This year for harvest King Estate enlisted the help of some new winged workers who arrived Sept. 7 for a month-long residency. Meet Theo, a five-month-old Peregrine falcon who, along with six other winged workers, was assigned to help protect the crop by flying free and chasing off other birds eager to feast on our fruit, according to his boss, Adam Davis, a falconer with JT Falconry.
“Falconry-based bird abatement is an eco-friendly, reliable and sustainable solution to nuisance birds such as starlings and cedar waxwings,” Adam says. “It operates based on millions of years of evolution, which instilled a primal fear of predators like these falcons into prey species like starlings.”
Free-flying raptors offer a strong deterrent to prey species that, left to their own devices, can do a lot of damage to crops. “Our goal is definitely to haze the pests rather than to harm them,” Adam explains. “Even allowing just one of our birds to fly and enjoy the day can be a strong deterrent on its own.”
Here Theo is shown “lure flying,” a game consisting of the falcon chasing a short line until catching it. While this game is harmless, lure flying looks very intimidating and aggressive to prey species — mimicking actual hunting. After a bit of lure-flying play, most pests decide to leave the area for presumed safety reasons.
So now the fruit is in, the falcons are gone, and a successful harvest 2021 is in the tanks. When we can finally taste what the 2021 vintage has yielded, we’ll give a nod to our falcon friends who lent a wing.