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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Vineyard falconry

At the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference last weekend, we ran into Dennis Devitt, a vineyard manager for Gallo who was attending the symposium on mechanization. While we watched the Superbowl, he described a unique method of bird control. It seems they hire a falconer who helps relieve their starling pressure by running birds of prey through the ranch for months at a time.

It was fascinating to hear how they use the raptors to drive away birds who damage the fruit, and evidently it's loads more cost effective than netting the vines. This article describes the whole process.

Falconry isn't unusual in California vineyards, but the process used by Falconer Getty Pollard is fascinating. It sounds like the ultimate biological pest control. I'll see if I can track down some photos.

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