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Aliens are not among us: How businesses and farmers use laser lights to scare away birds


Birds are starting to see the light — on downtown Cincinnati buildings and fields all over the country. This is an update to a 2017 story after Reddit readers started asking questions recently.

The answer is Fifth-Third Bank is using lasers to chase birds off of its Downtown buildings.

Here is more about the technology:

Move over scarecrows

Farmers are taking a new look at lasers as a way of scaring away birds who are eating their crops.

The laser bird deterrent technology, like the one from Bird Control Group, takes advantage of a bird's natural instincts. According to CEO Steinar Henskes, "We've developed a laser beam which birds perceive as a physical danger. So by moving it toward them they get scared and move away. They perceive it like a stick or like a car which approaches them."

Here's how it works:

Oregon blueberry and cherry grower Justin Meduriis leasing six of the lasers. Before he started using them, he said he was losing about 20% of his crop. The lasers are mounted on a pole and project down on the area. They run off solar panels and recycled batteries.


"And they're on a variable frequency with an erratic pattern that comes on multiple times a day set up specifically at the times you would like them to come on and off," he says.

A green wavelength sends signals from the bird's eyes to their brains.

Bird Control Group says it has 6,000 customers in 76 countries in a variety of industries, including agriculture, aviation, oil and gas, recreation and real estate.

The company has safety controls. If a laser strays out of the predetermined pattern potentially affecting a motorist, the system will shut down. It also doesn't fire any lasers skywards because that could interfere with air traffic.

Updated: April 18, 2022 at 1:06 PM EDT
This article first appeared November 27, 2017, and has been updated.
Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.