SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — One local hotel has come up with a creative solution to stop unwanted guests from ruffling feathers. For years seagulls would swoop in on outdoor events at the Hotel del Coronado, but not anymore.
A hawk is sent up to fly over the main restaurants at the Hotel del: Sheerwater and Sun Deck - and even over beach when dinner served there - to protect guests from pesky seagulls.
“It’s always fun to see people’s faces when they see a hawk up close,” said falconer Lara Webster
Soaring above the Hotel del in Coronado is a Harris’s hawk named Timber. She can be spotted perched on rooftops, outside on balconies or even beating guests to the spa.
“Like people, she has good days and bad days, but she has a lot of good days,” said Webster.
Timber's good days consist of working 5 to 8 hours for three to five days a week in order to keep seagulls from pestering hotel guests and taking their food.
“We are situated on one of America’s best beaches, so unfortunately with beaches come seagulls,” said Hotel del PR Director Sara Baumann. “I think our guests find a really nice dining atmosphere when the birds are here helping to protect against those seagulls.”
Timber’s handler drives the eight-year old bird in a hawk mobile that starts to scare off other birds as soon as they see it.
Crows however sometimes come for Timber trying to frighten her
"They will divebomb the hawk and try to get them to move on just so they know their home and territory is safe,” said Webster.
But the professional percher holds her ground.
As a team of two, Webster and Timber have worked together for two years.
"For her to be really comfortable with me, it just takes a lot of food,” said Webster. “Right now, she’s eating a little bit of quail, so we like to spoil our birds.”
Two-pound timber wears leather bracelets on each claw.
“I have a little radio transmitter on her that way if we’re doing flights if for some reason I lose sight of her I can still find her,” said Webster.
“She doesn’t really know that her job here is to scare the birds away she just knows that if she flies around, and comes back she gets food with us.”
The bird program is called “falconry-based abatement” where it uses the same principles as falconry but instead of hunting they do scaring.
Harris’s hawks are better for buildings, while falcons work better for orchards and landfills since they need more room to fly around.
To see those Hotel del beaches in a different era check out this vintage News 8 footage from 1958 with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon filming scenes for "Some Like It Hot."
Click here to view on YouTube.