The Sydney Opera House is splashing thousands of dollars on a giant robot bird to safeguard diners from hungry seagulls.
"Our venue operators and the Opera House have trialled other additional measures on an ad-hoc basis, including kites that resembled owls and an audio deterrent," said the Sydney Opera House spokeswoman. "None, including the mock bird of prey, has proved very effective."
The unwanted dining companions will face a new enemy in the form of a giant, mechanical bird of prey, carrying a price tag of approximately £4,000 ($6,500).
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the robo-bird bears a resemblance to the mechanical falcons costing £9,700. These were installed at Scotland's Network Rail in a bid to scare gulls and pigeons from Edinburgh's central train station.
Despite several attempts to keep the seagulls at bay, including £900 spent on laser lighting and artificial predatory birds, the Opera House spokeswoman said:
"Unfortunately, the seagulls become accustomed to these kind of tactics so they are only ever a short-term fix. We have been advised that the best way to manage them is to take away the food source but being a waterfront dining destination and a fish market, completely removing the food source is not an option. All we can do is try and limit the birds' access to food."
Several celebrities have encountered the Sydney seagulls, including the American actress Hillary Duff, who was dive-bombed by seagulls earlier this month, while eating chips outside the Opera House.
Australian Museum ornithologist Dr Richard Major has a simpler and cheaper solution.
"Other than removing the food source, the most effective deterrent is waving your hands and shooing them away."