Bosses at the UK’s busiest railway station have recruited a hawk to scare off pigeons following a spate of complaints from passengers.
Aria will be the first bird of prey to patrol London Waterloo in 18 months.
There are 27 food and drink retailers at the Network Rail-managed station, and many customers have complained about pigeons pecking at food and leaving a mess.
Recent TripAdvisor reviews of the station’s venues include a warning about “loads of pigeons flapping around whilst you are trying to eat” and a description of someone having to “fight pigeons for my food”.
Another visitor even suggested passengers should “bring a fly swat for the pigeons”.
Harris hawk Aria, aged five, will be on duty at the station twice a week for two-hour shifts.
She was raised in St Albans and has previously been deployed by London King’s Cross station and the Treasury to keep pigeons away.
Jason Murphy, Waterloo area manager for Network Rail, said: “Pigeons can be a real nuisance for people using the station. They also cause a lot of mess which needs cleaning up at some expense.
“Aria’s work is really important in making the station a better place for our passengers, while saving us money on our cleaning bills.
“She’s a very hard worker and we’re delighted to have her as part of the station team here at Waterloo.”
Aria handler, Max Bell, said: “Aria really enjoys the environment at Waterloo and is delighted to be here.
“She does a great job and often likes to reward herself with a relaxing bath in the puddles that gather on the rain shelters over the platforms.”