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News, little truths and wisdom regarding Pest Bird & Animal Wildlife Control, Falconry, and Birds of Prey....


Flocks of geese, gulls, and other birds are invading air space and are causing a real safety threat for passengers of small planes. These flocks have been the number one cause of small plane crashes in the 21rst century, and have even caused some catastrophic plane crashes in the United States as well. There was a near miss in 2009 where a US Airways Flight hit a flock of geese and had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River. Luckily there were no passenger fatalities, but this was a real wakeup call to the danger and potential severity of bird strikes. Approximately 17,000 bird strikes have been reported annually since 2011 and this number is expected to grow by roughly 10% each year without the intervention of a more effective method for bird control in these airspaces.

Previously, trained birds of prey or piloting drones have been flown around to eliminate flocks in airspace environments. But these methods can sometimes be unpredictable and costly. Once a flock perceives an erratic and immediate threat, they will no longer act as a flock, and will begin to act individually to evade danger. For this reason, Engineers at Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies came up with the idea of autonomous herding drones.
These autonomous herding drones have been designed to pose as an external threat to control unwanted birds in airspace environments. Without the presence of that immediate threat, a flock can be herded as a single body, moving in a single direction, responding and reciprocating the actions of the birds closest to the external threat and changing course accordingly.

The engineers that designed these drones specialize in autonomy and robotics. Their precise and accurate positioning reduces any chance of these birds acting individually. To determine these positions, a mathematical model of flocking dynamics was created. This model took into consideration many variables to optimize efficiency; the way flock formations are built and maintained, how threats are communicated from one bird to the next, and how these flocks respond to various threats coming from different angles. The main objective of this device is to ensure safe and effective removal of flocks from airspace environments.

This method was first tested on a flock of birds in Korea. Dozens of birds were reoriented successfully with the use of a single autonomous herding drone. But even though this method was successful with smaller flocks, the limiting factor for this method seems to be how to optimize the efficiency for use with much larger flocks of birds. The team at Caltech will be attempting to use multiple autonomous drones at once in order to deal with higher quantities of birds. So with this up and coming technology, there is most definitely hope for a decrease in the amount of aviation disasters due to bird strikes.

Falconry is the age old sport of kings; practiced since the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, some 5000 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, Falconry is still a huge part of many cultures around the world. In fact, in Doha, Qatar there is a Falcon Hospital that caters to over 140 falcons every day.

Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital provides a wide variety of aesthetic and medical care ranging from notched beak trimming to the treatment of more serious diseases and infections that can impede the health of many birds of prey. They even help falcons who have broken feathers by attaching a feather from a previous moult through a process called imping. This method is very important for birds used in falconry, as damage to a critical flight feather could seriously affect the way a falcon flies and hunts.

The treatment of birds of prey is a specialty trade, and not all veterinarians are familiar with proper methods for the care of raptors (birds of prey). In places like Doha, where the popularity of falconry is so high, there are many trained professionals who know the ins and outs of raptor biology and illness. In places like Ontario, however it can be quite difficult to find a veterinarian trained in raptor biology. Raptors can develop an infection or illness very quickly, and death can result very quickly as well, so locating a trained professional is a must before ever obtaining a bird of prey.

There are also many specialty items needed to fly and maintain a bird of prey including hand crafted leather hoods, gloves, anklets, jesses, leashes, and more. Raptors perceive day and night only by the absence or presence of light; this is why hoods are used in Falconry. A hood fits loosely around the raptors head leaving an opening for the beak. With a hood on, a raptor does not have any visual distractions during transportation, therefore is far more likely to sit still. Gloves are used to carry a raptor on one’s hand. Birds of prey can have very sharp talons that could grasp onto your hand as if you were prey. This is why gloves are essential in Falconry, especially with larger birds such as Golden Eagles. The length of a glove will also vary depending on the size of bird you intend to carry. Anklets are permanently affixed to the Tarsi (legs) of trained birds of prey. Jesses are then attached to the anklets, which are then attached to a leash. Jesses are used to ensure that the raptor’s feet have the ability to move freely and comfortably while still being secured to their leash. When a bird is flying free or in its mews (housing) they are able to fly with the absence of a leash, although anklets and jesses stay affixed indefinitely. In Souq Waqif, there is a market that caters solely to the needs of over 3,000 falconers and provides all of these items in various sizes to accommodate the vast size differences of raptors.

At Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control, we house and provide rehabilitation for various birds of prey including hawks, falcons, eagles, and even owls. We also provide animal wrangling, which allows for the use of our trained birds for commercials, television, movies, and even special events.

If birds of prey and the sport of falconry is something that interests you, come visit us in Acton for a true falconry experience. You will be able to meet, handle, and learn about our birds as well as witness their spectacular aerial pursuits first hand.



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