Hawk Bird Scarer :: Bird Beware :: Bird Scarring :: Scaring Urban Birds :: Urban Bird Control :: Bird Spike Range :: Myna Magnet

BIRD SCARING

Controlling pest or nuisance birds is more difficult than any other pest, insect or animal known to man. Before action is taken, potential losses should be weighed against the cost and likely effectiveness of the methods of control.

Scaring, rather than killing, birds is important as a means of preventing damage to crops or property where species are protected by legislation.

The ease of scaring your birds will depend on which of the three situations you find them in.

1) Roosting birds are easy to scare.

2) Feeding birds are more difficult to scare.

3) Nesting birds are impossible to scare.

Roosting birds roost at a particular location out of habit. Break their habit and you solve your problem. Feeding birds are more difficult to scare because you are denying them their daily bread.

Nesting birds are impossible to scare because their mothering instinct is so strong they defy anything to return to the nesting site. However you can stop birds from selecting a nest site if you act early, before the nesting season commences.

BIRD SCARERS

Range in complexity from flapping plastic bags and the traditional scarecrow to more sophisticated devices that are often brightly coloured and emit loud noises.

Until now few scarers have been effective, because people have failed to study bird habits. One modern scarer, the hawk bird scarer is based on bird habits. It is a replica of a hovering hawk. Birds natural enemy, most birds inherently fear the hawk.

This device is also very cost efficient. This booklet explains why birds react to scarers and advices on the most efficient ways of using such devices.

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HOW SCARERS WORK

A scarer may deter birds by being unexpected, or by mimicking natural events that are unpleasant to them. The efficiency of the majority of scarers depends on the production of unusual visual patterns, bright colours or unexpected sounds.

However, whilst it is relatively easy to design scarers that will produce unusual sights and sounds, these often provide protection from bird damage for only a relatively short time.

Birds rapidly learn to ignore happenings of no importance to them, such as those that are not connected with the presence of predators or mates.

To prevent or delay this learning process, some scarers mimic signals that are associated with danger. Such devices may resemble predators such as hawks or owls or may copy the alarm signals given by a bird when faced with a predator.

Birds should continue to react to these devices, even when regularly exposed to them, since in the wild any individuals not responding quickly or persistently to the presence of a predator is unlikely to survive.

Unfortunately the ways in which birds recognise predators may be extremely complex. For example, they may involve recognition of a bird of prey by its plumage, or type of flight or profile.

The hawk bird scarer is able to replicate most of these requirements. It is a replica of a GOSHAWK. This bird of prey is found on every continent of the world. Whilst its plumage varies widely its profiles remains the same.

The Goshawk also hovers before striking its prey. This is why a replica, mounted, is so effective.

The Hawk Bird Scarer can not only reproduce the shape but also its mode of action and flight pattern. A Goshawk has one other important characteristic in scaring birds. It will attack birds that are flying, roosting or feeding on the ground. Other birds of prey such as the Falcon may be more aggressive but will only attack birds flying.

TYPES OF SCARERS

Visual - There is a large variety of home - made and commercially available devices which depend on being seen to have an effect. The traditional scarecrow is a typical example which has now largely been superseded by mechanical models that move in various ways. Others range from fertiliser bags or streamers that flap in the wind to rotating windmills with vanes of contrasting colours. Tethered balloons and kites are also included in this category.

Colour appeals to have little effect on efficiency as long as scarers are conspicuous. Red or red/orange is said to be repugnant to birds but there appears to be no scientific basis for this belief; certainly birds show no aversion to berries of these colours.

The Hawk Bird Scarer - Replica of a hovering hawk, is purely a visual scarer which needs to be clearly seen to be effective. In most cases it needs to be erected above the problem birds. This replicates the real hawks normal method of aggression. This device has many uses as discussed in this booklet.

Roosting Birds - Birds roosting are the easiest birds to control or scare to another location. Most birds roost in a particular location out of habit. As with other animals these habits can be changed. Make your birds's root elsewhere. A great deal of information has been collected to vindicate this. You may find your problem roosting birds in one of the following situations.

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BOATS, LANDINGS, MARINAS AND WHARVES

Usually seagulls, pigeons and cormorants are the problem birds. All these are birds of habit. They select their roosting place as being a safe place. Often with clear view and flight path for easy escape. Here they feel safe and comfortable. These birds will return by habit to the same boat or landing place day after day.

Other birds in the area will follow them, all using the same locations to roost. What is safe for one must be comfortable and safe for others. They will continue to roost at one location until they are forced to find another.

So by installing a hawk bird scarer above them you make them feel uneasy about roosting there. Then and only then will they find a safer roost, often never returning to the first boat or location. Once these birds find their new roost they will adopt it as home,. returning each day by habit.

Typical of this situation was where a "boatie" installed a Hawk Bird Scarer on his yacht to scare seagulls and cormorants. As soon as it was installed John saw that birds would not land, or if they did only momentarily before flying off to other vessels.

After five weeks John forgot to put the scarer up after using the boat at the weekend. When he arrived back the following week to his amazement the birds had not returned... their habits had changed.

BIRDS ROOSTING ON ROOFS

If your situation is one where problem birds roost on a roof usually the culprit is the Pigeon. They love to sun and preen themselves while sitting on a roof. As they are not toilet trained this goes on the roof too. Still, better there, than on your head!

However, as with seagulls, pigeons are easy to scare when roosting. It's only habit that they roost on your roof. Change their habit for a few weeks and they will not return.

Pigeons and other roosting birds will seek shelter at night and then come out in daylight hours to sun, preen and look for food. You need to observe where your birds are roosting at different times of the day to obtain effective control. A bird scarer above the highest point on the roof will stop birds from roosting on the roof.

However this may not stop them from roosting under eves, on window sills, or in other locations where they are unable to see the bird scarer. You have to imagine yourself sitting where the bird is. From that position do you have direct line of site to the Hawk above you? If not you will not take any notice of it.

How To Install Your Hawk Bird Scarer On A Roof

You may find it impractical to suspend a Hawk Bird Scarer on strong fishing line 45Kg (lOOlb) plus above your roof.

If so, spike the hawk on the end of a length of pipe and erect above the roosting area. Drill out the round "plug" found in the middle of the reinforcing rib to the size of the bolt. Bolt the hawk to a 6 metre length piece of pipe (as per T.Y. antenna installation diagram on brochure) and fix to a high point above the bird problem area e.g. chimney, vent pipe, T.Y. antenna etc.

You will find PVC electrical conduit, curtain rod, steel pipe, copper pipe or aluminum tube suitable. Simply flatten out one end, drill hole to the size of the bolt to be used, bend at 90 degrees to the pipe and bolt hawk on. A Hawk Bird Scarer fixed in this method is not as effective at scaring birds as if suspended on fishing line. However, as roosting birds are easily deterred good results will be obtained.

Singleton Shire Council had hundreds of pigeons roosting on an old council building roof. One Hawk Bird Scarer spiked on a length of water pipe scared them across the road onto a pub roof. Fourteen months later the Hawk Bird Scarer blew down. The pigeons still roost on the pub roof.

Why? ........... Because they are birds of habit.

Spicer Papers in Melbourne had similar results on 2 hectares of roof area where Seagulls had been a problem for many years. They had tried many methods for scaring the seagulls but none were effective. Then they used plastic Hawks around the roof area and the results were spectacular.

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BIRDS ROOSTING INSIDE BUILDINGS

Pigeons, Starlings, Sparrows and Swallows are the most common birds found roosting inside sheds, bams, warehouses and factories. If your building is such that birds can enter at many points too numerous to locate scaring devices outside, then move them inside. For birds roosting in a shed or building simply suspend the device from 3 lines so the hawk is hovering above the roosting area inside the building.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

Prevent Birds Entering Building

In cases where birds are entering at one or two points, e.g. doorways, suspend your Hawk Bird Scarer above the doorway on 3 lines (as for Balcony). Birds will not fly under the hawk. Experience has shown that where birds are a problem roosting inside a building it is a good idea to also install a Hawk on top of the roof as well. This helps to deter birds from a large radius around your building. In this case your Hawk needs to be installed on the end of a length of pipe so that the Hawk is well above the ridge capping. If birds are entering after dark, it may be necessary to flood light your hawk.

The Melbourne Transport Authority, Tramways Division, had problems with birds in their tram sheds. Starlings and Pigeons entering through open tram doorways. Suspending the Hawk Bird Scarer above the doorway worked for a few days. After that the birds waited till dark and then flew in. The birds could not see the hawk at night. The Transport Authority flood lit the hawk at night. Result: NO MORE BIRDS PROBLEM SOLVED.

Feeding Birds

Such as berry and fruit crops, new lawns, bowling greens, nut trees, grapes and other crops. Scaring birds from a feeding situation, that is denying them their chosen food, is going to be difficult. Much more difficult than scaring them from a roosting situation. Birds feed on your crop out of need-not habit. You are denying the birds "their daily bread". They will become aggressive and test your scarer to find a weakness.

Fruit Trees

Having tended your trees all year to a point where the fruit is just starting to colour it is heartbreaking to see bird pecks in it. Within a few days the fruit would normally be in your hand. But so often it is taken clean away or left riddled with holes. All thanks to our feathered friends.

How do birds know when fruit is ripe?

They send out scouts to look, find and test it for ripeness. It is therefore important to scare these scouts away before they try your fruit.

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Why do birds attack your fruit?

Birds know their territory. They know the best and safest feeding grounds. If one crop becomes unavailable, unsafe, unpleasant, they move on to the next ... usually your neighbour's.

Where do your b~ attack from?

Often they will fly in or attack from one direction. Maybe a nearby "safe" tree or bush area. Birds find trees or bush with lots of cover very safe and free from danger. It is somewhere they can land, feel safe and survey the scene.

Birds often attack from the lower end of your crop first and work up the slope. They will be at their worst in the early morning from daylight till 9am and again in the late afternoon. From 5pm till dusk. During the heat of the day many birds rest. By observing where your birds are coming from you can install your scarer in these vulnerable spots.

What birds attack your fruit?

It is important to know what birds are damaging your fruit. This could be the key to successful scaring. When you know a little more about your problem you are closer to a solution.

Three groups of birds damage fruit. Small birds such as Silver Eyes or White Eyes and Sparrows. Medium birds from Indian or English Mynah, Starlings, Back-faced Cuckoo Shrikes And large birds such as Cockatoos, Crows and Currawongs. Surprisingly enough,

medium and large birds are much easier to scare than the small birds.

Small birds like Silver Eyes can often gain safe cover by flitting from shrub to shrub to gain entry to the fruit bearing tree. Once in either a shrub or tree they feel very safe and so are difficult to scare. The more leaf cover the safer they feel.

Most scaring devices are not effective against these birds. On the other hand, larger birds can be scared from fruit trees.

Where do your birds attack from?

Often they will fly in or attack from one direction. Maybe a nearby "safe" tree or bush area. Birds find trees or bush with lots of cover very safe and free from danger. It is somewhere they can land, feel safe and survey the scene.

Birds often attack from the lower end of your crop first and work up the slope. They will be at their worst in the early morning from daylight till 9am and again in the late afternoon. From 5pm till dusk. During the heat of the day many birds rest. By observing where your birds are coming from you can install your scarer in these vulnerable spots.

What birds attack your fruit?

It is important to know what birds are damaging your fruit. This could be the key to successful scaring. When you know a little more about your problem you are closer to a solution.

Three groups of birds damage fruit. Small birds such as Silver Eyes or White Eyes and Sparrows. Medium birds from Indian or English Mynah, Starlings, Back-faced Cuckoo Shrikes And large birds such as Cockatoos, Crows and Currawongs. Surprisingly enough, medium and large birds are much easier to scare than the small birds.

Small birds like Silver Eyes can often gain safe cover by flitting from shrub to shrub to gain entry to the fruit bearing tree. Once in either a shrub or tree they feel very safe and so are difficult to scare. The more leaf cover the safer they feel.

Most scaring devices are not effective against these birds. On the other hand, larger birds can be scared from fruit trees.

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PROTECTING FRUIT TREES FROM BIRD ATTACK..

The Hawk Bird Scarer is a most cost effective and trouble free visual method.

Simply suspend this device above your trees so that it appears, to birds in the area, to be a real attacking Goshawk. If your birds can see from their flight path the full profile of the hovering hawk they will go elsewhere.

Alternatively you can erect your Hawk on the end of a tall length of pipe and stand the pipe with the Hawk on top at the edge of the crop with the head of the Hawk facing out of the crop. The pipes must be long enough to position the Hawk well above the top of the crop, preferable some 4 or 5 metres above the crop. The higher the Hawk goes the larger the area it protects because it looks so real.

But remember those what, when, where and why questions. Use them to improve the effectiveness of the device.

Knowing what bird will enable you to read up its habits from a text book. It may not even be birds eating your fruit. It may be flying foxes (fruit bats) or possums or even mice or rats. These will need another method of scaring.

Knowing when your fruit is ripe is critical. You must erect your scarer before those scout birds appear on the scene. Once a scout bird has acquired a taste for your fruit he will keep coming back trying all methods to beat the scarer.

Information on where the birds are attacking from may show you that they always approach from one direction. Placing the Hawk Bird Scarer with its head facing this direction of approach will greatly improve its effectiveness. Finding out why birds attack your fruit may not be easy.

Many things may influence feeding habits. Neighbours may be attracting them by hand feeding them. Lack of feed in the area could be forcing them to your fruit.

By growing alternative feed crops for them may alleviate the press~on your fruit crop. If there is little alternative feed in the area, and yours is the only crop of its type in that area, birds will become more aggressive towards your crop. However if there is a number of fruit trees in the neighbourhood it will be easy to scare birds away.

A few tips when using your Hawk Bird Scarer over fruit trees. Move the device from time to time. This reduces the chances of birds gathering information about the device. Erect it before your fruit is ripe.

Make sure birds can see it against the skyline. Imagine yourself as a bird flying into your trees. Can you see a hawk above you? If you have a large number of trees then a few devices will be needed. Erect them on the perimeter of the orchard. Birds perimeter feed, always attacking the outer trees closest to cover first. Face the hawk head towards the attacking birds. Take down the scarers after harvest.

Silver Eyes or White Eyes

These little birds cause a great deal of damage to fruit as they tend to peck holes in a piece of fruit and then move onto the next.

They will enter the crop at one or two points and once in the crop are very difficult to scare. It is therefore much more important to stop them entering the crop and so your scarers should be at the edge of the crop rather then in the middle.

Usually these birds will come from a nearby tree or bush into your crop. This is the location to place a scarer.

Common or Indian Mynah

This bird was introduced in Melbourne in 1862 and is a medium sized bird. It has yellow feet and legs with a yellow beak and has yellow at the back of the eyes. The tail is black with a terminal bar while the main body is brown. When it flies it has a white patch at the base of the main feathers on the wing. It is a very aggressive bird often taking over and colonising areas from native birds.

Indian Mynahs usually feed in pairs but often groups of twenty upwards will feed together. At night they will roost in a communal tree, under a bridge or in an empty building. Sometimes hundreds or thousands will nest together and make an incredible amount of noise.

They are however easy to scare when they are attacking fruit. Install your scarer at the edge of the crop to prevent entry into the crop.

When roosting in a communal tree or location scaring is more difficult because they often fly to their roost at dusk or in the early evening. This restricts the use of a scarer as visual scarers will not be seen after dark unless flood lit. (see scaring birds from Palm Trees)

Common Starling

One of Australia's most common introduced birds in every state except Western Australia and Northern Territory. This medium size bird is plump with a short tail. In flight it has characteristic triangular wings. They are black all over with an iridescence of green and purple. They cause enormous damage to crops as they form flocks of hundreds and thousands of birds which descend on a crop and feed on a front stripping the fruit as they march forward.

As with the Indian Mynah they are easy to scare by installing scarers on the edge of the crop. Face the scarer away from the crop so that as the flocks approach the perimeter it will deter them.

Fig Bird

Medium to large native bird found along the East Coast of Australia and in the tropics. This golden green backed bird has a distinctive patch around its eye which changes from yellow to red when it becomes excited.

As the name suggests it loves figs and is partial to other fruit and berries. It can be easily scared so long as the birds can see the scare above them as the approach the crop.

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Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

One of Australia's most spectacular birds and one of the most destructive. With a beak that makes bolt cutters quake in fear, an air raid siren voice and a temperament that makes a bored two-year old look angelic, cockies are wildlife's version of Hell's Angels.

In the bush cockies use their massively powerful beaks to eat everything from seeds to wood grubs. In the suburbs they turn their talents to cedar panels, doors, window sills and barge boards, they eat synthetic grass tennis courts, plastic components of solar hot water systems, bitumen and other membrane roof sealants on roofs of high priced units, penthouses and flats. They rip up Bowling Greens and destroy greens on golf courses.

In all of these situations the Hawk Bird Scarer has been found to be very effective in scaring Cockies.

Where they are destroying Western Red Cedar window frames, or building trim, simply suspend the Hawk above the area with the head of the Hawk facing the away from the building.

In a situation where the Cockies are destroying membranes on the roof of a block of units or solar hot water system simply install the Hawk on the end of a length of pipe and lash the pipe with the Hawk on top to any protrusion above the roof, chimney, vent pipe, aerial etc, so the Hawk is higher then the top of the roof. The higher the better. Six Metres will obtain excellent control.

Above Tennis Courts or Bowling Greens suspend the Hawk between light poles, flag poles or between high buildings so it is hovering above the area being attacked. One hawk per green of court will give great results.

Out west they destroy communication towers and feast on crops of Sunflowers, Wheat, Barley, Sorghum, oats, and even dig holes in plastic bags of silage.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos have the unusual habit of sitting up in trees and stripping the foliage away. For the same reason they will often snip off garden plants and not even eat them. They do this because their beaks never stop growing.

Snipping away at things keeps a cockies beak in trim. The second reason is that they like to keep a visual look out for approaching hawks. They automatically strip trees of their foliage in an endeavour to keep a horizontal lookout for any approaching. The third reason is when they nest in the hollow of a tree they like to stop Goannas climbing up the tree to their nest and so they remove all of the bark from around the tree trunk and around the nest hole so that goannas can not obtain a good grip.

But despite all this they are easy to scare with a Hawk Bird Scarer. This is because the real Goshawk loves to eat Cockies. Simply by installing a Hawk Bird Scarer above the area where they are attacking or in the case of a broad acre crop installing the hawks at the edge of the crop this will deter Cockatoos.

Corellas

Corell as have a similar beak to cockatoos although they have a long upper mandible that is just great for digging up roots. They are not a destructive as cock".)ut will decimate grain crops when they are in sufficient numbers. These birds can be scared using the same techniques as for the cockies.

Galahs

To be called a galah is to be thought of as silly or a fool and the Galah is Australia's comedian as they are acrobatic whether sitting on a wire fence fighting over a perch or flying in the air. With their bright pink under belly and grey wings they love to entertain each other and anyone who will watch them.

But even these clowns of the bush can do enormous damage to crops and gardens. They will eat citrus leaving you only the skins. They love to feed on pine cones and nut trees once again leaving you only the outer shells.

Inland they form huge flocks of a hundred or more and feast on cereal and oil crops.

But luck is at hand or is it Mother Nature's good management that Hawks are also very partial to Galah's. By installing a Hawk Bird Scarer above the area where they are attacking or in the case of a broad acre crop installing the hawks at the edge of the crop the hawks will deter Galahs.

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Australian Magpie -Lark or Peewees or Peewit

These black and white birds occur on every mainland state but not Tasmania. They are medium sized birds smaller than magpies and make a mud nest hence the common name of Mudlark. Whilst breeding pairs are territorial non breeding flocks up to hundreds will roost in a communal tree at night.

Peewees are very territorial birds and defend their 8 to 10 hectare territory strongly. They will take on much larger birds and in their endeavours will often take on a pane of glass, shiny hubcap or rear vision mirror.

They maddeningly fight its own reflection in house windows or any other reflective surface. Other birds which indulge in this noisy, annoying, dirty and debilitating activity include blue wrens, golden whistler, yellow robins, thrushes, swallows, friar birds and even Kookaburras.

Why do they do it?

Defensive of their kingdoms they are constantly on the lookout for intruders who might steal their food, territory or mate. If they see an intruder of their own species and sex in their territory most male owners and many females too, make it very plain by posturing and by singing or by a direct challenge, that this living space is taken.

Because the owner of the territory acts with conviction he or she clearly has a psychological advantage and the intruder usually accepts the situation and departs.

But when the territory-owner is confronted in the middle of its territory with its own reflection in a shiny window, car hub cap, or external revision mirror, something very different happens. Contrary to all the normal rules of behavior the "Stranger" fronts up as aggressively as the owner.

This unexpected behaviour usually causes the owner to hurl itself in fury at the presumptuous newcomer, fully expecting it to go quietly. But what happens the newcomer fights back! ! ! The owner now has no choice but to redouble its attack And so the battle with its own

reflection continues with an almost unbreakable spiral of physical combat.

These situations are usually at their worst in spring when nesting season is at its height. A common site at this time of the year is for the owner of the territory will fight with its own reflection many times a day, flying up and down a window pecking furiously and striking out and grabbing with its feet.

Unlike many territorial battles between birds, there is no let up, no appeasing gestures to reduce the tension. Every time the owner checks that comer of its realm the "Stranger" is waiting.

Ways in which to solve this problem.

1) Install a Hawk Bird Scarer above the window by hanging it from strong fishing line below the eve of the house as if the Hawk was hovering. Install the hawk on the end of a piece of dowel and have the Hawk protruding out from the gutter so as the bird approaches it will see it.

2) Install a hawk in the window by taping it to the glass.

3) Cover the glass with an opaque sink cleaning compound that will dry with a white film thus making the glass less reflective.

4) Cover the glass with a fly screen.

5) Put more light behind the window so that it is less reflective. By opening a blind or curtain this can often be achieved

Roosting Birds In Palm Trees

Birds roosting in palm trees can result in a real health and noise problem. Birds such as Common mynahs, Starlings and Sparrows can take up a tree as a communal roost with hundreds and thousands of birds making excessive noise and an unbearable stench.

They roost in these trees out of habit and because they feel safe. You have to change their habit and make them feel unwelcome. This will require two weeks constant monitoring by you at dusk.

Your roll is to scare the birds every 20 minutes or so as they come into roost at night. There are several ways to do this and you will need to utilise a number of them if you are going to be successful.

If it is a large palm tree then remove many of the old and dead lower branches. This reduces the bulk of the tree and the locations for them to roost.

Install a long rope up through the tree complete with tin cans tied onto the rope in such a fashion that when you pull the rope vigorously the tin cans will bang together and make a sudden noise. The birds will take to the air in freight. Do not rattle the cans to often or they will get used to it and take no notice.

Direct you garden hose into the tree and blast them with water or flash a torch light into the tree or fire an air rifle into the tree. The air rifle does not have to be loaded just the noise from the barrel will be enough to scare them. Throw a rock into the tree or let of a fire cracker noise in the tree.

A friend of mine who was keen on electronics once developed an electronic fire cracker which randomly let off a fire cracker "Bang" every ten minutes or so and when these were installed into the foliage of the trees it stopped the birds roosting.

If you are able to persist in keeping your roosting birds away from the tree over a two or three week period it is usually sufficient to end their habit of roosting in that location and they will find a new roost.

Once you have achieved this now is the time to follow up your hard work with the installation of a Hawk Bird Scarer above the site to stop reinfestation. Install the Hawk on the end of a piece of pipe and feed the pipe with the Hawk on top up through the crown of the tree lashing the pipe to an upper branch or the trunk of the tree.

Small Area Ground Crops

Crops such as berry, vegetable- and vine crops, as well as, lawns, bowling greens etc. can be protected successfully from bird attack using visual scaring methods.

These crops are usually grown in open areas. Unlike trees the physical structure of these plants offer only ground cover. There is little protective cover for birds to gain shelter from birds of prey. In this situation the Hawk Bird Scarer can be suspended high above the crop. Attacking birds will have a clear view of its profile over a very large area of the crop.

Similar precautions to those outlined with fruit trees should be adopted. Use perimeter protection, erect prior to crop maturity etc. With a long bearing crop such as strawberries, every effort !I1ust be made to ensure birds do not gather much information about the device. This means devices will have to be moved often or inter phased with alternative scaring techniques.

For example, you may use the Hawk Bird Scarer for a month, pesticides for a week then go back to the Hawk Bird Scarer.

Swimming Pools And Dams

Most owners of swimming pools resent their water being fouled by ducks using their pools as a swimming hole. Some farmers have problems with ducks eating their crops during the early morning and late afternoon and using their farm dams to roost by day.

Scaring Ducks And Cormorants

If your problem is ducks on water.

You can solve it with a visual aid such as the Hawk Bird Scarer on one big proviso.

That is the device must be erected high enough over the water that the approaching duck will see it before it has a chance to land on the water.

Ducks have two methods of escape from a bird of prey. One is to run for cover of a tree, bush, reeds etc., the other is to dive under the water.

If the duck lands on water it will not be the least bit scared of a hovering hawk. It knows that if the hawk attacks it can escape by diving under water.

Ducks landing on swimming pools often look nice but they foul the water. Ducks usually approach the pool from one direction. Often the down hill side of the pool. They come from a nearby creek or dam and will fly low or even walk to your pool entering the water from one side. It is important to establish which way they are coming from because this is the side you need to install your scarer.

If you are using a Hawk Bird Scarer just install it on the end of a long length of pipe and lash it to a post at the edge of your pool. Face the head of the hawk away from the pool. If the ducks are landing at night the Hawk will not work for you unless you flood light it. Alternative you can contact Shirley De Silva at PO Box 236 Scone NSW 2337 who has developed a system for scaring ducks at night using a light system which pulses intermittently.

Ducks landing on farm dams can be controlled in a similar method to that described above for Swimming Pools.

Ducks Grazing on pasture, lawns or crops can be controlled by adopting two strategies.

You need to find out where they are coming from. They will usually have a home base such as a farm dam, creek or other water supply. This water gives them safety from foxes and other predators. You need to have a scarer installed at this home base as well as tackling the grazin~tuation.

If the ducks are grazing during the daylight hours you can use a visual scarer. if however they are grazing at night then you need to use a light system to keep them away. Such a light system will emit infrequent flashes of light which acts as a barrier to them.

Trapping Ducks

Ducks are usually easy to trap in duck traps where the traps are baited with food the ducks like. A trail of food is laid to lead the ducks into the trap where the doors will automatically close behind them. Water must be supplied to the trapped ducks and they need to be removed on a daily basis and then relocated to a distant place.

You need to check legalities with your wildlife authorities before carrying out any trapping.

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Stopping Birds Flying Into Windows

They maddeningly fight their own reflection in house windows or any other reflective surface. Birds which indulge in this noisy, annoying, dirty and debilitating activity include Peewees, blue wrens, golden whistler, yellow robins, thrushes, swallows, friar birds and even Kookaburras.

Why do they do it?

Defensive of their kingdoms they are constantly on the lookout for intruders who might steal their food, territory or mate. If they see an intruder of their own species and sex in their territory most male owners and many females too, make it very plain by posturing and by singing or by a direct challenge, that this living space is taken.

Because the owner of the territory acts with conviction he or she clearly has a psychological advantage and the intruder usually accepts the situation and departs.

But when the territory-owner is confronted in the middle of its territory with its own reflection in a shiny window, car hub cap, or external revision mirror, something very different happens. Contrary to all the normal rules of behavior the "Stranger" fronts up as aggressively as the owner.

This unexpected behaviour usually causes the owner to hurl itself in fury at the presumptuous newcomer, fully expecting it to go quietly. But what happens the newcomer fights back!!! The owner now has no choice but to redouble its attack and so the battle with its own reflection continues with an almost unbreakable spiral of physical combat.

These situations are usually at their worst in spring when nesting season is at its height. A common site at this time of the year is for the owner of the territory will fight with its own reflection many times a day, flying up and down a window pecking furiously and striking out and grabbing with its feet.

Unlike many territorial battles between birds, there is no let up , no appeasing gestures to reduce the tension. every time the owner checks that comer of its realm the "Stranger" is waiting.

Ways in which to solve this problem

1) Install a Hawk Bird Scarer above the window by hanging it from strong fishing line below the eve of the house as if the Hawk was hovering. Install the hawk on the end of a piece of dowel and have the Hawk protruding out from the gutter so as the bird approaches it will see it.

2) Install a hawk in the window by taping it to the glass.

3) Cover the glass with an opaque sink cleaning compound that will Qry with a white film thus making the glass less reflective.

4) Cover the glass with a fly screen.

5) Put more light behind the window so that it is less reflective. By opening a blind or curtain this can often be achieved.

BROAD ACRE CROPS

Such as Sunflowers, Safflowers, Maize, Sorghum, Wheat, Barley and others can be protected by visual devices using crop perimeter protection. Typical problem birds are Cockatoos, Galahs and Corellas. All these birds feed from the edge of the crop moving inwards. Because of this it is possible to obtain effective control using the Hawk bird Scarer. Field observations from trials carried out by Collin Dolahenty, Piallaway farmer and others, provide valuable information in bird behaviour for broad acre crops. The Hawk Bird Scarers were used in 2 methods.

Standard Method of Installation for Broad Acre Crops

As the manufacturer recommends, suspended between trees growing both in and outside the crop. The hawks suspended this way fly very high. 80lb. fishing line is strong enough when thrown over dead trees with smooth limbs. However, on live trees the bark can rub through the line. In this case baling twine is used up over the tree and then the fishing line the rest of the way to the hawk. If a hawk comes down the birds are into the crop in a flash. Lines for the bird Scarers should be erected before the crop is planted. The lines tangle in full grown sunflower crops. Hook the hawks on the erected lines at flowing stage. In most broad acre crop situations it is impracticable to suspend the Hawk Bird Scarer above the crop, even if it's only around the perimeter. There usually just aren't any trees.

Alternative Method of Installation For Broad Acre Crops

The alternative recommended method is quite easy, and very effective. Just spike a Hawk Bird Scarer into a plug on the end of a 20 foot (6 metre) length of 1 inch (2.5cm) black iron pipe, Galvanised Iron Pipe or PVC pipe such as electrical conduit. Stand one of these up every 100 yards 000 metres) around the crop perimeter by wiring it to the perimeter fence posts. It works like an invisible fence. The pipes are tied to fence posts using wire so each pipe can be given a quarter turn each day to face the hawk in another direction. This stops birds becoming used to them.

Increase Scaring Power

Additional visual effect can be gained by placing a second hawk on the pipe on its side

below the top hawk which remains in the horizontal hovering position. Attacking flocks of birds can see this second hawk's profile up to 400 metres, a quarter of a mile away. When the plastic hawks were erected they attracted real hawks. This increases the effectiveness of the Hawk Bird Scarer. Upon shooting galahs in a flock flying over the crop, real hawks had taken them before they hit the ground. A flock of galahs or cockies flying over the crop, on sight of the Hawk Bird Scarer, rise up in the air another 100 metres or so to fly over them. The cockies think it is a shadow of a real hawk. When Galahs or cockies fly under the plastic hawk they go berserk, and start twisting and turning to try and escape the hawk.

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DAMAGE TO SUNFLOWERS

First damage occurring in the sunflower crop is at yellow petal or flowering stage. The bird damage then continues right through to harvest, a span of 9 to 10 weeks.

At flowering stages Birds just eat the top of the flower but often more damage occurs from the weight of birds, which weigh up to 2 kgs each. They land on the flower head breaking it off. During the first few weeks birds attacked the crop between 7 and 8 a.m. and 6 till 9pm. in the evening. Birds never attack During the heat of the day. After 3 weeks of the first bird damage the times widened to 6 to 9 a.m. and

5.30 to 10 p.m. They came earlier and left later in an attempt to fill their bellies. Now damage to flower heads was in the form of birds eating the set seed.

HABIT

Flock

The flocks consisted of between 1,000 and 10,000 birds made up of 40% cockatoos and 60% galahs in the early season changing to 20% cockatoos and 80% galahs later in the season.

Approach

The flocks usually fly to a dead tree on the top of a hill a kilometre or so away from the crop. Two or three scouts will then fly to trees in or near the crop. From these trees they fly into the crop and have a feed. As soon as they have had enough they fly back to the nearest dead tree in or near the crop and squawk their heads off calling to the flock.

Leaders And Scouts

It is important to stop scare or eliminate these birds from alerting the rest of the flock. Should you fail to control these scouts or leaders their shrill calls will bring not only their flock but every bird from miles around to feed on the crop. Whilst the flock feeds the leaders will remain in the trees and watch over the flock. Birds always approach the crop from surrounding trees usually dead trees. They prefer landing in dead trees or dead branches of live trees avoiding heavily foliated trees. This allows clear vision to scan for predators.

Perimeter Feeders

From these trees they fly to the edge of the crop nearest the tree and feed on a front commencing at the tree. They then feed along this front slowly working their way into the centre of the crop. Birds like extensive horizontal visibility.

It is therefore important to:

(I) Protect the perimeter of the crop. Hence the use of the Hawk Bird Scarer.

(2) Remove old dead trees. These make excellent landing spots for birds to attack the crop from.

(3) Grow alternative food crops for birds in another area (a "sacrificial" crop).

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Camouflage Crops

Broad acre crops such as SUNFLOWERS, SAFFLOWERS & SORGHUM can gain some protection from perimeter feeding birds by surrounding the crop by a tall screen of forage sorghum. Birds such as galahs and cockatoos like extensive horizontal visibility when feeding. A screen limits this visibility. This visual screen makes birds feeding adjacent to it feel uneasy. They are of course worried about attack from birds of prey. By incorporating a visual scarer with this method, such as the Hawk Bird Scarer or a kite, excellent control can be obtained. The screen needs to be 3 to 4 metres wide and at least I metre taller than the final height of the sunflower crop. The screen crop should be planted at least a few weeks before the sunflowers, using only tall growing varieties. To gain maximum height the forage sorghum needs low density planting and good weed control. Large crops will need more screens every 100 metres into the crop. Any raised area trees through the crop will also need screens, while irrigated crops may need screening along parallel furrows.

BIRD DISTRESS CALLS

Birds can be identified by their calls. They have three main reasons for their calls.

1) Territorial calls

Where the birds make certain calls to repel intruders in their territory or they make calls to attract a mate to their territory.

2) Contact Calls

It's used by birds to keep in contact with each other either in pairs or in flocks. In some species of birds the male and female partner will sing duets to each other. The Butcher Bird and Whip Birds are good examples of this.

3) Distress Calls

The alarm call of a bird usually a shrilled or loud call to alert others or their mate or off spring to a danger. Some have different sorts of alarm calls for different types of predators. However some birds do not have a distress call. The Pigeon is a bird which does not call but shows a white flash under its wing to alert birds to danger. Sparrows and Swallows do not have a distress calls either. Other birds like the Starling will often have a call outside of humans hearing range.

The honey eater sing very complex territorial calls but all have one distress call. Indian Mynahs have their distress call and when one bird signals all the others flock to it to aid assistance.

Flick Pest Control have developed a distress call for some birds which when recorded on tape and played through loud speakers will deter one species of bird from that area. The price of this unit when I last inquired was $3000 or they could be leased for $250 per month.

Flick Pest Control say that other techniques need to be used in conjunction with their unit for it to continue to be effective. They have recorded effective control over 1 km radius depending on background noise and the loudness of the speakers. However the machine must be playing before the birds arrive. They have had difficulty in scaring the cockies when the birds are already at a site.

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Snakes

Rubber, plastic or inflatable snakes can be used to scare birds from trees, vines, some horticultural crops, sheds, roofs, boats and for the inflatable one only, swimming pools and dams. For crop situations the snake must be visible to birds and needs to be moved frequently to stop birds gathering too much information about it. In this situation a snake will only protect a small area, one bush, part of a tree, part of a garden

The inflatable snake is quite useful for deterring ducks from swimming pools by floating it on the surface and anchoring it to the bottom with weights. In some shed and building situations the snake will scare birds if it is visible and is moved often.

Owls

In the United Kingdom where barn owls are common, and roosting pigeons are a problem over the long winter months an inflatable owl has been used. By inflating the owl and tying it to a post or rafter inside a shed or bam, birds feel uneasy and move to another location. It must be moved every few days to remain effective.

Cats

Artificial cats made from wool have been used in sheds and chicken coops to scare roosting birds and sparrows. These work for a few days but birds quickly become used to them. Once they have enough information about the artificial cats they are not scared even when they are moving close to the roosting position.

Kites

Many kites resembling hawks, eagles and other raptors have been developed over the years. Most scare birds when they are aloft but keeping them up is not always possible. Some kites are inexpensive to buy. However, they usually only last 7 to 14 days after being fully reinforced at the primary stress points. Irreparable damage occurs to kites when high winds greater than 8 km/hr cause them to collide with the ground, vegetation or trellises. One of the new generation kites, the DUNFORD DELTA kite has a wing span of 1.7 metres. Spinnaker sail cloth which traps in the wind is supported on a fibreglass frame. A convergent duct between twin keels gives it increased stability. When assembled and trimmed according to instructions its makers claim it will fly in winds from 5km to gale force. Experience suggests that a single kite is able to protect a paddock of 20 acres provided it is of uniform shape. The main problem with kites is keeping them up. Often in Australian conditions the wind just does not blow. Wind droughts are a constant problem to the kite enthusiast.

Kite Balloons

A kite balloon or KB is a helium-filled balloon with a kite, tethered raptor or model raptor tied to the helium balloon. This overcomes the problem of the kite falling to the ground when the wind dies. Whilst this system works durin~ calm or light wind conditions when winds blow more than 8 km/hr the KB 's fly much closer to the ground. At wind velocities greater than 8 kmlhr KB's either spherical balloons or tetrahedron-shaped balloons fly at an average altitude of 4m compared to 13 to 17 metres on calm to light wind conditions. As the wind velocity increases above 8 km/hr the balloons have greater horizontal movement and fly lower to the ground. This increases the risk of damage to the balloon. As a result balloons average longevity is only I to 5 days dependent on wind conditions. Helium balloons are expensive. A more aerodynamically stable balloon for high winds needs to be designed. Furthermore all materials tested for leakage of helium were found to be high requiring reinflation after 1.5 to 2.7 days. (See Legal aspects).

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AUDITORY BIRD SCARERS LIKE GAS GUNS

These devices depend on the bird's reaction to unexpected loud noise. The most common automatic type is the propane-gas gun which produces a shot like explosion at regular intervals. Others produce sound from air horns, electronic sound generators, or simply plastic tapes that hum in the wind. Some can be extremely loud and can cause considerable annoyance to people living nearby. These scarers should never be left operating after dark and in situations where there is likely to be adverse public reaction. Their use and sitting require careful consideration (see Legal aspects).

AUDIOS THAT ARE NOT VISUAL SCARERS e.g. GAS GUNS

Camouflage auditory scarers that have no visual effects. The attention of birds is drawn to gas guns and other auditory scarers by the noise they produce. If these devices are to continue to scare, it is important that the birds acquire as little information about them as possible. Most gas guns are painted bright colours and are frequently sited conspicuously.

To produce the best effect, it is better if they are placed in a hide of branches etc. However, if they are hidden, both the fire risk and alarm to people unaware of their presence need to be considered.

A Plus From A Minus

An alternative way to camouflage an auditory scarer is to hide it in a very conspicuous container surrounded by many identical but otherwise empty ones. For example, it may be possible to house a gas gun in a brightly coloured metal drum laid on its side with several similar empty drums dispersed over the paddock. If the gun is moved from one drum to another, the birds will learn to associate the unpleasant sound with the drums but will not be able to predict which drum will emit the noise. In this situation, they will often avoid all drums and so the area protected by a single gun can be increased. This effect can be further enhanced by occasionally changing the colour and position of the drums.

Position

Position auditory scarers to produce the maximum noise. The louder the noise, the more likely it is to cause birds to fly off and the more often it can be repeated before it is ignored. As even a light wind can have a marked effect on the distance noise travels, it is essential that auditory scarers are positioned pointed downwind.

Elevation

Raising the scarer above the level of the crop may also increase the distance the sound travels, but do not forget the need to avoid disturbing neighbours.

Timing

Control the times of use and operating rate of auditory scarers. If there are obvious times when the birds feed most actively, Such as early morning and or evening, restricting the operation of the scarers to those periods will help prolong their effectiveness. The faster the firing rate, the more quickly birds become used to the noise.

For this reason auditory scarers should not be operated more frequently than once every 20 minutes. Ideally scarers should be set to operate at intervals to coincide with the re gathering of flocks after they have been scared. This will also reduce the likelihood that birds scared off to the edge of the paddock will become used to the noise when they are not feeding.

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Manual

Auditory scaring is often done manually by firing a shotgun or 'shell crackers'. The latter,which emit a charge that gives a tracer effect before exploding, should not be fired from a 12-bore shotgun as the projectiles could explode in the barrel. Pistols specially designed for bird-scaring cartridges, or a standard 1.5 inch signal pistol fitted with an adaptor sleeve, should be used.

Sound Frequency

It has been suggested that sound with frequencies above those which can be heard by humans (ultrasound) might be used to scare birds. This is unlikely as the hearing range of birds appears to be very similar to ours and they are most sensitive to sound frequencies well within the range of human hearing.

Auditory And Visual

Some auditory scarers incorporate visual effects. These should have the advantage of the sudden noise directing the attention of the birds toward the scarer, the sight of which then adds to the scaring effect of the sound. Such devices may, for example, use the explosion from a gas gun to propel a brightly coloured plastic disc up a pole or trigger off a mechanical scarecrow. One type operates air horns and rotating rods to which are attached brightly coloured plastic streamers.

Recorded Distress Calls

With some species it is possible to record and reproduce the alarm of distress calls they make in response to a predator. For some years these calls have been used successfully to scare birds from airfields and are now commercially available for agricultural use. However, not all pest species have distress calls. Some birds like galahs and cockatoos are attracted, rather than repelled, by their distress calls.

Effective Scaring

When faced with an unexpected object or noise, a bird may either approach and explore it or flee from it. For scaring it is desirable to enhance those properties that cause flight and reduce any that encourage the bird to approach. An unexpected object is one that the bird does not remember having seen before in that particular situation. Birds are thought to build up a mental picture of their surroundings which leads them to expect certain things in specific places. They become suspicious when they encounter something different. The extent of the difference is thought to determine whether they explore or flee from a strange object. A small difference is believed to produce an exploratory reaction and a large one causes avoidance.

Response

The initial response to an unfamiliar object is usually fright, but each time the object is encountered more information is gathered and avoid iance is slowly replaced by a tendency to explore. Eventually the bird becomes familiar with the object until finally the object is ignored.

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VISIBILITY OF AUDIO DEVICES

The basic rule to maximise the effective life of any scarer is, therefore, to reduce the speed at which birds can gather information about it. Unfortunately, many scarers are designed to be visible continuously and this increases the rate at which the birds can become familiar with them. Devices that only appear for a short period are to be preferred. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of any scarer can be prolonged if the following procedures are adopted.

(a) Use scarers as infrequently as possible. Generally use scarers only when the crop is at its most vulnerable.

(b) Do not place them in the paddock for the entire growing period except where geese are the problem. Geese tend to acquire the habit of using certain paddocks and, as this habit can be difficult to break, scraps must be positioned as soon as geese are seen near the crop.

Ineffective Audios

(c) Use a variety of scraps rather than several of the same type. The more often birds encounter a particular device, the shorter will be its effective life. As soon as it is apparent that birds are starting to ignore a scarier, replace it with one of a different kind. Auditory scraps should be used with discretion to avoid annoyance to neighbors.

(d) Immediately remove any scarier that has lost its effectiveness. Once the scaring effect of a device has been lost, it is possible that the birds may begin to associate its presence with a good feeding area.

Time To Change

(e) Change the position of scraps as frequently as possible. Birds can learn to expect a particular object in a particular place and by moving it often, only a relatively short distance, its effectiveness may be renewed.

Adding Fear To Your Scarier

(f) Reinforce the deterrent effect of scraps by occasionally shooting in their vicinity. Shooting in the vicinity of scraps will ensure that their presence is associated with real danger. It should, however, be noted that birds are protected and that it is illegal to shoot some species unless licensed to do so. (see Legal aspects).

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TRAPPING BIRDS

Modified Australian Crow Trap

Can be used to capture a small range of pest birds such as Starlings, Sparrows, Indian Myna and Blackbirds. These birds can be effectively trapped by altering the entrance to suit the size of these birds and following these general guidelines.

Decoys

Live decoys are generally necessary to make this trap function effectively. Sometimes if a trap is placed in a good location and with an abundant bird population, it will start catching birds without decoys. However, if you're after a specific bird species of limited density,

acquisition of a half dozen decoys is essential. Methods of acquiring decoys are mist netting, small drop traps, narcotic baits and netting trees at night.

Food and Water

Food and water must always be made available to trapped birds and decoys. Use of commercial poultry watering and feeding devices is possible. Food must be sheltered from rain so it doesn't become ruined. The better the decoys or trapped birds are cared for, the better they will entice others of the same species. Dead birds should be removed from trap and buried. Unclean traps can cause lots of problems with the public at large. Inhumane actions towards trapped birds can also cause problems. Non-target birds should always be released as soon as captured.

Bird Removal

The trap should be checked at least three times a week to remove captured birds. Release of non-target species can be accomplished and target species can be removed to be dealt with as desired. If the target birds are to be destroyed a fumigation chamber can be built that will accommodate the bird removal cage.

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BIRD CONTROL BY EXCLUSION

Netting

When properly installed and maintained, can provide a high degree of protection from bird damage to agriculture crops. However, the high initial cost of netting and the large amount oflabour which may be needed to apply and remove it, are definite disadvantages. Nevertheless, there are some instances of bird damage, particularly in small fields of a high valued crop, where the use of netting may be cost effective.

Two main methods can be used in the installation of netting. If the crop is caged in with netting almost 100% control can be achieved. This method is usually only practical with small areas of high value crop.

The alternative method which is most commonly employed is to cover the crop with netting.

Small birds will often still gain entry by gaining access to the plants around the base, if the net has not been tied completely off. These same small birds will often become tangled in the netting and die. Larger birds will continue to damage the crop by attempting to peck fruit or seed through the netting. As a result this use of netting still only gives partial bird control.

Nixalite

An American invention used for architectural bird control. It consists of sharpened stainless steel wires in a flexible base which forms an array, like a spiny ant eater, which birds cannot penetrate.

Birds are prevented from landing or roosting because of the physical barrier formed by the spines or needles.

Nixalite's use is mainly restricted to use around buildings to prevent pigeons roosting on ledges, decorative embellishments on historical buildings, under eaves, etc.

Use of Nixalite is restricted because of its nature and cost factor. The spines or needles not only restrict access to birds but all other animals including man. Just as a bed of nails is difficult to walk on so Nixalite is impossible to tread on without severe injury.

Cost is approximately $10.00 per foot, $33.00 per metre. This does not include installation. One strip has a width of lOem, (4 ins.) and a height of the same. Them are 120 points, needles, per 30cm (12 inches) which give a 180 degrees arc. The base strip is Jcm wide and is flexible 302 stainless steel. In summary an excellent product for use around buildings to control roosting birds. Very limited alternative uses.

PESTICIDES

Legislation in each state prevents the use of pesticides to kill birds. Only products that are classified as bird repellents can be legally used.

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MesuroI

BAYER MESUROL 75 is a typical bird repellent. The active constituent is METHIOCARIB. This ingredient causes temporary illness and disorientation in birds. It is used by spraying the liquid onto the crop under attack. As birds eat the crop they become sick. They associate this sickness with the crop and go elsewhere to feed. Unfortunately this product washes off with rain or overhead irrigation and must be reapplied. Furthermore there is a 7 day withholding period after application before harvest can begin. Check with your Department of Agriculture to make sure the pesticide you are using is registered for that purpose.

Due to the high cost of the product the manufacturer recommends treatment of the outer 3 rows of the crop under attack or isolated areas only if localised attack.

Bird Off is a Flick Pest Control product which has an active ingredient of Aminopyridine an hallicinogenic substance which induces distress symptoms in birds. Thus frightening away members of the same species. This is sometimes used for pigeons and sparrows which there is no effective distress call.

Alphachloralose

This substance puts birds to sleep enabling users to relocate native birds species and to humanely destroy pest species. Only registered pest controllers can use this substance and even then they need to obtain a licence for each specific use.

Gel

A gel is also available which birds find unpleasant under foot. When birds land on a treated area it irritates their feet and they move on. Birds need to come in contact with this product for it to be effective. Government tests have found that bird repellent chemicals have largely been ineffective against larger Australian parrots which are major pests in crops such as sunflowers.

Shooting

Shooting is the most popular method of bird control. However, it is very expensive in both money and time.

Unfortunately, you need to shoot some birds so they can associate the noise with harm. You can not just use a scare gun which sounds like you are shooting them. You can only shoot at birds in roosting trees or when in the air. If you fire at the flock while it is feeding on a crop more damage will be done to the crop by the shot than by the birds.

When birds are feeding on a crop you need to scare them into the air by clapping hands or yelling. Then shoot like a clay pigeon shoot. If a wounded bird fly's off with the flock other birds attack the wounded bird killing it or driving it away.

Having been scared from one section of the crop birds will usually fly to another part of the crop and commence feeding where the whole process needs to be repeated.

Cost of shooting can be very high. In addition to the capital outlay of a firearm, shells, time and even motor vehicle expenses need to be included. One sunflower grower was using 270 to 280 shots a day. At 36 cents per shell his bill for 10 weeks protection was $4,900,00 just in shells.

Flashing Lights

Strobe lights or fluorescent tubes on an intermittent energiser can be effective in deterring some pest birds at night. Effective duck control in rice crops has been gained by the use of fluorescent tubes, a timing device and an electric fence energiser providing pulses through the fence to operate the timer and make the fluro tubes flash intermittently. This alarms the ducks who move onto darker areas. Strobe lights under test for flying fox control at night have had a similar effect on ducks and a few other nocturnal feeding birds.

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ELECTRIC WIRES

Application of any type of electric fencing or wiring for bird control is limited to where a bird will come in contact with both an earth and live wire when it will receive a shock and become scared. Roosting birds may be one such application. Here, a live and an earth wire could be run in parallel along beams, rafter or the like. When a bird landed on both wires the circuit would be complete and it would receive a shock. Safety could be maintained with the use of an electric fence energiser supplying high voltage but low amperage. Whilst an earth wire can be earthed at any number of points it is important for the live wire to be insulated. Use of porcelain, plastic or fibre glass insulators is necessary. Correct installation of this system is essential for effective control.

BUNTING, BAGS AND BUSY THINGS

Bunting has for many years been used on moored vessels in an attempt to scare seagulls. Bags, strips of plastic, foil and mirrors have also been hung in trees, around poultry sheds, building in and around crops with little lasting effect. Spinning objects and brightly coloured objects some of which flash in the sunlight look real winners and with all their colour and motion must surely work.

But has anyone ever stopped to look at a birds favourite foods. Strawberries, Apricots,

Butterflies, Raspberries, Insects, brightly coloured flowers, Blue berries, Apples, Peaches, all brightly coloured, many move quickly, some like grasshoppers cricket and cicadas even emit loud noises. But birds love them all. The Satin Bower Bird even collects bright objects for its nest. Is it any wonder these products are doomed to fail?

HOUSE SPARROWS

Descriptions

The house sparrow is a familiar sight in both rural and urban areas. it is about 14.5cm in length and has a short heavy bill. The male can be recognised in flight by the colour of the wings and back, which are brown streaked with black, and by the short white Wing bar and grey rump. On he ground the grey crown, black throat and greyish white cheeks and underparts make the bird easy to identify. The female and young are luller brown and lack the grey rump and crown, and distinct wing bar. House sparrows do not sing, in the accepted sense, but make a variety of cheeping sounds and are specially noisy during scrimmaging amongst groups of males in spring and summer.

Breeding

Nests are built in many places: holes in walls and trees rainwater pipes, under the eaves of houses. Normally sites in and around buildings are preferred. In some areas an untidy spherical nest of straw or dried grass, with a side opening, is made in branches of trees. Several pairs of sparrows may nest within a single such grass bundle. Four to six eggs are laid, having greyish or white ground colour. and blotched and speckled with black and brownish markings that vary considerably. The br~ding season normally extends from August to March and two or three broods may be reared.

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Breeding Habits and Damage

From examinations of the gizzards of house sparrows, it is known that the adults feed largely on grain and that they do most damage during the few weeks before harvest. At this time large numbers of house sparrows, including many juveniles, flock to grain paddocks and live almost entirely upon the ripening grain.

As winter approaches, they feed mainly around buildings, often infesting granaries, where they take or foul the stored grain. They may also take grain from stock and poultry yards. Besides destroying grain crops, house sparrows do much damage to garden produce.

They take buds of plum trees and strip buds, blossom and young fruits of berry and fruit crops. Spring flowers are torn to pieces and the leaves of young carnations, chrysanthemums and lettuces are pecked off. They are very persistent in their attacks on peas, pulling up seedlings, destroying the flowers and opening the maturing pods. House sparrows are largely dependent on man both for their food supplies and nesting sites and occur in great numbers in urban areas.

Buildings such as canteens, bakeries and food stores may become infested and bagged goods may be damaged; food, packing and structures are often fouled. The association of birds with food premises may also give rise to hygiene problems. Large warehouses may support populations of house sparrows that live and breed entirely within the buildings.

The practice of feeding birds at bird tables and elsewhere during winter months is widespread and house sparrows take full advantage of it. Consequently, house sparrow populations in urban and suburban areas are maintained at a high level and, as a result, severe darnage sometimes occurs on farms and market gardens close to large towns. From this summary it will be clear that the economic status of the house sparrow must be considered in relation to the type of habitat in which it is living. Where there is much grassland, and grain growing is of no importance, the harm done by the bird may be of little significance, but there can be no doubt that in many areas, both urban and rural, it must be regarded as a pest.

Distribution and Movement

The house sparrow is everywhere associated with man. The largest populations occur in urban areas and in those agricultural regions where the major crop is grain. Once established in permanent breeding quarters, the house sparrow is however, a very sedentary bird and rarely moves more than 3km.

Control and Damage Prevention

Where sparrows are infesting buildings such as granaries, food stores and milking sheds, the obvious solution is to ensure that adequate proofing is carried out: fine wire mesh screens should be built over windows; any hole in the fabric of the building should be blocked (sparrows can pass through a hole as small as 2 cm in diameter) and particular attention should be paid to eaves, which can often be blocked by crumpled wire-netting.

Doorways may present special problems, particularly if they have to be left open for loading

purposes, but the use of plastic strip screens or net curtains attached to runners may help. House sparrows normally avoid dark buildings and, where it is unnecessary for a store to be lit naturally, the blacking out of windows deters birds from entering. It is more difficult to prevent damage to crops, but small areas of valuable horticultural produce may be protected by durable plastic netting.

Cobwebs' of man-made fibres may also give some protection; commercial packs of these materials are available. Any attempt to control the house sparrow population should embrace the whole of the district infested.

It is of little use to reduce the numbers in one locality if they are allowed to multiply in neighbouring areas, since the wandering juveniles will recognise places that have been previously cleared.

The following are suggested methods of reducing house sparrow numbers

(a) Eggs and nests can be destroyed. Regular destruction of nests from September to February will give best results: a single operation is of little use. If the whole nest can be removed during one round of nest destruction, new nests will be more easily located on the next round.

(b) Trapping by means of cage traps, normally baited with whole wheat or crushed oats. The Eclipse trap, with several cone entrances at ground level, is the type most frequently used. Up to a dozen birds may be caught at one time in each trap and pre-baiting is generally unnecessary if established feeding places are used as trapping sites. If this is not possible, it is usually a simple matter to induce house sparrows to feed at a particular point by regular baiting. Soft baits such as bread crumbs and cake are very attractive to sparrows and, where they are not likely to be blown away, can be used as an alternative to grain. Traps should be visited at least twice a day to remove caught birds and, if they are to be unattended for more than a day, the escape door should be left open. Trapping is possible at any time of the year but results may be poor during December and January.

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LEGAL ASPECTS

Laws vary from state to state concerning protected native birds, noise pollution and use of pesticides. You should contact you relevant state authority for full details. The National Parks and Wildlife Service in N.S.W. divides native bird species into two categories; unprotected and protected.

Unprotected Native Species

Black Cormorant or Shag Pied Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

Pied CormorantPhala - crocorax varius

Little Black Cormorant - Phalacrocorax sulcirostris

Little Pied Cormorant - Phalacrocorax melanoleucus

Silvereye - Zosterops lateralis

Pied Curawong - Sterpera graculina

Australian Raven - Corbus coronoides

Little Crow - Corvuy hennetti

Torresian Crow - Corvus orru

With a permit you are allowed to catch unprotected native birds, but you are not allowed to sell them or to dispose of them to any person.

Introduced Species

With a permit you are allowed to catch, keep, sell or dispose of any introduced species of birds. Some of these are well established in the wild including the Mallard I Duck, Spotted Turtle-dove, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Blackbird, European Goldfinch and Greenfinch, Nutmeg Manikin (Spice Finch), House and Tree Sparrows, Common Starling and Indian Myna.

Protected Species

All native birds other than those listed above are protected in N.S.W. Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Galahs are not protected on the Western Slopes and Plains, but are protected on the East Coast ofN.S.W. If birds are causing economic damage a licence may be granted for a person to take birds.

Cruelty to Birds

Whilst some birds are not protected and can be disposed of legislation to prevent cruelty to animals restricts the methods in which they can be taken or disposed of. Use of a bird scarer is not illegal provided the device is not likely to cause bodily injury to any birds. Noise Pollution

Powers to control noise from auditory bird scarers is provided by State noise pollution legislation. Action may be taken against anyone who creates a noise nuisance. It is advisable to consult your State Pollution Control Department before using such a device. Many Local Government bodies are now banning the use of Gas Guns from their regions, please check with them.

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Pesticides

Use of Pesticides to kill birds is illegal under various state legislation. Prior to using a pesticide for bird control make sure you read the label and use the pesticide in accordance with the label directions.

Kites and Balloons

The Department of Aviation under its air navigation controls forbids the flying of kites or balloons anywhere at more than 300 feet above the ground or at any height within 2 miles of an air field or aerodrome without the permission of the Department of Aviation.

SUMMARY

Bird populations, especially pest birds, are increasing. Bird damage is becoming worse. Little research is or has been carried out into bird control Potential loss of property crop etc. must be weighed against cost and likely effectiveness of control methods. No one product or system will give control in every situation. No one product will give complete control forever. By studying the habits of your problem birds you have a chance to out­smart your prey. Use of two or more scarers at alternating times is likely to give control. One of these scarers should be the "Hawk Bird Scarer". The Hawk Bird Scarer is your best chance because of its cost effectiveness over such a wide range of birds and situations.

 

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