Laser technology is now being used more commonly as a bird deterrent and research into effective scaring techniques using low-power lasers is ongoing. The most common type of laser used for bird control is the handheld laser which resembles a small handgun. Other formats exist including a rifle which is designed to produce a narrow spot of light for more precise targeting and a laser ‘stick’ which resembles a conventional torch. The main benefits of a laser is that the product is silent, environmentally safe, simple to use and non-lethal. The main disadvantage of a laser is that the product is considered to be ineffective in daylight, certainly in strong sunlight, and has its main use between dusk and dawn. This restricts its use to the control of those species that are active during darkness or dawn/dusk as well as for the control of roosting birds.
The laser is not commonly associated with pigeon control due to the fact that the pigeon is not active during the hours of darkness or at dusk and therefore the product has been more or less ignored by the pigeon control industry. As the laser is developed and as trials are undertaken to establish a broader application for the product, pigeon control will inevitably be a major consideration. If the laser could be used to effect as a roost inhibitor, or as a scaring device in low-light conditions, the product would undoubtedly be used far more extensively for the purposes of pigeon control.
One serious problem associated with the use of lasers as a bird scaring device is the fact that the product can be indiscriminate when used with a wide beam and in darkness. In low-light conditions, at dusk or dawn for example, the beam can be trained on the target species with ease ensuring that there is no ‘over-spill’ that may disturb non-target species or birds or animals. In darkness, however, the beam from the laser is visible over a large area and may disturb non-target species birds or possibly protected species of birds. For example, if a laser was used in an urban environment to scare pigeons and if protected species such as swallows or house martins were scared sufficiently to abandon their nests, there would be serious legal consequences for the property owner.
The laser would appear to have limited applications as a bird scaring device due to the fact that the product is considerably less effective when used in daylight. Although the ‘Avian Dissuader’ was found to be extremely effective when used to control pigeons, in daylight hours, whilst roosting and perching on a food processing plant in New Zealand, the consensus suggests that the product is less than effective when used as a daytime scaring device.
As with most scaring products there are also concerns in respect of habituation and therefore the product will almost certainly need to be used in conjunction with other scaring devices and anti-perching products where appropriate. The laser is clearly species-specific and will be completely ineffective with some species but surprisingly effective with others. The laser has been particularly effective when used to control Canada Geese and other waterfowl such as cormorants but the product clearly has limitations when used in an urban application. The laser is also context-specific confirming that the product will not necessarily offer the same degree of scaring on each site where it is used. Weather conditions and the availability of alternative sources of food and roosts will both impact on the success of the laser.
The laser is recommended for use as a roost inhibitor but it is clear that the product can only be effective with nocturnal species if used in darkness, thus reducing the versatility of the product. There are also concerns voiced byDEFRA that the laser can cause non-selective disturbance when used in darkness due to the fact that the light beam is visible over a large area. This could cause serious issues should the product be used in the vicinity of rare or protected species of breeding birds. It should also be pointed out that the light beam could also cause human disturbance when used in darkness.
The laser has its main application in rural environments, on water and on airfields but not in urban environments. Although the laser appears to have been successful in moving pigeons from their perches on a food processing plant, it is unlikely that the product could be used to effect in a town or city centre or in residential areas.
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Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.
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