It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, Oh Wait it Really is a Bird

by Nathan Mayer

There are many different ways to get rid of unwanted animals. We use mousetraps, bug spray, and cages. What happens when you have a bird problem then? That’s when people like Patrick come in. Patrick Johnston is the owner of Frontier Wildlife Control and he is what we call a Master Falconer. A Master Falconer is someone skilled in the art of owning, training, and taking care of falcons, and Patrick has been doing this for a very long time.

He practices bird abatement, which really took flight in the early 2000’s and has been growing in popularity ever since. Abatement is the act of removing or lessening something unwanted. Usually bird abatement is used on the four main types of nuisance birds: Pigeons, Starlings, Cowbirds, and the most common here in Texas, Grackles. Grackles are the birds seen most in the autumn and winter time as they migrate south and wind up here where the weather is warmer. This can cause problems for local businesses because of the annoyance these birds present. Thousands of birds in trees and on power lines tend to deter people from shopping in the areas these grackles inhabit. Less customers cause businesses to lose money, and that is when they turn to Patrick.

Patrick brings one of his seven birds of prey into the area at night and sets it free to hunt. The bird abatement process is meant to deter nuisance birds from coming back to occupy the area. Once Patrick and his Falcons hunt for 3-5 nights, the grackles will determine it unsafe to stay in that area and will relocate.

Patrick has four Harris Hawks, which are the birds he mainly uses while working. Harris Hawks come from the Accipitridae family which houses 208 species of bird. The most notable birds from the family are the Red-tailed Hawk, the Golden Eagle, and the

Bald Eagle. Patrick says that Hawks are extremely smart for their size. They have the brain of a 2 year old human and he trains their brains with games and puzzles to help them stay ready for the next job.

Patrick received his falconry license from the Texas Hawking Association which has been around since 1980. The goal of the association is to provide anyone interested in becoming a falconer or learning about the sport of falconry information about falconry laws in Texas. They work with the Texas Park and Wildlife department to help foster a safe use of raptors in falconry.

If you are interested in learning more about Patrick, visit his website at and if you are interested in becoming a falconer and learning more about these fascinating birds, to visit the Texas Hawking Association website at

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