any problems with pests can be sorted out sharpish with the help of one local man and his birds of prey.
Robert Crawford (43) of Linlithgow’s Moray Drive keeps a menagerie of Harris hawks, a falcon, owls and recent acquisition, a golden eagle, to take part in walks with the public, and help out with unruly wildlife.
Robert’s interest was realised when he started up CPC Falconry Service with brother Gordon in 2002, and he made his hobby a part-time business.
He said: “We use the birds mainly for pest control, but we also do popular hawk walks over at Bonnytoun House where members of the public can view them first hand, and we breed birds to sell to would-be trainers. In the past, I was put off as I thought you needed to have lots of special licences but they’re only needed for indigenous birds.”
All of the birds that the pair own have been named, and Elvis the eagle owl, Bounce the buzzard and Houdini the little owl among others, are trained to use their natural predatory instincts to frighten off pigeons, seagulls, starlings, magpies and rabbits. A lot of rbusiness has come from football clubs.
Robert, who also drives petrol tankers for Esso, added: “We’re doing pest control for Hibs Football Club this week. They have pigeons in the grounds making a mess of the seats, and problems with seagulls and starlings causing damage.
“It will take a few weeks to do a good job but how long it takes depends on the volume, where the birds or animals are and how long they’ve been there for. Falkirk FC has also been inquiring - good news travels fast!
“We helped Livingston FC as they had rabbits digging holes in the park and we got rid of them - we’ve had a 100 per cent success rate this year! It is an environmentally friendly service - it’s not shooting so it’s a very popular option. We tend to fly the birds for a couple of hours at a time and clients can get a demonstration on how it works. Different birds do different things - the Harris hawks are very obedient but the falcon has a mind of its own.
“The work tends to be seasonal but I would do it full-time if I could.”