(Trends Wide) — After dealing with thousands of crows in downtown Sunnyvale, California, for years, the city is taking notice of nearby Silicon Valley to go high-tech with lasers.
Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein told Trends Wide that ravens have roosted downtown for generations, but their numbers have increased during the pandemic. The birds became a problem for restaurants and other businesses, as well as a noise nuisance for residential areas.
When it comes to eating out, “I prefer to go indoors unless I’m under an umbrella,” resident Frank Hampton told Trends Wide affiliate KGO-TV. “The thing is, they’re not here during the day, it’s only at night. They just start coming when the sun goes down.”
The city has tried by all means for the birds to find a new place, but the successes are short-lived.
“We had a hawk before, a sparrowhawk, but it had limited success and the ravens came back,” Klein said.
The floodlights were also a dud, as crows tend to congregate at night. Now the city is switching to laser pointers.
“The cost of bringing in a falconry person is really quite high in the long run, and here we’re mainly talking about a $20 fix and some staff time to have a pilot program to try to solve the problem,” he explained. Klein.
“It’s a health issue that we’ve had to deal with, and at the expense of the city, so if we have a cheap solution, there’s no point in trying, right?”
The mayor got the idea from a friend who is using a green laser to scatter birds cawing in his garden. He learned that other cities with bird problems were using the same technique, as it is considered safe by the Humane Society of the United States.
The program will start at the end of the month. City staff and residents will be armed with the lasers in hopes of success.
“If the green lasers don’t work on their own, then we’ll start turning to the sound of crows in distress or other opportunities that present themselves, but this is the first step in trying to deal with the birds,” Klein said.
However, not everyone is in favor of trying this technique. The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society told Klein it is concerned lasers will blind birds and harm humans and aircraft. They want the city to continue exploring other options.