News National A show of feathered force to evict federal Parliament’s rogue residents
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A show of feathered force to evict federal Parliament’s rogue residents

A peregrien falcon in flight.
Several birds of prey are helping Parliament House gardeners manage their pest problems. Photo: Getty
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Basking in Canberra’s spring sun, Floyd stands proudly on the forecourt of Parliament House.

Resplendent in a red-and-black hood, her calm demeanour masks her explosive speed and power.

“We’ve got her up to around about 120, 150 kilometres per hour, which is not bad. Her mother we clocked at 257 kilometres per hour,” Floyd’s handler Graeme Coles offers.

Floyd is a peregrine falcon, one of the nation’s most remarkable birds of prey.

She is intimidating, even from a human perspective. So imagine what it must be like for smaller, slower birds who see her circling above them.

The falcon has been brought to Capital Hill for a reason — hired avian muscle to help the building’s gardeners keep the well-curated grounds of the precinct as pristine as possible.

Parliament has a duck problem, and it is getting messy.

“They come into our lovely forecourt here, and they leave a lot of droppings that we’re spending a lot of money cleaning up,” Paul Janssen from the Department of Parliamentary Services landscaping team said.

That is where Floyd swoops in.

To try and intimidate or scare the birds, and for them to feel the area’s unsafe to come and spend the night because there’s a predator in the area,” he said.

Turf wars and allegations of standover tactics are nothing new in Parliament, which has now employed birds of prey to try to control some of its rogue residents.

Staff have tried other methods before. They have flown a kite in the shape of an eagle, and even played other bird noises through speakers to try to force the mucky mallards to move.

Floyd does not patrol these parts alone. She is joined on the forecourt by Wot, a barking owl with piercing yellow eyes.

Close up of owl with yellow eyes on orange coloured background.
Wot, the owl hired to help scare birds at Parliament House. Photo: Matt Doran, ABC News

Their standover — or flyover — tactics are successful in scaring the ducks away.

“In February, we would’ve had easy over 40 ducks out here each night, and now we’re getting a lot less,” a pleased Mr Janssen said.

“We’re down, sort of, [to] around 10 or below.”

Behind Parliament’s high walls, Tilley the goshawk is on the case, protecting the hot chips of staffers from being snatched by greedy freeloaders.

“The courtyard areas inside are getting inundated with magpies, and they’re getting a bit cheeky apparently, and stealing food, and I suppose injury is the main concern there,” Mr Coles said.

“The magpies certainly get a bit agitated with that bird in the courtyard,” Mr Janssen added.

Goshawk sitting on handlers leather glove out the front of Parliament House, Canberra.
Tilley the goshawk intimidates magpies in the courtyard. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News

Graeme Coles is a man in demand.

The one-time orthotics maker said his falconry skills were being employed by the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Australian Open and now Parliament House.

“Controlling birds, obviously, in an urban or built-up area — you can’t use lethal control,” he said.

This type of method is not hurting the birds, it’s just removing them from the environment that they’re in at the moment, into their natural environment.

Along with his colleague Marina Andersen, it is the second time he has brought his diverse feathered enforcement team to the capital.

“Faster the pest bird, faster the predator,” he said as he explained why different birds were used in different areas.

He is due to return again in November, to check whether any of the displaced birds have come home to roost in the parliamentary zone.

ABC