Pyramids scare off pigeons…but softly

10 October 1997

Pyramids scare off pigeons…but softly

R P WORTH & Sons farm around 400ha (1000 acres) of Fenland silt. Besides the usual arable mix, they grow 48ha (120 acres) of high grade baking potatoes and 40ha (100 acres) of peas.

But it was to protect kale that Andy Worth ordered his first Peaceful Pyramid. The kale is grown for pheasant cover and is part of Worths programme of providing spinneys and hedgerows to promote wildlife.

Gas guns were traditionally employed to scare scavenging pigeons. However, complaints from nearby residents led to restrictions on use. Pigeons enjoy breakfasting on young shoots from around 5am, so guns starting at 7 or 8 am had little benefit. Moreover, Mr Worth found guns unreliable. "Theres nothing worse than getting a complaining phone call at 2 in the morning and finding its not even one of your guns. It makes you cross."

So he tried balloons. "OK in a gentle breeze. Not so good in wind or on a still day. Then theres the problem of gas loss. Theyre hard work." There had to be a better way.

Peaceful Pyramid, a battery powered revolving pyramid of light reflecting mirrors, which confuses birds was tried.

The first unit was put to work on the kale. The results were good, so further units were deployed as peas started to emerge with equally satisfying results.

Timing is important. Mr Worth recommends siting the pyramids as soon as peas are sown. "You always get a few peas left on the surface. By the time the vines obscure the pyramids, the crop is no longer at risk.

"The most dramatic effect was on rooks. Rooks are not a particular threat to crops but they do take birds eggs." Each peaceful pyramid is supplied with two sets of mirrors, one with red panels to repel rooks. One infested spinney was cleared in three days.

The minimal attention demanded by the Peaceful Pyramid is another plus point. The latest light sensor model switches off at night extending its operation to around 10 weeks between recharging the standard 12V battery.

Mr Worths nine pyramids have worked well in their first year, although he does point out that a weekly tour by a pigeon shooter has probably contributed to their success. The test now is to see whether the pigeons become wise to the mirrors. Spring is awaited with interest.

Pyramids shift birds effectively with minimum fuss, says Andy Worth.

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