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Keeping Birds Away From Runways, Oil Rigs, And Agriculture With Laser Beams

Birds are beautiful–but also a problem for many industries. They can get caught in aircraft engines, pick apart farm crops, and pollute animal feeding troughs. They frustrate oil-rig and warehouse managers, greenskeepers, and fishermen.

This is why a Dutch entrepreneur, Steinar Henskes, has developed specially designed laser beams intended to scare birds away. Still only 23 years old, he’s already sold them in 46 countries, including the United States and much of Europe.

The products all use a green, filtered light that reduces radiation. When birds see it, they think of it as a physical danger and immediately scatter, Henskes says. For example, airports can place laser projectors and set them to automatically scan nearby areas and keep the animals at bay.


The Federal Aviation Administration spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep our feathered friends away from flightpaths, showing how serious the problem has become for the aviation industry. New York’s JFK Airport, for instance, has about a dozen full-time bird control staff.

Henskes’s company, the Bird Control Group, is based at a university incubator in the city of Delft. It was formed in 2012 and now has eight staff. As well as mobile projectors, it also sells handheld devices that bird controllers can operate manually.

Best of all, the birds are unaffected by the light, Henskes says. They just fly away and do their thing somewhere else.

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