Grain Silos

The Falcon that Failed 1970s

Hunting with Falcons is a traditional sport in Dubai. So is keeping pigeons. With Dubai's growing population and an ever increasing food supply, Dubai's pigeon population grew rapidly to a point they became a general nuisance, a danger to road traffic and harmful to stored foodstuffs. But how to control this growing pest? This story is about how these traditional sports were set against each other to solve a pigeon problem in 1978. Was it successful??

Dubai's tradition of keeping Pigeons

Pigeon Lofts were a common sight in Shindaga in the early 1970s. Small flocks of pigeons could be seen flying over Shindaga. They were not a problem. That changed in 1976! National Flour Mills began importing grain for their Flour Mill. Located next to the "Falcon Roundabout", their Grain Silos were inside Port Rashid and connected to the Flour Mill via an underground conveyor system. Falcons Bulk Grain Ships began arriving in Port Rashid. Their grain was discharged into open trucks, transported to the silos and dumped into an open hopper. Port Rashid's Roads were soon covered in grain that fell from these trucks. Overnight Shindaga's pigeons' food source grew beyond any pigeon's expectations. Then Dubai's Merchant began speculating in rice. Large quantities of bagged rice arrived at Port Rashid ready for re-export at an ever increasing price. Then the bottom fell out of the world rice market and the rice had nowhere to go. But rice continued to arrive filling storage sheds while Dubai's Merchants waited for a price rise. In the meantime Shindaga's pigeons moved in!

Pigeon Laws: The Expert's Advice

Size of Pigeon Flocks is governed by amount of food available i.e."More Food = More Pigeons, Less Food = Fewer Pigeons"
Pigeons breed at a faster rate than they can be killed - a female pigeon can hatch 2 chicks every three weeks throughout the year e.g. A 10,000 pigeon easily maintains its numbers even if several hundred birds are killed each day.

With Shindaga's Pigeons feeding on all this grain and rice, their numbers had grown to an estimated 10,000 birds. They ruined the stored rice with their droppings and damaging the bags to get to the rice plus these now overfed, overweight Pigeons had difficulty in flying! Increasingly cars, trucks and buses collided with fat Pigeons as these failed to get airborne! Something had to be done!! Then someone suggested a Falcon. Birds move away from areas where Falcons fly was the advice. So Port Rashid bought a Falcon!

Solution = One Falcon

One of Port Rashid local staff had trained Falcons so he was asked to buy a Falcon chick he could train which he did - at a price - Falcons are not cheap. Training a Falcon is not easy either. Falcon need close personal attention for a long period. A special Falcon House was built for the Falcon Chick. Dubai PigeonsPort Rashid's Falcon became a regular sight, driving around Port Rashid perched on the passenger seat of his Trainer's old Mercedes Benz. Eventually this expensive Falcon put its training into practice. It was taken out of its "Falcon House" into the Port. A time was chosen when the Pigeons were feeding in large numbers. Everyone gathered to watch. The Falcon was released. It immediately flew to the highest point it could find - on top of one of Port Rashid's lighting towers. It stayed there for awhile, searching for prey. Then it took off, swooping down into the flock of pigeons, turning, twisting and changing direction quicker than the onlookers could follow. Falcon took its prey cleanly in the air then flew low back to its Trainer as it had been taught. Everyone moved closer to have a look. The Falcon's prey lay on the ground - a large Seagull!
Meanwhile the pigeons went about their business unconcerned and unhindered.

Port Rashid's Accountant updated his Asset Register to read..

Item: One Falcon
Purchase Price: DHS25,000
Status: Surplus to requirements
Current Value: Nil
Actioned: Disposed as scrap material

The Falcon was last seen sitting on a Port Worker's bicycle handlebars as he cycled home.