Sonoma student learns falconry

A peek inside a very cool senior project at SVHS.|

Sonoma Valley High School senior Sarah Kiser worked for Rebecca Rosen’s company, Authentic Abatement, for the fall falconry season as part of her senior project.

“Birds eat grape crops, erode buildings with their feces and eat food in warehouses,” explained Kiser. “Although there are many types of bird abatement techniques, falconry is the most effective by harvesting the power of the predator prey relationship and harnessing it to farmers’ advantages.”

Rosen’s Authentic Abatement offers a range of bird-control services to get rid of nuisance and damaging species of birds, covering locations ranging from vineyards to fruit and nut farms to dairies, feedlots and oil refineries. Falconry is one of the more effective ways of scaring birds away from grapes prior to harvest. Some vineyards use netting or propane-based bird cannons, but falcons agressively cover wide swaths of vineyards and circle incessantly.

Rosen said that she was very pleased with Kiser’s work as her apprentice.

“Sarah was an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Rosen. “She’s hardworking, dedicated and a very fast learner. She set the bar pretty high for future apprentices and helpers.”

Kiser’s senior project research paper was about how falconry was a better alternative to air cannons, twylar, and other types of abatement. The report is entited, “Ancient Practices Influencing the Future of Abatement: Falconry Circles Around to Help Not Hunters But Farmers.” Rosen’s company uses captive-raised falcons. She began as an apprentice for other falconry companies in the Napa area before starting out on her own in 2011. Her vineyard clientele has been growing ever since.

“I had such an amazing experience,” said Kiser. “I will be working with her again in July and can’t wait.”

Kiser will be attending Montana State University in the fall, majoring in agriculture business.

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