Inside Norfolk firm NBC Environment that breeds winged warriors to see off pesky pigeons and seagulls
- Credit: Ian Burt
Look out, pigeons and watch your backs, seagulls - a new generation of aerial menaces will soon be on your case.
In a clutch of incubators in south Norfolk, the tiny army of gyr-saker falcons are about to hatch.
As they grow, they will be trained to frighten off pigeons and seagulls from locations including football stadiums and town centres - making them think twice about nesting.
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The working birds of prey, which have been domestically bred using artificial insemination by bird and pest control company NBC Environment in Snetterton, are also used to stop birds from holding up construction projects.
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Currently there are five eggs in the incubation process. Once these are hatched they will be hand-fed every four hours for seven days before they are returned to the mother and father to rear.
These will be replaced by another five eggs, which will be given to a foster mother and father to rear once they are a week old.
Some of the falcons will join the 30 birds housed in the firm's 19 aviaries.
The others will be sent out to the company's network of falconers across the UK, and will be trained to patrol construction sites, landfills and warehouses.
Andy Hulme, head of falconry, started the breeding programme when he joined the company in 2015. He said: 'It is the thing I enjoy the most, the breeding side of the birds.
'It is a really interesting. If you keep the youngsters and train them it is nice that you have a bird that you seen from an egg.'
NBC was set up by John Dickson in 1993 at his house in Brampton, near Halesworth.
The firm now employs 100 people across the UK and also deals with ecological consultancy - for which they have four Pointer dogs - environmental contracting and pest control.
Mr Hulme said the way they were trained depended on the bird's breed, with falcons used over large open areas such as a power station and hawks used for urban areas such as a shopping precinct.
He said: 'They have three to four weeks training.
'We spend some time so the bird understands we are not a threat and to form a bond so there is mutual respect between the bird and the handler.'
Company lands Ministry of Defence contract
NBC Environment have been selected by the MoD to provide wildlife services for six RAF bases in the eastern region.
The firm, which has been given a three-year contract with options to extend by a further two, has recruited 20 new full-time staff and invested in a new fleet of vehicles equipped with deterrent systems.
They will be tasked with ensuring runways and surrounding areas, at the bases including RAF Marham, are kept clear of birds and wildlife.
John Dickson, managing director and founder of NBC Environment, said: 'NBC is currently undergoing a period of unprecedented growth.
'We completed a strategic merger with Blackdown Environmental in February to extend our portfolio of ecology services and we're also expanding our provision across the UK.
'This contract win demonstrates our ambitions to extend into additional vertical markets.'