Coyotes, raccoons, someone else’s cats, oh my! Although I’m reasonably sure our current housing situation will cover us in most Predator Events, I nonetheless wanted to do all I could to prevent and/or deter. No, I didn’t relocate our bedroom to the backyard (although I did give passing thought to sleeping outside in a tent.) Instead, I decided to install a few Solar Nite Eyes to the outside of the pen, a techier method than mere old-school “hardening the perimeter” strategies. Having seen ads for this nifty device, I, of course, decided it would be perfect for our suburban homestead.*
About the size of a small flip phone, the Nite Eye is a black box with two little red lights on it. The idea is that if a predator sees the red lights, they will think these ominous orbs belong to a competitor animal and take off. No mess, no fuss, no poultry loss. The units attach with magnets directly to the pen or you can mount to a post nearby; the top includes a tiny solar panel so no batteries necessary. As I said, nifty. Are they effective? Well, I haven’t had any issues yet but at this point I’m adding tchotchkes as much for their talismanic value as much as anything else so who knows?**
The PDF instructions (which I didn’t download until after I installed them, naturally!) feature a photo of a fox licking its lips (yikes!) and details on how high to mount units against which sort of predator–12” off the ground for raccoon, 20 feet apart; for coyote, 24”, 30’ respectively. If you’ve been doing the blog math, you will quickly realize that my pen is not even 20’, let alone 30’ so keeping them on the same side of the pen won’t meet manufacturer standards (I need to separate and mount on separate posts.) But where it got head-scratching for me is they give instructions for deterring raccoon (12”) and coyote (24”) but no mention of those with multi-heighted needs.*** We have (at least) two kinds of duck-eaters in the vicinity so I thought I was left with the following choices: buy more units and mount some at each height, split the difference at 18” (hmm, not good—probably miss both!) or just call the company and ask them what to do.****
Of course, what I didn’t realize when I bought them is that Nite Eyes do not operate like human-deterring lights. For some reason, I thought they would only activate whenever a possible furry fiend crossed its path—just like our driveway sensor lights do. Nope, that’s not the deal. What Solar Nite Eyes do is start blinking as soon as it begins to get dark. In other words, they are dusk-activated (not to be confused with Duck Activated, something entirely different, I’m sure.) This means they start blinking as soon as night falls and they keep blinking all night long. As I had bought three (and considered at least four or more), it occurred to me that maybe I got it wrong. Note to Self: Thoroughly Read Instructions Next Time Before Installation. Thinking they would only blink as needed, in my ignorance I had placed two on opposite ends of the pen on the same side facing our house and one on the side slanting toward the back of the yard. And as I gazed out on that second night of duck sleep-outside-ness, I realized that the fast blink of six red “eyes” was pretty flashy. I mean, I’m not a raccoon but my version didn’t look anything like the orbital equivalent of a gang of rival raccoons. What it did look a bit like were runway lights for a terminal at Duck Airways. If you squinted, that is.
Deciding that eight units might be a bit much after all– don’t want to annoy the neighbors instead of the creatures of the night!– I resolved to call the company and run my situation by them. As I looked out in the now total darkness, the runway effect was even more striking than at dusk. Sure glad we don’t live too close to Westchester Airport…
Wait, too late. Air Canada Geese, coming in for a landing!
* The website where I bought them says: “Protects against owls, coyotes, opossum, raccoons, fox, bobcats, muskrats, bear, cougar, wild boar, mink, weasels and many more nocturnal predators.” Jeez Louise, how many more nocturnal predators are there?!!!
**That sound you just heard is me knocking on my wooden head.
***And what about that hill? Twelve inches is not the same if you’re downhill, right? OK, I am now officially over-thinking this.
****Called the company directly and a kind employee advised that I needed at least four and covering all angles is key. I’m getting more—as we both agreed—better safe than sorry. (Or short a duck or five.)
Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes