Hazing - Electronic Sound Generators

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Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Control / Environmental and Population Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords Breco Buoy, Phoenix Wailer
  • Electronic, electric- (battery) power operated sound-generating devices, broadcasting from one or more speakers, which may produce a variety of sounds at high intensity, within the hearing range of birds, and at a variety of frequencies. (D10)
  • The sound patterns can be adjusted to be most effective for the target species, and then varied over time to reduce habituation. (D135.3.w3)
  • The sound producers can be used on land, on boats, or mounted on floats. (D135.3.w3)

1) Breco Buoy (Breco Bird Scarer): programmable device that may produce e.g. 30 different sounds, at up to 130 dB at one metre. Frequency range 1000-12000 Hz, emission interval 30 seconds to 5 minutes, signal length 20-50 seconds. Weight 36kg, constructed to work down to -30C , operational for at least 72 hours (up to 72 hours with continual operation), includes four submersible corrosion-proof loud speakers. Completely sealed design. Constructed to be shock-proof if launched from a pier or boat or thrown from a helicopter. Designed to drift with an oil slick. Storage battery life up to 10 years. Equipped with radio beacon to allow immediate detection of position.

2) Phoenix Wailer/ Phoenix Marine Wailer: programmable device that may produce e.g. 64 different sounds at up to 130dB. Frequency range 450-4000Hz, plus horn tweeter 3500-30000hz. Four speakers (pointing in four directions) plus up to four additional remote speakers. Sound order may be random, sound level is adjustable, duration of sound blast variable 5 to 40 seconds, with interval between blasts adjustable from 5-40 minutes. Optional strobe light. Power from two 12-volt marine batteries - may give power for up to five days of daytime operation (shorter time if used 24 hours a day). May be attached to floatation device for use in water. 

(D10, D12, P14.5.w9, D211.AppIIIc.w12)

Appropriate Use (?)
  • May be used in open water areas. (D10)
  • May be used on land, but also on a boat, raft or buoy. (D160.App3.w11)
  • The Marine Phoenix Wailer may be particularly useful for oil on water in a confined situation (e.g. in a bay, confined with booms). (D10)
  • The Breco Buoy is the only hazing device useable unmanned offshore/in open water. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • The Phoenix Wailer (on land) may be used as a central part of shore-based hazing. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • May be effective to protect relatively large areas e.g. 75 hectares (Marine Wailer), 100-150 hectares or one buoy every 1.0 to1.5 km (Breco Buoy). (D160.App3.w11)
  • May be particularly useful to deter some species such as eiders and scoters. (P14.5.w9)
  • May be used day and night-time. (D160.App3.w11)
  • May be effective against a wide range of bird species. (D10)
  • Can be deployed readily on the leading edge of a drifting slick. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Buoy may be used to drift with an oil slick, thereby reducing the chance of hazing birds towards the affected water area. (D10)
  • If used drifting, reduced chance of habituation of birds (since entering range of different populations). (D160.App3.w11)
  • May be used in fog and rain. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Diversity of sounds reduces habituation. Wailer tested to protect mussel collecting lines effective for more than two weeks. (D10)
  • Buoy with radio beacon is easy to trace and retrieve. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Easy to handle and operate by two people. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Can be deployed rapidly. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Low maintenance requirements (e.g. two marine batteries on charge and two in the unit). (D160.App3.w11)
  • Constructed to withstand the fire and explosion hazards which can be associated with oil slicks. (D160.App3.w11)
  • May be used in combination with other hazing methods, e.g. Breco buoy at sea in oil slicks combined with low-flying aircraft, marine wailer in confined areas together with human effigies on anchored boats or rafts, and possibly combined with propane cannon. (D10)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • May be less effective where birds are used to loud background noises. (D10)
  • May be less effective for birds congregated in very secure habitats. (D10)
  • Species-specific variation in response - less effective against some birds e.g. gulls, cormorants (data from use of the Breco Buoy). (D10, D12, P14.5.w10)
  • Requires battery changes. (D10)
  • Need regular monitoring: if a Buoy is used drifting with an oil slick, monitoring is needed about two to three times daily to ensure that it stays with the oil slick; daily monitoring of the Wailer is recommended to ensure proper operation. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Boat or helicopter required to deploy offshore. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Effective range may be decreased on windy days or in rough seas. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Unknown duration of effectiveness if used stationary. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Depending on placement, may cause disturbance to both local residents and responders. (D160.App3.w11)
  • The Marine Phoenix Wailer is difficult to tow or push through the water and is therefore better transported over water on a boat for offshore placement. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • When trialed in San Francisco Bay, California, the Breco Buoy was found not to effectively deter most of the birds present. It was suggested that this may have been due to the birds in this urbanised area being used to noise disturbance. (D215.w6)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Breco buoy and battery. (D10)
  • Marine Wailer and standard marine batteries (four batteries ; two in use and two being charged). (D10)
Expertise level / Ease of Use Simple to use.
Cost/ Availability
  • Relatively expensive to purchase, particularly if including a beacon for retrieval. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Breco Buoy batteries are expensive to buy. (D10)
  • Marine Wailer batteries are relatively cheap. (D10)
  • May not be rapidly available when required. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Loud noises may cause problems if use near human-populated areas is required. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee --
References D10, D12, D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11, D211.AppIIIc.w12, D215.w6, P14.5.w9, P14.5.w10

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