Bird chaser - DIY Drone? Protect an orchard from birds

I have an orchard and need a drone that chases birds.
Many pit fiuit (peaches, prunes, apricot, cherries) are susceptible to bird damage during a few weeks of the year.
Netting trees is expensive and labor intensive.
My son has been building RC model planes and model blimps.
How can a small drone mark a territory and protect it?
Ideally the drone would look into the sky from the ground.
See a bird against the sky and chase it out of the protected zone.

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Staying on patrol would be easy.

Chasing it away well thats another thing!!

Of course as this is protecting crop you would be receiving commercial gain so depending on where you are might be illegal.

Get him to build one of these http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=950519 and see if the birds are frightened before going automatic!!
Why not make a hawk shaped/colored/looking UAV that glides in big circles over your orchard? That would scare them away.
As you're from the US you'll be safer just camping there with a shotgun and a load of birdshot. Shooting all around is okay, but leaving a drone in the air unattended gives the FAA nightmares.

On a more serious note, the chasing part will be difficult to implement. Chasing a dark point against bright sky is relatively easy, but what if the bird gets below the UAV's flight level?

Also you'd have to automate some kind of refueling/recharging system (assuming you don't want to man the system 24/7).

Birds of prey are good pattern flyers (birdwatching is one of my hobbies), and I think that just seeing a large bird circling above the orchard would scare a some of the pests away. But you're still stuck with the logistics of refueling.

Your son has been building blimps - wouldn't it be possible to maybe have a 5 ft bird-shaped blimp made from PVC, painted to look like a hawk, inflated with helium and tethered above the orchard? Or more of them. That would be cheap, safe (no need to go picking pieces after a wind gust) and (at least on paper) effective. Adding a lightweight music player with hawk calls, a timer and a speaker would make it even better :]
This guy: http://www.youtube.com/bluefalconholland

Builds remote controlled falcons, used at for instance airports to scare away birds. I don't know if he's at all developing towards unmanned applications, but you could try contacting him. I've spoken to him last year and he's trying to build a business around his invention, so I'd guess protecting orchards could mean a potential market to him.
Wow, that looks amazing.

Are there any UAV ornithopters out there? I imagine the IMUs would need some kickass filtering to produce any usable output.
CoenW,
Very interesting video , almost made me believe it was real falcon had i not seen real falcon ( one falcon under training attacked my Extra 330 and brought it to crash land last week end). Seems there is lot of potential for this RC falcon or should we call it Ralcon :) thanks for sharing. this takes care of Hentry's requirement to start with UAV or no UAV.

@Martin: I have seen this electronic hawk call based bird repellent and they don't work the way it is advertised , Initially it worked just scaring few birds to crouch on the perch but unless they see a falcon like thing flying soon they loos the fear( seeing is believing works in bird world too :-0) . Soon enough pigeons didn't care and they started nesting very close to the speaker mounted for this hawk calls :))) , however adding such sound effect to this artificial flying falcon makes it as real as it gets :))
That falcon rc ornithopter was unbelievable!

@martin I think you pose a great question about the automated refueling/recharging. In addition to that, the uav would have to be able to land and takeoff without any pilot interaction. This means if you want to use an easystar, it would have to be heavily modified to use wheels. And regarding the automated charging... do we automate the plane to hook up to a charging station, or a charging station to hook up to a plane?
You've got another cool one from the Netherlands here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEw1lwdcL6E&feature=player_embedded

It's called Delfly and has been developed by students Delft University of Technology. You can find more cool videos and info on www.delfly.nl

it features an onboard camera and beyond line-of-sight operation, not too sure about full autonomy though.
With this rig you'd have to be afraid of a real predator showing up and towing it away to feed its young :]
I'd make some kind of a landing strip with a mobile platform that could slide to the spot where the plane sits (using an IR tripwire sensor to find it) with a charging [+] terminal on a hinged arm that would be lowered onto the plane. The runway itself would be the [-] terminal. The battery would charge through a contact pad on the top of it (canopy?) and through the undercarriage.

Just thinking loud here :D

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