Falconry is commonly used to intimidate and scare off nuisance birds in agricultural areas, at landfills, and at various commercial and industrial sites. We tested the use of falconry in combination with shooting to deter feral Rock Pigeons (Columba livia; hereafter “pigeon”), a nonnative pest species, at a high voltage direct current converter station in southern Alberta. At the station, feral pigeons had occupied three transformer bays at the facility since it came online in 2014, and flock size had grown to an estimated 75–100 individuals by early January 2018. This resulted in operational problems because bird excrement accumulated on equipment and on ground surfaces in the transformer bays. The excrement is toxic and required time-consuming and costly cleanup procedures, including a scheduled power outage. In late January, we undertook a trial abatement program using falconry and shooting with four 3-d site visits between January and April. Falcons, primarily hybrids of Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) and Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), were flown outside the main converter station building in combination with shooting. After the four visits, the pigeon flock was reduced to fewer than 10 individuals. Less than half of the pigeons were killed by either the falcons or shooting, or a combination of both, and thus we believe the threat of death accounted for the majority of pigeons moving off the site. To prevent the problem from reoccurring, we recommend that pigeon numbers be monitored and the falconry and shooting program be reinitiated if the number of pigeons begins to increase again.
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Vol. 54 • No. 2