Many centres of British towns and cities are infested with thousands upon thousands of pigeons - what many people call the "rats of the bird world."

Now one city has come up with a solution - Robo-bird.......

Beware...the Robo-bird

16th March 2007

As the peregrine falcon is one of Britain's rarest birds, the chances of the average urban pigeon recognising it might be thought slim.

Particularly when it is made of fibreglass, packed with electronics, and incapable of moving, apart from turning its head and flapping its wings.

Liverpool city centre is bringing in robotic birds of prey (pictured) to scare away pigeons

But a council is betting 20,000 that they will be fooled after buying a bizarre fleet of "robo-falcons" in the hope that they will instill fear into its winged pests.

Liverpool council is putting ten of them on its most historic buildings to protect them from bird droppings as it seeks to put on its best face in the run-up to becoming European Capital of Culture next year.

Manufactured in Scotland, the "robops", to give them their official name, may not look very convincing to human eyes, but their inventors insist they are more than realistic enough to keep pigeons a safe distance away.

Costing 1,800 each - excluding optional 20ft pneumatic pole - they are capable of turning to face the wind, twisting their heads, flapping their wings and uttering a peregrine-style squawk.

While they may seem an expensive solution, Liverpool city council currently spends 160,000 a year cleaning pigeon droppings off streets and buildings.

Berni Turner, executive member for the environment, said: "Feral pigeons are a real nuisance in the city centre.

"They fly up at people and leave droppings everywhere, which not only makes the city look really unattractive but can make surfaces slippery and dangerous.

"We want to showcase our city centre in our birthday year and 2008, so it is important we tackle this issue now."

At the same time, the council is launching a campaign to discourage shoppers from feeding pigeons in the hope of eventually confining them to parks and open spaces.

"Anyone who feeds the birds intentionally, or occasionally with leftovers like sausage rolls or burgers, are responsible for our streets being so crowded with these birds," added Councillor Turner.

Robop is manufactured in Tranent, East Lothian, and has been installed by businesses and councils across the world since production began in 2002.

Among those to install it was Priory Meadow shopping centre in Hastings, East Sussex which bought a set in 2004 to ward off pigeons and seagulls.

Centre manager John Hough said its performance had not been impressive, however.

"It might have had some effect in the immediate area around it, but other tactics we've used such as playing ultrasound and distress calls have been more effective.

"We still have a couple at the entrances to the indoor malls which prevent pigeons roosting there, but the best thing we've found is a lady who brings a real Bengal eagle owl to the square. It's a massive great thing - they go nuts."

Trafalgar Square, London is internationally famed for its semi-domestic pigeon flock.

Meanwhile at urban pigeons' most famous haunt, London's Trafalgar Square, mayor Ken Livingstone - who has branded them "rats with wings" - has controversially employed Harris hawks to scare them away.

Over three years they have killed more than 100 pigeons and now only around 1,000 die-hards remain.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:38 AM..