Artists and Experts Collaborate to Build a Better Owl
Scaring pest birds with a threatening figure – human or otherwise – isn’t new. Visual scares have been used to chase off marauding pest birds for centuries. We’re all familiar with the beloved ‘scarecrow’ figure from literature and traditional gardens.
We’re also used to seeing those stationary plastic owls – put up in the hope of frightening smaller birds. Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones who are used to them – so are the pest birds. The truth is, unless they include some element of movement or surprise to keep them freshly scary, old-fashioned bird scares don’t work for more than a few days or weeks.
Still, the bird control experts at Bird-X, Inc. have been repelling pest birds since 1964, and they know what it takes to get rid of them long-term. Owner Joe Seid explains, “You have to keep it fresh. You CAN use birds’ instincts against them – they survive by avoiding threats like owls and other predators. But they’re not so bird-brained that you can fool them with any old plastic owl – which is why we don’t sell those. It has to be something they can’t get used to, something super scary that MOVES and changes. That’s why we took this opportunity to make our flying Prowler Owl even scarier."
Bird-X has successfully offered a flying Great Horned Owl for some years. It’s been a strong seller, with an effective reputation. The airfoil design makes the four-foot wingspan quiver and move in the slightest breeze, giving a frighteningly real quality to the product. Now in a new redesign, the Bird-X R&D team has gone all-out to make it even more natural and realistic.
The design team’s avian specialist Alison James “went back to the drawing-board for the head shape and the plumage.” James explains, “There was no flying owl on the market that looked as real as it should. With today’s technology, there was no reason we couldn’t make the best, most lifelike owl available anywhere.” A bird enthusiast herself, James loved working on the project: “We studied lots of in-flight photography to get the pose and the head angle just right. It’s flying, so its face needs to look forward in a completely different way from a perched owl.” This attention to detail shows in the finished product: “We drew from actual images of owl plumage – taken from multiple angles – to get the realistic feathers printed onto the wings and belly part.” Design engineers fine-tuned the wing-strut and attachment details. A professional clay artist created a unique, original head in an authentic flight position. This head formed the basis for the production mold. James says, “The sculptor did an amazing job carving the feathers and the owl’s ‘ears’ – then we added huge shiny staring eyes, again just like the real thing."
The result is the most realistic and effective owl decoy and visual scare ever produced. Besides its terrifying aspect from the perspective of smaller birds, James says, “we recognize that a realistic owl is an attractive thing in itself – so if people are using one of these on a property where visuals matter, it’s a natural look. People can put it on their home or in their garden, and not have it detract from what they’ve created on the property. To human eyes it looks pretty cool!”