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Be afraid, pigeons - Bee very afraid

PUBLISHED: 14:57 28 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 July 2010

Stop that pigeon: Harris hawks Bee and Marley with Steve Dixon (left0 and Simon Collins.

Stop that pigeon: Harris hawks Bee and Marley with Steve Dixon (left0 and Simon Collins.

THE ancient art of falconry is providing a practical solution to modern pest control problems for a Great Yarmouth company.

Gulls and pigeons are being kept at bay at offshore suppliers Peterson SBS thanks to the presence of the trained birds of prey.

THE ancient art of falconry is providing a practical solution to modern pest control problems for a Great Yarmouth company.

Gulls and pigeons are being kept at bay at offshore suppliers Peterson SBS thanks to the presence of the trained birds of prey.

Male and female Harris hawks Bee and Marley have rid a warehouse of pigeons and are scaring off colonies of gulls at the South Denes-based business.

Before Bee and Marley arrived, flocks of pigeons had taken up residence in the previously disused riverside warehouse.

Placing the two birds in the building at regular intervals over the past few weeks has made them fly the coop. It has also provided an aerial spectacular as angry groups of gulls swoop overhead as Bee sits magisterially on her rooftop perch at the company office.

Bee and Marley have been trained by falconer Steve Dixon, who works for Attleborough-based NBC Bird and Pest Solutions. Steve has command of the two birds, which fly back to him immediately on signal.

He said: “The pigeons now associate this as a place that is not good to be. It is a humane way of moving them to another location.

“Bee and Marley are trained to fly to the highest point in the building, and just sitting on the rafter has a deterrent effect. Gulls send out distress calls, and the moment they see Bee they swoop down and try to intimidate her but quickly get tired and move elsewhere.

“Bee and Marley fly back because they associate the handler with food, not because they like me.”

The weight of the hawks, which enjoy a diet of quail, rats and chicks, is monitored constantly.

Natives of South America in the wild, female Harris Hawks are 40pc bigger than the male birds.

Bee and Marley are among more than 200 birds of prey bred in captivity by NBC, which works all over the country.

The work at Peterson SBS is being done over several weeks and includes cleaning up piles of pigeon droppings that had accumulated at the warehouse.

Matt Brooks, the company's operation supervisor, said: “It was like the Hilton Hotel for pigeons previously; they were under cover with plenty of places to perch. Bee and Marley have attracted a lot of attention amongst the people working here and it is quite an air display when the gulls swoop down on them.”


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