Pigeon Fancier Puts The Frighteners On

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Life isn’t much fun at Greenford these days if you’re a pigeon.

Life isn’t much fun at Greenford these days if you’re a pigeon.

Life isn’t much fun at Greenford these days if you’re a pigeon. The company has got so fed up with the mess deposited by our feathered friends on the site’s buildings, particularly Glaxo Wellcome House East and West and R&D’S Building 34 that it has hired a harris hawk from a local falconry company to frighten them off.

"The hawk only harasses the pigeons, it doesn’t kill them," stresses David Gillingham from Glaxo Wellcome R&D Engineering. "It is fed just enough so that it has the instinct to hunt, but not to attack.

"Pigeons were originally called rock doves and they think the high buildings are cliffs. The hawk is their natural enemy and when they see it, the shape of the bird is imprinted on their brain and they disappear.

"The trick is to get the hawk flying before the pigeons breed." David says. "After the young are born, their homing instinct will always prompt them to return."

The process involves almost daily flights for two or three weeks, then one a week for the following six weeks or so.

"We get up to 150 pigeons on our building at any one time during the day and possibly four times that number roosting overnight," David Says.

"The Problem with the guano is that it turns to dust and plays havoc with the air filters.

"We’ve tried ultrasonic devices in the past, but they’re not always successful. We even employed a cardboard cat once, but they soon become used to it. The hawk is an accepted practice and, so far, it seems to be doing the trick."

The curiosity of three keen Greenford ornithologists got the better of them when they saw the Hawk flying past their windows. Their enquiries paid off and Mike Stone from the legal department and Simon Davidson and Pauline Adams from the central and Eastern Europe department were privileged to see the bird in action from the rooftop of Glaxo Wellcome House West and also to hold the bird.

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