BEDEQUE - Jamie Stride of Bedeque has brought a new business to P.E.I and his star employee is a three-pound eastern red-tailed hawk.
During his many years of employment in the pest control industry, Stride noticed a trend in the increased number of Islanders who were having issues getting rid of birds on their property.
"You run into a lot of bird problems and it's always very difficult or very expensive to control these situations because of the vast area birds occupy and the fact that they are usually high up. Materials needed to get rid of them were hard to install and also very expensive," Stride explained of what sparked his interest for his new company. "That's when I started doing a little bit more research."
All it took was a demonstration of the art of falconry and he was hooked. He said from that moment he knew he wanted to bring falconry to P.E.I.
"It's using a natural approach and it's a very, very effective method. There is no trapping, no shooting, you are just letting nature take its course," Stride said.
After attending falconry school in Quebec and obtaining a permit from the Department of Wildlife, Stride was ready to start his journey of becoming a full-time professional falconer.
He built a provincially-inspected 12 by 24-foot barn and purchased a large female eastern red-tailed hawk.
Stride's five-year-old son named the hawk Seven because she will be the seventh member of the Stride family.
Over a period of four months Stride dedicated every day to training Seven.
"When you get a fresh hawk they're very nervous, they have a wild nature to them still and you have to break them in," said the falconer. "I had to get her used to me talking and my movements, to let her know she's not in danger."
Stride began to build his bond with Seven by walking into her barn, leaving her food and walking out. Once she learned that Stride was not a threat he began to increase their connection by holding the food in a glove on his hand over the perch. From there he slowly began to take his hand away from the perch so that the hawk would have to leave her perch and land on the glove in order to get food.
"That is the hardest part. Once they get from the perch to the glove everything accelerates. Then you get them to fly to the glove," Stride said.
By the end of four months, Stride was able to take Seven outside, let her fly free and have her return to him using a particular call or food.
Stride says one of the most important things in falconry is the hawk's diet.
"You have to try and mimic their natural diet as much as possible. People think we starve them so they'll hunt but we feed them every day," said Stride. Seven's diet includes rodents, chicks, beef heart and other small animals.
Stride recently expanded his business with the purchase of a falcon, which is in its third week of training. The hawk will be effective against birds such as seagulls and geese and the falcon will be effective against crows and pigeons.
Island Falconry Services opened for business last month and has already helped many Islanders rid themselves of the headache that comes with pesky birds.
IFS welcomes all inquiries and requests by phone at 887-2681 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.