A farmer in South Iceland is resorting to a unique method to combat a unique threat to his grain crops. RÚV reports that Björgvín Þór Harðarson, a pig and grain farmer in Laxárdalur, is using falcon-shaped kites to scare away the whooper swans that are consuming and causing significant damage to his crops.
Swans are a major threat to grain crops in Iceland but are generally unfazed by farmers’ attempts to ward them off. Björgvín Þór said the birds are definitely the most difficult pests for him to deal with on the farm—and probably the most prolific. When the swans’ numbers are at their peak, he may find as many as 500 swans occupying his fields.
‘When they arrive, it’s just total destruction’
“When they arrive, it’s just total destruction,” he lamented. “If they arrive in a fully mature field in the fall, they’ll walk all over it and eat it and trample all the straw and everything.”
Björgvín Þór has tried many deterrents—including scarecrows and acoustic warning devices, or pingers—but to no avail.
“I was fighting with this swan that was attacking both my barley in the fall and wheat in the spring,” he explained. “Then I tried one of these kites that I’d been told about, and it worked like a charm.”
Kites mimic the flight of birds of prey
The kites that Björgvín Þór uses are shaped like falcons and designed to glide in a pattern that mimics the flight of birds of prey. They are used widely within the wine industry as an environmentally friendly and effective form of “bird abatement.” They can also be used on fish farms and to drive away unwanted gulls and crows in urban areas, among other uses.
But as well as the kites work, Björgvín Þór is still careful to use them only sparingly so the swans will not grow accustomed to them or eventually see through the ruse.
He first used the kites in the spring when his wheat crops were growing but has now taken them down because there’s no need at the moment. He’ll fly them again in the fall, during the harvest, and hopes they’ll be enough to keep his voracious whooper nemeses at bay.