Instead of rugby balls or footballs, a bird of prey is now flying above the Ricoh Arena – and help is needed to give the venue’s new feathered friend a name.
The Male Harris Hawk is 20-months-old and has been introduced as a deterrent to keep pigeons at bay in the stadium bowl at the home of Wasps and Coventry City.
The golden coloured bird is looked after by the Ricoh Arena’s deputy facilities and energy manager Alan Pickering at his home before being brought to the award-winning stadium three days a week.
Alan spent two years completing the LANTRA Beginning Falconry Award at Hawkwise Falconry at The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park in Sutton Cheney, Warwickshire, and is a member of the Coventry-based Central Falconry and Raptor Club.
Alan has looked after the hawk since he was 20-weeks-old and has built an aviary in his garden to care for the bird of prey.
“The bird is becoming part of the team and he is here to be a deterrent because pigeons are causing so much damage which is leading to a big clean-up operation,” he said.
“He is not a display bird or pet, he was bred in captivity from a registered breeder and when we fly him, the public are not here.
“It is good for him because he gets plenty of exercise since there is plenty of open space and he has a flying weight of 1lb 6oz. Any weight above that, he is not hungry and won’t come back to me as easily.
“He wears a transmitter when he is flying because I once nearly lost him. Flying into the wind took him out of the stadium and I panicked but I got him back on the railway side of the Ricoh Arena.
“I vowed I would never fly him again without a tracker so that if I lose him, I can find him.
“At the moment, he doesn’t have a name so we would welcome any suggestions.”
Alan said the bird’s arrival had caused a great deal of interest among staff at the Ricoh Arena as well as guests staying in hotel bedrooms overlooking the stadium bowl.
“I have seen hotel guests amazed to see a bird of prey flying around and I am always here with him,” he said.
“He is becoming used to other members of staff but during the nesting season he won’t fly. He is also in his moult and will start to shed his feathers, I will have to train him all over again at the end of this plus manning the birds of prey is always ongoing.
“As well as pigeons, we sometimes had crows and rucks sitting on the pitch but there’s less flying around now.
“I’m also planning to get a female hawk later in the year and she will be twice the size of the male bird so I have started altering the aviary in my garden.”
At Wasps’ eagerly-anticipated match against Leicester Tigers on Saturday, May 9, Central Falconry and Raptor Club will be bringing two Male Harris Hawks, two Hawks, a European Eagle Owl, a Gyr x saker Falcon, a Red-tailed Hawk and a Barn Owl to the Fans’ Village in the Jaguar Exhibition Hall.
Tickets for Wasps v Leicester Tigers are extremely limited. Tickets are priced from £15 and can be purchased at the Ricoh Arena Ticket Office, online by visiting the Wasps website www.wasps.co.uk or by calling the Wasps ticket line on 0844 847 1867. For all hospitality enquiries please contact 02476 786410.
Please send any ideas for a name for the Ricoh Arena’s hawk to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @RicohArena using #NameTheHawk