BLOG | Hawkeye
News, little truths and wisdom regarding Pest Bird & Animal Wildlife Control, Falconry, and Birds of Prey....
- Written by Dan Frankian
Seagulls—more accurately referred to as gulls since these birds don’t necessarily prefer being near any body of water—are attracted to parking lots like flies to honey. We’ve all seen colonies of gulls congregating around parking lots either wandering around aimlessly or gathered around a pile of garbage like that’s their only source of sustenance for the day. Seagulls are essentially the pests of the bird world. They tend to linger around in public places, constantly searching for scraps of discarded food, litter, and bugs. In fact, there’s hardly anything that seagulls won’t eat.
So, why do seagulls like parking lots so much? What can be done to get rid of them and control the seagull population in your area?
Why Choose Hawkeye Bird Control for Your Seagull Problem?
Seagulls exist in large numbers and enjoy numerous federal and provincial protections. As a result, you need various permits to implement seagull control methods. At Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control, we obtain all of the necessary permits to safely and legally mitigate seagulls from commercial and residential premises. We pride ourselves on being the only pest bird and animal/wildlife control company in Canada to be designated as “Certified Wildlife Control Professionals”.
We also have specialty falconry (birds of prey) and pest control permits. All of our bird mitigation methods are highly regulated on a federal and provincial level to guarantee safe, effective, and humane bird mitigation at all times.
We use natural methods like falconry (birds of prey) to remove pesky gulls from parking lots across Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe.
Why Do Seagulls Like Parking Lots?
Seagulls are scavenging birds, which means they pretty much go anywhere where food is widely available. Parking lots, especially in front of restaurants and grocery stores, are usually the perfect locations for them to congregate for a number of reasons, including:
First off, public parking lots are usually covered in discarded food sources and other types of litter that attract seagulls. Seagulls will scavenge for food pretty much anywhere, including garbage cans and dumpsters.
Second, parking lots are usually built on flat or flattened land. This creates a low risk environment where they can easily spot danger as they scavenge for discarded food items and make a quick getaway if need be. The wide open spaces provided by parking lots are also ideal for finding mice and rats. Seagulls are attracted to grassy parts of parking lots such as dividers and islands because they can typically find worms and insects there.
How to Get Rid of Seagulls from Parking Lots
When using the proper techniques, seagull removal or mitigation is fairly easy and can be a permanent bird control solution.
The following is a list of effective seagull control solutions that can work for any public or privately owned parking lot.
The practice of hunting with birds of prey is an environmentally friendly, humane, and effective way to remove flocks of seagulls and other pest birds from your commercial parking lot. While falconry is a quick and long-lasting natural scare tactic, you need a permit to carry out this strategy.
Netting Bird Exclusion Solutions
Available for both indoor and outdoor use, pest bird control/removal netting is perfect for large colonies of seagulls; depending on the area, this can be an excellent solution for bird control.
Ledge Protection Systems
Ledge protection systems like bird spikes, flites, electric bird shock flex track, and coils deter birds from nesting or roosting on your property. Birds typically nest on building ledges because they provide a sturdy safe foundation for their nests. But this can cause a lot of external structural damage like rotting caused by the acidity in bird droppings.
Ledge protection systems are available in a variety of materials, densities, and sizes all of which dictate the cost, longevity, and efficacy. For example, the type of bird spikes you need—stainless steel, aluminum, or plastic—ultimately depends on your budget and the bird species you’re trying to remove. Hawkeye uses medium to premium spikes and recommends permanent solutions to achieve optimal results for all of our customers. Keep in mind that electrical bird flex tracks aren’t as effective when buried under heavy snow and ice, so it’s important to purchase and install a heavy-duty system that can withstand all kinds of weather conditions. Hawkeye will make the appropriate electrical bird shock system recommendation for your needs and even provide annual inspections every spring. Please ask one of our technicians today if a ledge protection system is right for you.
Seagull Prevention Measures
While it’s impossible to control other people’s bad habits, you can take steps to discourage people from littering on your property. Install plenty of garbage cans in convenient areas like next to entryways and make sure they’re emptied on a regular basis. Install signs throughout the parking lot that depict littering fines and where to dispose of garbage.
Cover Dumpster Bins
Oftentimes, seagulls will gather around and even inside dumpsters, ripping apart garbage bags in search of discarded food items. Covering dumpster bins will prevent seagulls from getting inside and it will also stop the wind from blowing garbage all over your parking lot.
Invest in Parking Lot Cleanliness
Keeping your parking lot consistently clean is a great way to prevent seagull infestation. As one of the biggest pests of the bird species, seagulls are more likely to congregate in dirty parking lots that are covered in litter and food sources.
You should also regularly clean your parking lot or hire a professional cleaning service to do so for you.
Keep Grassy Areas Pest-Free
As natural food scavengers, seagulls are always looking for their next meal and they’ll take it from just about anywhere. Oftentimes, that includes pests and insects that live in grassy areas like fields, lawns, and concrete parking lot dividers or islands.
Understandably, you want your commercial or residential parking lot to have some form of aesthetic appeal, which is why you install decorative garden beds and other greenery. Fresh grass, shrubs, trees, bushes, and flowers all attract insects which in turn attract seagulls. Professional pest control can also help keep seagulls out of your flowerbeds and your parking lot.
Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control offers a variety of seagull and bird control services for industrial, residential, and commercial properties and piers in the Golden Horseshoe, the GTA, and parts of Florida. Need expert advice on how to get rid of seagull nests from your commercial property? Email us at email@example.com or call us at (416) 429-5393 or toll-free at 1-(855) 393-4295.
- Written by Dan Frankian
Our trappers carry a licence that allows them to trap and euthanize fur-bearing animals. This allows Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control to offer you permanent and guaranteed results to remove your pest animal or wildlife. But it is not all for waste. The pelts or fur of raccoons, squirrels, muskrats, foxes and many more animals are a highly sought after export from North America and in fact, Canada’s biggest export to China.
Hawkeye works with the North American Fur Auction or NAFA for short, to manage the purchase and auctions of our fur to buyers around the world. With the biggest purchasers being China and Russia, fur is becoming increasing popular in the fashion industry.
NAFA is actually the oldest fur auction house in the world starting out in 1670 as part of The Hudson Bay Company (HBC) which was created to offer fine furs to the public. It remained HBC until 1992 when it became NAFA and still resides in Toronto, ON with sorting facilities in the US and Poland.
Today it remains Canada’s oldest incorporated company and the 7th oldest company in the world.
Fur auctions typically occur about four times per year. We clean and prep the pelts for tanning at Hawkeye. We must take extra caution with animals who carry rabies since rabies is carried in the saliva of animals like raccoons, it could still be present on their fur. By the time the pelts are processed there is no risk of rabies being carried on the fur. We provide our pelts to NAFA on a consignment basis which are then graded and sold to the fashion world, including the services industry like police and military. After the auction, unsold pelts are used as blankets and donated to communities in the Northern Territories.
For more information about NAFA specifically, you can visit their website at http://www.nafa.ca/
Dan Frankian, owner of Hawkeye and members of his team attended this year's fur auction. Here are some pictures of the pelts to give you an idea of how renewable and expansive this industry this really is.
There is also another large auction called the Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. (FHA) which is run out of North Bay and founded in 1991.
Sending furs to the auction house has now been made easier than ever with scheduled pick-ups in many of the main trapping districts across Ontario. Once the furs have been delivered to one of the auction houses, they are labeled, measured and checked for quality; all of these things factor into the value you will receive for the sold pelt.
The Fur Trade in Canada has been a crucial part of our history, going all the way back to the early 17th century. Many of Canada’s beaver pelts were sold to the Europeans for felt hats, and this is one of the main reasons why a good relationship was built between the Europeans and Indigenous people and why the Europeans decided to colonize Canada. Many people don’t realize that Canada is still a major part of the fur trading industry; pelts of various fur bearing animals are exported around the world for use in the fashion industry, but that isn’t the only thing that we get from these animals. Fats and oils from fur bearing animals are also used quite often in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Fur bearing animals in Canada include muskrat, beaver, mink, marten, squirrel, raccoons and many more. The trapping of fur bearing animals is a highly regulated industry. Each trapper in Canada must get a trappers licence which requires an extensive informational and hands-on course. To legally trap animals in Canada you must register for a private or public trap line and dependant on the population of each animal in your designated area, there are limited numbers of animals that can be trapped each year. There are humane trapping standards that have been laid out internationally, and all processes in Ontario are governed by the Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF) and The Ministry of Natural Resources. Trapping in Canada is used as a wildlife control service for both private and public needs, but it also helps to feed many families and provide them with an income. For each fur bearing animal, there is a trapping season in which the pelts are most valuable and must be sent to the fur trade or recorded if some are to be kept for personal use. At the end of each season a harvest report must be submitted to ensure how many pelts were sent to the fur auction and how many pelts were kept and ensure each trapper is within regulation for their given quota. All the information regarding nuisance animal trapping can be found on Ontario.ca as there are some regulations in place to protect endangered/threatened species and specific rules in place for Black bears, Moose, Woodland Caribou, White-tailed deer, American elk, Wolves, and Coyotes.
In regards to nuisance animals such as those that get into your home, there are a number of regulations that must be followed as the pelts from these animals off season are not required to be harvested. If you are to hire someone to help you with a nuisance animal problem you must ensure that they have a valid trappers licence, be employed to control wildlife by a municipality, or be authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. You may also hire someone who runs a wildlife removal business, but they are only able to capture and release the nuisance animals as they do not carry a valid trapper’s licence. All of our technicians at Hawkeye have this licence, which separates us from other wildlife removal companiesand allows us to euthanize any fur bearing nuisance animal caught on your property. If you have a nuisance animal problem and are looking for a professional that can solve your problem, call Hawkeye today at 416-429-5395.
- Written by Dan Frankian
Differences between American Herring Gull and Ring-Billed Gull
American Herring Gull
Physical Characteristics: 24-26 inches in length, 56-60 inch wingspan, 800-1250g weight. Bill is yellow with red spot on lower bill, legs/feet are pink/skin coloured, dark wingtips, pale iris with orangish orbital ring (breeding). Appear barrel-chested and broad-winged in flight. Long and gradual forehead slope.
Juvenile Characteristics: mottled brown juveniles, second-year birds are brown but show gray on the back. Third-years have more gray on the back and more white on the head and underparts.
Eggs: 1-3 eggs/clutch, 2.6-3.0 inch length, 1.9-2.1 inch width, light olive or greenish coloured with darker splotches or speckling, 31-32 day incubation period, 45-50 day nestling period.
Diet: prey on marine invertebrates, fish, insects, smaller seabirds, and even on adults, young, and eggs of other gulls. Along rocky shores, they take mussels, crabs, sea urchins, and crayfish. On mudflats, they seek worms, small clams, and mussels.
Specific to American Herring Gull:
- lake and pond habitat
- lower pitched vocalizations
- known to hybridize with other gull species
- 4 years to reach adult breeding plumage
- may feed on nests, young or adults of other gulls in colony and other seabirds
- pairs hollow out up to 4 depressions prior to nesting season before choosing one to lay eggs
- highest hatching success rate
Physical Characteristics: 17-18 inches in length, 48 inch wingspan, 300-700g weight. Bill is yellow with black ring and slimmer/shorter, legs/feet are yellow, prominent black wing tips with white spot near end, pale iris with thin red orbital ring (breeding). Short and steep forehead slope.
Juvenile Characteristics: During their first two years, Ring-billed Gulls are a mottled brown and gray with a pink bill and legs.
Eggs: 2-4 eggs, 2.0-2.6 inch length, 1.4-1.8 inch width, pale olive gray colour with dark brown speckles, 20-31 day incubation period, nestling period 4-5 days.
Diet: mostly fish, insects, earthworms, rodents, grain, and garbage.
Specific to Ring-Billed Gull:
- shoreline habitat
- more abundant on the great lakes
- more commonly seen inland than other gull species
- feeds more on food taken from land
- higher pitched vocalizations
- will nest on sand, soil, concrete, slag, boulders, driftwood, or rubble
Similarities between species: males larger than females and may appear more fierce
- Ground foragers/nesters
- Extremely opportunistic
- In Sarnia year round
- Written by Dan Frankian
Falconry is an age-old practice that involves capturing, training, and keeping birds of prey for use in hunting. Raptors like red-tailed hawks or merlins can be employed to catch small wild game, such as grouse or rabbits, or used to scare off pest birds.
But is falconry legal in Canada?
Hawkeye’s Falconry Experience in Toronto & the GTA
Falconry, a sport at least 2,000 years old, is still being practiced today in many areas around the world. But is falconry legal in Canada today?
Yes, it is, in fact, legal throughout most of Canada, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and PEI. The regulations for raptor hunting and requirements for a falconry licence vary depending on the province.
Nowadays, falconry is mostly considered recreational, with many enthusiasts joining local or global falconry and raptor associations. However, the practice does have some other critical applications such as natural conservation, educational programs, and pest bird control.
When it comes to falconry experience in Ontario, Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control is an expert resource, a Certified Wildlife Control Professional (CWCP) company with a falconry permit.
Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control employs falconry as a humane tool to control behavioural patterns of pest birds naturally. The birds in this category can include pigeons, starlings, sparrows, grackles, seagulls, geese, and more.
We do this via the natural relationship between prey (the pest birds) and their predators (raptors). Birds of prey, also called raptors, can be trained to chase pest birds out of a particular area. This puts instinctual fear into the pest birds, scaring and keeping them away from the area that the raptor patrols.
As a natural form of bird control, falconry actually works quicker and gives more long-lasting results than other methods, such as shooting, trapping, or noise-makers.
Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control offers falconry and bird control services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and piers in the Greater Toronto Area, Golden Horseshoe, and many parts of Florida. We use falconry to scare away birds that are posing a bird-strike threat to planes at airports and to control congregating problems or nesting infestations at landfills, industrial buildings, recreational areas, and on farmlands.
If Falconry is something that interests you personally, contact Hawkeye today for a once in a lifetime falconry experience where you can handle, fly, and see all of our birds of prey up close and personal including all sorts of hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons.
What Is the Best Bird for Falconry?
With the right knowledge, training, and licencing, you can train a bird of prey using food as a motivator. Essentially, the falconer becomes the raptor’s only source of food, so it will learn to obey commands to get that food as a reward.
But what is the best bird of prey to use for the art of falconry?
Well, that depends on what province or territory you live in, as native bird species can vary across the country.
When you get your falconry apprenticeship licence, you can apply to trap your own native bird of prey.
In Ontario, the four common native falconry birds approved for wild capture are:
- Cooper’s hawk
- Red-tailed hawk
- Sharp-shinned hawk
A red-tailed hawk is an excellent choice for your first raptor, as they are considered relatively easy to care for and work with. Since these common prey birds are indigenous to Ontario, they are acclimated to the Ontario climate and terrain. Their natural prey is also in the area. Another good reason to get a native species is that you can release it back into the wild (with Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry approval) if you decide not to continue with falconry or if the particular raptor doesn’t work out.
There are a limited number of wild raptor capture applications approved per year in Ontario through a lottery system. You can only capture one prey bird per approved application and must follow strict regulations on what type of bird (i.e. breed, age) you can and cannot trap.
If you’d rather purchase a prey bird from a breeder, you can go with a Harris’s hawk, a non-native species. The female Harris’s hawk may be the better option, as they are larger and can fly faster over longer distances than the male, plus they are often more relaxed in their behaviour.
How Do You Become a Falconer in Ontario?
Falconry is an amazing opportunity to work closely with birds of prey and spend time in the great outdoors. But remember that falconry is a regulated activity in Ontario and the other Canadian provinces that allow it.
When considering getting your falconry licence, you should first understand that raptors do not make good pets. And, to be a falconer, you must be willing and able to actually hunt game with your bird of prey.
Other factors that go into the major commitment of falconry include:
- Space: To train and hunt with your bird, you need legal access to a good amount of land that contains its natural prey and that’s free of hazards. Things that can be dangerous to a raptor include wires, air traffic, high-traffic roads, and dogs.
- Mews: You also need to provide the proper amount of space in terms of their housing (i.e. mews), depending on the breed and size of your raptor. For example, the average red-tailed hawk needs an 8’ x 8’ x 8’ hawk house, with both indoor (sheltered) and outdoor space, plus access to a water bath for a few hours every day. You need to make sure they are protected from the weather; whether it’s heat, cold, precipitation, or wind. Lastly, your mews must be in a quiet, stress-free area and must be secure against predators, such as dogs, cats, and coyotes.
- Equipment/Supplies: Do your homework on what specific equipment and supplies you’ll need for the raptor’s housing facility as well as for training and hunting. Perches, anklets/jesses, leashes, swivels, bells, lures, gloves, hoods, a scale, food, and vitamin supplements are just some examples of what you’ll need.
- Time: Training, housing, and hunting with a bird of prey is a substantial time commitment. Falconry is not a casual hobby. You need to spend several hours each day training or flying your bird. You also have to be in it for the long haul. Some birds live longer than 30 years in captivity.
How Do I Get a Falconry Licence in Ontario?
For Ontarians who are fully committed to the many demands and challenges of learning falconry, the next step is to look into how to get a falconry licence in Ontario. Licensing requirements vary between provinces, so check your provincial government’s website for details if you live outside of Ontario.
Before you get one of the following licences and start to hunt with a native Ontario raptor, you first need to have a small game hunting licence for Ontario.
Once you move on to getting your falconry licence and bird of prey, you must place an identification band on the bird. You also must keep a logbook that records your name and licence number, the species and band number of your bird of prey, and all details on any falconry event you take part in. If your bird suffers an injury or dies, this also must be logged. You’re required by law to keep all of your log records on file for a minimum of five years.
If you’re planning to hunt with a non-native bird of prey, you actually don’t need a falconry licence. But you do still need to follow all of the other requirements just mentioned.
Apprentice Falconry Licence
Before you can practice falconry with a native raptor, you have to get your apprentice falconry licence. To attain this, you need your small game hunting license, as mentioned, and you must also work as an apprentice with an experienced falconer.
Another requirement is that you complete the Ontario Hawking Club Apprenticeship Program, involving 30 hours of classroom-based and/or field falconry instruction for 15 months. This period must span two Octobers.
Once you’ve met these requirements, you can apply for your General Falconry Licence.
About six weeks after you apply for your apprentice falconry licence, you can submit your application to capture a wild raptor. With your apprentice licence, you may only keep one bird of prey, but once you’ve advanced to your general licence you are then allowed to house up to three birds of prey.
General Falconry Licence
Armed with your small game hunting license and successful completion of the Ontario Hawking Club Apprenticeship Program, you can apply to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for your general falconry licence.
You may also be eligible for this licence if you have already had an Ontario general falconry licence at some point within the last five years or if you practiced falconry with your own bird of prey in another jurisdiction for at least two years in a row within the last five years.
Be prepared to wait about six weeks to hear back about your application.
Commercial Falconry Licence
The commercial falconry licence allows a falconer to breed birds of prey, keep more than three raptors at once, and also to use them in other commercial applications, such as airport bird control.
To get this designation, you must have your small game hunting license and have had your general falconry licence for at least five years (or can show that you’ve been training and housing raptors for that same period). Again, you’ll need to wait about six weeks to hear back from your Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry district office once you’ve applied.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Falconer?
For those dedicated enough to become a falconer, there are, of course, associated costs. These can vary quite a bit, depending on where you live, what type of falconer license(s) you go for, what type of bird you get, and how many birds you get. Here are some examples of what you’re looking at if you live in Ontario (note: this is not a comprehensive list):
- Outdoors card: $8.57
- One-Stop Hunter Education Program (including gun safety): $200.00-$300.00
- Small game licence: Approx. $22.76 per year
- Apprentice falconry licence: $20.00
- Mews: $300.00-$2,000, depending on your setup and construction
- Equipment: Anywhere from $150.00 to $700.00 for the basics
- Food: $500.00 per year, on average
Overall, you can anticipate spending $1,500 to $2,000 at first , and then adding on the daily costs, like food, on top of that. And getting into commercial falconry costs exponentially more. So, it’s clear that falconry is a significant monetary investment, on top of the time commitment, so there’s a lot to consider carefully before starting on the path to falconry.
Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control offers falconry and bird control services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and piers in the Greater Toronto Area, Golden Horseshoe, and many parts of Florida. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (416) 429-5393 or toll-free at 1-(855) 393-4295, for expert falconry assistance. Interested in testing out the birds of prey experience? We offer falconry workshops at our facility just outside of Toronto.