A unique wildlife program has just wrapped up its third successful year at Suncor’s Base Plant—the Falconry Program. 

The program uses birds of prey to deter ravens from roosting in the plant areas and has just wrapped up another year after taking a hiatus in 2021 due to COVID-19. 

The program was introduced in December 2018 to address the many ravens that were congregating at the site and creating excessive amounts of excrement, which led to large clean up costs and posed potential health risks to both the workers and birds.

The program involves handlers from Predator Bird Services Inc., who wear standard blue coveralls while at site, walking the birds throughout the plant and making them visible to the ravens. The birds are tethered to their handlers and do not interact with the ravens directly, keeping both predator and prey safe. The mere presence of the predatory bird is enough to drive the ravens away and greatly reduce the numbers in the area. No birds have been harmed because of this program.

A falcon sitting on a mound of snow at night
One of the birds of prey that patrol Suncor’s Base Plat site to help keep ravens away.

“Ravens are incredibly smart animals,” says Jessie Stevens, a wildlife advisor with Suncor. “They learn to associate people in blue coveralls with birds of prey and stay away.”

The birds of prey are welcome members of the Suncor workforce and plan on returning to site next winter for another season.