News and Stories

Scottish Racing Pigeon/Sparrowhawk Predation Research Trial 2009 (SHU Press Release)

The Scottish Homing Union (SHU) is pleased that this trial demonstrated that trapping and translocation of problem Sparrowhawks at Pigeon lofts was both a humane and effective way of reducing attacks at Pigeon lofts.

Despite only being allowed to use carcases of Pigeons previously killed by the Sparrowhawk, there were a total of 8 captures of problem Sparrowhawks at five lofts in the 10 week trial.

When the problem Sparrowhawks were removed, attack rates were lowered from one attack every 20 hrs to one every 67 hrs (i.e. From one per 10 days to one per 34 days of normal exposure).

Pigeon fanciers are very optimistic that licensed trapping and translocation of Sparrowhawks could at last provide some protection for their Pigeons in their own gardens. This would be the preferred option of the SHU rather than illegal killing which at the moment would be the only way to prevent attacks.

This trial has shown yet again that deterrents do not work.

Positives - Legal Trapping Proves Successful


This Research Confirms That Deterrents Do Not Work

Further Background

Some 15 years after the Scottish Homing Union began fighting for protection for racing Pigeons, the latest report on Sparrowhawk attacks at lofts and preventative management methods has been published. This project was jointly undertaken by The Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Homing Union and has suffered from interminable delays and obstacles from the time it was conceived.

Former Environment Minister, Mike Russell first promised to find a solution for fanciers in Scotland in November 2007 and from that point onwards raptor favoring groups caused a succession of delays and setbacks that could be seen as a deliberate strategy to undermine the project.

An initial 80 ‘volunteer lofts’ from the Scottish Homing Union, were reduced to a final working total of 45 due to budget restrictions and for logistical reasons. Due to delays during the two years prior to the trial beginning, members were attending briefing meetings only to find the project cancelled or postponed time and again, on one occasion only 2 days prior to intended start date.

Despite all of the problems faced and taking account of the delays and restrictions imposed on the trial, 23 useable loft diaries were submitted that, on analysis, gave clear and positive evidence that supports the use of trapping and translocation problem Sparrowhawks as an effective management technique that will reduce the level of Sparrowhawk attacks at the garden lofts of Scottish fanciers.

You can also view the Report on Scottish Government website from Monday 25 January: