do you have a problem with crows?

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Beltra will be happy to keep them under control for you.

Maybe you’ve heard of Rufus a Harris Hawk who worked hard at Wimbledon games keeping pigeons and crows away? It sounds extraordinary, doesn’t it? But falconers and their trained birds often do pest control at events like these, and also at landfill sites, airports, farms, and hospitals. They keep pests like pigeons and crows in check.

Wild birds of prey also keep cities and suburbs pigeon free. We are never too far from birds of prey, really. London alone has around 30 nesting pairs of peregrine falcons! They simply live where there is food.

And if you live near Dublin, Poolbeg Power Station is where you can see urban falcons in action. Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, writes beautifully about watching a male peregrine hunt pigeon there.

I personally love crows, especially rooks, and Beltra loves rooks too. I love to watch them fly, she loves to eat them for dinner. We’ve caught a few rooks this season.

The most extraordinary thing is to watch Beltra eat. If left with a whole rook she can devour it in just about forty minutes. She plucks it first of course because she doesn’t digest feathers. But nothing else is wasted – not even rook’s feet or bones, they are consumed in whole!

I’ve tried rook too. As a falconer you have to taste what you hawk catches. The meat was interesting, legs were more palatable, but breast meat was hmm.. how can I put it? A bit too gamey for my liking. Now I know gamey of a well hang pheasant, but rook is not gamey, it tastes really wild.

In the past young rooks, branchers, were gathered or shot for a rook pie. I fried my rook, but if you suddenly find yourself inspired to make a Victorian meal, rook pie might be just the thing to impress or shock your guests at the next dinner party.

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