Wild Flight specializes in non-chemical feral bird abatement. Our clients include several prestigious hotel groups, golf resorts and restaurants.
The Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) is a worldwide problem bird and vast sums of money are spent annually on cleaning and maintenance to buildings due to these tenacious birds. Pigeon droppings contain a corrosive acid that has been proven to cause permanent damage to masonry and paint. Apart from the structural and aesthetic threat they pose, they are also carriers of several insect parasites, as well as a large number of bacterial and viral diseases, some of which are deadly to humans, such as the well-known avian influenza (H5N1) virus.
In their natural habitat pigeons are cliff nesters, so in an area with limited mountainous terrain, they adopt buildings as artificial “cliffs”. They have an exponential reproduction rate and due to their powerful homing instinct they are almost impossible to persuade to vacate premises once they have taken up residence.
Studies have shown that there are three primary factors determining the size of a pigeon population in an area. These factors are: Food sources, water sources and nesting sites. They are highly mobile avian creatures, and capable of traveling great distances to and from their nesting and roosting location to obtain food and water. Under favorable conditions one pair of pigeons can raise six clutches annually of two nestlings at a time. This means the population could potentially increase annually by 1200% if their reproduction goes unchecked.
Experience has shown that to ensure satisfactory results, a long term control system has to be implemented and maintained continuously. As with many maintenance solutions, the situation will rapidly deteriorate to its previous state as soon as control measures cease.
We usually combine different strategies to combat an existing infestation:
Falcons or hawks are introduced once the bulk of the birds have been trapped and all nests have been removed. Flights are coordinated to ensure maximum effect. This normally entail irregular flying times and patterns to create an environment of danger and uncertainty for the remaining resident pigeons. The raptors very seldom physically catch any pigeons, but their continuous presence in the area effectively convinces the pigeons that it’s best to seek accommodation elsewhere. The predators are particularly effective in preventing new birds from taking up residence. This is why the falcons or hawks are introduced at the stage where the bulk of existing pigeons had been removed. The initial trapping program open up nesting sites and the falcons prevent these sites from becoming an attractive option for visiting pigeon pairs.
The Hooded Crow (Corvus splendens) was introduced to the UAE from the Indian subcontinent and is therefore considered an invasive species.
Crows pose a number of problems once they have taken up residence at a property. To understand the control measures, one has to first gain an insight into the mentality and behaviour of these birds.
Corvids are highly intelligent birds with an incredible capacity for learning and adapting to changing circumstances. As we shall explain shortly, this can be used to our advantage. They are tree nesters, and thus any facility with large trees provides excellent breeding opportunities for them. In the United Arab Emirates natural trees are relatively scarce, so crows are usually attracted to urban areas where gardens provide them with trees for their breeding requirements.
They also have a very powerful gregarious instinct which means one always encounter them in a flock that will forage, roost and breed together. They can have up to eight nestlings at a time and although their breeding cycle is seasonal, their high reproductive rate still ensures a potential annual population increase of up to 800%.
Crows are opportunistic scavengers and will also hunt live prey. They can become very accustomed to human presence and will show aggression towards people when food sources become limited. They often frequent outside dining areas and will even attempt to steal food from tables while guests are still seated. They are furthermore incredibly destructive and have been known to cause great damage to golf courses by digging up grubs from greens and fairways. They are also a threat to smaller indigenous bird species by predating on their young and robbing their nests. Their negative environmental impact cannot be stressed enough.
Wild Flight has developed several strategies for dealing with these challenging opponents:
Crows are vocal birds and will communicate the presence of a predator to their flock members. This will very quickly give rise to a large number of them congregating to mob the predator and drive it away. We have found that this behaviour intimidates a falcon. We have therefore specially imported a team of Harris Hawks for the task. These hawks are more aggressive and more powerful than falcons and do not show any sign of fear against even a large number of agitated crows. Their effect on the peace of mind of the crows is dramatic and they have proven to be a highly effective deterrent if flown regularly at an infested facility. The crows’ habit of mobbing the predator also immediately releases pressure from problem areas like outside restaurants.
We routinely fly our hawks from the same golf carts used by golfers. At restaurants we appear at irregular times and intervals from inside the building to fly the hawks at the crows. This strategy creates an atmosphere of great uncertainty for the crows. They now learn to associate golf carts with danger. It also makes them much more wary at restaurant areas. Thus in situations where the crows previously showed no fear of humans, they now become nervous and reluctant to approach. In the long term they will start vacating the entire premises since their food sources had been effectively rendered inaccessible.
Wild Flight has also had remarkable success in deterring several other bird species form areas where they become a nuisance. Seasonal migrants such as Seagulls and Cormorants are among these species.
Please note that our methods are completely ecologically friendly and that no chemicals or poisons of any kind are ever used by WildFlight. By using non-lethal abatement techniques we also carry out our work within the parameters of UAE environmental legislation.