Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hootie the Owl vs. the Whitestone Parakeets

From the NY Times:

Many of Con Edison’s challenges are well known — blackouts and steam pipe explosions included — but a lesser-known problem has proved no less nagging: how to protect its equipment from the thousands of monk parakeets that nest in the utility poles of Queens and Brooklyn.

According to the prevailing theory, the birds escaped from cargo at Kennedy International Airport and now proliferate mostly in Brooklyn and Queens, with perhaps 300 nests that cause “a tremendous cost” to Con Edison, Mr. Williams said. In eight fires on overhead equipment in past 18 months, the nests are the main suspects.

One Con Edison crew has come up with its own solution: a plastic battery-powered owl that swivels its head and makes a hooting noise, bought at a local nursery.

Hootie worked like a charm. Months went by with no new nests. But suddenly the nests were back, and the crew was back again to replace the equipment.

“Hootie’s batteries went dead,” Mr. Goodwin said. The birds immediately detected him as a fake and built their nest next to him.


Linda said...

LMAO, i like the parrots in whitestone, it's better than looking at pigeons on grand avenue. I had one for a short time and those birds are very smart. This just made my night thank you crapper. leave the birds alone.

Anonymous said...

They would be smart, they are related to parrots, and parrots are among the smartest animals going. I had a bird-fancier friend whose parrot always said "hello" when she entered a room and "goodbye" when she left.

Bizarrely enough, these foreign animals are filling a hole left by the now-extinct Carolina parakeets, the last pair of whom died around the first world war.

georgetheatheist said...

I've got a plastic owl on my roof with a bobbing head. It does no good. My neighbor has holes in his roof and this attracts the pigeons (Also due to the fact that the assholes up the street by the factory feed the damn things all the time.) Do those inflatable eyes work? How about the devices with predator recordings? Right now I just spray the damn birds with a high-powered nozzle on my garden hose. But they eventually come back. Is there any way to poison bird feed?

Anonymous said...

Poisoning feed is illegal and very dangerous. There is no way to ensure some one's dog or child does not get a hold of it. Also, we want the predatory birds such as hawks to be unharmed.

I really sympathize with your plight because the pigeons carry a vary serious respiratory illness known as psittacosis or parrot fever which is known to be fatal to humans and caged birds exposed to it.

Perhaps if your property is of a suitable size you might get guidance on plantings that would attract a real owl. Several species are native to this area. I would ask a botanical garden or the Audubon society for guidance.

-Joe said...

I have one of these Owls around my graps vines and fig trees.
The birds constantly set them off
You MUST use Lithium batterys if you want them to work more then a day or two

I set my owls up with NiMh rechargable batterys and cheap surplus solar cells on ebay.
You run a thin wire and a blocking diode between the Owl and the solar cells.
You can also have an old laptop pump Hawk and Owl sounds through inexpensive Piezo tweeters

How could Con Ed workers not figure this out ?


Anonymous said...

Now that's an example of Ameri-Can! Instead of costly surveys on how to eliminate the parakeet problem, the workers found an affordable and effective solution on their own.

-Joe said...

These Owl's have been in Marine supply catalogs and stores for around 10 Years.
I first saw them at Lamottas Resteraunt Marina. (former 1964 Worlds Fair Sinclair Oil dock)
The gulls were crapping all over Teak deck sailboats. On boats leave the deck for more then 10 seconds and the birds will swoop knock all you wine glasses over and steal your food right off off your plate.

The MTA has had them going along with speakers pumping birds of pray at Broadway Junction for almost 5 years

Anonymous said...

Make some use of that tiny turd who occupies City Hall. Suspend his wee ass from a cord and let him scare away those sassy parrots.