Explore bird control options to keep your profits from going to the birds.
Birds are a part of any landscape, but for many in agriculture, they present a problem. Birds can hurt a farm’s bottom line in many ways, such as consuming or damaging seeds and crops, spreading disease, and consuming storage meant for livestock. Statistics presented by a South Florida Beef-Forage article maintain, “It is estimated that in a week, 200 starlings can eat 175 pounds of grain and contaminate that much or more with droppings and throwing the feed out of the bunk. It is estimated that bird populations can cause an annual loss of $100 million to U.S. agriculture.” Read the article’s suggestions for bird control to minimize such losses.
Bird Control Options
Before choosing a control method, it’s important to know which birds you are dealing with. According to the article, most blackbirds and other migratory birds are protected by federal and state regulations. It requires a federal permit to “take, posses or transport migratory birds for depredation(act of consuming agricultural resources) control purposes.” However, the article also states “No federal permit is required and control measures, including lethal methods, may be taken when these species are “found committing or about to commit depredation,” or when they “constitute a health hazard or other nuisance.’” It further adds that birds like starlings, pigeons, and sparrows are not protected.
Control options from the article include:
- Live trapping – Use live birds as a decoy to catch 100 or more starlings a day, which then can be euthanized. Non-target species of birds should be freed.
- Exclusion and bird-proofing – Cover all openings such as eves and ridges with bird-proof netting and/or plastic strips.
- Cultural Methods/Habitat Modification– Limit access to water by making sure that water levels in waterers are low enough so birds cannot perch on the edge to drink.
- Shooting – Can be very effective population control for smaller number of birds. Notify authorities and neighbors if necessary.
- American Kestrels– These birds of prey eat rodents and small birds providing a natural biological control method.
- Toxicants/Avicides: Avitrol, Starlicide Complete, and DRC-1139 are products that are currently approved for use in some states. A pre-bait process should be used for all avicides. This process simply makes an attractive bait available to birds for several days in order to establish a feeding pattern. The untreated pre-bait should be placed in a carefully selected place, safe from consumption of other animals. Select a site that is protected from the wind and that is in full sun to get the best results. After acceptance of the pre-bait is accepted and no non-target birds are present, the toxicant is added. Depending on the toxicant used, treated birds will die within 24-36 hours. Dead birds can be disposed of in the trash, manure pit, buried, or incinerated if it complies with local regulations. Make sure that neighbors and appropriate local authorities are notified because many of the birds will die off-site. Make sure to check with FDACS for regulatory information.
Check with your local Extension offices if you have questions or need guidance.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.
Image courtesy of John Holmes.