Flight pen evaluations of eyespot balloons to protect citrus from bird depredations
The effectiveness of eyespot balloons in discouraging boat-tailed grackle (Quiscalus major) use of a simulated orange grove was investigated in a series of 4-day trials. The mean distance to the trees of 6-bird experimental flocks was the same with a plain white balloon present as with no balloon. A white balloon with red and black eyespots kept birds at a greater distance from the trees throughout the trial. The presence of a black balloon with orange and yellow eyespots did not repel the birds from the grove. Observations of birds using the area within 1 m of the trees revealed no effect due to the eyespot balloons nor was the number of oranges pecked reduced in the presence of the eyespot balloons. These results were primarily due to a single bird that consistently ignored the white eyespot balloon during the 4-day trial, entered the grove, and avidly pecked the fruit. In combination with other crop protection devices, eyespot balloons may prove effective in deterring bird use of citrus trees.