Habitat loss and changing climatic conditions have been linked to the increased incidence of bird pest damage to agricultural crops in Tobago. Over the last 7 years farmers have been reporting widespread damage to their crops caused by parrots and cocrico in particular, resulting in significant reduced earnings. While cocoa farmers have been hard hit by parrot damage, other crops impacted include avocadoes, citrus, leafy crops, sweet potato, pigeon peas and papaya.
Following meetings with the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Tobago House of Assembly, CARDI procured 2 solar powered bird wailers to assess the impact of these in repelling birds from farmers’ plots. The wailers emit sounds of predator birds in distress or other birds to scare off bird pests.
This activity is taking place under the “Demonstration of a solar-powered Wailer/ Bird Squawker Sound Deterrent System” project financed by the Digicel Foundation Trinidad and Tobago and Shell Trinidad and Tobago.
In January, 1 system was installed at the Tobago Cocoa Estate in Argyle while the other system is roving across farmers’ fields on the island. The performance of the system is being monitored by the Division. Data will be collected for the number of birds sighted, number of birds feeding and number of damaged fruits and vegetables. After the first week no parrots were sighted at Tobago Cocoa Estate.
The Division will continue the testing phase for 6-8 weeks – assessing the devices efficacy and impact. The results will guide whether the technology will be adopted and offered to farmers at a subsidized cost.
On 11 January, 2024, CARDI provided training to the Division’s staff on the use of the system.