Nothing can be more irritating than having to constantly chase birds from your farm or field. This makes the solar powered bird scarer, a device which uses natural bird distress calls or sounds to drive them away, a must have especially for grain farmers. However, these are not the only end users of bird scarers.

Airports and urban areas also deploy bird scarers to keep away birds, which can not only be a source of noise pollution and aggressive behavior, but can also leave their droppings all over, prompting huge cleaning costs. In a solar farm, huge amounts of birds can result into unwanted shades thereby reducing the amount of solar power harnessed. To put this into perspective, Volkswagen incurred heavy costs to install a bird scaring mechanism, in their transparent glass manufacturing plant in Dresden, which uses loudspeakers to mark the territory as ‘taken’.

Bird scarers are very important since they help in tackling the problem on unwanted birds and substitute the methods that were used before which were either very labour intensive as is the case when people have to guard the fields to manually chase away the birds or methods which with time become inefficient or no longer fool proof as is the case of scare crows. After a while, the birds discover that the scare crows are harmless.

Principle of operation of solar powered bird scarers

As aforementioned, the bird scarer produces sounds that as meant to cause discomfort too the birds hence chasing them away from the targeted places. The chosen sound frequency and type depends on the targeted birds. For example, the most common pest birds in India are the house crows, white cheeked bulbul and the common myna among others. This implies that for effective control, the bird scarer should be modelled based on these sounds. The next step is then integrating a solar panel and using it to power the system.

Building the solar powered bird scarer

There are two common ways of building a solar powered bird scarer and these depend on the mode of ‘predator call’ sound generation. The first method uses an MP3 player loaded with the desired sounds which can be loaded from a personal computer. In the other method however, a common integrated circuit is made that produces the sounds by incorporating an electro acoustic transducer.

These methods are explained below

1. Incorporating an MP3 player

This system is assembled by using the components shown in Figure 1. These components include;

  • Photovoltaic panel: used to convert solar radiation into direct current electricity
  • Dry-cell battery: used to store electricity
  • Converter: helps to reduce the 12 V to 1.5 V which is suitable for the MP3 player
  • MP3 player: This is loaded with predetermined predator calls stored in a personal computer and which are dependent on the birds under question. In order to establish the best sounds, several tests need to be carried out and these are affected by the sensitivity of the birds as well as their numbers. In a field with different types of birds, it is wise to model the system based on the largest number of birds or the ones which are least scared by the scarer [1].
  • Speaker: this is used to project the predator call sounds saved in the MP3 player. 

Figure 1: Components of a solar bird scarer [2]

2. Using a suitable bird scarer circuit

This is the brain of the system and should therefore be carefully constructed to ensure that it is efficient. The circuit shown in Figure 3 [3], can be drawn using a suitable software e.g. Proteus and then actualized by mounting it either manually or by etching on a circuit board. The circuit periodically produces a loud creaking sound which scares the birds and incorporates a digital counter IC1, type 4060 which is basically a binary counter, complete with an internal clock oscillator. Output values of IC1 are zero at the beginning after which it runs through the values of the digital counter at a rate which is set by an RC network connected to pins 9, 10 and 11. The loud speaker on the other hand is connected to output Q7. The system incorporates a metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) T1, which helps in switching on the signal. A voltage of 6V is produced thanks to solar panel SP1 which is then buffered by the help of two capacitors, C1 and C2. In this illustration, the solar panel is connected directly to the main circuit. However, it is still possible to incorporate a rechargeable battery which can then enable the system to be used even in the event of no sunlight e.g. at night. This circuit also incorporates an alarm S2 which allows the user to use the bird scarer as a signaling device whereby on pushing the button, you can listen to the electronic sound. This improves the versatility of the system. It is important to note that this is only one way to draw the circuit but not the only one. The chosen circuit can vary depending of the user’s preference.

Figure 2: Schematic of a solar powered bird scarer circuit [3]

Advantages of solar bird scarers

  • Solar powered bird scarers make use of solar energy, a renewable and green energy and therefore do not cause environmental pollution
  • The provide a more efficient method of scaring birds as opposed to the traditional methods like using scare crows and using human beings to physically chase the birds. These former is ineffective as the birds discover quickly the lack of a treat from the scare crows whereas the latter is tiring. Both methods are unsuitable for very large areas of applications.
  • It is a method that does not harm the birds as opposed to other methods like using chemicals.

References/ Important links
1. Koyuncu, T., & Lule, F. (2009). Design, Manufacture and Test of a Solar Powered Audible Bird Scarer. International Journal of Biological, Veterinary, Agricultural and Food Engineering, 3(6), 48-50.
2. Suryawanshi, V. R. Design, Manufacture and Test of a Solar Powered Audible Bird Scarer and Study of Sound Ranges Used in it.

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