Eye in the Sky
Meet the falcons that are a farmer’s friends.
WHEN IT COMES TO KEEPING
ranches, vineyards and orchards free of pesky birds, there’s a new set of raptors in town. Kathleen Tigan, owner and human member of Tactical Avian Predators, Inc., works with a crew of five falcons, a hawk, an owl and a trusty pack of dogs. Together they scare off would-be pests from all kinds of agricultural land, as well as outdoor dining areas and other places nuisance birds gather. Starlings, crows and ravens can destroy valuable crops overnight. Farmers and ranchers hire Kathleen, who is a licensed falconer, to patrol the skies and keep trouble away. It’s known as abatement falconry, an alternative to such traditional preventative measures as poison, noisemakers and fireworks. The main objective of abatement falconry is not to hurt the nuisance birds—it’s simply to ward them off. Because a group of 20 or so starlings can easily expand into thousands overnight, prevention is key. Kathleen says her birds are up for the challenge.“Who [better] to remove a pest than something that, by nature, hunts pest birds?” Every day looks different for an abatement falconer, but Kathleen says a typical one finds her working the acreage at one of her contracted properties, which span northern Nevada and California, keeping an eye out for nuisance birds. “There are a lot of ways to do abatement falconry,” Kathleen says. “Every job is different. You always