The phrase “For the Birds” takes on a whole deeper meaning to Bird Gard, LLC, the Sisters manufacturing company specializing in electronic deterrent devices for our dominions of pesky
Operating from their beautiful new 13,500 square foot facility in the Sun Ranch Business Park just north of downtown Sisters, employees have unobstructed views of the snow-capped Sisters peaks, being the sole occupants of the development. Perched prominently as a dominant player in the industry with more than an 80 percent share, Bird Gard’s audible aviary cries are heard around the globe. Their line is sold exclusively through distributors and dealerships throughout North America and Canada.
Todd Weitzman, owner and president of Bird Gard, splits his time between Sisters and the Portland area.
“My dad, Stewart Weitzman, started Weitech in Sisters back in 1989 as an electronic pest control company. I came aboard in 1993 and co-ran the company until 2002 when it was sold,” he said. “At that time, dad retired and I kept Bird Gard and its product line of digital bird repellers going as a separate company.”
All Bird Gard finished goods are designed, manufactured, assembled and shipped right here in Sisters. A few of the components do come from selective overseas and domestic vendors. The chips contained within the water-resistant units are audible digital recordings of bird distress and alarm calls, alerting danger to other birds and therefore creating a fleeing response.
“We have over 120 different chips providing a limitless combination of custom sounds and mixes,” explained Weitzman. “We can put up to eight different sounds on each chip and the user can program and shuffle the sounds around after they identify exactly which birds are causing the trouble. Some chips broadcast the sounds of gunshots, coyotes, and even a pack of vicious dogs.”
Bird Gard control systems have been effectively installed in hundreds of airports, agriculture fields and crops, industrial and commercial buildings, boat marinas, mines, food processing plants, and anywhere bird damage occurs. They range in size and coverage from the smallest for backyards, gardens and vacation homes, to larger units suitable for vineyards, parking lots and airport runways.
Sales manager and longtime Sisters resident Terry Denzer has been with the company since its initial days as Weitech back in 1989 and was one of its first employees.
“The units are very species specific and designed to target the exact bird causing the damage,” said Denzer. “If you have a problem with starlings, we have a chip, if crows are a nuisance, we have that chip too. Every chip set contains at least one predator or raptor call like a hawk or owl, reinforcing the sound mix of distress calls. We use mostly piezo-tweeter speakers that broadcast the high frequencies so effectively.”
Most of the recordings used come from university ornithology departments, with Cornell University in New York providing the majority of samples.
“We also work with an ornithologist at a Moscow university for bird sounds of species not native to North America,” Denzer demonstrated, plugging a chip into a box. “We take raw sounds, filter the ambient or background noise, clean it up and record it digitally onto one of our microchips.”
“Our primary market is agriculture and with food prices holding up well during the recession, it hasn’t affected our sales to any degree. So if you still have a crop worth harvesting it makes sense to protect it. Birds don’t know it’s a recession,” Weitzman joked. “We’re in 25 countries all over the world. One-third of our sales are outside the US. and with the Euro strong against the dollar the value is there.”
“Crop losses on an individual farm due to bird droppings, nuisance and damage can range from 25-50 percent of the total harvest. It’s not unusual at a grape vineyard for them to lose 20-30 percent of their crop yield and we can drop that down to 2 to 3 percent which is huge. The products pay for themselves in a matter of days.”
A new and growing market for Bird Gard is the dairy industry where birds continually get into feed lots and eat the cattle grain supply. They tend to concentrate on the high protein parts of the feed, reducing the available nutrition to the cows which diminishes milk production.
“One of our dairy clients in California installed our repellers and the feedback was that the next day the farm delivered 700 gallons more milk,” he recalled. “That’s a significant difference.”
“Japan is now our largest export client,” said Denzer. “They typically buy our smallest unit with a custom chip to protect rice paddies from sparrows, starlings and magpies.”
With their new Deer Shield product being introduced next year, Central Oregon will become a more important market for Bird Gard. Working with the University of Nebraska, testing has shown the deer repelling system, created with a motion detector and PA-style speakers, to be extremely effective. The chip uses a combination of bleating and snorting sounds to deter unwanted deer pests.
“This year there’s been significant bird damage due to the wet spring and hot summer, delaying the Willamette Valley grape harvest several weeks, pushing it into the annual migratory bird patterns,” said Weitzman. “Consequently, overall purchases of our products in Oregon were up quite a bit. And we’re happy with that.”
For more info on prices and products visit their website at birdgard.com or call Terry Denzer at 541-549-0205.