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Santa Barbara - South County

Looking for the Helpers: Falconer and Grumpy the Hawk keep pests away from Cottage Hospital

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Special thanks goes out to a winged helper keeping an eagle-eye on the grounds at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. 

Falconer Donna Sweet and Grumpy (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

Meet Grumpy the Hawk and his human partner, Donna Sweet. She told us Grumpy is a 9-year-old Harris Hawk, a species native to the southwestern U.S.

"They're social, unlike most raptors," said Sweet. "So they're really a pleasure to work with, they make a bond with you unlike other raptors."

Sweet, who works as a falconer with David Roth Abatement, said the two are hired to do pest control in various parts of Santa Barbara County. 

"It keeps crows, gulls, and pigeons away from the hospital," said Sweet. "The helipad is important, the dock area, the whole hospital."

(Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

Keeping birds away from critical areas helps preserve life-saving minutes during emergencies. Sweet said Grumpy is very serious about his job.

"We don't catch things, we just deter them, so this is a completely green and natural pest control. And when there's a hawk that's sort of "resident" in the area, the "pest" birds may be around but they don't build nests. They are much less likely to be on the hospital because we're here."

Sweet pointed out what she liked best about working with Grumpy.

Grumpy the Harris Hawk (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

"Grumpy is extremely enthusiastic. He's a crazy little guy! He's very hyper, he keeps me on my toes."

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.

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