Flashing Hawkeye and Buddha Eyes
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OverviewFlashing Hawkeye (FHE) and Flashing Buddha Eyes (FBE) are two visual scaring products produced by a UK-based company that combine the use of mirrors and predator/human images with movement to deter a wide variety of birds. Although both products would normally be associated with use in agricultural applications, where they can be extremely effective, the addition of a roof-mounted option renders both products considerably more versatile. Both the FHE and the FBE are effectively identical products but with different scaring images. The FHE uses a predator image for scaring and the FBE uses a human image – both images use bright primary colours to increase effectiveness.
Both products comprise a plastic thermoformed aerofoil-shaped board, printed with images of predator eyes or human (Buddah-type) eyes, mounted on a metal post. Below the board a series of 4 reinforced high-impact mirrors are provided in a pyramid-shape and at an angle of approximately 45°. Both the board and the mirrors rotate courtesy of a series of high-quality sealed bearings in a bracket at the top of the post and according to the manufacturer will rotate in even the lightest wind. The products are solely wind powered with no motor or mechanical drivers. As the units rotate in the wind the light reflected from the mirrors produces a bright flash, even in dull or cloudy conditions, which can be seen from a considerable distance. The flash of the mirrors combined with the flashing colourful images printed on the board (at a rate dictated by wind speed) will have the effect of making any birds in the vicinity feel unsafe.
Both products are extremely simple to install irrespective of which installation option is chosen. For ground installations the unit is quick and easy to install via the optional and inexpensive post driving and crossbar/post removal tool. The post driving and crossbar/post removal tool (weighing 4.25 kilos) is a robust metal bar with a crossbar at one end which allows the user to drive the central post into the ground by pumping the bar up and down. The same tool allows the unit to be removed, with relative ease, from the ground. Both the FHE and the FBE have a finned spike base, which ensures that once the post is driven into the ground it will remain in situ and continue to stand upright even in strong winds. This is because the fins on the spike stop the unit from moving laterally once installed into the ground.
In order to operate as designed both the FHE and the FBE must be installed vertically. Once the spike has been driven into the ground a spirit level must be used on each side of the base of the spike to ensure that the unit is standing at 90°. Once the unit is standing vertically the final adjustment is made courtesy of 4 adjustable locking screws located at the base of the unit. Assuming that the unit is provided in a vertical position even the lightest wind will rotate the board and mirrors.
The major benefit of the FHE and the FBE is complete lack of running costs. No batteries to charge or power sources to worry about, the unit will continue operating 24/7 with little or no human interaction required other than to check the vertical alignment of the unit periodically to ensure that it is maintaining its vertical position. Of course the downside of this is that the unit will not operate on days when there is no wind. The FHE and FBE will be effective on cloudy days, according to the manufacturer, and even at night as the mirrors will reflect light from the moon as well as the sun. This would allow the unit to be used against night-time predation of crops or fish from fish farms. Another major advantage of the FHE and the FBE is completely silent operation, allowing the unit to be used in areas of human habitation.
Applications for the FHE and the FBE include use with all types of arable crops, vineyards, horticultural applications, landfill sites, fish farms and as scarers for the protection of soft fruit. Both products can also be used in urban and semi-urban applications courtesy of the roof-mounted model, which allows the unit to be installed on the roof of an industrial building or any commercial site where the reflection of the mirrors will not cause human disturbance. The roof-mounted option differs from the ground spike-mounted option in that the vertical post is considerably shorter than the ground spike-mounted post (which stands at chest height). The plastic aerofoil-shaped board on the roof-mounted version also has a lower profile than the ground spike-mounted board. This is to reduce wind resistance and potential damage to the board in extremely strong winds based on the fact that the unit will be provided at height. The special bracket supplied with the roof-mounted model provides the user with a number of mounting options, further increasing the versatility of the product, certainly where installation is concerned. The FHE and FBE can be installed in the following ways when using the mounting bracket:
- on a flat vertical surface
- into the corner formed by two adjacent vertical surfaces
- onto the top of a wall/post and embracing the two adjacent vertical sides of a corner
Although bird scarers are normally designed and used in rural and agricultural applications where they are considered to be reasonably effective as part of an overall scaring operation, their use in urban environments is less common. This is, in the main, due to their potential for human disturbance. The FHE and FBE roof-mounted models are designed to be used in this application, which sets them aside from conventional scaring products. The most obvious problem associated with their use in urban environments is the flashing created by the mirrors revolving and the potential for the visual disturbance of motorists and those within line of sight of the product. Other than this potential problem there would appear to be no reason why the FHE and FBE could not play a major scaring role as part of an existing control system. Although the product could be used as part of a pigeon control system it is more likely to be effective for the control of roof-nesting gulls. The fact that the unit employs movement combined with two types of visual stimulus make it a good option for gull control.
Habituation is an ongoing problem with all scaring products, but the added advantage of the FHE and FBE is movement. Not only do the units revolve in light winds but, unlike many scarers with flashing lights, the FHE and FBE are intermittent in operation, certainly in as much as they will speed up and slow down according to the strength of the wind or stop if there is no wind at all. A light that flashes constantly and with timed flashes will be habituated to far more quickly than an intermittent light source.
This straightforward and well-designed product has a number of applications for a variety of different birds, making it a good choice for anyone experiencing problems with more than one species. The product is also sensibly priced, making it a good option to trial – if it proves to be ineffective the loss will not have been great. As with all the products manufactured by this company, high quality components have been used and although the products could have been produced at a lower price point, the emphasis has been placed on quality, not price. Whether the product proves to be visually disturbing in urban applications is an unknown, but even if the product can be used on industrial sites where human disturbance would be kept to a minimum, it would be an interesting and potentially effective tool.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is the UK’s Government body that oversees the Wildlife and Countryside Act and produces legislation to which the pest control industry must adhere. The following information is taken from a document provided on the DEFRA website entitled ‘Review of international research regarding the effectiveness of auditory bird scaring techniques and potential alternatives’ by J. Bishop, H. McKay, D. Parrott and J. Allan.
As both products involve the use of both mirrors and (in the case of Flashing Hawkeye) raptor images we have included relevant sections on both types of scaring:
Mirrors and reflectors work on the principle that sudden bright flashes of light produce a startle response and drive the bird from an area. However, the response of free-living birds to mirrors has been investigated in only a handful of species.
Foraging by black-capped chickadees Parus atricapillus at feeding stations was depressed by the presentation of either a standard mirror or an aluminium foil covered mirror; feeding was depressed the most by the standard mirror (Censky & Ficken 1982). When placed in nesting territories mirrors evoked aggressive responses from blue grouse Dendragapus obscurus (Stirling 1968) and glaucous-winged gulls Larus glaucesens (mirror combined with playback of gull calls) (Stout et al. 1969).
Reflective objects have been reported as being effective in deterring raptors, such as sparrowhawks and goshawks, from game release pens. Experiments in Europe showed that large silvered balls were effective in protecting reared game and chickens from diurnal raptors, particularly sparrowhawks and goshawks (Mansfield 1954; Pfeiffer & Keil 1963, cited in Lloyd 1976). Various gamekeepers in the UK also advocate the use of reflective objects. Opportunistic trials using such suspended materials successfully ended sparrowhawk predation at three different release pens.
Mirrors and reflectors have also been found to be inexpensive but effective against waterfowl, gulls and some herons (Greer and O’Connor 1994 cited in Reilly 1995). However, although aluminium pie plates suspended on varying lengths of twine deterred some waterfowl species, ducks were regularly seen to swim within 4-5 m of the reflectors (Boag and Lewin 1980).
In a survey of 336 fish hatchery managers in eastern USA, eight reported using tin reflectors of which seven said they had limited or no success as a depredation control technique (Parkhurst et al. 1987). In the same survey only one manager used mirrors and that was unsuccessful. Mirrors placed inside nest-boxes did not deter starlings from nesting within (Seamans et al. 2001).
A device consisting of a rotating pyramid of mirrors has been recommended for preventing crow damage to seedling corn (Anon. 2002d). This device is available in the UK and the manufacturer claims it is effective over four hectares against pigeons, blackbirds, starlings and crows on a variety of crops, but no scientific research has been can carried out to substantiate these claims (Anon. 2000a).
Although easy and inexpensive to put up and easy to relocate, the effectiveness of mirrors and reflectors as a bird scaring technique is variable. As they are only effective when they reflect sunlight and so are useless before sunrise (Nakamura 1999), they are best combined with other methods of scaring.
The basis for this deterrent is mimicry of real predators and evocation of fear and avoidance in the target species. Most potential prey species react to predator models; the strength of the response, however, varies between species (Conover 1979), and in some cases raptor models can attract rather than repel birds as species like blackbirds and crows often mob owls or owl models (Conover 1983, cited in Harris and Davis 1998).
Model raptors fail to incorporate behavioural cues, which may be critical to the induction of fear and avoidance in the target species. Falcons which are “in the mood” to hunt are said to be “sharp set”; such bird are invariably hungry enough to fly at quarry. Although it is difficult for human observers to differentiate between a falcon when it is sharp set and conversely well fed, birds will mob a hawk more frequently when sharp set than when well fed. Thus, model raptors will be inherently less threatening and consequently less effective than live raptors (Inglis 1980).
In the USA, museum-mounted models of a sharp-shinned hawk Accipiter striatus and goshawk Accipiter gentilis both reduced the numbers of birds visiting feeding stations. Habituation to the models, however, was relatively quick with birds reentering the feeding area after only 5-8 hours exposure (Conover 1979).
For some bird species the avoidance response to large avian predators appears to be, in part, a learned behaviour. Juvenile gray jays Perisoreus canadensis showed little response to a model great horned owl Bubo virginianus, whereas adult jays reacted intensely (Montevecchi & Maccarone 1987). Interestingly, with repeated exposure, juveniles developed a greater fear toward the model whereas adults habituated to the decoy.
As for scarecrows, movement can enhance scaring effectiveness. An animated crowkilling owl model was more effective in protecting vegetable plots from crows than an unanimated model (Conover 1985). This model consisted of a plastic owl model with a plastic crow model in its talons that either had wings that moved in the breeze or battery-powered wings that could move in the absence of wind. Both versions of this device reduced crop damage by 81%. The deterrent effect was maximised by combining movement with an implicit risk. No indication is given of how long the deterrent effect lasted.
In general, raptor models are inexpensive (£5-£25 for plastic owl models, Network Pest Control Systems Ltd.) and easy to deploy. Their effectiveness is increased if they are animated and if they are moved frequently. However, birds quickly learn that the model poses no threat and rapidly habituate to it.
Flashing Hawkeye/Flashing Buddha Eyes for ground mounting: £134.00 + VAT
Flashing Hawkeye/Flashing Buddha Eyes for roof mounting: £151.00 + VAT
Optional post driver and crossbar/post removal tool: £16 + VAT
To date we have been unable to find any user reviews for Flashing Hawkeye or Flashing Buddha Eyes but we will update this section as and when user reviews are made available to us. Anybody that can provide a user review for Flashing Hawkeye or Flashing Buddha Eyes please contact the Pigeon Control Resource Centre.
Comments from the Manufacturer/Distributor:
The following information about the use of Flashing Hawkeye and Flashing Buddah Eyes is taken from the scaringbirds.com website:
“The Flashing Hawkeye (and Flashing Buddah Eyes) with mirrors comprises a thermoformed aerofoil-shaped board which is secured in a bracket mounted on the top of a metal post which revolves in the lightest wind on high quality sealed bearings. Hanging downwards from the same bracket is a multi-angled series of reinforced high impact mirrors shaped like a lampshade which rotate with the aerofoil board.
As the Flashing Hawkeye revolves in the wind, it reveals an image of a pair of menacing and vibrant coloured predator’s eyes in contrasting colours on either side which gives a blinking effect as it rotates. At the same time, the mirrors provide a powerful and very eye-catching flash which can be seen at great distances, thus protecting large acreages. In conditions of bright sunlight, this can be equivalent to looking directly at the sun, but even on more overcast days and at first light of dawn, it reflects sufficient light to be significantly eye-catching. It can also be effective at night time under a full moon when it can resemble a flash from a powerful torch.
The optional driving tool and crossbar/post remover is a heavy bar with a cross-bar fitted through one end which provides an easy way of driving the post into the ground by pumping the bar up and down in the mouth of the post. Just as importantly, it enables the spike to be moved without resort to lever bars and spades. This is achieved by inserting the crossbar through the side of the metal ground spike, thus providing a horizontal surface against which to swing upwards with the heavy bar and the spike then lifts out with comparative ease.”
Bird scarers are not normally associated with use in urban areas and this is what sets the FHE and the FBE apart from a majority of other scaring products. As scarers for agricultural applications the FHE and the FBE offer the user a good solid product that has been designed and manufactured to stand the test of time rather than being manufactured to a price. Even so, the units are relatively inexpensive to purchase, with the optional post driver offered at an extremely keen price, allowing for quick and easy installation and removal.
Habituation is always a worry with scarers and no more so than with the roof-mounted model due to the fact that the installation bracket supplied with this model requires a permanent fixing. Therefore, if the product has to be moved due to habituation, or for any other reason, it is likely that another suitable site will need to be found where the bracket can be installed. This may not always be easy. The advantages of a heavy-duty mounting bracket, however, is that it will provide the unit with an extremely strong base and dramatically reduce the potential for the product to be blown down in high winds, a constant headache with wind-powered scarers. The mounting bracket also allows for a variety of fixings into different surfaces, which increases its versatility where re-siting is concerned.
The unit may cause human disturbance in urban areas and this may restrict its use, but in the event that the Hawkeye or Buddah eye images are effective in their own right, the mirrors could be blanked off to stop reflected light causing problems. It may even be possible to detach the mirrors altogether. Movement is a critical factor when scaring birds and intermittent movement is much more effective than pre-timed operations from battery or mains powered devices. Due to the high quality bearings used for the FHE and the FBE the unit will revolve in very little wind and if installed on top of a building, where there is usually considerably more wind than at ground level, the unit should continue to move even on still days. On a windy day the unit will revolve a staggering 70,000+ times a day.
The FHE and the FBE are not guaranteed to be effective, neither will they be effective as a stand-alone bird control, but they represent excellent value for money and have the potential to be effective in a wide variety of applications. Of all the bird scarers this is one of the most simple to power and install and other than regular checks to ensure the product is aligned correctly to the vertical, it can be left to operate without human interaction. When compared to the excessively high price of some bird scaring products, particularly electronic products, the cost of the FHE and FBE pale into insignificance and must be worth consideration as a result.
PDF on DEFRA website entitled: ‘Review of international research regarding the effectiveness of auditory bird scaring techniques and potential alternatives.’ By J. Bishop, H. McKay, D. Parrott and J. Allan.
Also commonly known as:
Mirror scarers, flashing scarers, wind scarers, predator scarers, flashing hawks, human scarers, scarecrows, predator scarecrows
Relevance to pigeon control:
Both products are suitable for use as general scarers in virtually all agricultural applications and with all species of birds. The roof-mounted version of the products can be used to scare both feral pigeons and gulls in urban applications