The practice of controlling nuisance birds in vineyards or other open spaces where they can wreak havoc to business is nothing new. In fact, companies have been attempting to address the problem for decades with repellants like gas cannons, reflective tape, crop netting and other means.
But just last year, an innovative concept emerged from a company called Falcon Crop Protection. Designers came up with the idea to use bird’s natural fear of predators to steer them away from valuable vineyards with a kite that mimics the appearance and movements of a peregrine falcon.
Known as FrightKites, the devices are made with a durable material designed in the shape of a predator bird that self-launches and flies at the end of a pole on an extension line that can lift the kite up to 65 feet high.
The kite has the outline, coloring, wings, tail and eyes that look frighteningly life-like to a small bird. Its profile arches in strong winds, which make it appear to be hunting, and its wingtips flutter at the end like a real falcon. Best of all, the innovative FrightKite design allows the device to hover, climb, glide and dive just as a predator does when it’s on the attack.
According to Roger, the President of Falcon Crop Protection, FrightKite efficacy has been nothing short of amazing right from the start.
“We were in Napa (testing the kites) at 65 feet and we saw a flock of finches,” Roger recalls. “They took a hard right turn and disappeared. We said to each other, ‘Did you see that?’ We had no idea it would be so good.”
It’s so good, in fact, test site vineyards from Paso Robles through Healdsburg have reported a 95 to 100 percent repulsion rate of birds – and most are ordering multiple kites to continue to protect their crop investments. Each FrightKite can safeguard up to 1.5 acres. Two kites will more than double the effect.
“The great thing about FrightKites is that there are no ill effects on the environment, no harm done to the birds,” Roger points out. “It’s vastly more cost-effective and less labor intensive than our nearest competitor’s netting option.”
Roger emphasizes that FrightKites can be used throughout numerous harvests as they are only flown four to five months out of the year. He notes that the versatility of the kites is such that they can be moved from site to site within vineyards to accommodate the different rates of veraison for multiple varietals.
Roger also reports that the applicability of FrightKites goes beyond vineyard protection. A customer on Angel Island contacted him recently about a persistent problem with aggressive seagulls at an airport hangar. Roger offered him a FrightKite for a two-week test trial.
“Before I got back to my office, he rang me,” Roger laughs. “Apparently, as soon as it went vertical, the gulls went squawking and disappeared.”
For more FrightKite information and orders, go to: www.falconcropprotection.com.