Cayman Wildlife Rescue, a programme of the National Trust, has been testing a Cayman parrot deterrent device with great success.
A Florida-based company, called Bird Busters, has created a custom device which is programmed specifically to ward off Cayman parrots from crops. The device, called a Bird Squawker, plays back distress calls and alarm calls from Cayman parrots, cries of predatory hawks, gunshot noises and digital sound effects in a random pattern to confuse and scare offending birds.
The custom device has now been tested in local farmland, worked by Franklyn Smith. Mr. Smith’s worker Eval Davis reported: ‘When the device is running we have no new damage to the crop. If the device is off the parrots return to the area within a day.’
Mr. Smith is looking forward to getting the Bird Squawker for next year’s mango crop. In the past he reported at least a 50 per cent crop destruction due to the Cayman parrot.
Alison Corbett, project manager of Cayman Wildlife Rescue has teamed up with local farmers to help. ‘In visiting local farmers here I have seen the true devastation the parrot has on the crop. These farmers work hard, battling many issues and I hated that Cayman’s national bird was considered by most to be a pest,’ said Ms Corbett.
‘I knew there were solutions out there, we just needed to try some alternatives.’
While there is no concrete evidence that Cayman parrots are still being shot by local farmers as a means of control, Ms Corbett added: ‘One local farmer attested to shooting 80 Cayman parrots in one day alone, before deciding to put down his rifle for good. I have had other reports that there are still hundreds shot each year. We can either deny this issue or choose to provide the farmers with effective and sustainable options.’
Otto Watler, a long-time advocate for the Cayman parrot who has also been working closely on the project, said: ‘It will be a sad day when the beautiful Cayman Islands parrot ceases to grace our skies. I think everyone that lives on these beautiful islands should do their part to stop this awful tragedy from becoming a reality and it will surely happen sooner than later if some method of protecting the parrot is not put in place by the powers that be.’
The Cayman parrot faces many threats: environmental threats, such as loss of habitat, and human threats, such as illegal shooting, trapping and nest robbing. The Grand Cayman parrot and Cayman Brac parrot are two distinct endemic sub-species of the Cuban parrot. Both of the Cayman Islands parrots are considered endangered and are protected by the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species.
The Cayman Brac species especially, due to its limited range, is at great risk for extinction.
The device retails for US$1,300 plus shipping for the Bird Squawker with two loudspeakers. To order, contact Jack Wagner at Bird Busters by calling 703-299-8855 or by email at [email protected].
Bird Busters will work with local farmers to devise a plan for the placement of the device and speakers. The device operates from a standard 12-volt battery and has a light sensor which turns the device off automatically at night.