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Hawk launched to combat pub's pigeons

PUBLISHED: 12:49 10 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

AN IPSWICH publican suffering a pigeon invasion has decided to launch a 'coo' of his own.

Peter Sturman is resorting to the art of falconry today to rid his beer garden of a plague of pigeons whose unruly behaviour would see any normal punter barred.

AN IPSWICH publican suffering a pigeon invasion has decided to launch a 'coo' of his own.

Peter Sturman is resorting to the art of falconry today to rid his beer garden of a plague of pigeons whose unruly behaviour would see any normal punter barred.

Like a scene from the classic film Kes, Oscar the Harris Hawk was circling over the pretty beer garden at Mannings, on the Cornhill, today in a bid to put the wind up dozens of pigeons nesting in the eves of the roof.

Unwilling to fork out on unsightly netting, which he thought ineffective anyway, Mr Sturman sought the help of some expert pigeon busters.

He said: "We have always had pigeons in the garden but this year the noise and the mess has got so bad we had to take some action. They are nesting on the roof and in the cooling system but I can't get up there to have a look as I am frightened of heights.

"Scaring them off will be cheaper than paying someone to keep clearing up the mess. Hopefully they will see the predator and pack their bags and leave."

On Sunday falconer John Dickson, from NBC Environmental Services arrived with his secret weapon in the shape of Oscar. Taz, a cross between a Gyr and a Lanner falcon provided back up but was more used to working on large open spaces.

The ferocious looking hawk was let loose in the garden to scare the living daylights out of the unwelcome scavenging pigeons.

Mr Dickson warned that some of the birds would be scared off quite easily but those hard core residents that have fought for their nesting sites would not be so readily discouraged. Only repeat visits would convince them that the predator was there to stay.

He said: "We have to establish an intense predatory presence which will break the more stubborn birds habits. Visiting on a weekly basis should make sure they stay away."

After a few circuits of the garden the tactic appeared to be very working, even ousting a large crowd of sea gulls shrieking in terror.

Oscar was impeccably behaved, returning to his owner when called.

Based at Banham Zoo, NBC are used to this kind of work only usually on a bigger scale.

In the past Oscar has travelled all around the country scaring nuisance birds at sites including London Docks, Trafalgar Square and various landfill sites.

Factfile

The Harris hawk is usually found on flat scrubland and plains in the southern USA down to Argentina.

It is a favourite of people who hunt with hawks because they can catch a wide variety of game and are quite easy to train.

In its natural environment the hawk eats small to medium sized rodents - rats, mice etc. It is also known to take birds, often in flight, lizards and mammals up to the size of a full-grown rabbit.

Source: Star library.

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