27 March, 2011

Falconry in the Santa Lucia Highlands

(c) 2010 - Chow Studios
A few months back, the good folks at Hahn Family Winery invited several bloggers, myself included, to their Soleded, CA winery to watch a demonstration of their use of Falconry. While Falconry is popularized as the Sport of Kings, particularly in the Middle East, the Hahn Winery is certainly not participating for sport. Rather, they use Falcons in pest control, that is, keeping starlings, and similar species away from the vineyards.

Starlings are notorious for destroying winegrape crops. Their appetite for grapes is well known and left unchecked, a flock could decimate a harvest in not more than 2 days. For years, most vineyards have employed most well known, plastic netting over the vines as well as scare tactics such as small explosives and plastic predator models placed strategically around the vineyard.

Problem is, Starlings are smart and in very little time, they've figured out that the predators are plastic and while the explosives are effective, their disturbing noise is not very desirable. Additionally, plastic netting is a significant investment in time and money and unfortunately, is 100% plastic.



Enter: Falcon
(c) 2010 - Chow Studios

(c) 2010 - Chow Studios
A simple fix seems to be, rather than plastic predators, REAL predators. Jim Tigan of Tactical Avian Predators is the go-to guy for the Hahn Family Wineries for the past several years.


(c) 2010 - Chow Studios
(c) 2010 - Chow Studios
Jim uses common bird-flushing with his dog Annie, but rather than shooting or capturing the birds that Annie flushes out of the vineyards, he's just looking to scare the living daylights out of the Starlings.

Imagine you're a starling just munching on a few Pinot Gris grapes and along comes a dog that scares the hell out of you, so you take flight to get away, but just when you think you've made it, a nice Saker Falcon named Nikita flies by and you think you're going to be dinner, so you go Audi 5000 outta there!


...and you tell all your pals that there's a nasty chick named Nikita in the neighborhood now, so let's move to a different one.

Sustainable. Humane. Effective.

Good job, Jim, Nikita and the Hahn folks for their continued support to doing things better because it matters!

2 comments:

  1. Awesome Article. Perfect way to keep those pesky Starlings away.

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