Bird Netting Alternative Research Private Grower Experience
Yvan Chartrand, Verger Du Terroir, Temmiskaming Shores, Ont
Our orchard is a commercial operation with 25-acres of fruit. This includes over 20,000 haskap plants and 5,000 sour cherry plants. Because of this scale, we wanted to find an alternative to netting. We felt that the costs associated with this type of bird control was just not feasible. It may be useful with smaller fields, but not really practical for our orchard.
When we attended the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable conference in 2019 and 2020, we researched the options available for bird control. We then decided to use 3 methods to control birds.
1) Digital Bird Repellers -These CF-Digital Bird Repeller Units (Product Code Cfgbp4ccus) are imported from the US and sold by C. Frensch Ltd.
-These 8 units are installed in the field on poles. They need a battery to operate them. We left them on during fruiting season even when the berries are green.
- These units come with computer chips that mimic birds in distress and birds of prey. The purpose is to scare the birds that typically come in flocks to eat berries.
- The problem with the chips that come with the units, is they are not necessarily the birds that are native to our region or location. We contacted a wildlife biologist with our local MNR office to ask her to identify the target birds (5 calls maximum capacity) and raptor (3 calls maximum capacity). Once we had the name of the birds, we got Ian Frensch, to order these custom chips from the US manufacturer. It is very important to ensure the Repeller Units are equipped with these specific bird calls that are native to your area. Multiple units are needed for proper coverage (1 unit covers 500 ft. diameter).
- The Repellers were stored for the winter and will be reused in 2021.
C. Frensch Ltd 4774 Hinan Drive Beamsville, ON L0R 1B1 Phone: 905-563-4774 Email: Ian Frensch firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Peregrine Pro Hawk Kites -The kites are installed throughout the orchard on 20 feet aluminum poles. - They look like hawks and serve to scare away the birds. - The problem is that they only work when there is wind. - We experimented with different kites and found this one worked best. - The kites lasted all summer and could withstand strong winds. - These were stored for the winter and will be reused in 2021.
Hawk Kite Sales 9800 Giants Head Road Summerland, BC V0H 1Z7 Phone: 250-404-0318 Email: email@example.com
3) Bird Banger -The bird banger emits gunshot sounds at different intervals. You set the intervals (eg. every 8-10 minutes). -This unit was also purchased from C. Frensch. - We used it at the beginning of the season when we were setting up the Repellers and kites. - It worked to scare the birds while we were setting up the other equipment. - It's very loud and we received lots of complaints from the public while we used it. We warned the city that we would use this and they participated in the education information sent out to the public. They asked us to ensure we followed the basic rules listed on the OMAFRA website: "Using Propane-Fired Cannons to Keep Birds Away From Vineyards". - We then prepared a Facebook post to explain our bird control plan and we received a lot of positive comments. No more complaints after that. - This unit was stored for the winter and will be used in 2021.
Conclusion In 2019, it was the first year of production for the small haskap plants. There were handfuls of fruit on each plant. Within a few days, they were completely eaten by seagulls. In 2020, we harvested about 6,000 lbs by using a U-pick and a manually-assisted harvester. We did not have flocks of birds that came to the field. We had a few nesting birds: American Robin and Killdeer birds that hung out near the edges. The amount eaten was negligible. It is safe to conclude that this bird control plan was successful.
This summer, we will be installing another 7 Repellers with custom chips to include American Robins and Killdeers and add 20 additional hawk kites.
I hope this will be useful to other haskap growers. If there are questions, you can call Yvan Chartrand at 705-648-1935 or firstname.lastname@example.org