Saturday, January 10, 2015

Oilsands Tailings Ponds Hotspots for Waterfowl

Periodically bird deaths in oilsands tailings ponds will pop up in the news. Recently several dozens of birds died at a site in Alberta, Canada. The companies operating these oil facilities are required to have deterrent systems in place, ranging from scarecrows (visual deterrents) to various auditory deterrents. 
One new solution might be to use some type of laser-based deterrent system. Laser system have shown some promise in bird control recently. 

A combination of deterrent methods must be utilized for any system to be effective. This includes varying exposure and frequency of use, physical location changes and periodically introducing new deterrent types while reducing (or temporarily halting) use of others. Introduction of a laser system may possibly be an effective addition to an oilsands tailings pond waterfowl deterrent program.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Robotic Bird Control

We are still working on commercializing the patented technology we licensed from LSU AgCenter a few years ago. This is the project that got us interested in bird control in the first place. It involves a robotic boat that will patrol lakes and ponds with bird control in mind.  A good amount of progress has been made in the programming portion of the program over the last few weeks. We hope to have a system, which will be tethered, not autonomous, out for some tests runs in the next few weeks.
From there we will see what interest develops and proceed to work on the fully autonomous and/or remote controlled versions. We already have computer hardware and software lined up for autonomous navigation, which will be Arduino based. We have a hardware (motors, remote controller) platform on the drawing board.
I ran across a interesting article covering the South Korean bird scaring robot that has been in development by their military. What do you think about that system? Lots of development $ went into that system for sure....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Auditory Bird Deterrents

Auditory bird deterrents take advantage of most birds’ (and other animals) take flight response to sudden loud noises, predator “voices” and calls of birds in distress.  Upon hearing one of these noises, a bird in flight will divert its path away from the area while a bird not in flight will take flight to flee.  Auditory bird scare devices can be effective if used appropriately.  As with other deterrents (physicalchemical and visual), auditory scare tactics should be used on an infrequent basis and be targeted at bird feeding, roosting and nesting times.  They should also be moved around within the area where they are needed to reduce the likelihood that the bird pests become habituated or accustomed to the deterrents.
Propane or LP gas cannons have been widely used in agricultural bird scare settings.  Earlier models were purely mechanical and offered a blast resembling a gunshot at regular intervals.  More modern electronically controlled scare cannons can be set via a timer to sound off at irregular intervals at specific times of the day, reducing habituation. 

Propane scare cannons function by metering a small amount of gas (the same as is used in backyard gas grills) into a tube that serves as an ignition chamber for the gas which explodes, emitting a loud bang.  Sometimes referred to as bird bangers or bird cannons, they are also widely used in airport bird control.  Propane cannons are quite controversial in rural areas when they are used with neighbors nearby.  Care MUST be taken to use them only when necessary (planting and harvesting times), like when corps are ripening.  Nobody wants to hear a cannon going off for months at a time, around the clock.  Be sure to use a timing mechanism to turn off the cannon at night.
Noisemakers such as pyrotechnics and firecrackers are commonly used in bird dispersal, especially in urban settings and on farms.  These are basically just like fireworks used for Independence Day celebrations.  They are loud, scream, flash and bang.  Be sure to be considerate of neighbors and obtain any necessary permits for use. These work on the same sudden scare principal as propane cannons.  They can be effective at dispersing birds from nesting and roosting sites although a consistent and persistent plan for use must be in place to be effective any more than a few days. 
There are ultrasonic (not audible to humans) devices that emit wavelengths of sound that are irritating to birds.  Although not much research has been conducted into the effectiveness of ultrasonic deterrents, some believe they are effective at scaring birds of some types.

Distress calls and alarm calls are frequently used to frighten birds away.  An electronic system emits sounds of birds in distress or predator noises.  These noises incite a “flight” response from birds and repel them from the area.  Birds associate such sounds with danger and make an effort to avoid the area.  These bird scare devices are sometimes referred to as tweeters or squawkers.  As with propane cannons, they are sometimes controversial as they also annoy humans, especially when over used or when used on a routine (every 10 minutes) or continuous basis.  Distress and alarm calls have been used effectively in a variety of situations ranging from dispersing crow roost sites to goose control.

The DIY pie pan garden bird control device is also an auditory deterrent.  It is easily constructed and implemented.  In addition, it offers a visual deterrent effect as well.
Auditory bird deterrents can be very effective in bird pest control.  They must be used appropriately and with variability to prevent habituation.  Also keep neighbors, both residential and business, in mind when utilizing audible deterrents.  They can be irritating to humans as well.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Easy, low cost garden bird control

Spring garden planting has begun.  Soon there will be tomatoes on the vine and strawberries ready to be picked.  What about those birds, waiting for your fruits and veggies to get ripe and then swoop in and devour them?  Here is a quick and dirty bird scarer.
All that you need is a pie pan, some string or twine, a stake and a nail. Put a nail near the top of the stake. Poke a hole in the pie pan.  Tie the string to the pie pan on one end and to the nail on the other.  Drive the stake in the ground.  This pie pan scarer will move in the wind, flashing reflective light all around and also banging against the post.  The ultimate low-cost bird deterrent for your garden.
For more information on bird control check out

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Visual Bird Deterrents

Visual bird deterrents use motion, bright colors, light flashes, reflections and frightening decoys as their primary means of bird pest control.  This class of bird control products takes advantage of most birds’ aversion to sudden movements, unusual sights, predators, flashes of light and humans.  Visual bird scarers are probably the most abundant devices in the scarecrow business, as compared to auditoryphysical and chemical deterrents.  Most integrated devices utilize a visual element and may be more effective because of it.
Traditional, Wizard of Oz type scarecrows fall into the visual category because they make use of a bird’s natural instinct to fear humans.  The wildly popular scare eye or terror eye balloons consist a simple cost effective design.  Birds are thought to be frightened by contrasting red, yellow and black color schemes.  The terror eye balloon uses these colors in a format that resembles a hawk or eagle eye, natural bird predators.  These small “beach ball” scarers can be used just about anywhere and have been found to be effective at scaring birds.

Angry_Hawk_Prototype2.jpgAnother low cost visual scarer is flash or holographic tape, often known as bird scare flash tape.  It can be hung from branches and structures, reflecting sunlight to deter birds.  Flashy windmills are also effective to a degree.  There are a whole host of other products available that use reflection of sunlight or artificial light to provide a bird scare factor. offers several reflective visual deterrents, including the Predator Feather and the Angry Hawk.  Both of these also use motion for added visual scaring capacity.  The Predator Feather flutters in the wind while the Angry Hawk is a rotating wind turbine design incorporating a menacing hawk face with contrasting color schemes.  There are also reflective, rotating pyramid devices that use a motor to continuously rotate the bird control device.  Flashing strobe lights and lasers are also on the market.
Predator decoys provide a visual bird scare impact as well.  Owl look-a-likes are available at local hardware stores.  Hawk, snake, alligator, fox and coyote decoys are offered as well.  These should not be overused or left in view for long periods of time as birds quickly habituate (get used) to them.
Kites are a unique visual bird deterrent.  Jackites are available in predator bird formats and “fly” realistically in light to moderate winds.  They are tethered and require minimal attention during use.  Helikites hover high in the sky, scaring birds from a large radius.  The Helikite combines a kite and small helium balloon.
pie-pan-garden-scarecrow.JPGThe Dori Pole is a unique bird scarer that double as a beautiful lawn decoration.  It flutters and flows in the breeze, deterring birds from golf courses and boat docks.

There are a few Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bird control devices that are excellent for garden bird control.  Old CDs and DVDs are highly reflective and can be hung from a string to allow them to rotate in the wind.  The Pie Pan Scarecrow is easily made from an aluminum pie pan, nail, wooden stake and a bit of string.   This popular DIY scarer not only rotates and flashes sunlight all around, but also provides an auditory factor as well as it bangs against the post.
All of the visual bird deterrents should be used sparingly, as should most other deterrent types.  If any of them are left out on a continuous basis, pest birds will get used to the device or tactic over a period of days or weeks and eventually not be scared by them.  It is important to use deterrents only when needed or while the bird problem persists.  They should also be moved to differing positions frequently (every few days) to keep the problem birds on edge and leery of the scarer.  When the problem ceases or your crops are all harvested, put the deterrents away until they are needed again.  They may be brought out from time to time for added bird control effectiveness. 
Visual deterrents can be effective if used properly and in a situation or setting that is conducive to their use.  Some birds, of course, are more susceptible to visual scaring than others. offers several visual bird scare devices.  Check out our products page to browse our wide array of products.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Propane Cannon

We bought a propane cannon recently.  It is the Zon EL08 electronically controlled version.  I've fired it several times.  On one occasion there was a large flock of blackbirds or maybe starlings hanging out about 200 yards away in a nearby field.  I had the cannon set to the triple shot mode.  On the first shot the birds all flew into the air together, then on the second shot they began to fly away.  The 3rd shot went off as they were exiting the area.  They flew a great distance away, far enough that I could no longer see them.
Zon EL08 Propane Cannon
These devices can be an effective bird control tool.  They appeal to the auditory senses of bird pests.  Be careful in using these thunderous devices.  They can be a real nuisance to neighbors (not only humans but also nearby livestock and horses).  A propane cannon should be used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.  Never point them toward houses and only use them when birds are truly being a problem.  If protecting vegetables or fruit, such as blueberries or strawberries, only use a propane cannon right as the produce begins to ripen.  It will be much more effective.  If overused, eventually the birds will no longer be scared.  Just please be sure to be considerate of those living nearby.  If there are any people living within 500 yards or so, it would probably be best not to use a propane cannon.  For more information on bird control, check out!