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We Don't Really Like Kool-Aid Either

By Margaret Lyons in Miscellaneous on Nov 11, 2004 8:05PM

Remember when Pom Pom went as him for Halloween? Image: www.breakfastforlunch.comSmell that? That's the sweet smell of grape-flavored bird repellant. O'Hare is in the process of auditioning various techniques to keep birds away from planes, and right now they're trying machines that spray "grape-scented mist that was distinguishable even in the wind Wednesday from the strong odor of jet fuel vapors." Eech. Just thinking about artificial grape stank makes us shudder.

Yes, it's nauseating for humans, but what's in it for birds? Richard Dolbeer, national coordinator of airport wildlife services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told the Tribune that "methyl anthranilate [the active ingredient in grape-o stench] is actually a non-toxic food flavoring that is used in grape Kool-Aid and grape bubble gum, but birds find it very aggravating." Hurray, it's a twofer.

Hm. We don't know about this grape Kool-Aid method. Are there other ways to combat "bird strikes"? Why, yes. O'Hare also uses "steel traps baited with live pigeons to catch raptors on airport property and propane cannons used to scare away bird flocks." They're also trying out "paintball guns and a laser-beam gun, called the Avian Dissauder, that birds find annoying." Attention: it's not just the birds that find laser-pointers annoying.

Let's see, propane cannons? Check. Laser-pointers? Check. Paintball guns? Check. Grape Kool-Aid? Uuuh, PARTY AT O'HARE, avian pals! Watch out for all the buildings.