In all of these settings — protecting pistachios, keeping pigeons and crows away from dairies and driving clouds of gulls from landfills — the key to preventing avian damage is repulsion. This is termed “hazing,” and the key to repelling birds from places they want to, but shouldn’t be, is to understand what stimulus will get birds to leave. Another thing to realize in these cases is the only bird that can cause damage is one on the ground. So, the trick is to drive them into the air. A bird on the ground is using very little energy but a flying bird, particularly one that is forced from the ground is using a lot of energy to get airborne and stay airborne.
At Hardshell Labs, it is our understanding of avian motivation that is at the heart of our approaches to protecting crops, preventing the problems of disease vectoring and food stock depredation at dairies, and assisting landfills & composting facilities to prevent scavenging birds from exploiting their sites . Different birds respond to different cues and make different decisions, but in all cases, the goal is to tilt the bird’s cost-benefit analysis, convincing them that staying where we don’t want them is more trouble than it is worth.
The key to commercial viability is to find devices that are effective in repelling birds and can do it inexpensively. We apply commonly available devices and modify them with bird senses in mind. So far, our experiments with lasers, aerial drones and ground rovers all show great promise in annoying birds so they go away. Our hazing work, fully approved by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Office, is yielding detailed knowledge of what tools work with which species in which circumstances, and represents by far the most humane approach to avian deterrence in direct comparison with the most widely used hazing method — shotgunning.
Ravens Foraging in Pistachio Orchard
Pigeons Hazed into Flight at Dairy