How trained falcons control nuisance birds

Before becoming a falconer, East Coast Falcons owner Erik Swanson trained exotic birds in zoos.

"I have a house full of birds. I became a falconer and after a few years, I started to purse working professionally," Swanson said. "Worked all kinds of gigs and got good at it. Eventually, got calls to work on my own."

He trains raptors—like falcons, owls, and hawks—to scare off aggressive birds, like seagulls and pigeons.

"We can work anywhere there's a bird problem: landfills, airports, whatever it is," Swanson said. "The purpose of abatement is to scare the birds off. We're not intentionally going in there and hunting them."

This past summer, he took the falcons to Ocean City, New Jersey, where seagulls were taking over the boardwalk.

"They learned how to turn people into human vending machines," Swanson said. "We brought in the birds and the birds left the boardwalk. They actually went back to their natural way of feeding."

Swanson said he uses falcons for really high flights. Some of the falcons can fly as high as 3,000 feet.

"And that covers a huge area," he said. "Anything underneath that bird is in danger."

Swanson trains each bird for an hour and a half every single day. It takes about 90 days to train one.


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