Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Fowl wisdom

During a walk we came upon this house, and wondered: What’s with the pole?

It’s an owl perch.

For a fake owl.

Apparently fake owls can sometimes keep birds from nesting in certain places. You can see the problem (in the first picture). This house has the perfect nesting place -- with the (unprotected) front door directly below.

According to the New York Times, Con Edison tried placing a fake owl by an electric transformer platform in Queens to keep parakeets from building nests there. The owl, which they named Hootie, makes hooting sounds, and has worked well enough in scaring birds away that they are going to install more Hooties. But the owls need batteries to keep hooting. To solve the battery problem, they plan to modify the Hooties by running a low-voltage electrical line to each of them.

It’s important that the owls keep hooting. Because if they don’t, birds get wise to them, as another NY Times story pointed out. In this case, some building managers in Manhattan were using fake owls (that didn’t hoot) to scare away pigeons. It worked for a while, but eventually the pigeons figured it out and even perched atop the fake owls. So now they reposition the owls every three months to try and confuse the birds. (I wonder if they’ve tried a “Hootie”?)

As per the NY Times:
Perhaps the moral [of the story] was best expressed by a spokesman for the utility, John Geoghegan: “You can fool some of the pigeons some of the time, but not all of the pigeons all of the time.”

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