In The News
August 19, 2019 Radio Interview: LA's NPR station, KPCC 89.3
Topic- The use of Falconry at resorts and other commercial properties to fend off nuisance birds and what it entails.
San Diego Channel 7
FEB 09 2014 7-9:30 AM
27th Vertebrate Pest Conference Field Trip
Guest Speaker March 7, 2016
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
Falconry as a tool for bird management
Licensed falconer Adam Chavez will educate patrons about the partnership between human and raptor, better known as a “bird of prey.” Adam will discuss the traditional practice of falconry, a sport which is thousands of years old, along with newer equipment employed by contemporary practitioners. The event will include an exhilarating demonstration of free flight by one or more of Adam’s four trained birds: a European Goshawk, Gyr-Peregrine Falcon, Gyrfalcon, and a Harris Hawk.
Interpretation Level: High
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
Ages: 10 and up
Please note: participants must be registered or on the wait list by 4:00 pm on Saturday, February 8.
By Jennifer S. Holland
for National Geographic
PUBLISHED JUNE 10, 2014
Falconry in the USA for Qatar High School Summer Scholar Program August 19, 2014 7:30 PM
Gulls Be Gone: 10 Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Birds- Seagulls can spread disease and be a safety hazard. Here’s how to keep them away.
Lecture: Falconry, The Sport of Kings
FEB 05 2014 7-8:30 PM
Come hear licensed falconer, Adam Chavez as he gives a presentation on the Sport of Falconry. Adam will discuss the traditional practice of falconry, a sport which is thousands of years old. Learn about these majestic birds and the work they do.
This lecture will be followed by a falconry demonstration on Sunday, February 9.
Ages: 8 and up
Participants must be registered by Wednesday, February 5 by 2:00 pm.
The Elite Winged Team of Adam’s Falconry Service: Raptors to be reckoned with
During a recent photo shoot near Blue Lagoon condos here in Laguna, as serendipity would have it, our staff photographer, Mary Hurlbut, happened upon David Feliciano, one of the falconers from Adam’s Falconry Service, working his bird of prey to rid the area of seagulls. Mary thought it would be a good story for Creature Features, and she was right.Thanks to Adam Chavez, the owner and operator of Adam’s Falconry Service, and falconer Caroline Sankey, last week Mary and I saw one of his birds in action.Adam likes to think of his raptors as an “elite winged special force security team,” and true, it does sound like something from a Mission Impossible movie, but they are a force to be reckoned with. Just ask the seagulls.According to Adam, raptors, like elite athletes, have specialized skills, and to name a few, not only have they been clocked at 242 miles per hour, birds of prey have the most evolved eyesight of all living creatures. They also hear a wider range of sounds and can discriminate between closer frequencies than humans.Adam has a team of 20 plus raptors, which came from breeders, and are highly specialized, as in, “the right bird for the right job.”And for them, the mission is anything but impossible.“Our main objective and ambition is to provide an environmentally friendly effective alternative to reduce the pest bird population,” Adam says. “We use trained raptors to flush, haze, or take birds (or other wildlife where allowed) to mitigate depredation problems, including threats to human health and safety.”
The raptors are used to reduce human/wildlife conflicts such as: protecting crops, improving water quality, preventing air strikes at airports, improving health and safety issues at landfills, resorts, golf courses, and home owners’ associations.From the parking lot above Monarch Beach Resort, I watch as Caroline slowly walks along the beach with Thula, a female Harris Hawk on her arm. The Harris Hawk is a desert bird, the only hawks that live as a family unit and hunt like a wolf pack.Above Caroline and Thula, at least 100 seagulls swoop and dive in the morning sky.When I turn to talk to Adam, and then turn back, only a few minutes, the sky is free of gulls. The mere sight of Thula sends the gulls packing. And that’s what Adam’s company is all about.From the cliff, Adam points to the waterway to our left, “That’s what we want to keep the gulls away from.” To prevent the buildup of bacteria (I hesitate to say it, from their poop), his company arrives four mornings a week from Sunday through Thursday to drive the gulls away.And the results have been impressive. Earlier this year, Heal the Bay rate
Then, from the back of his truck, Adam retrieves Bodie, a hybrid male Gyr Peregrine falcon. Bodie, who is between four and five months old, experienced his first flight the previous Monday. Because the Gyr is an Arctic bird, Bodie doesn’t tolerate heat well, so mornings are best for him, and we need to get down to the beach and finish before it gets too hot. He’s still in training, which will take a year (so we won’t see him work today), and then he’ll hit his prime at three years.Training involves many elements, including the correct diet. For optimal efficiency, his birds are trained as the elite athletes that they are. Adam says, “The birds are weighed to accurately measure their caloric intake. Much of a falcon’s training is food based. I’m aiming for peak athleticism, while at the same time generating an appetite each morning to stimulate predatory drive and recall. They eat commercially grown quail.”Adam has been practicing falconry on and off since the age of 12, when he and a friend found two Kestrels, and he became enraptured with birds of prey. He has more than 30 years of experience training raptors, as well as rehabilitating birds of prey that have been injured. Currently, he’s the President of the California Hawking Club and serves as the Director at Large for North American Falconer’s Association. Additionally, he is the Committee Chairman for bird abatement representing NAFA.
The day is warming up, and a few brave seagulls venture back toward the waterway. Caroline and Thula start walking in that direction, but before they even get close, the gulls turn back toward the ocean, skimming along the water and out to sea.Evidently, the bond between the bird of prey and the falconer is of upmost importance and has been since the beginning of falconry, which is said to go back 3,000 years. In observing Caroline and Thula, this bond is evident.As per Adam’s website, “Falconry by definition is the hunting of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Falconry is a one-on-one relationship based upon trust. A dedicated patient human joins with a bird of prey and the result is a unique linking of diverse beings in a sport called falconry. Two basic requirements for success as a falconer are time and patience.”An abundance of time and patience it seems: it takes two years to become an apprentice falconer, five years for a general falconer, and seven years to become a master falconer.Thank you, Adam, for letting us observe one member of your “elite winged special force security team” in action. Thula is a force to be reckoned with.For further information about Adam’s Falconry Service and their educational events, go to www.adamsfalconryservice.com
NEWS OC Register
A history of falconry
It’s unclear how long people have trained raptors to hunt small prey. Some argue falconry is about 3,000 years old; others say it dates back as far as 10,000 years. Both Mongolia and Persia (now called Iran) are believed to have simultaneously found the practice. Through Genghis Khan’s campaign, the sport was refined and spread to China by 700 B.C. and to Korea 500 years later. Falconry has been featured in depictions of Alexander the Great and is mentioned in the Quran. Half of the world’s falconers live in the Middle East.
Sources: International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey
The landfill operators tried everything – bird wires, reflective tape, inflated (fake) owls, noisemakers and what amounted to a rotating disco ball.
But none of it drove off the thousands of seagulls that hunt, scavenge, feed, defecate and generally raise the potential for disease at the dumps of Orange County.
At one point, the hills and garbage seemed a blur of white feathers and orange beaks. Trash truck drivers couldn’t safely see where to dump their loads. Screeching gulls rained garbage on nearby homes.
And the people running the landfills, in what they thought was their last effort, resorted to noise – issuing blasts from propane cannons and shotguns. Sadly, the booms disturbed area residents and their dogs more than they bummed out the gulls.
Enter Adam Chavez.
Chavez, 52, owns and operates Adam’s Falconry Service, which uses 20 highly trained and highly expensive birds of prey – from Harris’s hawks to Peregrine and Saker falcons and even a rare Eurasian eagle-owl – to drive away birds of pestilence from human spaces.
Chavez effectively applies an ancient technique, falconry, to solve a modern problem, bird pollution.
His birds are trained and, depending on their mood, eager to fly into a flock of supposed nuisance birds, kill off one or more members, and return to their handler for a healthier meal.
The smaller birds are not stupid; they’re biologically wired to dodge hunter birds. Soon after seeing a couple of comrades fall to predators, they tend to avoid all encounters. In this fashion, predator birds can clear everything from airports to vineyards of birds (and other creatures, such as rabbits) that, in some cases, can pose a lethal threat to humans.
All for a price that can rival technological answers to the same problem.
Chavez’s is one of a handful of bird-vs.-bird abatement services that operate throughout Southern California.
“These are man-made problems we’re taking care of,” he says. “We’ve created a lot of these artificial environments where the birds aren’t supposed to be.”
One of Chavez’s falconers, Jen Stephenson, learned to train predator birds from a neighbor in her home town, Menifee.
On a recent morning, she worked with Shira, a chatty 5-year-old Harris’s hawk, to rid an Irvine housing project of its crows.
The pair rode in Stephenson’s Toyota like cops on patrol, Stephenson at the wheel and Shira perched on a stand in the back seat. Their reputation preceded them. When the white Prius turned down a street, crows would scatter, not needing (or wanting) to see Shira emerge from the back seat.
“I love doing this; I like being oustide,” Stephenson says.
Of Shira – a predator whose talons can eviscerate a crow in a few seconds – Stephenson adds:
“She’s a sweet, good bird.”
Big bird numbers
The bird-to-bird pest- control business is small but growing, at least locally.
Over the past five years, falconers across the country have received 144 licenses for commercial bird abatement through falconry, according to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. California operators got about a third of those, with 51 such licenses given to master falconers, including 23 that were issued in 2016. Comparatively, since 2011, the state with the second-most commercial falconer operations was Washington, where 15 permits were issued over five years.
Potential customers are everywhere. Golf courses, community associations, berry farms – any business or public property with a lot of land, a lot of potential bird food, and a need to not have bird poop or bird disease – can be a candidate to hire a falconer.
The problem that drives the business is health, not comfort. Seagulls have been known to carry salmonella and even drug-resistant E. coli. Pigeons and starlings can spread fungi. Bird roosts can harbor parasites that make their way to people.
At airports, bird strikes caused 279 human injuries between 1990 and 2013, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“There are many, many tiers of the financial hardships and human health hazards (birds) can cause. During peak seasons. The results can be powerful.
In May, Heal the Bay rated Dana Point’s Monarch Beach the fourth-most polluted stretch of ocean in California. Three months later, the organization upgraded the beach to an A/A+ grade. City officials attributed the quick turnaround to contracting with Chavez and his bird, Shira.
“The city is thrilled that the results of this demonstration study were so overwhelmingly positive,” said Lisa Zawaski, Dana Point’s senior water quality engineer.
“No birds were hurt or injured by this natural deterrent.”
Not everyone views falconry in such a positive light.
To run his company, Chavez applies the lessons he learned in getting an MBA and his wife’s knowledge as a certified public accountant.
Though he’s been a falconer since the age of 12, Chavez launched his business five years ago, using savings to get started.
Little about it has been cheap.
One bird can cost up to $3,500; GPS transmitters can cost $1,000. Other expenses include tablet devices to track the birds in the event they get hurt or tangled in something, vaccines, vet bills, $100 hoods that keep the birds calm, restaurant-quality food, and even helium for a giant red balloon used for training.
In return for his attentiveness (or perhaps because of the abundance of skinned, coturnix quail), Chavez has created a squadron of loyal workers who always return to his glove.
He’s reluctant to discuss how much he charges, saying he doesn’t want competitors to underbid him, but public records indicate the service isn’t cheap. Orange County, which started using falconry to clear its three landfills in 2013, spends about $250,000 a year for the service.
Chavez says he takes care to pair the work with the right bird on each job.
An Aplomado Falcon works best for agricultural clients plagued by starlings and sparrows. The landfill sites are frequented by hybrid falcons and Harris’s hawks. A bigger job, like spooking Canadian geese off a golf course, might require a bigger predator, like Chavez’s Eurasian eagle-owl Bo.
Chavez cares for each of his charges with the fastidious attention a coach might apply to star athletes. Birds train regularly, though they can get days off depending on weather conditions and where they are in the molting cycle. Chavez also makes adjustments for injury – his birds have been hurt after crashing into fences, power lines, windows and other man-made hazards.
Each bird weighs in daily to determine how much restaurant-grade quail it can eat.
“You want to feed them as much as you can,” Chavez said.
“But you don’t want them to get fat and happy.”
Among Chavez’s stars is Anna, a 10-year-old Gyr/Peregrine falcon. Within seconds of having her hood removed Anna recently made a run at the ocean, looking to hunt seagulls. Chavez followed her every move on a tablet synced with her two GPS trackers.
Within minutes, she had closed in on a beach 2.2 miles away, traveling about 300 feet in the air and effectively frightening away all prey for miles.
After flying like this for a few minutes, she returned to Chavez and the meat he had prepared for her, carefully stored away in Tupperware containers.
“I do like to say she likes me,” Chavez said.
“But she really likes my food.”
Staff writer Erika Ritchie contributed to this report.
Contact the writer: email@example.com
TOP NEWS OC Register
How a hawk chasing seagulls took a Dana Point beach’s Heal the Bay grade from ‘F’ to ‘A’
Dec. 27, 2016
Updated Dec. 28, 2016 3:09 p.m.
Shira is kept tethered while she works to keep seagulls at bay at Monarch Beach and Salt Creek Beaches after bacteria in the creek mouth rates a “bummer” with Heal The Bay. Photo courtesy of the County of Orange.
DANA POINT – When Monarch Beach made Heal The Bay’s Bummer List in June, city officials didn’t take it lightly.
They contacted county officials who oversee nearby Salt Creek Beach to collaborate on plans to address the high bacteria rating. And then they launched a three-month pilot project with a falconer and hawk to scare off the seagulls whose droppings were contributing to the bacteria in the Salt Creek outlet, which runs to the ocean between county-operated Salt Creek Beach and city-owned Monarch Beach.
The program, launched this summer, was a success, according to results released last week. Shira, a Harris hawk, was effective in reducing the number of seagulls gathering at the beach by five to 16 times, said Mark Denny, Dana Point’s deputy city manager. And that made a significant improvement to the water quality in the surf zone, he said.
In fact, after the hawk had been on the job only a few weeks, the Heal the Bay beach grades were elevated from an F to an A/A+.
“It was good to see that Shira was able to keep the gulls away and not impact other birds that were nearby,” said Lisa Zawaski, Dana Point senior water quality engineer.
While the $26,070 project was funded by the county, Dana Point took the lead in the day-to-day operations, including monitoring and coordinating with Adam’s Falconry Service, a San Juan Capistrano company that specializes in environmental bird-control techniques.
The company was founded by Adam Chavez, a falconer for 30 years who has worked successfully on similar programs with the county at Poche Beach, known statewide as one of the most polluted strands.
Christian Karapetian, one of the company’s 18 apprentice falconers, took charge at Monarch and Salt Creek beaches.
Karapetian worked eight-hour days, four days a week for three months, positioning himself at the creek mouth along the hillside. When enough seagulls gathered, he released Shira, who swooped over the creek and scared the birds away.
Shira was released as many as 20 times a day in the first few weeks. As the number of seagulls went down, she was released only a few times a day.
Karapetian would not release Shira if the snowy plover, a small shorebird, or the lesser tern were in the area. In 1997, the Dana Point City Council declared that birds along the city’s shoreline were protected.
In 2012, San Clemente paid $8,000 for a month-long project with five tethered falcons. The overall water quality did not significantly improve because the seagulls flew off over the ocean to get away from the falcons but didn’t leave the area.
Chavez’s company took over the project in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and improved the seagull situation using free-flying hawks and falcons.
Chavez uses raptors to help protect crops, improve water quality, prevent airstrikes at airports and to improve health and safety issues at landfills, resorts, golf courses and homeowner associations.
“I like to think of my team of raptors as an elite winged special force security team,” he said. “We protect against human and wildlife conflicts.”
Hawks have been used to keep birds under control at the Prima Deshecha Landfill just east of San Juan Capistrano. Recently, Adam’s Falconry Service reduced the number of seagulls at the landfill from at least 5,000 to 75, Chavez said.
While the company had to use several falcons and hawks at Poche Beach, only one hawk was needed at Monarch and Salt Creek because the seagulls seemed more fearful. Chavez said likely the terrain and the small pooling of water made them react more quickly. And Shira swept into the area from the nearby hillside, more concealed from direct view.
In the past decade, summer beach water quality improved at Monarch and Salt Creek beaches, following the city’s construction of the Salt Creek Ozone Treatment Facility in 2005.
The plant was built to reduce bacteria levels in Salt Creek dry-weather flows that previously resulted in a high number of beach warnings.
The plant operates from April through mid-November, treating surface runoff from the 4,500-acre watershed. The water improved so significantly that the beaches were removed from the state’s impaired water bodies in 2010. But a large population of seagulls remained at the creek mouth at both beaches.
Zawaski estimated that at one point there were more than 1,000 seagulls at the mouth of the creek. When the water board made that their testing site in April 2015, the results showed the high amount of bacteria came from seagull droppings. Those counts exceeded state standards, which prompted the posting with a warning.
Heal the Bay uses the same data to evaluate beaches statewide and grades them annually.
Because of the program’s success, the city and county have plans to bring Chavez and his hawks back next summer.
Contact the writer: 714-796-2254 or firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter:@lagunaini
Humans and animals working together to fight climate change. Humans and animals are working together for a better and cleaner environment.Owner of Adam’s Falconry Service, Adam Chavez / Photo via Odette PerezClimate change is in full effect and we really need to start taking responsibility. Earth is our home and we need to remember that we’re not living on it alone. We share our great Earth with all types of animals who deserve to call it their home as much as we do. Not to sound like a utopian novel, but if we can co-exist, then maybe we can work together and figure out a way to help each other clean and keep our Earth thriving.With temperatures rising due to climate change, and natural disasters occurring around the world, we’re seeing a lot of unwanted pests and insects who are relocating closer to populated areas. The consequences are evident with diseases and epidemics spreading, and as Brian Kahn stated on Climate Center, the change in climate throughout the world can and will lead to future viruses caused by insects. A good example is the Zika virus, it’s spreading quickly and challenging scientists and doctors in finding a cure for this disease that’s caused by a single mosquito bite.
Adams Falconry Service
This is where Adam Chavez is doing his part with his Falconry Service. As owner of Adam’s Falconry Service, Adam and his team of professional trainers are providing an extraordinary service by working with Falcons and Hawks. Together, they’re ridding landfills from unwanted rodents, minimizing the threat of diseased seagulls that leave bacteria in the water at beaches, and helping those who have problems with other birds and/or smaller animals that are a nuisance and destroy properties like golf courses and schools.
By doing this, Adam and his Falcons and Hawks are working together to help maintain a clean #Environment. These magnificent birds help push and rid populated areas of rodents and smaller animals that carry infectious diseases that can easily spread to humans. Adam’s Falconry Service proves that it is possible to work together with animals, and by doing so, we help better our lands and waterways. It’s a step towards controlling new diseases that are being discovered.
How it affects the birds
The birds used by Adam’s Falconry Service are all vaccinated to protect them from the dangers of diseases. They can stand the cold weather, but the high heat temperatures due to climate change is greatly affecting them. As Adam Chavez stated, about 75% of birds of prey don’t survive their first year in the wild. Where a bird usually should nest 2-3 babies, they’re now nesting 1-2 babies.
Adam’s Falconry Service has been bringing awareness by having school visits and teaching children about their program with hands-on experiences with the falcons. They are open to the public, but it’s advised that you book your session by emailing Adam, as space is limited. This is an unforgettable experience for the entire family (age limit is 5+).
Adam’s Falconry also helps injured birds through their Peregrine Rehabilitation program that sets them free once they’re ready to go back into the wild.
Even though they’ve already brought about significant change in Irvine, NTI says they have only just begun their work.Adam Chavez, owner of Adam’s Falconry Service displays falcon trained to control scavenging birds such as seagulls and crowsNTI is still working with the Irvine Unified School District on their Pesticide Management Policy and four of NTI’s board members serve on IUSD’s Pest Management Task Force. They have also met with The Irvine Company and are hopeful that they too will follow the City of Irvine’s lead. Most recently, the large community of Woodbridge, home to some 30,000 residents confirmed that they are working with the City to develop a pest management plan that is consistent with the City’s. NTI’s efforts are being recognized at the national level and like minded people in other cities are starting their own non toxic movements.Dana Point: City Council Approves Use of Falconer at Monarch BeachMonarch Beach received poor grades for its water quality, due in part to environmental contamination at its runoff point. Photo: Matt CortinaBy Kristina PritchettCity Council approved a resolution that would allow the county to bring in a falconer at Monarch Beach to aid with the bird population near Salt Creek Outfall on Tuesday.The resolution comes after a nonprofit environmental organization listed the area as a “beach bummer” last month. It will allow the county to bring in the falconer who has successfully managed the bird population at San Clemente’s Poche Beach and the county landfill.In June, Heal the Bay listed the beach as “bummer” due to the lower water quality that was tested. The city stated the lower results were due to the testing site being moved and the amount of birds that flock to the area.The site is home to the Salt Creek Ozone Treatment Facility that treats dry weather runoff. The facility treats the water before it returns it to the ocean, but before it hits the ocean the water hits the scour pond. The scour pond is where the testing is now being done, where previously it was done 25 yards out.The city has been working with Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. to determine the cause of the recent exceedances. According to the city, Amec has advised that the cause is the bird population on the beach.“So, although the water has been thoroughly treated with ozone at the facility at the beach’s edge, as the creek crosses the beach, a pond forms before it reaches the ocean,” the staff report states.Previously, the city has stated they would look for ways to improve the issue, but at the time they didn’t have a plan in place.During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Council approved the item during consent calendar.The city states the use of the falconer is a friendly approach to addressing the numerous birds “that pose a menace to obtaining positive state water quality testing results.”