Sydney Opera House will be spending thousands of dollars to install a giant robot bird to protect restaurateurs and diners from hungry seagulls.
Seagulls create enormous nuisance at the Sydney Opera House's food precinct. The management have tried various techniques to shoo the unwanted guests away and now, a giant mechanical prey bird will be installed to ward off the seagulls. The robot bird will cost $6,500, but they hope it will be successful enough to scare away the seagulls.
An Opera House spokesperson suggests that the silver seagull is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, which means that laying baits to catch them is not possible.
"Our venue operators and the Opera House have trialled other additional measures on an ad-hoc basis, including kites that resembled owls and an audio deterrent," said the spokeswoman for the Sydney Opera House. "None, including the mock bird of prey, has proved very effective."
Seagulls are scavengers and in an effort to keep seagulls away, the Opera House management has also put up signs in several languages requesting guests not to feed or leave bins open. The best way to keep seagulls away is to keep them away from food source; however, being a dining destination it is not a feasible option.
The Opera House's mechanical bird bears a close resemblance to the mechanical falcons mounted by Scotland's Network Rail to scare pigeons and seagulls from Edinburgh's main train station. The falcons cost about $16,000.
The Sydney Fish Market has also put up laser lighting and artificial predatory birds for $1,500 to frighten seagulls.
Recently, 26-year old actress and singer Hilary Duff was attacked by a flock of seagulls while she was enjoying lunch at one of the restaurants outside the Sydney Opera House. The pictures taken of the incident show that Duff was nervous but she thought the bird attack was hilarious.
Dr. Richard Major, an ornithologist with the Australian Museum, suggests that seagulls are very opportunistic and they are not concerned if they are taking food from a garbage bin or from a table. He says that the best way to dissuade them is by waving hands.
The management of Opera House will hope that the new robot will scare away seagulls, but it will be a short fix as the birds may continue annoying diners once they get accustomed to the robot.