Airport staff scared two million birds (some were chased multiple times) away from the runways using pyrotechnics, sirens, lights, propane cannons, and two border collies, up from 1.6 million in 2005 and one million in 2002.
There is a significant absence from this list and one of the most effective ways of reducing the need to shoot birds. And we have known about this method for a long, long time.
Birds were a real problem at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park. Paxton’s magnificent Crystal Palace not only enclosed some live trees but also their bird inhabitants. They could not be shot without breaking the glass, and no-one had any idea what to do. So Queen Victoria consulted the elder statesman, and retired general, The Duke of Wellington. He had a simple answer.
Trained falcons are in use at Toronto Pearson. Knowledge Network had a very good documentary about them recently, made several years ago. And in 1988 a review found the methodology worked well
Evaluation. – There is a sound biological basis to the use of falconry for bird control. Pest birds
are readily dispersed by falcons and will not habituate because the threat is real. Allowing a
falcon to kill a pest bird on occasion strengthens the threat. The fact that falconry is a “hands on”
technique that is deployed selectively further enhances it effectiveness over an automatic product
that is controlled by a timer.
Experienced handlers and trained raptors are required; neither may be available on short
notice. Raptors can not be used at night, or during periods of high winds or heavy rains.
Recommendation. – Falconry is recommended as a highly effective component of an airport bird
control program. Falconry can be used in conjunction with other deterrent techniques.
Why not here?