Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Agricultural Impact of a Winter Population of Blackbirds and Starlings

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1978
Authors:Dolbeer, RA, Woronecki, PP, Stickley, Jr., AR, White, SB
Journal:The Wilson Bulletin
Date Published:1978
ISBN Number:00435643
Keywords:Agelaius, Agelaius phoeniceus, Euphagus carolinus, Icteridae, Molothrus, Molothrus ater, Quiscalus quiscula, Sturnidae, Sturnus, Sturnus vulgaris, Turdidae, Turdus, Turdus iliacus, Turdus maximus, Turdus merula
Abstract:Habitat preferences and use, food habits, and impact on agriculture were studied for 11 million blackbirds and Starlings roosting in Gibson County, Tennessee, in the winter of 1975-76. The roost was composed of Common Grackles (64%), Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds (27%), Starlings (9%), and Rusty Blackbirds (<1%). The various species had strikingly different niches in their daily existence and impact on agriculture. Waste corn was of primary importance to grackles and Red-wings, which spent most of their time feeding in corn and soybean stubble and woodlots. Red-wings fed commonly on cocklebur seeds in soybean stubble. Cowbirds and Starlings commonly used pastures and feedlots. Starlings did almost all the bird damage to sprouting wheat. Starlings, a minor species in the roost, had the greatest negative impact on agriculture. Simplistic management schemes are likely to fail in solving bird-man conflicts caused by multi-species roosting populations--they may even exacerbate them. Long-term relief most likely will require an integrated management program with a sound ecological basis.
Short Title:The Wilson Bulletin
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