Wine Industry News

Autonomic lasers offer growers a great new tool against bird damage

Feb 25, 2019 | Winery Industry News

Bird damage is a real issue for many growers. You invest time, money, and energy throughout the year trying to grow the perfect crop, only to see all that work go for naught when birds flock in at the eleventh hour to rob you of your riches. This is not an old story. It has been dealt with for many generations with all sorts of techniques: scarecrows, shotguns, cannons, balloons, netting, reflective tape, and even screeching sound machines of birds in distress. These all work to some extent, and often the best result is to implement a combination of methods as the season develops.

Bird Control Group has developed an innovative commercial-grade laser that is proving to be quite effective. Operating out of their North American office in Portland, Oregon, Bird Control Group offers a commercial robotic laser called the Autonomic. This laser can be programmed to run up to 16 different programs, each running through a series of up to 100 waypoints.

Many growers have reported that they have seen results of up to 90 per cent reduction in bird numbers after using the laser.

An early believer of these lasers in Canada was Coral Beach Farms, who tried the technology to protect their cherry orchards along the shores of Okanagan Lake. Vineyard owners in Washington, Oregon, California, and New York also tried this technology during the 2018 season. Positive feedback continues to be shared by vineyard owners, with many returning to purchase additional equipment as these lasers provide a neighbour-friendly and surprisingly very effective alternative to netting.

Why do the lasers work so well? The bird’s eyes work differently than human eyes. They see the full beam of light, just like we do if the laser was operating in fog or shining through smoke. So, for the bird, it’s perceived as a physical threat coming towards them as it moves through the field.  It doesn’t mean you won’t see bird activity in the area, or that you might not still want to consider other measures to complement the lasers. They’re not a silver bullet offering complete control. But they do work very well with many growers sharing results of up to 90 per cent reduction in bird numbers.  Similar to netting in a way, without the extra expense and labour.

One trend continues to be shared by vineyard growers who have used these lasers, and that is that multiple lasers in a field works better than just one. They complement each other and the amount of acreage you can cover per laser increases with more lasers in operation. A single Autonomic laser in open terrain normally has an effective coverage area of eight-to-15 acres in most vineyard applications. If your property has lots of undulations, you will likely need to consider additional lasers or other measures, such as netting small sections. Some growers have experienced higher acreage coverage than this, but keep in mind the more often the light moves over the area intended to be protected, the better results you will have.

For more information about this new and exciting technology for bird deterrence, contact Bird Control Group at, or by phone at (503) 850-4138. You can also see the lasers in action and hear direct customer testimonials on YouTube and Facebook.