Make room for scarecrows on the ‘poop’ deck

Workboat companies eyeing the fledging offshore wind farm market may think they’ll just be transporting workers and servicing turbine equipment, but they might want to add scarecrows to the list.

These high-tech versions of the traditional farm decoys are getting ready to hit the global wind power market as a deterrent to the pesky problem of bird poop on turbines.

Across the pond in the U.K., where offshore wind farms are a big and established business (far ahead of the U.S.), bird droppings have become a huge problem, posing health hazards to workers (it’s a carcinogen) and costly delays in construction and cleanup. The stuff also degrades the turbine’s building materials.

So a group of leading industry experts got creative and has developed Scaretech, a scarecrow adapted for the harsh ocean environment.

Designed to look like a wind farm worker, it is outfitted with a high-visibility protective orange jacket, a hard hat, and an arm extended into the air with fluorescent green gloves. The face is realistic, offering a stern look to those naughty seagulls as they fly near.

This is no garden-variety scarecrow. It’s made of steel, flexible foam and PVC and powered by solar panels, and is fixed to the offshore structure so it can withstand extreme weather. And he (or she) is a noisy and flamboyant type, sending off sporadic and sensor-controlled noises and high intensity strobe lights to deter seabirds.

Hopefully this will also help reduce the number of birds killed by wind turbines, which is often cited by wind power critics as a compelling reason not to construct wind farms.

About the author

Pamela Glass

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

1 Comment

  1. Heh, reminds me of the time I worked for a service company doing inland bay work on small platforms just several feet above the water. It was my job to go on the platform and set up our work equipment. Herons would build stick nests a foot high and cover everything with several inches of white feces.
    The first thing I would do is kick the nests off into the water, baby birds and all, then start chipping the white crap off the equipment we were there to service.
    By the end of the day my clothes were covered in white bird feces and I smelled as bad. That was almost 50 years ago. Gosh, and there’s more herons now than then!

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