Credere, a Catholic weekly, reports that the Vatican has decided to employ a hawk to protect the Pope’s doves, after two doves were killed by a crow and seagull on January 26th.
The doves were promptly killed by the birds when two children released them from a window above St. Peter’s Square.
At various times of the year, the doves are set free to fly as visual icons of peace.
“Sylvia,” the Harris Hawk that was trained in northern Italy, will reportedly be used by the Swiss Guards. The bird’s four-foot wingspan is expected to frighten possible predators threatening the doves.
It is not uncommon in Italy for birds of prey to be used to deal with the threat of pigeons, whether at airports, football stadiums, or the Colosseum to guard against pigeon droppings.