Monday, September 3, 2018

Looking For a Bird Repellent?

As a grower, you have your own special pest bird headaches. Historically, vineyards, fields and orchards used to be smaller and intermixed with other crops. Today, they're far more expansive and crops are much sweeter. This can attract huge flocks and frenzied feeding that can totally destroy a crop. A flock of 5,000 starlings, for example, can consume up to one ton of food in just 10 days. You know that grackles, gulls and starlings can be a problem, but so can robins, orioles, and mockingbirds, especially for grape and tender fruit growers. All the more reason to look for an effective bird repellent.

Over the years, you've learned a few things about pest birds. For one, large flocks are easier to scare than small ones. It's also tough to break birds of the habit of feeding in any one area once they've decided to make your property their home. Worse yet, birds feeding on your crop will draw other birds to feed. You've learned too, that birds quickly become immune to uniform movements or noise patterns. And that crops protected with netting are still vulnerable to birds perching on nets that feed through them.

The problem is, you've tried rotating propane exploder cannons ("bird-bangers"), hawk silhouettes, stuffed owls and snakes, even toxic baits, but those pest birds just keep on coming. Eating up profits. What you have is a "failure to communicate." What you need is a really good bird repellant.

Not to worry. There are all sorts of ways to repel pest birds without resorting to firearms, stuffed hawks or poisons. These repellants include everything from low cost to high-tech. Best of all, they're humane, easy to install, and they work.

Probably the best place to start is one of the most economical bird repellent--the Bird Chaser. Birds don't like shiny things that wave at them while they're trying to land. And Bird Chasers do just that. They employ iridescent reflective foil or flash tape, balloons, and banners to create what's known as an "Optical Distraction Zone." The balloons come in all shapes and sizes, some even sport giant threatening eyes. Be sure to install these above the crop for best effect. And allow them to move freely in the breeze. String streamers and flash tape along perimeter rows where pest birds cause the most damage. And swap them out often.

Speaking of scary eyes, a bird repellent called a Bird Chaser uses scare-eye images to keep pest birds at bay. It's easy to install and quite effective. One manufacturer offers a two for one chaser with iridescent foil eyes on one side and glow-in-the-dark eyes on the other side for night use.

To keep birds from landing on barns, sheds, silos and other buildings on your orchard, you might try the Bird Spike. This highly effective bird repellent discourages birds from landing through the use of intimidating looking spikes. The spikes are attached to strips (about 2 feet or so in length) and you can get them in either stainless steel or rigid unbreakable polycarbonate. The poly spikes cost less and are ideal for use in areas where the electrical conductivity of steel spikes could present a problem. Both are harmless to birds and easy to install.

Another thing you might try is Bird Netting. It's a good bird repellent for warehouses, barns and other structures. Netting comes in 3/4", 1-1/8" and 2" mesh sizes to repel sparrows, starlings, pigeons, and larger birds. The best netting is made of ISO 1806 mesh test polyethylene fabric. For long life, look for nets that are U.V. stabilized, flame resistant, and rot and waterproof. For best effect, drape nets directly on top of the crop (or trees), or tie them to an overhead structure to enclose the vineyard or orchard. Be sure to drape nets high enough so birds can't access your crop.

If you like higher tech devices, there are two bird repellents worth mentioning.

There's the Audio Bird Repellent. These can be surprisingly effective. They generate ultrasonic sounds beyond the reach of human hearing, but they drive pest birds away in droves. Some audio repellents emit threatening predator or shrill bird distress calls to frighten pest birds away. There are also audio devices that simply generate annoying sounds (like listening to your mother in law), which most living things can't stand. If you've got a flock of birds driving you crazy in a warehouse, barn or shed, audio repellents will get them out. Ideal for sparrows, starlings, pigeons, and larger birds.

Last up is one bird repellent that has worked for a wide range of orchards, vineyards and other open areas. These fall into the category of the Fogger/Mister. They use powerful aerosol systems to create a food-grade, non-lethal mist of methyl anthranilate. This misted chemical won't harm birds, man or beast, and is FDA-approved. Birds fly through the mist and it makes them want to scatter in all directions and never come back. Some Fog/Mist systems area equipped with remote spray units and come with adjustable spray nozzles to reach specific trouble zones.

So put away that shotgun or cannon and give that stuffed Hawk to you kid's school. You've got some real bird repellent alternatives.

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