fruit eating birds

A More Effective Method for Keeping Fruit Eating Birds Away from Your Orchard

Fruit eating birds can cause serious damage to your crops.

If left uncontrolled, they’ll eat their way through your orchard before you get a chance to pick a single fruit. You can choose from a number of different strategies in attempts to keep the birds away from your crop, but they all come with unavoidable disadvantages.

That is, all of them except for Falcon FrightKites.

Below, we’ve broken down some common pest control options and why Falcon FrightKites are a better option.

The Netting Method

This method can be expensive, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of money to pull off properly.

It involves covering your trees or vines with bird netting. You drape this netting over the plants and secure it to the ground at the bottom so the birds can’t get to the fruit.

While this might sound good, it takes a lot of work to set up. If the netting is up against the fruit, the birds can eat the fruit through the netting. Because of this, you might have to build individual frames around each plant.

If you have a lot of time and money to spend on bird netting, this can be a good option. But it’s not an effective choice for trees and vines that are still doing a lot of growing.

The Windmill Method

Putting a number of small windmills throughout your orchard can scare off the birds. The spinning blades catch the light and give the appearance of a flock of birds suddenly taking flight.

In order for this method to work, you have to move the windmills to different parts of your orchard every few days. If you don’t move them, the birds will get used to them and eat the fruit anyway.

Spending all the time moving them can turn into a hassle.

The Sound Method

You can broadcast predator sounds or bird distress sounds in your orchard to scare birds away. You can either go one step further and set up decoys of their natural predators, such as owls.

The problem is you can’t play these sounds continuously or the birds will learn not to be afraid of them. On top of that, you have to move them around your crop to keep the birds afraid.

The Distraction Method

Some people believe giving the birds a different food source will keep them from getting into the orchard. You can put other food, like corn or bird seed, in your yard.

But this doesn’t always work. Just because the birds have more food doesn’t guarantee they’ll stay out of your fruit.

What Makes Falcon FrightKites More Effective for Fruit eating Birds?

Falcon FrightKites work better than these other bird control options. They’re a lot easier to set up and they’re a lot cheaper too.

But what are they?

We design our FrightKites to look similar to normal falcons. Because of their color, wings, tail, feet, eyes, and overall shape, birds can’t tell the difference between falcons and the kites.

A FrightKite can glide, hover, dive, and climb in randomized paths that make it look like they’re hunting. When birds see a FrightKite, they’ll turn around right away and fly somewhere else.

FrightKites are also less expensive than netting and less labor intensive than windmills or broadcastings. Once you set up your FrightKite, it will launch and fly around your crop on its own. In fact, our studies show that FrightKites have a 95-100% success rate for any orchard.

Are you interested in buying your own FrightKite to scare away fruit eating birds? Click here to see some of our options.

falcons for pest control

The Benefits of Using Falcons for Pest Control in Your Vineyard

There are somewhere around a dozen birds of prey common in the United States, each existing as an alpha predator among 10,000 species of bird.

One such is the falcon.

Falcons are helpful to farmers looking for pest control solutions to protect their vineyards from menacing birds.

With this guide, you’ll learn three farming facts that will make you think about falcons for pest control.

Fact 1: You Can Use Falcons for Pest Control

We’ve entered into a consumer age where people are concerned about the ethics of what they eat and drink.

In fact, Millennial shoppers may be more concerned about corporate ethics than previous generations.

Today’s shoppers want their fruits and veggies to be as clean from harmful chemicals and pesticides as possible. And that means they are eyeballing what goes into their wine too.

Using falconry, farmers can reduce the number of chemicals their grapes are exposed to.

To learn more about falconry for pest control, it’s important to understand the several types of birds that farmers must be leary of:

  • Blackbirds
  • Crows
  • Robins
  • Sparrows
  • Starlings

These five birds are among the main avian pests that fruit farmers deal with.

Companies that specialize in falconry can bring in experts that will use trained falcons to purge the vineyard of pesky birds. But this service doesn’t come cheap, as we will describe below.

When experts bring trained falcons to your vineyard to ward off smaller birds, like starlings, this usually occurs just before the crop is ready to harvest.

The reason being is because the birds will return once the falcons are gone, and to repeat this process can be costly.

Fact 2: Falconry is Expensive

It’s estimated that bird damage to crops costs farmers $4.3 million per year.

When you look at the big picture, throwing tens of thousands into pest control solutions may not seem like a lot.

But to farmers who have hefty operating expenses already, it can be difficult to justify the cost of falconry as a means of pest control.

In most cases, hiring a falconer for bird abatement can cost up to $1,000 per day. For this reason, many farmers who choose to use falcons to ward off pests wait until the end of their crop cycle to bring in the birds for a couple of days.

Fact 3: There’s a Better Way

For those farmers who want natural protection for their crops and aren’t interested in stretching their operational budget, there’s another way.

Falcon FrightKites are a handy method of natural pest control that works similarly to releasing a real trained falcon for a fraction of the cost.

A FrightKite is it’s a tool to ward off smaller birds that fear being eaten by a predator.

Birds will follow their biological impulse to flee in the face of danger when they see a FrightKite, and leave the vineyard to be harvested.

Protect Your Crops Today

The effect a FrightKite can have on your vineyard is profound, and it doesn’t cost $1,000 a day like using falcons for pest control.

With prices starting at under $300 for your reusable FrightKite set, you can’t afford to miss out on this option.

To get your Falcon FrightKite, click here.

bird pests

Farm Pest Control 101: Identifying Bird Pests

There are an estimated 10,000 bird species on the planet. But if you run a farm or vineyard, you need to only concern yourself with just a few. Certain species of birds and lay waste to your crops and facilities if you aren’t adequately guarding against them.

In this guide, we’ll brief you on the biggest bird pests that you’re likely to run into on your farm and how to identify them.

Crows

If you have an apple orchard, you may be particularly susceptible to invasive crow populations. Crows love apples and are known to peck large triangular holes into them. This, of course, ruins the apples, making them more susceptible to rot and insect damage.

Crows will eat almost anything, else too. They love grains and garbage on top of apples, so you’re likely to run into them regardless of crop.

Spotting a crow is relatively easy, as they’re all-black birds that travel in large groups. They’re vocal birds with hoarse caws. Crows are easily mistaken for ravens, but crows are generally smaller and have shorter beaks and tail feathers.

Sparrows

Sparrows can prove ruinous to crops, but they’re particularly disastrous if they invade your buildings and other infrastructure. Sparrows like to build large, dense nests made of grass, straw, weeds, and garbage. These nests can do damage to the sidings of houses, and clog drainage pipes and gutters.

To spot a sparrow, look out for a black chest and white cheeks in males, and a grey color in females. They also have a noisy, droning chirp that is easy to distinguish.

Robins

American robins are common and beautiful birds that can lay waste to your fruit crops if you aren’t careful. These birds love to feast on cherries, grapes, berries, and other small fruits. If they aren’t managed, these birds can cause sizable crop damage.

You can spot these birds easily, as they have a unique reddish-orange breast and gray wings.

Blackbirds

Blackbirds are one of the biggest destroyers of grain crops in the U.S., at least when it comes to birds. In 1970, a study found that nearly 6.8 million bushels of corn crops were ruined by blackbirds alone.

Identifying a blackbird is relatively easy. The males are small all-black birds (similar to crows) with orange beaks. The females, ironically, are a bit browner in color and lack the signature orange beak.

Starlings

Starlings are quite the sight to behold, as they tend to flock together in the thousands. Of course, if they happen to welcome themselves to your land, they can absolutely take over your trees and rooftops, devouring everything in sight.

To spot a starling, look for flecks of white in their black-purplish feathers as well as pointed feathers on their wings when they’re flying.

Need Help Controlling Bird Pests?

Now that you know who the biggest avian threats are to your crops or farm buildings, you can now work on deterring them. There are many ways to manage an invasion of birds onto your property, but the best and most cost-efficient may be our FrightKites.

These kites, designed to look like large birds of prey, will keep even the most adamant bird pests away.

crop damage

How to Get Rid of Canadian Geese and Avoid Major Crop Damage

Canadian geese are a beautiful breed of bird. They’re majestic, regal, and unfortunately, they can cause quite a bit of damage to a field of crops.

Canadian geese can cause problems, as they tend to travel in large flocks and graze twice per day.

For decades, agricultural experts have struggled to keep these winged pests away from their crops. Through their hard work and labor, we’ve learned some of the best ways to prevent trouble before it starts.

Here are some of the best tips you can use to keep Canadian geese from causing crop damage.

How to Spot Crop Damage

Observing the geese directly is obviously the simplest way to determine whether or not these pests are causing problems, but you can also examine your field’s plants for a few telltale signs.

Analyze your crops’ leaves. Do they look torn or shredded? Geese’s teeth are serrated, like what you’d see on a saw or certain knives. Sharp, jagged tears in plants are often a sign that you have some unwanted guests.

Of course, Canadian geese aren’t exactly subtle about their presence, as they have a distinct tendency to leave droppings all over the place. While this is both unsightly and annoying, you may actually be able to use it as fertilizer for certain flowers.

Install Fencing

One of the simplest and most cost-effective methods of keeping geese away is by installing a wired fence around your property.

As pesky as geese can be, they’re also quite lazy. They don’t want to work for their meals, so they’ll only go after crops if they can see a direct path to their food.

Adding a few feet of finely-meshed fence facing their nest will typically deter them. If your property contains standing water, you may also want to install a fence three inches above the water itself.

Change Your Landscaping Techniques

Geese prefer to land in softer areas with shorter grass. This is because they want to directly assess their surroundings and any potential threats, including snakes.

While most of us mow our lawns to keep our grass as short as possible, leaving a little bit of length can keep birds away. Grass higher than three inches is best.

Use Fright Tactics

Geese act on instinct. Should they sense the presence of another foe (even a fake one) they’re likely to retreat. For this reason, many agricultural experts install scarecrows and gas cannons to scare away any birds.

However, these can be both expensive and loud. Instead, add a few kites that resemble natural predators.

Farmers with multiple kites surrounding their field are reporting up to 95 percent less crop damage.

Prevent Crop Damage Before It’s Too Late

Knowing what to look for and how to prevent any further damage can save agricultural experts vast amounts of time and money.

If you’re looking to keep Canadian geese or any pests away from your crops, get in touch with Falcon Crop Protection for natural deterrents to keep pests away without causing physical harm.

Looking for more crop damage prevention tips? Be sure to check back with our blog for more info.

Bird Repellent Alternatives to Gas Cannons and Netting: Falcon FrightKites

Over recent years, the emergence of falcon replica kites has issued a challenge to more established opinions on how to scare birds away from vineyards. One fact that has not changed is that bird damage to grapes incurs a significant cost that justifies reducing to the economic minimum. With grapes at $4000 a ton and losses in the range of 10-80%, the cost of bird damage is very significant indeed.

Widespread use of flash tape, plastic owls attached to poles, sound devices, and other “hopefuls” have all but fallen by the wayside as being ineffective but not cheap. Although still prevalent in many vineyards, these bird repellents are more like window dressings than effective solutions. Vineyard managers are essentially left with propane gas cannons and netting the only effective means of minimizing crop losses due to bird damage. Or does it?

Many owners and managers have tried with great success the relatively new falcon replica “FrightKites.” Made from weather, wind, and sun resistant fabric, these kites replicate the size, shape, color, and airborne random movements of a real falcon. Falcons are one of the most widely feared predators of birds in the wild. Flying from a telescoping pole, these kites can reach a height of 70ft in the air, so they are visible from birds in flight approaching vineyards. A mere 2 mph wind will cause these kites to rise in the air and be seen hovering just over the vineyard canopy. As the wind increases, so does the acrobatics of the kite, and the movements are totally random to minimize birds getting “accustomed” to its presence.

The primary objective is to get the kite airborne so approaching birds see it and recognize it from sufficient distance away to cause them to change direction and avoid the pace in which it is flying. If you were a bird approaching a vineyard and saw what appears to be one or more hunting falcons, would you keep going to land directly under its eye or would you merely veer away and feed at another adjacent but unprotected vineyard?

Do they really work?

Yes! Vineyard owners and managers are seeing and reporting results of over 95% elimination of bird damage to grapes.

Sales of 10 or more FrightKites per customer are not uncommon, and usage is now growing to include protection of fruit trees, home gardens, nuts, vegetables, and other commodities.

The left photo below shows Dan Barwick from Paradise Ridge in 2017, inspecting grapes that were fully exposed and protected only by the FrightKite. The prior year, he had used netting. The lower right photo shows the typical fruit damage in an unprotected vineyard of Pinot grapes.

After a test period of only 3-4 weeks, Dan purchased six more Falcon FrightKites and employed no netting at all.

The photo below shows one vineyard at the Opolo Property in Paso Robles with Scott Welcher holding one of his many FrightKites. After one season of extended testing, Scott made the following comment.

“Well, I am confident that we had damage as you have witnessed before putting up the falcons. After deployment, the damage appeared to cease as evidenced by the dried-up bird damage. In conclusion, I would say they were very effective! I then placed them in our Zinfandel vineyard to protect it before harvest; and once again, the results were a visible reduction in damage.”

Verasion is the time when birds become most interested in grapes, so the FrightKites only have to be installed and flown from the onset of verasion to harvest. With only 3-4 months usage per year, these kites have a lifespan of many, many years, and are easy to install, take down, and store.

Economics and Coverage

One FrightKite costs about $300 and will effectively protect approximately 1.25 acres. Two falcons will protect about 3 acres as the area between the two products when flying is regarded by birds as the “kill zone.” Typically, multiple units are installed about 150-200ft apart.

Let’s now look at gas cannons and netting as alternatives.

Bird Netting

Bird netting is the favored product for protection of grapes and fruit against bird strikes because it works. But without any doubt, it is expensive, it is hard to install, and if not done correctly, birds will get inside and continue to inflict damage. In the case of “drape over” netting birds can land on the net itself and still peck at the grapes causing damage.

Once installed, the canopy can continue to grow through the netting and this makes it very difficult to remove without damage and need for repair. If not handled gently, it will rip or tear when removed at the end of the season. Typically, 3-5 years is the average lifespan of the product.

There are without doubt many different types of nets available (mesh size, color, strength, and so on) and many different techniques of installation. However, not one is as easy or is as low cost as the FrightKite.

Costs widely vary when you account for the type of net, the installation method (drape netting, side netting, raised netting over the canopy); but, in overall terms when you include material cost, labor cost, machinery cost, and so on, costs can run $1000-$5000 or more per acre. Typically, with a six-man crew and a specialized tractor to run the netting, it will take one day to cover about 2 acres. This puts netting at well over three times the cost of the FrightKite and with very little added economic benefit.

Propane Gas Cannons

An average propane gas cannon with rotating head will provide around 17,000 blasts per 5-gallon tank and costs in the region of $250. More expensive models can run over $450. One cannon is advertised to protect between 1 and 5 acres; however, there are many drawbacks.

  1. Birds do become adapted to the noise and ignore its sound.
  2. Neighbors do not become de-sensitized to the noise and find it obtrusive and annoying. In 2017, the Napa Valley Register ran an article describing how several residents adjacent to the cannon had made written and personal complaints about the noise. Cannons can start at 6 AM and continue until 8 PM or later.
  3. Regular maintenance is required, not the least of which is the replacement of propane tanks at $18.50 per 5-gallon tank.

So, with quite limited effectiveness and so many drawbacks, the use of these products is taking a declining place in order of preference for bird exclusion.

Conclusions

The use of FrightKites is now emerging as an effective, low-cost alternative to netting and gas cannons, with results that more than justify their cost. We expect to see a lot more of these flying in vineyards in 2018 and the years ahead as silent protectors of grapes and fruits.

seagull deterrent

7 Ways a Seagull Deterrent Benefits Your Business

They may be cute and remind us of the beach, but seagulls can cause lots of headache for businesses and their customers.

seagull deterrentDid you know that there are literally articles explaining how to survive a seagull attack? Safety hazards, noise, health dangers, and more can arise from having seagulls nearby.

Keep reading to learn more about the threats of Seagulls and the top reasons why businesses should invest in seagull deterrent.

1. They’re a Pest

Seagulls in commercialized areas such as tourist spots are not afraid of people. That means that they will stick around and pester customers as they anxiously await a drop of food.

Better yet, sometimes seagulls won’t wait until someone sets food down. They will simply snatch it out of an individual’s hands.

Losing food, being stalked, and the smells and uncleanliness that come with seagulls are just a few reasons to make clients upset and cause a negative experience at your business.

With a seagull deterrent, you can make sure customers have a positive and comfortable experience without worrying about wildlife interference.

2. They Transmit Disease

Seagulls are one of many animals that carry diseases such as E. Coli, salmonella, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Contact with seagull feces, whether directly or through food contamination, can spread disease and cause food poisoning and serious illness.

If your business is in crop production, your crops can become a transmitter of disease if they are not cleaned properly and are consumed with bird droppings on them.

Business owners will not want to be the blame for someone getting sick. This could ruin their reputation or even lead to a lawsuit. Seagull repellant will keep customers, your reputation, and business safe.

3. They Damage Crops

Many species of birds rely on fruits and vegetables for survival. And many seek to crops to get their share of food. Seagulls are not any different.

Seagulls congregate in groups wherever they can find food. That means that if one has found your plants, many have found them.

Consistent consumption of crops before they are ready for harvest can damage your plants. Plus, it will decrease your production for use or sale.

The seagull population is increasing so it is vital to protect investments such as crops sooner than later.

4. They Damage Property and Curb Appeal

Seagull feces will corrode building materials, leading to damage and quicker wear and tear. Without keeping seagulls away, business owners will have to replace exterior materials such as siding, railing, fencing, and especially paint quicker and more often.

If company vehicles are outside, these are in danger too. Seagull droppings will corrode vehicle paint if not consistently washed off.

Seagulls themselves can damage roof tiles and cause drain blockages if they choose to nest on the roof or gutter. Both issues can lead to further problems and unsafe conditions.

Thus, seagulls can be extremely costly to business owners. Even more importantly, bird droppings are not appealing and will lower the curb appeal of any company. It may keep potential customers away.

5. They Create Safety Hazards

Seagulls pose many additional safety risks aside from building damage and disease. Keeping on the subject of feces, seagull droppings outside of a business can cause someone to slip, fall, and possibly become injured.

Seagulls also are known to accidentally start fires by taking lit cigarettes to their nests. They use smoking buds to ward off mice and other pests. While clever, a nest that catches on fire will put your building, employees, and customers in great danger.

In addition, seagulls are not actually nice and friendly birds even though they may seem that way. They are highly protective of their young and their nests which sometimes leads them to attack people if they sense danger.

Basically, all of these characteristics of seagulls are hazardous and may lead to injuries. The responsible move is to avoid these risks altogether and get seagull deterrent for your business.

6. They Attract Insects

Insects such as fleas, mites, and beetles are attracted to seagulls’ nests. They feed off the microorganisms left in the nest.

Once insects have found a nest, it is hard to get rid of them. And, they reproduce quickly.

So, having nests on or near a business building may lead to infestation and human attack. Clients certainly will not be happy if they come home with fleas or bites.

Keep the bugs away by keeping the seagulls away.

7. They Aren’t Quiet

Seagulls are not quiet animals. They use audible sounds to attract mates, ward off danger, and mark their territory.

They’re not just noisy on the beach, either. They will be noisy at a place of business, too.

Don’t let your customers have to endure constant squawking. Get a seagull deterrent and deter the noise and annoyance away.

Falcon FrightKites Seagull Deterrent Will Get the Job Done

Don’t worry about the safety and perceptions of your customers, the reputation of your business, or costs that come with seagull infestation. Purchase an effective seagull deterrent today.

With Falcon FrightKites, you can keep seagulls away without using any harmful products such as bird nets. Plus, FrightKites costs much less in time and money compared to alternatives. They are durable and easy to use, too.

5 Problems With Using Bird Netting to Protect Plants

There’s nothing like the taste of your own home-grown fruit and vegetables. Or perhaps you’re a vineyard-owner, cultivating all those wonderful grapes for your much-loved wine!

The problem many growers run into, though, is that birds often eat a lot of the unpicked fruit before humans get a chance to harvest it. Sometimes, they can almost clear a whole crop!

Until recently, bird netting was one of the few options available to protect certain plants like grapes and cherries. But there are some concerns over this method. Keep reading for 5 problems with using netting to protect your produce.

1. High Cost

At around $6.50 per square foot, netting is a very costly choice. That small figure might not sound like very much, but when you consider the amount you’d need to cover the average fruit tree, the costs start adding up.

A medium-wide-boughed, 10ft fruit tree would need at least a 38ft x 38ft section of netting, and the cost suddenly shoots up to almost $250. Now multiply that by several trees, and the figure’s pretty eye-watering.

2. Often Not Reusable

Bird netting is often sold as being reusable, so you should be able to cover your trees effectively, each season.

However, depending on the quality of your netting, the fabric can become dry and brittle. This can cause it to break, or be difficult to re-drape.

3. Can Damage Plants

The small holes in the netting are what keeps the birds out. Unfortunately, though, it can also damage the very plants it’s used to protect.

Bird netting will often sever leaves and break off fruit when there’s a heavy wind. This can impact on your harvest and, if you’re a commercial grower, it can affect your profits, too.

4. Can Trap and Injure Birds

Sadly, poorly-installed netting allows birds to enter it, and then traps them inside.

Smaller birds, like tiny sparrows and baby birds, can get tangled up in the mesh itself, causing damage to their beaks and other extremities.

Birds can also get their legs and feet entangled, so they’re trapped and unable to safely fly away.

5. Can Put You at Risk

It’s not just birds that get caught up in netting. In fact, many owners have reported finding snakes and other wildlife within their mesh-covered plants.

Of course, the danger to cultivators is great, and freeing a frightened trapped snake is a risky endeavor.

Rabbits, lizards, and squirrels, for example, have been found both dead and alive. And dead animals attract other pests, who can also become trapped inside.

The Verdict on Bird Netting

Protecting your crops from those pesky birds can be hard work. A lot of people have been forced to use bird netting as a deterrent, simply because there haven’t been many alternatives.

Unfortunately, this common material has a few major failings. You should definitely factor these into your decision when it comes to caring for your plants.

But did you know there’s a cheaper, safer and highly effective solution that can work for you? Click here to learn how the Falcon FrightKite can help you.

@2017 Frightkite is a registered trademark of Falcon Crop Protection.

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