Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Holyrood hawk missing in action

Generic Harris Hawk
It is thought the hawk could have escaped to nearby Arthur's Seat

A bird of prey drafted in to guard the Scottish Parliament against pigeons has gone missing.

The Harris hawk, called Tweed, was among eight birds who patrolled Holyrood before he vanished on Monday afternoon.

There have been unconfirmed sightings of the eight-month-old hawk on the nearby Arthur's Seat.

Holyood has had a long-standing problem with pigeons nesting in the sprawling complex.

Tweed had been used with other hawks and peregrine falcons over the past six months on a strict "no kill policy" as part of a £44,000 three-year contract.

A parliament spokeswoman said: "Regrettably one of our contractor's hawks has gone missing but this does not affect the cost or conditions with the contractor who supplies this service.

"The falconry contract is helping us deal with our pigeon problem and seven other birds of prey continue to be flown at Holyrood.

"In the long term we fully expect to see a reduction in the money we spend on external cleaning as a result of pigeons being deterred from the parliament building."

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