2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
“Tweaked” Distress Calls Scare Away Pest Birds Permanently
“Research showed that naturally occurring distress calls worked better, but the pest birds habituated to them, too,” says Rick Willis, Bird Gard.
Part of the solution lay in developing a microprocessor to randomize the patterns. The second part of the solution was to change the pitch slightly, which the microprocessor also does.
“With the changes, every time the Bird Gard unit plays, it has a slightly different sound, giving the impression that a lot of starlings or other target bird types are under attack from a whole lot of raptors.”
To introduce the new technology and educate people to how superior it is, Willis started doing in-field demonstrations. Kendall Jackson, a very large grape grower, was spending as much as $800 to $1,000 an acre to put nets over premium grapes. Willis was able to fix the problem for $200 an acre.
At the end of a 2-year test, the company not only bought the demonstration units, but also gave him a map of other high-value vineyards they wanted protected.
“Grape, blueberry, cherry and other fruit and nut growers all have a problem with pest birds,” says Willis. “Blueberry growers can lose from 10 to 50 percent of their crop to birds. A Willamette Valley blueberry grower was losing $3,000 to $4,000 an acre.”
Willis says some large growers get multi-crop benefits, moving their systems from one ripening crop to another. Others with drip irrigation use their systems to keep birds from destroying the drip lines to get at water.
“Broccoli and sweet corn farmers use the units to keep birds from pulling seedlings out of the ground,” says Willis.
Unlike other bird repellant devices, the Bird Gard audio systems are species specific. They don’t harm or discourage other species and can even encourage them.
“We had a blueberry grower with a lot of ring-necked doves that eat damaging insects,” recalls Willis. “We didn’t put their distress calls on recordings for his blueberry fields; however, we do use their calls in fields of sorghum and grain where they eat the crops.”
In Washington State, a combination of the kestrel’s natural cry along with pest birds’ distress calls draws the kestrels in to feed on mice and voles. The same audio mix chases away the pests. In Georgia, desirable purple martins stayed while starlings were driven out.
Willis has also sold Bird Gard units to large-scale feedlots and dairies that can be inundated by starlings and other birds, especially in the winter.
“Because of their drive to survive and a shortage of alternatives in the winter, our units are only 85 percent effective,” says Willis. “The rest of the year, they are 100 percent effective.”
The Pro model protects up to an acre; the Pro Plus protects up to 2 acres; and the Super Pro models cover up to 25 acres. The largest unit has a 20-speaker tower and an interchangeable sound card with 8 different bird sounds.
Prices start at $240 for the 1-acre Pro. Solar panels are available as an option for charging batteries. Every unit comes with an unconditional 1-year guarantee.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bird Gard, 270 E. Sun Ranch Dr., P.O. Box 1690, Sisters, Ore. 97759 (ph 541 549-0205; toll free 888 332-2328; www.birdgard.com).
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