Bird Control with Harris Hawks

The great thing about pest control is the number of options you have to control certain pest problems. For years I have been using all sorts of different methods, for all different sorts of pests, so it’s great to learn a new thing once in a while.

One thing I have had little experience with is pest control with hawks. I have spoken to many people over the years about getting one but never had the knowledge or reason to do so – until now.

Steve, our Operations Director, is a veteran Falconer and has used and owned hawks for many years. Unfortunately, his best and most used hawk died a few years ago and so he decided to hang up his glove after this….until a chance meeting with one of our client’s staff who actually breeds birds of prey.

Steve was offered a very young Harris Hawk to train. After some deliberation, he decided to do it again. We are involved in lots of bird control work and a hawk is a great addition to the armoury – a well trained hawk is a godsend where there are severe bird issues.

So one wet and windy day in early December, we set off to collect the bird. Little did I know what was to follow!

One would think this would be straight forward but I have to say I was scared! The mother of this young bird was not having any of it and just went mental, attacking the enclosure and flying at you full on – even the owner would not go near!

Steve was unflustered and just grabbed a net and went inside the enclosure to catch her…..much braver than me thats for sure! After a few moments, mum was subdued and transferred out of harms way. Then he caught the young bird with relative ease. The interesting bit is then putting on the ankle straps, which have to be riveted on with a special tool, whilst trying to avoid the deadly talons. After a 20 minute struggle, all was done and the bird was placed on a glove for the first time – then promptly gave Steve a very nasty gash with it’s talon through his glove!

Anyway, I had no idea the time it takes to get a bird used to you and to become trained – this is called manning. Steve must have the patience of a saint and all spare time is now gone as the bird is with him all the time.

I have not really seen Loki much, but today Steve came over to do some ferreting with me and of course brought Loki along. All I can say is what a difference! Loki is calm, flies from perch to hand with ease and is a different bird from the wild thing I saw a few months ago.

So the deal is, I have taught Steve about ferrets and ferreting, he is going to teach me hawking…a fair trade I think!

Here are a few pictures of the magnificent Harris Hawk taken today.