MEET the Royal Bolton Hospital’s latest recruits — killer birds of prey which will help control a pigeon problem.

Falcons and hawks, including a white gyr falcon, are expected to cut pest control bills at the hospital, which currently costs up to £5,000 a year.

Drafting in the birds is expected to cost half as much, and they will be used to deter the disease-carrying pigeons from nesting and roosting in the hospital buildings.

The birds will replace the hospital’s more expensive anti-pigeon nets.

Associate director of facilities, Stephen Tyldesley, said the idea of using birds of prey had been well received by staff.

He said: “Pigeons are a real nuisance and can be a health hazard, so we’re looking forward to seeing how this initiative works and cut costs at the same time.” Pestproof, the hospital’s pest control contractor, introduced the birds from St Helens-based Hawk Control.

The killer birds will be used for about three to four months, with approximately 12 visits from the birds each month.

The falcons and hawks will be flown one at a time at night in areas where pigeons roost.

The birds may catch and kill some pigeons, but the main purpose is to act as a deterrent.

By not replacing the anti-pigeon netting, the hospital also hopes to avoid smaller birds becoming trapped.

David Treadall, aged 46, has run Hawk Control for 16 years.

He said: “We will be doing something which is environmentally friendly to get rid of pigeons, which are health hazards.

“I have a team of 24 hawks and falcons which are used at lots of hospitals, premiership football grounds and factories.

“I usually have six birds in the van with me and they are released one at a time in the evening.”

He said the pest situation will be reviewed after about three months to see whether the process needs to be continued longer.

Hospital healthcare assistant Sheila Neary said: “It’s fantastic.

This is a much more natural way of dealing with the problem.”

The birds of prey are expected to begin their work at the hospital in the next few weeks.