Hawks for Hire: Phoenix company using birds of prey to address pigeon problems

A Phoenix business is utilizing falconry to help keep the pigeon population in the greater Phoenix area under control.
Published: Mar. 20, 2022 at 4:00 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 20, 2022 at 5:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - They look harmless enough, perched on top of rooftops, soaking up some Arizona sun. But make no mistake, pigeons have a lot of friends and they don’t play nice. Pigeons are a serious problem in communities across the Valley. That’s where “Tony Hawk” comes in. The majestic bird is an expert in catching pigeons.

Bladen Benson is the owner of Desert Kings Falconry, a bird control business in the Phoenix area that specializes in removing pigeons from your property. “A lot of companies out here use poisons or cages, or other traps to catch them and remove them,” said Benson. “That’s all human work. It’s humane, but you can’t get more natural than this.”

Benson and his hawks will show up at any apartment complex, HOA, or office building to get rid of the unwanted flying pests, one at a time. “The young birds, they tend to bring back 5-6 pigeons per night when they first start,” said Benson. “Tony here can do about 15-20 pigeons in about 2-3 hours, depending on how many he is doing that night .”

“We have 8 birds, so if each bird is bringing back 15-20 pigeons a night, we’re doing right now about 1,200 pigeons a month for certain properties like this,” said Benson. He said each pigeon they catch is “put down” in a humane fashion, then fed to the hawks as food. AZFamily followed along one night to watch Benson and his birds do their thing at a Tempe apartment complex.

The hawks only work at night, when the sun is down and the pigeons are sleeping. Benson will flash a light on the pigeons to show their location, then the hawk goes to work. “We’ll actually find the pigeons for them,” said Benson. “Once we find the pigeon, we’ll spot it, and they’ll grab it and bring it back to us .”

In some communities, the hawks have removed hundreds, even thousands of pigeons over a six-month period. Bladen understands that not everyone will approve of the way his hawks operate, but the way he sees it, it’s “just hawks being hawks” as nature intended.

“They’re not hurting anybody, people love them, they love seeing them,” said Benson. “They are very gentle. We hang out with these guys all day at resorts, flying up and catching pigeons, then bringing them back. No better way than that.” According to Benson, the cost to hire the hawks ranges from $200 to $100,000, for some resorts and college campuses. It all depends on many pigeons there are and how long it will take to get rid of them.

For more information visit Desert Kings Falconry here.