As the growing population of pigeons in NYC continues to cause more distress for residents, the city council is making extra efforts to find a solution to the problem. Councilman Simcha Felder suggested the use of robotic hawks to drive pigeons away from city sidewalks.
RoboHawk is a mechanical hawk that is manufactured in Scotland by Robop Limited, and it resembles and acts like a real peregrine falcon. This high-tech scarecrow has been used in Liverpool, England and a few other cities around the world to tackle pigeon problems. The RoboHawk mimics the actions of real hawks by flapping its wings, shaking its head sideways, and making hawk calls. It is regarded as a humane way to deter unwanted birds, and it is commonly used in campuses, airports, and stadiums.
One of the limitations of the RoboHawk is that it cannot fly, and it has to be moved to different positions from time to time to trick the pigeons. There is another product from Spain called the Falco Robot, which has the ability to fly, but a skilled operator is required to control it.
It’s like a scene for the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film Birds. Only this time, the people are attacking the birds. Pigeon poachers have been rounding up birds in NYC parks and high-tailing it off to parts unknown with truckloads of the urban pests. City Health Department Commissioner Thomas Frieden said some rustlers are selling the birds for $5 to $10 each to out-of-state pigeon shoots. The pigeon shoots may be legal, but absconding with the city’s ubiquitous park dwellers and transporting them across state lines without a permit isn’t.
In the early-morning hours, men spread seed on city park pavements and uninhabited streets to lure the pigeons. As dozens come to feed, the men throw large nets over the cooing throng, toss the whole flailing mass into the back of a truck and screech off. The Health Department, in concert with several state and local agencies, has been trying to head the rustlers off at the pass, so far without success.
Birders and the New York Bird Club are upset, and some have formed their own posse to track down the bird-nappers. “We’ve followed the netters to a warehouse in Queens that sells poultry,” said one bird advocate. “We’re still trying to pull together evidence.” Commissioner Frieden urges any citizen observing the illegal netting of pigeons to report details by calling 311.