Since Falcon Crop Protection (FCP) began the marketing of its FrightKites™ four years ago, demand for the highly effective product has reached the point where the number of falcon-shaped kites may outnumber those of the real raptors.
“We have about 1,500 kites in the field right now, all over the country,” confirms Falcon Crop Protection’s CEO. “Although there’s no accurate measure, people estimate there are around 1,000 real birds in the wild. That means our kites are exceeding the number of actual falcons – which is all right.”
What’s really all right is the way FrightKite devices offer between 95 and 100 percent protection against the costly damage done by finches and other small birds that flock into vineyards during veraison and beyond to eat at the wine grapes just as they ripen.
The kites, which simulate the shape and movement of real falcons, activate the instinctive fear mechanism of small birds that are natural prey for falcons and other raptors. Once the smaller birds see the kite flying above a designated vineyard, the entire flock will shift direction in order to avoid contact with their perceived enemy, providing near complete protection of the crop.
FrightKites™ are extremely cost-effective compared with netting or other labor-intensive vineyard protection measures, very simple to install and last for many years. In fact, the cost of just one FrightKite™ can be recovered many times over in just one season through the monetary savings in grapes.
FCP estimates that one FrightKite™ will protect a vineyard area of approximately 1.25 acres. Two FrightKites will safeguard three acres or more, creating a multiplier effect and a perception that the area between the two hunting falcons is a “kill zone.”
“Put simply, birds don’t want to be looking in two different directions at hunting falcons while they’re pecking at the grapes,” FCP points out. “So the circular area between the two falcons is a no fly zone, up to a point where there is no gap that’s seen as escapable. It’s a lot easier and safer for them to fly to an adjacent vineyard and eat where there are no falcons.”
FCP can state with confidence that any exclusion method, including netting, has its limitations in terms of coverage area. They say that determining the optimum number of FrightKites™ for complete vineyard protection is best approached on an individual step by step basis, depending on vineyard configuration and prevailing wind direction.
According to FCP Marketing Manager Justine Davies “the benefit of the FrightKite™ is that it gives you acres of real and proven protection for a fraction of the cost of anything else on the market.”
Winery and vineyard managers are recommended to act now as grapevines begin to form clusters, providing the perfect canopy for birds to make their nests within the vineyards themselves.
“Once they’ve done that, it’s really hard to get them out,” FCP warns. “A mother won’t leave her babies in that nest.”
For more information, testimonials from existing customers and orders, go to www.falconcropprotection.com or call 415-789-5007.