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Planning for Pest Management

July 28, 2013

As we watch this years’ small hazelnut and walnut crop develop, we’re keeping an eye on the stellar jay and red squirrel population. These critters are problematic for any small nut orchard from August to October and they typically work dawn to dusk until the supply runs out.

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We have no desire to net our 250 tree orchard for the short two to three-month window when the crop is most vulnerable. Instead we have been informally learning about the use of a trained raptor as a scare tactic.

This week I took a short ‘taster’ course on falconry so we can begin preparations for the long road to actually having a raptor of our own.  I am now head over heels smitten with developing a potential relationship with a Harris’s hawk, the most social of the raptors used for falconry.

harris hawk

The Harris’s is considered a ‘beginner’ falconry bird because of its’ social nature and ability to train for numerous duties. Participants had the opportunity to walk with the hawk through the woods and practice recall. It was not unlike walking a dog, except I couldn’t keep my eyes off this majestic bird darting ahead in the trees and wishing I could join her as she flew from tree to tree along the path. The mere presence of such a hawk in our fields during the crucial months would scare off any nut lovin’ jay or squirrel.

It will take us at least two years to train and obtain a permit for this integrated pest management approach and I’m looking forward to every step of the falconry experience.

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6 Comments
  1. Just (finally) caught up on the farm happenings – I love this idea! Good luck, looking forward to the updates.

    We did end up WWOOFing in Czech at that vineyard/orchard… and thought of you guys often. 🙂

  2. A friend has five acres of hazelnut (among other) trees near Campbell Valley park. He has pruned every tree back to a single trunk (from multiple stems) and has a squirrel guard (sheet metal collar) on _every_ tree… He may still have to hand pick his crop a bit green to beat them.

    • That’s what we’re doing with a small patch of mature multi-stemmed hazelnuts on the property – picking a bit green to beat the red squirrels and finishing them off on trays in the greenhouse. Still tasty but a lot of orchard ladder work!

  3. Rosheen permalink

    Wow!!!

  4. Tara permalink

    that’s so cool…a falcon to serve and protect the nut fields…you will be an awesome falconer! don’t you wish you could fly too…! Well we can jump on the trampoline and pretend right? Looking forward to learning more about Raptors from you.

    • I’m sure my partner-in-crime will become the expert falconer but in the meantime I’ve got the bug to learn more. The trampoline is the closest I come to flying!

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