Raptors, Owls, Bats Guard South African World Cup Stadium
May 31, 2010 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Open air sports stadiums often have issues with birds, insects, and other wildlife. Common preventative measures include ultrasonic devices and bird netting. But Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium - one of the venues for the 2010 World Cup - has taken an all-natural approach. It is working with the Urban Raptor Project to install raptors, bats, and owls to patrol the stadium for various pests, while a trained peregrine falcon chases away crows. This is not a new technique - Millennium Stadium in Wales has long used a Harris Hawk for bird control. But according to the NMB stadium manager, it "is the only stadium with a programme like this in place as a pest deterrent".
posted by gemmy (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
And when the raptors, bats and owls get out of hand, they simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes.
posted by codswallop at 3:47 PM on May 31, 2010

And then the gorillas will freeze over the winter!
posted by amethysts at 3:54 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

But besides the lazy lullzy simpson reference, I wanted to say that this was a very well done, interesting and enjoyable post.
posted by amethysts at 4:18 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Minnesota Twins' new stadium, Target Field, has an unofficial moth-control system in Kirby the Kestrel.
posted by rigby51 at 4:18 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I admit to being slightly disappointed that the raptors involved are not of the dinosaur variety.
posted by WalterMitty at 4:20 PM on May 31, 2010

As both birders and Giants (baseball) fans, we often bird from the baseball stadium, and have seen kestrels, peregrines, and Red-tailed Hawks at the game. The best insect controls are the Barn Swallows, by far, supplemented by swifts for part of the year. The spend much of the game zipping about and nabbing bugs in mid-air.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:28 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Raptors? That's a spot of overkill, no?
posted by GilloD at 4:56 PM on May 31, 2010

Nobody else has yet pointed out the missed awesomeness of having a hawk, rather than a falcon, in the Millennium Stadium.
posted by DU at 5:01 PM on May 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

if the bats get out of hand, they can always call billy the exterminator.
posted by msconduct at 5:40 PM on May 31, 2010

In undergrad, I lived in a dorm that had three floors and two sets of stairs. These stairs were enclosed in lightly tinted glass, which served as a fun place to hang out in during the fall and wintertime, but were giant dutch ovens in the spring and summer. One always stank more than the other because we had a hallmate who was 5'2" of pure anti-terrorist muscle, and he ate a diet of boiled potatos, raw garlic, and salt, and he would do his anti-terrorist stairclimbing when it was sweltering hot. This, you see, served to make him work harder, build a stronger core, and remind him of his mandatory army days in the Middle East (which country, I am not sure. But it must be a country that has a lot of potatos.). He never spoke. Ever.

Anyway, we had a big problem with birds hitting the windows. Being the half-educated science majors we were, and here I break to proudly proclaim that I changed majors to English with the help of my friend, with whom I still speak and meet up with several times a year, when he suggested that studying high-level biology on algae paled in comparison to studying low-level English majors with breasts and fine hair, we were certain that we could come up with a solution.

The problem: birds hitting the windows. The reason? The windows are transparent. So we put up strips of stuff on them. No go. Birds hitting windows again. Ok, well, someone was a bit more advanced in their zoology and reasoned that the birds don't recognize the burrito wrappers and candy bar wrappers and aluminum foil we put up on the windows. So we made bird cutouts.

Look. I don't know if you have ever lived in a dorm that's a "special" dorm for foreigners or smart Americans who gamed to admissions council for the dorm by asserting that they have as much to culturally gain and give to an International dorm, but whatever: it was foreigners and smart Americans. And we know Americans aren't that smart. But we studied things like Biology, Zoology, and I studied things like the lovely breasts of so-and-so in the hall, and of the breasts of other women, so we all got to working very hard-- fervently hard, for different reasons.

In one night we cut out something on the order of several hundred bird cutouts of different shapes and sizes. They were different colors, too. We taped them all up that evening, had a celebratory party, and fell asleep, knowing we did a good deed for the birds.

Until the morning arrived. "TOOONG!" "PWANG!" "THUDOOOOM!" "BLADOWWW!" The sounds wouldn't stop. It was as if the birds saw the cutouts, and decided there must be a party and they'd get down with their cloacal kisses.

I must mention that the building had copper-lined roof things, so the birds would crash, and fall, and then roast on the copper.

It wasn't until later that we were told that the cutouts needed to be in the shapes of birds of prey. We felt guilty, but we made fewer cutouts of birds we looked up to be suitable. We put the new cutouts up, and soon the number of bird-window collisions dropped.

With some regularity, however, we found that the "THABOOM!" would keep occurring. Being undergraduates only half-way through their education, we rationalized that these birds were the Elite Commando Bird Unit of the campus, protecting us from falcons and kestrels and hawks and the like. They never left any bodies-- they must've just gotten stunned and flew away.

That guy, you know, the stenchy stair-climbing maniac? The guy who never said a word? Oh yeah, he had a giant scar across his chest from some shrapnel in some conflict. Anyway, we were all sitting around in the lounge talking about the latest news on the bird problem, the banging, the lack of bodies, the possibility of birds hitting windows and surviving, etc. He was eating a potato, and someone asked him what he thought:

What do you think, Elan?
"I like potatos."
No, I mean about the birds.
"I think they are hawks."
Why would the hawks be crashing into other hawks on the window?
"They are hardening themselves."
For what?!

He stopped eating his potato and put the fork down, and slowly turned to the girl who asked the question. With dead eyes, he replied: "for war."

And then he finished his potato.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:24 PM on May 31, 2010 [33 favorites]

Let's hope they never host a dog show there, I remember a kerfuffle in NYC when the hawks that normally go for pigeons and rats decided someone's little rat-like purse dog looked like good eatin'. I think they ended up putting some kind of safety tips on the hawk's claws so that rich ladies wouldn't have to worry about their hideous living purse-bangles getting eaten. So unfair to the hawk.
posted by emjaybee at 7:57 PM on May 31, 2010

A couple of days ago, a football coach friend of mine told me that groundskeepers at Boise State's Bronco Stadium regularly have to scrape dead birds off the stadium's famous blue artificial turf playing surface. Apparently, birds nosedive onto the field thinking it's a body of water and then smash headfirst into the turf.

Apparently, it's an urban legend
posted by kalimotxero at 8:46 PM on May 31, 2010

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