falcon is spooked, it will quickly leave the area and it can often take hours to recover it or worse. 

Falconry Bird Control: The legal side

It’s a legal requirement when looking at using lethal bird control measures that all reasonable non-lethal control measures have been explored and exhausted before culling can be carried out. 

This has always been the case but there had never been a requirement to evidence it in quite the same way before until category licences were introduced for Gulls in 2020. All licence applications specifically look at non-lethal control measures as a licence ‘test’ before moving any application forward. This should also be the case for species still on the general licence including pigeons. ALL bird species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and its subsequent amendments. 

Falconry Bird Control: What You Need to Know 

The pros: It’s humane and you can see results quickly when the right bird control programme is put in place. It’s a long-term solution as part of a bird management plan. 

The cons: Depending on the situation, the solution to your pest problem might require ongoing visits which can become costly over a number of years. 

Won’t the Hawks and Falcons just fly away?  

No. Our Hawks and Falcons are highly-trained for specific tasks for many months by our experienced handlers who know them inside out and can train them to respond to visual commands, sounds, and rewards. 

Where does it work?

Falconry bird control can be used almost anywhere from, hospitals to construction sites, train stations, power stations, landfill sites, you name it. It’s a great option for buildings and sites where bird proofing measures haven’t worked or are not appropriate. 

Where doesn’t it work?

We need to be able to fly our birds safely, so if there are hazards like overhead powerlines or dangerous machinery on or around your site, it might be worth considering one of our other bird control measures. 

How much does it cost?

A falconry programme cost varies depending on the size of the site and the frequency of visits. Costs are based on an hourly rate with this reducing with extended time on site. A standard falconry bird control programme across the season will cost between 5 and 10k on average. 

What are the alternatives?  

There are alternative bird control measures we provide including bird spikes, bird netting (19mm,50mm,75mm) post & wire, AviShock, bird gel, weld mesh, laser deterrents, and Bioacoustics systems. A combination of these measures is your best bet to control pest birds on your site, some of which can be managed ‘DIY,’ we are happy to supply, install and train site personnel to manage systems reducing Contego labour costs included through extra site visits. 

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