Pilot test to use raptors to ward off Purple Gallinule of rice paddies

Source and Photo: (08/2014)

It is known that at airports, football stadiums and world events raptors are used for the control of airspace to avoid unexpected risks. This summer in the Delta de l'Ebre (Tarragona, Spain), a pilot test has carried out with the use of falconry to control a particular type of bird that is found in rice fields: the Purple Gallinule. This is a pilot test leaded from the State Administration, which is still in a very early stage and that have not yet been evaluated by the test results. This task has been subcontracted to the company ‘Acariciando el Aire', with two Harris hawks and two eagles.

Oscar Martos, from 'Acariciando el Aire', has been the responsible to fly daily raptors through the expanses of paddy fields that are in the area of the island of Buda and Encanyissada. The purpose of the flight of these birds is to try to disperse and deter the Purple Gallinule found in the fields. This animal feeds on rice and produce great damage in crops. Oscar Martos explained that "the project is operating, and the number of Blue Gallinules has dropped in rice fields."


The Purple Gallinule is a protected species, which cannot be hunted or damaged. The birds used in this activity will be well trained in the art of change. This technique consists in change his capture, in this case the Purple Gallinule, for a reward.  In addition, extra precautions are taken, blocking the claws of eagles to produce no harm, discomfort or injury to specimen hunted.

Being a protected animal, the purpose of this practice is that the raptor scares the Purple Gallinule, but it is inevitable that sometimes get the eagle capture their prey alive.

When they are captured, they are releasest into the wild, away from the fields.

However, Oscar Martos says that "so far none of the captured prey has suffered physical damage and has been released back into their habitat." He added that "it has a team of veterinarians who ensure that the animals are totally in good condition."

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