September is pistachio harvesting time in Inyokern. Not coincidentally it is also the time when ravens do their worst damage to the crop. They descend by the hundreds, knock nuts from the trees and drop to ground to eat their fill. Pistachios are a major cash crop and one whose growers have a keen interest in protecting. Besides that, the delectable nuts represent a significant boon to ravens, who turn the oily nuts into fuel for next year’s crop of babies. Wouldn’t it be good to deny the birds access to pistachios?
Enter Hardshell Labbs and the XADS TR-3 laser. We have already demonstrated the ability of this laser to drive ravens away and now we are testing its utility in denying the birds a food source. For the next month expert birder Al de Martini and I are going to split time in this tower, first counting the ravens to get info on their use of the place and then zapping them as they fly in to feast. Spending 12 hour days on a 4×4’ platform 20’ up in a tower is not a glamorous assignment but if we demonstrate the ravens can’t habituate to the beam we will have cleared a major hurdle in the development of a method to protect crops and deny ravens access to what is now almost a freebie. When I have a few moments to spare between counting and zapping I will send update from the tower. Stay tuned.