Machine’s chirps scare Ching Chings

An innovative solution has been found to counteract the problem of Ching Chings annoying guests as they relax at outdoor restaurants and bars at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

sperandeo chirps

Director of Engineering at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Tom Sperandeo in the now Ching Ching-free Periwinkle. Photo: Cliodhna Doherty

The black birds, called the ‘Greater Antillean Grackle’, and known locally as Ching Chings, have harassed and even pecked customers at Periwinkle Restaurant and Bar Jack, a pool bar on the ocean side of the luxury property.

‘They were dive bombing people’s heads basically. Especially during the nesting season, they would become aggressive, most recently in the spring,’ explained the hotel’s Director of Engineering Tom Sperandeo. ‘There were frequent complaints that the birds had pecked people,’ he said.

So management at the hotel decided to look into an environmentally friendly way to try and deal with the problem.

And after other methods failed, the problem finally seems to be solved through some crafty bird repellent technology.

The system, bought from US company Bird-X, was installed in July. One of the managers from 7 Restaurant found it online and they decided to try it out.

The machine, through the use of speakers, repels birds with an unrelenting combination of species-specific distress cries, predators, general harassments and ultrasonic waves.

‘Basically the system mimics a predatory bird species that frightens the Ching Chings away,’ explained Mr. Sperandeo.

The hotel purchased two of the systems: one for Periwinkle and surrounding area and the other for the Bar Jack and surrounding pool deck.

Each system consists of a control box and speakers which can be strategically placed for maximum coverage. It covers up to 10,000 square feet.

‘We have not had any reported incidents since [installation],’ he said. ‘You do still see the Ching Chings but not in the areas where the speakers are,’ he said. ‘If they do land, they only stay for a brief period before they are frightened away,’ he said.

So far the method seems successful. ‘At least over the initial trial period we’ve had success with it,’ said Mr. Sperandeo.

Before installing the bird machine, they had tried hanging monofilament fishing line in the paths of the Ching Chings’ flight to stop them flying into the restaurant areas, but it only worked temporarily, as the birds became familiar with where the lines were, he said.