Audible bird scarers have been used in agriculture for many years to reduce damage to crops.

The two main types in use are:

  • amplified sirens or recorded distress calls
  • explosive which uses propane gas or a cartridge to cause a loud explosion.

Both types make a noise which is likely to be heard over a wide area, with the potential to cause disturbance to local residents. The explosive type gives rise to most complaints.

How to increase the effectiveness of scarers

All bird scarers can become familiar to birds over time and lose their effectiveness. To help avoid this, they need to be regularly moved and used with other methods to scare birds and protect crops.

The points below are taken from advice provided in the National Farmers Union Code of Practice.

  • Use non-audible scarers wherever possible.
  • Use other protection techniques where practicable for example netting, patrolling.
  • Use acoustic scarers, only when there is an actual risk of damage to crops.
  • Pay careful attention to the siting of scarers – allow at least 200 metres from the nearest house before 7am. Do not use it after 10pm at the latest.
  • Arrange to direct the sound from the scarers into the area to be protected, and away from houses, by using simple baffles such as straw bales.
  • To control the frequency of explosions to a maximum of four firings per hour. Multiple firings from a multiple-chamber gun count as one firing if heard within 30 seconds.
  • Do not use auditory scarers between sunset and sunrise.
  • Do not mount explosive scarers at a high level.

Bird Scarers and the law

There is no specific national legislation on the use of bird scarers, but we have a duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to take action against a person who creates a noise nuisance. Failure to comply with a notice served under that Act may result in a prosecution and the possibility of a heavy fine. An individual householder is also able to take their own action in respect of a noise nuisance.

For further information refer to the National Farmers Union Bird Scarers Code of Practice – Protecting your crop – NFU bird scarers code of practice – NFUonline

Last reviewed: October 20, 2023 by Qi

Next review due: April 20, 2024

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