10 October 1997

Clever technology keeps one step ahead of birds

Keep em guessing. That is

the advice bird scarer

makers offer farmers

wanting to rid rape fields of

pigeons or barley fields of

rooks. Peter Hill reviews

different options

NO ONE method of bird scaring, be it audible or visual, is as effective on its own as two or more different ones used together. A ploy to sell more equipment?

Not at all, says Charles Tweedie of Phoenix Agritech, who says birds become used to a regular pattern of sounds or sights.

What is needed is something that will surprise and frighten them every time, and best results often come from deploying different devices, he argues.

Tryac and Martley Electronics fit single strobe lights on their Sonic Scarecrow and PestOff outdoor models. The light flashes with each sound broadcast to reinforce the "get lost" message – Martley suggests the flashing light mimics the white under-wing alarm signal of the wood pigeon, the arable growers number one target.

Using more than one device means the principle can be extended to different locations as well as different methods, says Phoenix Agritech. Ideal partners for the Wailer include the companys wind-powered rotating scarecrow, or the rotating Hawkeye which alternately displays a silhouette and menacing visage of a kestrel.

Similarly, a network of speakers, controlled from one master unit, can give a random directional element to audible bird scaring to change the direction from which the sound comes.

Latest trend, as far as noise is concerned, is a move away from synthesised screeches to genuine predator or distress recordings. As if the bloodcurdling calls of hawk, kestrel and buzzard are not enough, Martley Electronics has included an earthy "Go away!" shout to shift persistent birds.

Other noises on the PestOff include a single flap of wings and the sound of pigeons hurriedly taking to the air, both of which apply flock psychology to bird deterrence. The PestOff Model 30 offers a selection of different sound compilations using plug-in modules – so new recordings can be added at a later date.

Bramley & Wellesleys Squawker also offers a compilation of predator and distress sounds in set-piece sequences. There are four selections in all, chosen by operating the relevant switch on the back of the device.

Volume control enables the unit to be used indoors (in a grain store, for example) as well as in the field, there is a light sensor on-off regulator, and a time lapse to adjust the delay between sound sequences.

Astwells Selecta Scare uses taped recordings of various bird distress calls, using four speakers set apart from the master unit.

Phoenix Agritechs top Wailer model – the MkV – can deploy up to 95 audio and ultrasonic sounds, following either a pre-programmed pattern of intervals and duration (but random sound selection), or a fully random programme set by the operator.

Bramley & Wellesley "Squawker" has joined the electronic bird scarer line-up. It offers four different sound combinations to suit different targets.


Astwell (01832-735300): Saltney Selecta Scare in-barn scarer transmits bird distress/ alarm call recordings; £540.

Bramley & Wellesley (01452-300450): Squawker two-speaker electronic bird scarer for indoor or outdoor use with four predator/distress call programmes; £495.

Clarratts (01480-880242): Scarey Man Fall-Guy inflating bird scarer with light sensor and timer/illumination options; £305-385.

Cochranes (01993-878641): Dunford bird-scaring kites with tethering poles for self-launching; £28-95.

Martley (01905-621313): PestOff range of indoor and outdoor, single and multi-speaker scarers with random selection/timing of synthesised distress calls and "live" predator recordings, plus strobe lights; £249-439. Strobe-only Pyrastrobe with three lights on fixed bright steel pyramid; £149.

Michael Williams (01799-524642): Ben Gun wind-driven scarecrow with gun and body movement; £85.

Peaceful Pyramid (01692-402213): Pyramid-shaped electric motor rotated flashing mirror structure with optional on-off light sensor control; £87-103.

Phoenix (01584-711701): Gameguard tractor-mounted wildlife or in-barn bird deterrent (£199) and Wailer range of field scarers with optional remote programmer, variable sound programmes, flashing strobes and satellite speakers; £289-481. Flashing Hawkeye wind-driven predator image with mirrors; £116. Wind-driven scarecrows £123.

Tryac (01476-576434): Sonic Scarecrow four-speaker random audio bird scarer with flashing strobe light and adjustable sound frequency/timing control; £475.

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