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Micaelo, E.B.; Lourenço, L.G.P.S.; Gaspar, P.D.; Caldeira, J.M.L.P.; Soares, V.N.G.J. Bird Deterrent Solutions for Crop Protection. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/42922 (accessed on 24 April 2024).
Micaelo EB, Lourenço LGPS, Gaspar PD, Caldeira JMLP, Soares VNGJ. Bird Deterrent Solutions for Crop Protection. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/42922. Accessed April 24, 2024.
Micaelo, Eduardo B., Leonardo G. P. S. Lourenço, Pedro D. Gaspar, João M. L. P. Caldeira, Vasco N. G. J. Soares. "Bird Deterrent Solutions for Crop Protection" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/42922 (accessed April 24, 2024).
Micaelo, E.B., Lourenço, L.G.P.S., Gaspar, P.D., Caldeira, J.M.L.P., & Soares, V.N.G.J. (2023, April 11). Bird Deterrent Solutions for Crop Protection. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/42922
Micaelo, Eduardo B., et al. "Bird Deterrent Solutions for Crop Protection." Encyclopedia. Web. 11 April, 2023.
Bird Deterrent Solutions for Crop Protection
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Weeds, pathogens, and animal pests are among the pests that pose a threat to the productivity of crops meant for human consumption. Bird-caused crop losses pose a serious and costly challenge for farmers. 

birds deterrents agriculture crops

1. Introduction

Pests, especially weeds, pathogens, and animal pests, pose a threat to the productivity of human-consumable crops. Bird-caused losses to fruit crops pose significant and expensive problems for farmers. Estimates on potential and actual losses caused by different bird species were discussed in a study carried out in Sweden between 2000 and 2015 [1]. During those years, there were 2194 complaints of crop damage, corresponding to a total loss of approximately 34,500 tons of various crops. The bird species that caused the most damage were, in order of the percentage of total losses from highest to lowest, the common crane (Grus grus) (33.7%), the barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) (33.5%), the greylag goose (Anser anser) (26.6%), the bean goose (Anser fabalis fabalis) (2.6%), and the whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) (2.2%). The remaining 1.4% of the total losses were caused by other birds.
Another study [2] aimed at finding out which bird species were directly related to crop damage. Visual damage was collected on 60 randomly selected plants: 12 at each cardinal point and 12 inland in New York State. It was focused on four different crops from 81 field locations: sweet cherry—23; blueberry—12; apple—24; and vine—22. Damages were estimated at 2.3% for apple fields, 3.6% for grapes, 22% for blueberries, and 26.8% for sweet cherries. In addition, surveys were also conducted on farmers with those crops via the Internet, mail, and telephone in New York, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, and California. New York farmers alone pointed out that, all together, they lose about $6.6 million per year and that 65.6% of them are taking measures to scare the birds away. Half of the farmers confirmed that birds are the biggest factor in crop loss.
A study conducted in Poland [3] concluded that, in the years 1974 and 1980, 22% and 16%, respectively, of cherry crops were destroyed by sturnids (Sturnidae). The same study also conducted another survey in four districts of Poland aimed at all crops. In Gdansk, 471 surveys were filled out, of which 27% stated with certainty that their fields were damaged by rooks (Corvus frugilegus), and 59% had suspicions that the damage that appeared on their crops was also caused by rooks. In Warsaw, 51% of 378 questionnaire respondents were certain that they had damage caused by rooks. In Kielee, 56% of 351 questionnaire respondents reported damage, and, in Wroclaw, 58% of 276 questionnaire respondents also confirmed damage caused by rooks. In that same survey, overall bird damage was also collected for four crops: wheat, oats, corn, and barley. In the four districts, corn losses ranged from 22% to 32%, wheat losses from 10% to 13%, barley losses from 3 to 18%, and oat losses from 8 to 15%.

2. Visual Deterrents

Visual deterrents present a visual stimulus to the birds that can trigger fear or curiosity. The dangerous feeling can be triggered by a real or simulated predator. In the case of real predators, this can lead to birds’ deaths. By contrast, there can be the use of something birds are not familiar with, such as scarecrows, dyes, lights, reflecting tape, optical gel, kites, balloons, or others. Some of these visual repellents can incorporate audio deterrents as well.
A summary of the studies that have considered visual deterrents is provided in Table 1.
Table 1. Summary of the studies using visual deterrents. 

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative

Aspects

Conclusions

[4]

1990

Phalacrocoracidae

Aquaculture

Scarecrows/Sirens

Effective

N/A

The more realistic the facial and body shape, the more effective scarecrows are likely to be.

They can be more detectable if they are painted in bright colors.

[5][6]

1995, 1997

N/A

N/A

Scarecrows/

Lights/Sound

N/A

N/A

N/A

[7][8][9][10][11][12]

1976, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1980, 1982

N/A

N/A

Scarecrows

Ineffective

Birds get used to it easily.

Short time application, needs to be used with other techniques.

[13][14][15]

1990, 1983, 1987

N/A

N/A

Scarecrows

Ineffective

Birds get used to it easily.

Relocate every 2–3 days.

[16]

1997

Streptopelia orientalis

Flight Cage

Scarecrows

Effective

N/A

Better than stuffed crows or kites.

[17]

1989

Turdus merula, Anas platyrhynchos, Anser anser

4–6 acres sunflower fields

Scarecrows/

Propane cannon

Effective

N/A

Ducks and geese spook more easily than blackbirds.

[18]

1974

Charadriiformes

Fishponds

Scarecrows

Ineffective

N/A

Birds get used to it after two hours.

[19]

1986

N/A

Various crops

Reflective Tape

Effective

May interfere with walking on the terrain.

Tape 0.025 mm thick and 11 mm wide. High winds may increase efficiency.

[20]

1986

Turdus merula

Crops

Reflective Tape

Effective

May interfere with walking on the terrain.

If the tape gets twisted, it can be less effective.

Tape 3 m apart from each other at 0.5 to 1 m from the ground.

[21]

1990

Anser anser

20.2 hectares of winter wheat

Reflective Tape

Effective

May interfere with walking on the terrain if the tape gets twisted; it can be less effective.

20 mm thick red fluorescent tape. The lines were tied at 40 to 60 m between rows of wheat.

[22]

1998

N/A

Vineyards

Hawk Kites and Balloons

Ineffective

Birds get used to it easily.

Short-term utilization.

[23]

1983

N/A

Agricultural

Dead Bird Models

N/A

N/A

N/A

[14][24][25]

1983, 1976, 1980

N/A

Airports

Dead Bird Models

N/A

N/A

N/A

[26][27][28][29]

1985, 1986, 1987, 1990

Larus delawarensis

City

Dead Bird Models/Pyrotechnics/Falconry

Effective

N/A

The use of this method is recommended, but the positive results are partly due to the use of pyrotechnic material.

[22]

1984

N/A

Agriculture

Aircraft

N/A

Dangerous to the tripulants.

Not

recommended

[14][30][31]

1983, 1967, 1990

N/A

Farms/Airports

RC Aircraft

N/A

N/A

N/A

[32][33]

1975, 1981

Sturnidae, Charadriinae, Anser anser, Anas platyrhynchos

Airport, City

RC Aircraft

Very effective

Requires a highly skilled operator.

Birds may habituate slowly to a model aircraft that actively hazes them, especially if it has a falcon shape.

[34]

1987

Sturnidae

Roost

Lights/Predator Model

Effective

N/A

N/A

[24]

1976

Anas platyrhynchos

Grain Fields

Searchlights

Effective

May attract birds if it is nighttime or if the weather is cloudy or foggy.

It is recommended in certain weather conditions.

[35]

1975

Vanellinae, Larinae

Airport

Lights

Effective

N/A

N/A

[36]

1982

N/A

Airport

Lights

Ineffective

N/A

Whether the plane had its lights on or not, the results were the same.

[37]

1986

Corvus Corax, Pica, Cyanocitta cristata

Airport

Lights

Ineffective

N/A

Birds were more frightened by the plane than by the lights.

[38]

1992

Falco sparverius, Leucophaeus atricilla

N/A

Lights

May be effective

N/A

Lights that flash faster increase the birds’ heart rate more in the short term, but lights that flash more slowly manage to keep the average heart rate higher.

[39]

1976

N/A

N/A

Lights

N/A

N/A

Frequencies should not exceed 100 Hz.

[40][41]

1976, 1976

Larinae, Sturnidae, Columba livia

N/A

Lights

Effective

No repellant effect was observed when the strobe light flashed at higher frequencies to 60 Hz.

Gulls delayed approaching a feeding point by 30 to 45 min.

[42]

1993

Falco sparverius, Leucophaeus atricilla

Laboratory

Lights

Ineffective

N/A

Birds did become attentive to the lights, but it did not necessarily mean that it frightened them away.

[14][43]

1983, 1977

Anseriformes, Charadriiformes, Passer, Larinae, Turdus merula, Sturnidae

Oil Spill

Lights

Limited effectiveness

Ineffective to gulls (Larinae), blackbirds (Turdus merula), and starlings (Sturnidae).

50–60% success rate.

[11]

1980

Anseriformes

Oil Spill

Lights

Ineffective

N/A

N/A

3. Auditory Deterrents

These are methods that use auditory techniques to deter birds. Most auditory deterrents also have a visual component.
A summary of the studies that have considered auditory deterrents is provided in Table 2.
Table 2. Summary of the studies using auditory deterrents.

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative Aspects

Conclusions

[44][45][46][47]

1939, 1968, 1986, 1989

N/A

Fisheries operations

Shotguns and Rifles

Ineffective

Sometimes the birds die.

N/A

[17]

1989

N/A

Agricultural fields

Shotguns and Rifles

Ineffective

Sometimes the birds die.

N/A

[14][48]

1983, 1988

N/A

Airports

Shotguns and Rifles

Ineffective

Sometimes the birds die.

N/A

[49][50]

1988, 1991

Phalacrocoracidae, Ardeidae

Fish farms

Shotguns and Rifles

Ineffective

Sometimes the birds die.

Killing some birds only had temporary effects.

[22]

1998

N/A

Airport

Pyrotechnics

Effective

Birds get used to it easily.

Only used in an initial approach.

[24]

1976

N/A

N/A

Flares

May be effective

Fire hazard

In conjunction with other techniques, it can help to disperse the birds in a certain direction.

[51][52][53]

1980, 1981, 1986

N/A

Landfill sites

Pistols

Effective

N/A

Small area and short-term usage.

[54]

1991

Branta canadensis

Urban parks

Screamer shells

Very Effective

N/A

Long-term effects, the concentration of geese in the area was reduced by 88%.

[24]

1976

N/A

N/A

Mortars

May be effective

Highly skilled operator. Safety hazard; there have been several accidents related to the use of mortars.

If they produce a loud bang, they are more effective at daytime and in a larger area than other pyrotechnic devices.

[55][56]

1974, 1990

N/A

N/A

Gas cannon

N/A

N/A

The noise of the explosion resembles or is louder than that of a 12-gauge shotgun.

[52][53]

1981, 1986

N/A

Areas up to 4 ha

Gas cannon

Effective

N/A

Proven to be effective deterrents for areas up to 4 ha in the cases of nongame species.

[57][58][59]

1984, 1990, 1990

Laridae

Landfill

Gas cannon and others

Effective

N/A

Gas cannons, in combination with other dispersal methods such as pyrotechnics, have been found to reduce numbers of gulls.

[14][24]

1983, 1976

N/A

Various Crops

Av-alarm

Effective

N/A

AV-alarms appear to have been used successfully to reduce numbers of small birds.

[60]

1985

Sturnus vulgaris, Passer melanurus, Ploceus velatus

Grape culture

Av-alarm

Effective

N/A

Can be effective in reducing the damage to grapes.

[61]

1970

Sturnidae

Blueberry crops

Av-alarm and others

Effective

N/A

It worked better in conjunction with shotguns or propane cannons.

[62]

1978

Telluraves

Cornfields

Av-alarm and gas cannon

Effective

N/A

Better results were obtained by combining both methods.

[63]

1983

N/A

N/A

Av-alarm

Ineffective

N/A

AV-alarm was not as effective as distress calls in repelling birds.

[64][65]

1990, 1990

N/A

N/A

Av-alarm

Ineffective

Birds accustomate to this sound.

Birds accustomate to this sound.

[66]

1979

Sturnidae

N/A

Av-alarm

Ineffective

N/A

Starlings only increased slightly the heart rate when they were exposed to AV-alarm.

[67][68]

1973, No date

Aequornithes

Aquatic terrain

Av-alarm

May be effective

N/A

Insufficient details to assess changes in bird numbers.

[69][70]

1973, 1968

Laridae

Airport

Predator Sounds

Effective

N/A

The playback of a Peregrine Falcon call was effective at dispersing gulls.

[71]

1957

Anas platyrhynchos

Ponds

High-intensity Sounds

Effective

Can cause hearing damage and other human health effects.

Some birds vacate the pond after two or three days.

[72]

1986

Laridae

N/A

Ultrasounds

Ineffective

N/A

Found no evidence that gulls either heard or reacted to ultrasounds.

[73]

1992

N/A

N/A

Ultrasounds

Ineffective

N/A

Bird population did not decrease in more than 5%.

[74]

1996

N/A

N/A

Infrasounds

Ineffective

N/A

Birds do not associate these sounds with danger.

4. Chemical Deterrents

Chemical aversion techniques have been used in a variety of contexts, from residential areas [75][76] and cities, to agriculture and airports [77][78][79]. Birds do not tend to get used to these types of techniques.
A summary of the studies that have considered chemical deterrents is provided in Table 3.
Table 3. Summary of the studies using chemical deterrents.

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative Aspects

Conclusions

[75][76]

1988, 1990

N/A

Residential area

Chemical

N/A

N/A

Birds tend to not get used to it.

[77][78][79]

1976, 1984, 1988

N/A

Cities, agriculture, and airports

Chemical

N/A

N/A

Birds tend to not get used to it.

[80]

1997

Sturnidae

Laboratory

Tactile repellents

May be effective

N/A

It may be possible to develop non-lethal, plant-based dermal repellent.

[22]

1998

N/A

N/A

Tactile repellents

May be effective

N/A

Plant compounds that have been tested caused agitation and hyperactivity in the birds.

[22]

1998

N/A

N/A

Behavioral Repellents

N/A

Can cause disorientation and erratic behavior.

N/A

[14][81][82]

1983, 1983, 1990

N/A

N/A

Behavioral Repellents

Effective

If the dose is too high, it can lead to the bird’s death.

Unaffected birds from the flock eventually escape due to the warning signal from the flock mate.

[14][81][82][83][84][85]

1983, 1983, 1990, 1970, 1973, 1970

Sturnidae, Turdus merula, Passeriformes, Laridae, Corvus Corax

Air bases

Behavioral Repellents

Effective

N/A

N/A

[22]

1998

Branta Canadensis, Laridae, Sturnidae

Laboratory, sanitary landfill, airports

ReJeX-iT

Effective

N/A

ReJeX-iT can be effective at deterring birds in certain situations, but the doses used in some studies were not effective.

[86]

1992

Anas platyrhynchos, Branta Canadensis

Laboratory

Dimethyl and Methyl anthranilate

Very Effective

N/A

When subjected only treated grain, both ducks and geese reduced their food intake.

[87]

1995

Larus delawarensis, Larus argentatos, Anas platyrhynchos

Pools of water in fields

Methyl anthranilate

Effective

N/A

N/A

[88]

1996

Branta Canadensis

N/A

Methyl anthranilate

Ineffective

N/A

Product concentration used in [87] did not repelled this species.

[89]

1993

N/A

Ponds at airports

ReJeX-iT

Effective

N/A

Bird numbers decreased in treated ponds.

5. Exclusion Deterrents

These are devices or materials used to serve as a physical barrier. If access to a certain area, for example, where there is food or shelter, is restricted, the birds will leave the area and move on. There are also apparent barriers (i.e., there is no actual barrier).
Physical barriers are normally made up of wire mesh, polyethylene, or other synthetic materials and serve to prevent birds from approaching a specific area. They also serve to prevent them from nesting in these areas. The metal mesh can also be interconnected with electrified wires so that when birds land there they receive a harmless shock [90][91][92].
A summary of the studies that have considered exclusion deterrents is provided in Table 4.
Table 4. Summary of the studies using exclusion deterrents.

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative Aspects

Conclusions

[90][91][92]

1978, 1981, 1981

N/A

N/A

Exclusion

N/A

N/A

N/A

[93]

1936

Aequornithes

Aquaculture ponds

Overhead Wires and Lines

Effective

N/A

Recommended as a method of deterring waterbirds from fishponds.

[52]

1981

N/A

Fish-rearing facilities

Overhead Wires and Lines

N/A

N/A

N/A

[94]

1990

Aequornithes

N/A

Overhead Wires and Lines

Effective

N/A

The effectiveness of overhead wires or lines varies widely among species and circumstances.

[22]

1998

N/A

Fruit trees

Overhead Wires and Lines

Effective

High costs and difficult application in large areas.

It solves the problem of the presence of birds in a permanent way.

[22]

1998

N/A

Sanitary landfill

Foam

May be effective

Its effectiveness would be reduced in rainy or windy weather.

It could be used to cover small areas that are particularly attractive to birds.

[22]

1998

N/A

Lakes, ponds…

Bird Balls

May be effective

N/A

Are very easy to install and require significantly less maintenance.

6. Habitat Modification

Habitat modification is the removal or alteration of the natural characteristics of a site. It may include trees and shrubs, the removal of ponds, planting in areas without flora, planting crops that are not attractive to birds, such as tall grass, eliminating possible nesting areas, the use of exclusion methods barriers, and even chemical agents used in the birds’ natural foods.
A summary of the studies that have considered habitat modification methods is provided in Table 5.
Table 5. Summary of the studies using habitat modification methods.

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative Aspects

Conclusions

[95]

1968

N/A

N/A

Tall Grass

N/A

Long grass can attract rodents and birds of prey.

Prevents some birds from accessing food.

[96]

1996

N/A

Airport

“Poor grass”

Effective

N/A

Bird numbers on poor grass were as low or lower than on long grass.

[97]

1996

N/A

N/A

Mowing at nighttime

Not Tested

N/A

Mowing late in the day or overnight can reduce the attractiveness of this activities.

[98]

1997

N/A

Airport

Mowing at nighttime

Effective

N/A

Mowing late in the day or overnight can reduce the attractiveness of this activities.

[99]

1988

Laridae

Landfill

Changing water/feeding zones

Effective

N/A

By removing the water/food, the area is no longer attractive to birds.

7. Removal Deterrents

This method consists of catching birds and releasing them away or eliminating them, either with traps, poison, or the use of lethal ammunition. It is a method that requires skills to be used, because it may use materials that can be lethal to humans as well. Using lethal methods would only work in the short term and only reduce the bird’s local population.
A summary of the studies that have considered removal deterrents is provided in Table 6.
Table 6. Summary of the studies using removal deterrents.

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative Aspects

Conclusions

[100]

1968

Agelaius

Corn fields

Traps

Ineffective

N/A

Due to the number of birds in the group, it is impossible to catch them all.

[101][102][103]

1974, 1987, 1990

N/A

N/A

Traps

N/A

N/A

N/A

[90]

1978

Butorides virescens

Fish farm

Traps

Effective

Transportation costs

The birds were released 40 km from the point where they were trapped, and never came back.

[7][104][105]

1976, 1970, 1986

Larinae

Airport

Live Ammunition

Ineffective

Birds habituate easily.

It was seen that in the short term it was effective

[106][107][108][109]

1968, 1970, 1976, 1991

N/A

N/A

Surfactants

N/A

N/A

N/A

[110]

1997

Turdus merula, Sturnidae

N/A

Surfactants

Effective

38.2 million blackbirds and starlings were killed between 1974–1992.

PA-14 did solve local roost problems.

[104]

1976

Laridae

Airbase

Falconry, Pyrotechnics

Effective

It was necessary to replace two falcons each year.

Four goshawks were successfully used at an airbase in Holland to clear the runways from gulls.

[111]

1970

Laridae

Airbase

Falconry

Effective

N/A

Gulls showed no signs of habituating to the goshawks during the two-year study.

[112]

1996

Laridae

Military Airfield

Falconry

N/A

N/A

Not recommend as a routine method for bird control at civil airfields.

[113]

1978

Laridae

Airfields

Falconry, Pyrotechnics, Model Gulls

N/A

N/A

N/A

[26][27][28]

1985, 1986, 1987

Branta Canadensis

Airfields

Falconry

Ineffective

N/A

N/A

[114]

1983

Columba palumbus

Brassica fields

Falconry

Ineffective

N/A

After repeated attacks by the goshawk, the pigeons usually resettled and continued to feed.

[115]

1978

Laridae

Landfill

Falconry

Very effective

Some birds died

The effectiveness seemed to derive from the cumulative effects of several bird control episodes.

[22][116][117]

1998, 1965, 1980

Laridae

N/A

Falconry

N/A

Falcons cannot fly with bad weather.

Dealing with gulls with bad weather is a problem.

8. Other Deterrent Techniques

A summary of the studies that have considered other deterrent techniques is provided in Table 7.
Table 7. Summary of the studies using other deterrent techniques. 

Author

Year

Bird Species

Area

Deterrent Technique

Success Rate

Negative Aspects

Conclusions

[118]

1976

Anseriformes

Agriculture

Lure Area

N/A

N/A

Attracting and holding birds so that they will not go elsewhere.

[119][120][121][122]

1975, 1974, 1978, 1981

N/A

N/A

Magnetic Field, Microwaves

N/A

N/A

N/A

[123]

1997

Sturnus vulgaris

N/A

Magnetic Field

Ineffective

N/A

Only been proven to disorient birds and not to disperse them.

[124][125]

1971, 1973

N/A

N/A

Microwaves

N/A

N/A

N/A

[126]

1985

N/A

N/A

Microwaves

N/A

N/A

N/A

[127][128]

1965, 1969

Laridae, Melopsittacus undulatus, Gallus gallus domesticus, Columbidae

Laboratory

Microwaves

N/A

The radiation levels are considerably higher than the levels that are safe for humans.

N/A

[74][129][130][131][132][133]

1996, 1946, 1949, 1954, 1971, 1972

N/A

N/A

Microwaves

N/A

N/A

Few studies have reported that radars have caused behavioral changes in flying birds.

[134][135]

1972, 1965

Sturnidae, Anas platyrhynchos, Laridae

Laboratory

Laser

N/A

Could cause hemorrhage in birds’ eyes.

Not recommended

[136]

1980

Laridae

Landfill

Laser

Ineffective

N/A

Not recommended

References

  1. Montràs-Janer, T.; Knape, J.; Nilsson, L.; Tombre, I.; Pärt, T.; Månsson, J. Relating National Levels of Crop Damage to the Abundance of Large Grazing Birds: Implications for Management. J. Appl. Ecol. 2019, 56, 2286–2297.
  2. Henrichs, H.M.; Boulanger, J.R.; Curtis, P.D. Limiting Bird Damage to Fruit Crops in New York: Damage Assessments and Potential Management Strategies for the FutureWildlife Damage Management. In Proceedings of the Wildlife Damage Management, Clemson, SC, USA, 25–28 March 2013; p. 180.
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