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Ancient art of falconry flies in to give pigeons the bird.

Birds of prey have been drafted into a city centre to ruffle the feathers of the growing influx of pigeons.

Pest control experts in Coventry have turned to the traditional art of falconry in a new attempt to control the birds.

They have been brought in to tackle a colony of pigeons which have made their home in the headquarters of Coventry Education Funding Council in Quinton Road.

Normally, netting is fitted to buildings to deter feathered inhabitants, but the modern headquarters of the CEFC were not suitable for such a solution.

Experts from pest control company Terminix decided falconry offered a cheaper and human alternative.

They are using a specially trained peregrine falcon and a Harris hawk, which have wing spans of 4ft, each day this week to scare the pigeons away from the building.

Mr David Harry, Terminix bird control manager, said: 'After a number of days, the pigeons will think that the hawk and falcon have taken over their territory. It scares them away without harming them.

'We use the hawk as a low-flying bird which will hug the ground and coast along at ground level.

'The falcon will fly at a high level, circling the building. The falconer will bring the birds swooping down to ground level, which makes the pigeons think they are the target.

'They will not actually kill the pigeons because they are not trained to, but they will chase and harry the birds.

'We use a very strict feeding routine to ensure the birds are not hungry.

'It an ideal solution for buildings which are too intricate to be fitted with netting.'

Pigeons are flocking to towns and cities where they can easily feed on scraps of food and nest in a wide variety of buildings. The urban population of birds is estimated to have doubled in the past five years.

However, the growing colonies are causing extensive damage and leaving local authorities with expensive cleaning bills. The cost of cleaning and repairs in Coventry alone is estimated at around pounds 90,000 a year.
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Author:Hudson, Jenny
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 18, 2000
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