Costco turns to Hollywood for help battling birds



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Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 18 at 10:02 AM

Video: New way to keep birds away

ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Customers at some local Costco stores may notice a faint, sweet odor in the air.

For birds, that smell is an assault on the senses. It's produced by a new machine that Costco is using to keep birds from pestering diners.

At the Issaquah Coscto, birds bounce along under tables and carts, artfully dodging feet and wheels while they search for crumbs.

Nothing Costco tried to keep the birds away seemed to work, until they got some help from a special effects part of Hollywood. Now a local company that has provided haze-, fog- and snow-making machines for some of Broadway and Hollywood's biggest productions, is making a haze machine for birds.

The machine shoots out a fine mist every eight minutes or so that makes birds uncomfortable, but doesn't bother Costco shoppers.

"Haze is a special effect that works with lighting in theatre and that type of thing," said John Ricker, of CITC Special Effects.

"It's perfectly safe and not harmful to people," company spokesperson Stephany Crawford said. "Not harmful to birds. Just makes them want to move out of the area."

Now Costco is getting a safe bird repellent that keeps bird-friendly customers flocking in, and a little special effects shop in Everett gets to fly off in a whole new direction.

"We're doing birds quite a bit all year round, where special effects seems to have certain seasons that are really popular," said Bob Schoonover.