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Using falconry to protect crops

 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Has anyone heard of this being done? I mean, could you get a falconer, like the ones some airports employ to keep flocks of wild flight hazards down? I could see having an aviary myself, if this could work, with a bunch of Harris Hawks (the incredibly social ones, hunt tactics change based on the number hunting, they've been called Irish Setters with talons and beaks, so eager to please they seem to want to lick your hand), setting them on the migratory fowl when necessary. I don't know for certain, but if a group were being kept on a homestead, and were a normal part of the skyscape, would that not drive away other raptor birds? That might address the issue of fowl being taken by wild raptors, too.

Any thoughts?

-CK
 
Bill Puckett
Posts: 128
Location: the meadows, hawk's prairie, Oly, wa
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I've wondered about falcons. Can you leave them alone for any length of time? Can they be corrected if they kill a chicken?
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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quite a different scenario, but I was just reading an article about NZ vineyards using our endangered endemic falcons to keep birds off the grapes.
We're talking falcons brought in as youngsters, reared hands-off to be totally wild.
It was a bit of a trend a while ago as it was both great publicity: 'saving the rare native falcon',
and they're very efficient predators.
It all went a bit wrong though, as they kept landing on the electrical transformers (or something) and getting fried.
Not such good publicity after all
I assume the electrical lines people have fixed the problem, since the falcon thing's resurfacing.

I suspect the neighbourhood might take issue, if anyone keeps poultry...


 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Might be a better idea and less effort to build Owl nest boxes .

David
 
chip sanft
Posts: 333
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I was thinking like David and extending that to include raptors that hunt during the day: there are conflicting reports on the internet about how readily hawks will nest on artificial platforms but it seems like the ease of constructing them would make for a good experiment.
 
Bill Puckett
Posts: 128
Location: the meadows, hawk's prairie, Oly, wa
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I assume the electrical lines people have fixed the problem, since the falcon thing's resurfacing.

I'm different in assuming first that the self-fry gene petered out of the bird population.

I don't know exactly how effective different hawks can be at protecting crops from wild migratory fowl, but I enjoy eating fresh wild migratory fowl with my crops.

Tangent: 3 Day Dale points out in this post that it's possible for some people to keep bats and swallows on constant pest patrol in the garden.
 
Tasha Leong
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I've been a falconer for 14 years, you certainly can use raptors to control some crop predators. But, it's a lot more complicated than just having them around. There's some good info here: http://oregonfalconers.com/index.php/falconry/bird-abatement What kind of bird you use depends on what kind of problem you have. Harris hawks are great for controlling rabbits and sparrows/starling/pigeons at night and in enclosed spaces but they aren't very effective for controlling small birds eating your blueberries, cherries, etc. You need a falcon for that. All of which is stringently controlled by federal and state regulations (even in Canada you have to have permits to keep most birds of prey). You can't leave them alone, you can't correct them for killing a chicken, some species will nest on platforms but most won't, owls can't control avian farm pests, and you will never lose the "self-fry gene". The electrical companies can modify their setups to prevent electrocutions from happening though. If you see a bird get electrocuted on a pole or transformer you should contact the electrical company and ask them to fix it. Not only is it bad for wildlife, it can cause the neighborhood power outages. It's in their own best interest to fix the problem.
 
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