House & Home

Falcons on the Payroll at California Ranches

Posted September 27, 2013 12:45 p.m. EDT

For fruit farmers, the sight of birds in the fields doesn't evoke warm fuzzy feelings. Sparrows, starlings, and more can destroy a crop by eating indiscriminately as well as trashing vines and shrubs. Many farmers have explored a variety of techniques for controlling unwanted visitors, incuding firing specialized weapons to scare them, ringing bicycle bells, playing recorded bird alarm calls, and more.

But they just keep coming, because, really, who could resist a beautiful field filled with delicious fruit?

So farmers are turning to an ancient and astoundingly effective method of managing birds: falcons. Lest you think there's carnage unfolding in the skies above your strawberries, though, don't worry. The falcons are trained to frighten their prey, not eat them, and the goal is to drive birds off and keep them away by using falcons to maintain a threat. It seems to be working now, much to the relief of farmers worried about losing crops to birds -- and Los Angeles landscaping companies are taking note, because what works for agriculture can be useful on the home front, too.

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