The traditional, stationary scarecrow may be a crucial element of fall decorating, but from a more practical standpoint, it's become a relic of the past. Birds have simply gotten used to the stationary mannequin, so they aren't discouraged from eating seeds or other pesky behavior.
These days, gas-powered propane cannons or flash powder can be used to produce loud noises that scare birds away from everything from crops to airport runways, where bird strikes pose a real safety concern. The problem with this noisy tactic — beyond the noise — is that the machines often go off at regular intervals; the birds get accustomed to it and eventually ignore the fake threat. Luckily for farmers and pilots, there are some new options on the scene.
Robirds: Dutch company Clear Flight Solutions has been working for 15 years on Robirds — 3-D printed robotic falcons designed to scare away smaller birds. It’s already available to farmers, and company execs plan to make Robirds available to airports, launching for the first time at Germany’s Weeze Airport in February 2017. Because the Robirds are designed by 3-D printing, making necessary tweaks and adjustments along the way has been relatively inexpensive. “This way, you can really use it as rapid manufacturing. We don’t have to make any molds, which would then be impossible to adjust. Very easily, we can modify the shape, the internal structure, the wires inside the bird. 3-D printing really provides immense freedom," Nico Nijenhaus, Clear Flight Solutions CEO, tells 3Ders.org. Eventually, they are planning to design Robirds that can target flocks of birds without harming them, a more environmentally friendly method of pest control.
Actual live falcons: Falconry is a rigorous sport in which master falconers train falcons to locate and scoop up prey. Recently, though, companies like Falcon Force and Airstrike Bird Control have given a new purpose to falconing — bird abatement. And it’s gaining in popularity, because it’s possibly the most effective method at scaring birds away. “Practically nothing else works, long-term,” Vahe Alaverdian of Falcon Force tells National Geographic. “Nothing is going to scare off a prey species but their own predator.”
Lasers: Mechanical engineering students from the University of Victoria in British Columbia have designed a scarecrow mostly for use at night, when farmers can’t use cannon shots or flash bangs to scare away Canada geese, which are known for pecking at crops. Through their studies, they found that a lower-power green laser was most effective at deterring geese. Farmers plug in the coordinates of their field and then let it get to work. Since the device is still in development, it's not available for sale yet.
Digital scarecrow: The Digital Scarecrow, designed by KyungRyul Lim and MiYeon Kim, has an infrared sensor eye that can spy animals in a 178,000-square-foot range and shoot out an ultrasonic wave to shoo them away. Best part? It’s solar-powered, so it doesn’t need any electricity to work.
Sonic net: Essentially a system that plays sound at a constant level equivalent to that of a noisy restaurant, the sonic net works by limiting a bird’s ability to hear predator cries and the sounds of nature around them. Because this puts them in potential danger, birds will fly away, finding an area where they can hear everything. Recent studies conducted found that the sonic net helped airfields see a dramatic decrease in bird activity in the area.