A peregrine Falcon used for pigeon control
Andy Crowle
Andy Crowle

How to Get Rid of Pigeons with Falcons

Effective Use of Falconry For Pigeon Control

Scaring pigeons away using hawks and falcons is one natural way to deal with the problem of pest birds.

But flying birds of prey to clear pigeons is only effective when carried out in the correct way. The most appropriate birds must be used to suit the conditions. They must be used for sustained periods to create a hostile environment that is unsafe for the pigeons.

An exception is where the aim is to keep pigeons away from an area for a short period of time. This might be during an event or during certain hours of operations. Here, the short-term use of hawks or falcons is effective, but only while they are active on site.

Wild birds live every day with the threat of predators and do not leave their homes simply because they see a bird of prey. This is a daily risk for them and they have learnt to deal with it.

For these reasons, consideration must be given to the type of area to be cleared and the desired results. The number of pest birds and risks to the falcons and the public when flying a bird of prey in the area, must also be considered.  Other complimentary methods may also be required depending on the circumstances.

 

Example of a Harris Hawk scaring pigeons away from a building
Scaring pigeons away using a Harris Hawk.

 

Using Birds of Prey

The falcons and hawks should be trained to focus on the handler and not be ‘hunting birds’, as these would merely attack and eat the first pigeon they could catch and be useless for the rest of the day. Once a hawk has killed, it will not be interested in anything other than eating its fill, and will not fly again until hungry. The pigeons realize this and will happily return to their usual spot and sit and watch a hawk eating its meal, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be bothering them again that day!

That said, the occasional kill, especially during the Intensive Phase, heightens fear amongst the pigeons and prevents them becoming accustomed to the hawks.

For large sites, a mix of hawks and falcons may be required. Falcons strike immediate fear into pigeons when airborne and are capable of covering a large area in a single session and so are extremely effective at clearing large sites. Hawks are great at policing confined spaces such as courtyards and residential or retail areas where it is often impractical to fly a falcon.

The Urban Wings Approach

For sustained clearance of pigeons it is necessary to make the area consistently hostile to them such that they learn to avoid it. Removing one flock may only open up the area to others if the methods are not maintained.

It takes time and persistence, with regular visits for long periods each day, until the pigeons’ behaviour is changed and they avoid your site.

We recommend a structured approach:

  1. Intensive Phase: 3 to 4 weeks of daily visits
  2. Consolidation Phase: 3 to 4 weeks of 3 Days per week
  3. Sustaining Phase: At least once per week

Each of these phases may require extension depending on your site. Where the pigeons are especially resistant, an integrated approach using a mix of complimentary methods may be needed. These include bird alarm sounds, kites, lasers, spikes and netting. Trapping and shooting may be recommended as a last resort and only as allowed by regulations.

The Law About Killing Pigeons

All British birds are protected by law and may not be harmed except under strict conditions.

Whilst pigeons may be a nuisance, this is not justification for harming them. There are regulations that do allow the lethal removal of pigeons in accordance with DEFRA/Natural England licence terms.  This is where there are risks to public health and safety or ‘significant’ damage to livestock, crops and foodstocks.

All reasonable non-lethal methods must first be attempted before any lethal methods are used.

Ask the Bird Control Experts

It is essential that expert bird control advice is sought to get the results you need. They must be conversant with both the current regulations and the range of effective methods available and appropriate for your specific site. For more information and a quote please contact us.

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