Wednesday, December 08, 2010

featuring: my local pest controller

On Monday, I met this lovely man-and-bird team traipsing about my local rink this place. Meet Mr I-didn't-ask-for-his-name and his hawk Hera, working as pest controller. (it's a she.)

getting all anthromorphic with the avian and neglecting the homo sapiens
So, the deal was, Mr IDAFHN brings hungry Hera (and Hera's snacks) to work sites. Hera then spots errant pest and ideally scare them away. Pigeons being plentiful here, they form the bulk of Hera's target, although Mr IDAFHN mentioned that she had gone for rodents and that her favourite hunt-victim are rabbits. Over time, there are less and less for her to hunt/scare away, and that's where the snacks come in. It's a nice way of getting rid of open-air pests without having to resort to poisons and without the risk of accidentally poisoning pets that happened to be around. But yeah, if your pet is a hamster, I wouldn't walk it on a leash when Hera's around...

pouncing on at lunch
Some of us who happened to be there had the treat of watching Hera the Harris hawk in action. She swooped and grabbed a pigeon, which fell onto the pavement with a thud, and which she plucked clean 'for lunch'. Later we found out that her lunch, instead of being freshly hunter-earned, was actually a pigeon that had died due to cold weather... in other words it was cold lunch.

see you round, baby
Hawkie facts:
Harris hawks can live up to 25-30 years in captivity
Harris hawks mature 18 weeks after hatching
Hera is 4 years old
It took two weeks to train Hera to come back to Mr IDAFHN
Hera and Mr IDAFHN comes to Somerset House once a week
They travel in a car (Hera in a cage)

Cool stuff.

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