Hawks A Mercy

I recently watched a display of falconry at a fete in Stiffkey in Norfolk. Amazing to watch these marvellous birds dive-bombing the rope thing swung by their handlers. It probably has a technical name.

Apparently it costs £60,000 a year to have a hawk fly four hours a day in Trafalgar Square so as to deter the pigeons. They have killed 130 pigeons so far this year, making the cost per kill around £2700. That is much more than the £90 per bird paid by those who shot the grouse we paid £10 for on Saturday. I don’t quite get the economics of that, but never mind.

Several Londoners have pointed out that for the same money we could have Boris Johnson doing a passable imitation of a scarecrow, or Livingstone flapping and squawking about, either of which might have the same, or greater, deterrent effect.

I can’t see why the hawks need handlers. Why not let them take up permanent residence in the Square, which self-evidently provides them with a ready food supply. Of course, they might prove as antisocial as the seagulls around Falmouth, one of which once expertly hit me in the back of the head with a wing so as to filch my icecream. But perhaps hawks have better manners?

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