A New Zealand falcon which has made the Gore Public Gardens aviary its home is filling the enclosed birds with anxiety.
Gore Public Gardens aviary keeper Bob Smith said the falcon had been terrorising the aviary birds almost daily for more than three weeks.
“This is a young bird that has seemingly taken up residence in the town,” Mr Smith said.
The attraction of the aviary was the host of birds it housed, the falcon being under the impression it had found a bonanza of prey, Mr Smith said.
It was unusual for a falcon to stay so long in one place, he said.
“They are usually here for a few days,” he said.
The bird seemed to like living in Gore.
Mr Smith warned the owners of hens to be wary.
“It’s a bit of a threat to free-range chooks.”
While falcons were bold birds, this one took it to the next level and did not seem to have any fear.
He could get close to the bird without causing it any concern, Mr Smith said.
Council gardeners were the first to spot the new resident, prompting him to put the free-flying doves into an enclosure, he said.
The falcon’s hunting strategies were a little unusual, Mr Smith said.
The bird had chosen to sit quietly on the lower branches of rhododendron bushes and watch his would-be prey in the aviary, he said.
The falcon would wait until the aviary birds were sitting calmly and then fly headlong at the aviary, causing panic.
However, the aviary birds had their own strategy and would rush to the back of the enclosure and sit quietly.
The determined falcon could persist in his approach for more than an hour at a time,
The falcon had apparently been feeding well since its move to Gore and he had seen blood staining around its beak, Mr Smith said.
The bird needed to eat its own body weight in food daily to maintain condition, he said.
New Zealand falcons had frequented the gardens for the past six years.
Last year’s visitor was a juvenile female and in previous years adult birds had visited.