Sitting with friends in Healdsburg in 2015, Roger Snow had an epiphany. Birds were all over the area, when suddenly two red-tailed hawks flew over. Birds darted away, heading for safety. The seed was sown and an idea bloomed.
Flying over vineyards in several states already, this pest-bird repellent has only been in production for two years. A combination of a box kite with a v-shaped lift, the Falcon FrightKite is made of a proprietary material that is highly resistant to tearing and UV light. “We did several trials in Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma County, CA) and in Paso (Paso Robles, CA). It needed to have the ability to dive and be maneuverable,” recounts Snow.
Launching in winds from 2-25mph, FrightKite is quickly airborne, often attracting other birds of prey that appear interested in the hunting ground the kite is circling, adding to the scare-away tactic.
As crop protection, this product is meant to be used for 3-5 months, through veraison until harvest, when birds delight in eating the almost-ready grapes. In vineyards, the falcon-shaped kites work best on sparrows, finches and starlings, which, if unchecked, can descend and quickly decimate a crop of grapes. Though not vineyard pests, pigeons and seagulls are also deterred by FrightKite, with locations such as Sonoma Raceway and the Oakland A’s Coliseum venue.
In vineyards, with FrightKite in the air and on duty one Falcon will cover 1.25 acres and two Falcons 3 acres. “The flock birds see the kites from a long way off, and change direction. We are changing their behavioral patterns with this deterrent,” says Snow.
Testimonials from current users place the reduction in damage at 95%. Compared to a laser which can cost up to $10,000, FrightKite provides an excellent and inexpensive return on investment. Conventional netting methods are labor-intensive, and unless done precisely, birds often become trapped inside.
When requesting FrightKite, a questionnaire is used to assess the type of bird pests plaguing your vineyard, the space being effected, and surroundings such as trees and electric lines are all considered. Models come with poles at 20ft (aluminum),22,28,31 and 42ft (aluminum), with flight line creating flying heights of up to 70 feet high.
Says Snow, “Our first full year of sales was over 2016-2017, and we sold 400 kites, many to repeat buyers increasing their coverage over previously untended vineyards.” An inexpensive way to save your crops, Falcon FrightKite may be just the thing to keep your vineyard damage to a minimum.
Check out our video and testimonials at www.falconcropprotection.com.For questions or to see if Falcon FrightKite is right for you, contact us today!