For farmers, keeping pest birds like starlings and pigeons from swooping in and stealing crops can be an uphill battle. Birds quickly adapt to most traditional abatement methods, learning not to fear scarecrows and artificial predators, and adapting to noise-based techniques like horns and air cannons. But farmers have discovered there’s one method that does reliably frighten off small birds: bigger birds.

National Geographic reports that some farmers across the United States have started employing falcons—and falconers—to ward off pest birds. Companies like Falcon Force Inc. employ traditional falconing techniques, some dating back 4000 years, to keep birds from ruining crops. While most falconers use falcons for hunting, the bird abatement falcons don’t go in for the kill: Instead, they’re trained to patrol farms for hours, swooping towards pest birds and giving them a scare, but ultimately leaving them unscathed.

In the short video above titled "Forget Scarecrows—Falcons Protect This Farm," National Geographic shows how Falcon Force owner Vahé Alaverdian and his team protect Roy Farms in Washington. Alaverdian explains that using falcons is an eco-friendly and effective, albeit time-consuming, way to keep pest birds away.

“We’re kind of like security guards,” he explains. “As the fruit ripens, the birds are more and more attracted to it, so we stand guard 10 hours a day in that field until the fruit is harvested and we go home.”

Watch Alaverdian and his falcons in action above.

[h/t National Geographic]

Banner Image Credit: National Geographic, YouTube

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