Family attacked by crows at Dubai beach resort

A pair of falcons trained to ward off the birds were nowhere in sight as the Abu Dhabi family were eating breakfast.

(L-R) Ian Sinnott and his children, Jacob, Maria and Lily Rose. Reem Mohammed / The National
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // It’s a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes himself.

For the great detective, the curious incident was the dog that didn’t bark in the night time. For the Sinnott family, attacked by a flock of crows in the grounds of their Dubai hotel, it was the falcons that didn’t swoop in the morning.

Hotels in the area keep the birds of prey to scare off crows, but they were nowhere to be seen yesterday when Ian Sinnott was relaxing in the hotel gardens with his daughters, aged 8 and 5, and his eight-week-old son.

“My daughter was eating a croissant as we sat on a bench, and suddenly there were lots of crows that started getting closer and closer,” said Mr Sinnott, a lecturer in Abu Dhabi. “I asked her to throw the croissant wrapper in the bin, but the crows chased her.

“They attacked me on my head and while we ran away from the bench one of them dug its claws into my head. My daughters were petrified. My five-year-old nearly fell over. Luckily they didn’t attack my son or it would have been really serious.”

Groundsmen drove the birds away and hotel staff apologised.

Mr Sinnott was given first aid, including an ice pack and painkillers.

“The hotel should put up a sign to warn people to beware of crows because this could be dangerous for not just my child but any child,” he said.

“It has ruined our holiday because the children don’t want to go out to the grounds any more.”

A senior hotel manager said Mr Sinnott’s complaint would be looked into and necessary action taken.

Falcons are used around the world to keep pigeons and crows away from hotel grounds, stadiums and airports.

“There are many falconers who do this job of training falcons because they can be trained for pest control,” said Dr Antonio D Somma, a vet and the medical director of Dubai Falcon Hospital.

Birds such as pigeons, crows and mynahs were not common in the UAE until two decades ago, and experts say efforts to deal with them are continuing, particularly in hotels.

“There have been cases where crows try to snatch food from people in outdoor dining areas, and when they snatch food from kids, the children are injured,” said Dinesh Ramachandran, technical manager with National Pest Control, which works with hotels using falcons and a trapping technique to drive away crows.

“The crows are not afraid, so they land on chairs or tables while people are eating. Crows are very intelligent and learn to adapt to techniques we use, like falcons.

“They are becoming a menace and we are trying to find practical solutions.”