Meet Kenna the Falcon who could be tasked with clearing pigeons from Diss
Specially trained birds of prey could be used in an effort to rid a Diss town centre street of pigeon mess.
A three-year-old hawk, named Fagan, and a seven-year-old crossbreed falcon, called Kenna, could be flown around the area of Mere Street to scare away roosting pigeons.
The idea was first suggested to Diss Town Council by Dealey Bird Control and Falconry two years ago. Traders were also consulted on the idea.
Now it is back on the agenda after the council was spurred into action following concerns from a member of the public about unsightly and unhealthy pigeon droppings.
It follows a request from Diss Corn Hall for help to stop the birds roosting on the landmark building, and the recent death of a child in Scotland, which was linked to pigeon droppings.
At a recent town council infrastructure committee, Mark Wright, from Dealey Bird Control, from Bardwell, Suffolk, said he had the solution.
“I have spoken to a number of shops along the high street and most of them are quite happy to pay a very small amount of money to have birds of prey flown over the town.
“They are proven at pushing pigeons out to new locations to reduce bird droppings on the pavements.
“We would need permission from the landowner. Some shopkeepers are happy to go ahead with the scheme but feel they would need some recognition, be it the town or South Norfolk Council in backing the scheme. They would feel better if the instruction came from a council.”
The scheme works by the birds of prey being flown around the town over a certain time period.
The hawk and falcon, which would take turns, on different days, have been trained from birth not to recognise other birds as prey.
Instead, the only thing that attracts their interest is a lure, an object used in falconry, usually made of leather with a pair of bird wings or feathers attached. A falconer swings the lure on a cord to the keep the predator happy.
Pigeons are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Under the act, the proposed bird control scheme is classed as non-lethal and is used nationwide, including in Trafalgar Square in London.
Dealey Bird Control and Falconry fly the birds regularly on industrial estates, colleges, hospitals, schools, football grounds and research parks across East Anglia.
Shopkeepers would be asked to pay £3 a week for the service, with the level of deterrent dependent on how many shops contribute.
According to the company, many high street shopkeepers have shown interest in the idea, including major chain retailers such as Poundland and Corals. The bird control method can also be used to target seagulls.
Mr Wright said that the town’s ducks would be safe from harm as would simply dive under water if they felt threatened.
The technique would be supported by the use of lasers to scare away pigeons.
Mayor and council leader Trevor Wenman said: “We own the market place, but Mere Street is a public highway. We are not the body that would give permission for that.
“We would need some further information on it, but I can see the difficulty of going along to businesses and saying: ‘I have got some birds of prey: how about it?’ Obviously, it does need some sort of official backing.”
The council resolved to investigate the proposal further.
How it would work
One bird would be flown around Mere Street, three days a week for three weeks, two days a week for two weeks, and then one day a week for one week. After that, it would be reviewed to assess the pigeon population.
It may take up to a year to clear the town completely.
The birds would be in town for two hours each time, flying for different periods depending on the number of pigeons. Over time, they would leave the area altogether.
Other techniques that can be used include netting affected areas, pigeon spikes and visual scarers. Laws governing the control of pigeons state they can be shot, if they threaten crops, or public health, but not for the protection of buildings.
All other bird control methods must be explored first, however.