It’s becoming increasingly common in California for vineyards to practice
innovative and ecological methods of controlling pests. One such problem
is that of birds who descend on the crops when the grapes are fully
ripe, gobbling up as much as 10% of the profits. In the past, vineyards
have tried everything from poison to shotguns, but an age-old solution
has been rediscovered: falcons. Dan Connors, the manager of Robert
Mondavi’s Cuesta Ridge vineyards, says the object isn’t to kill the
invading birds, but just to scare them off. Trained falconers bring
the birds out in the morning and set the falcons free. "The falcon
climbs to about 1,500 feet.-. The falcon then dives. As soon as the
birds see the falcon, they’re out of there," said Connors. A
single falcon can cover 500 acres and scare off thousands of birds.