Falcon FrightKites Repel Pest Birds from Vineyards with Amazing Results
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 in as little as 1-2mph of wind - unsupervised.
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.”
Dan Barwick, winemaker at Paradise Winery has been using netting to protect his grapes at an installation cost of up to $1,000 per acre plus the netting, “. . .and unless you do a perfect job of sealing the vines then birds can get inside and wreak havoc,” says Barwick. On top of that you have to replace the netting when it is is damaged beyond effective life. This year he bought one FrightKite to test in the strong winds that blow through his vineyard. After a month and a major storm there was no damage to the kite so he installed 5 more, each one protecting 1.25 acres.
After several more weeks of ripening crops he invited Roger for a tour of the vineyards and the results were nothing short of amazing! “I see not one single grape that has been hit by birds”,said Dan. “Normally when the grapes are at this stage the vineyard would be peppered with damage.” Since that inspection Dan has taken another two FrightKites and is installing them in the far corners of the vineyard to gain total coverage.
Dan’s story and experience is not unique, in fact there are many similar reports from growers and managers about the effectiveness of the FrightKites. Vineyards from Paso Robles to Healdsburg have reported a 95 to 100 percent repulsion rate of birds – and most are ordering multiple kites to continue to protect their investments.
Bob Salomon reports, “The first kite flushed out 95% of the birds in our 2 acre block. They then shifted to another area almost immediately. When we added the second kite on a 20 foot pole in the 1.5 acre block the birds were almost completely gone from our vineyard. When we saw a small flock of birds heading for the vineyard take a hard right and fly away we were convinced that this product works. Harvest is over and the bird damage is so minimal it’s amazing!”
Roger emphasizes that FrightKites can be used throughout numerous harvests and can be moved from site to site within vineyards to accommodate the different rates of veraison.
“Another 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.”
For more FrightKite information and orders, go to: www.falconcropprotection.com.