Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lessons Learned So Far

I can not tell you how much I appreciate my blueberry grower neighbor! He has been very considerate and thoughtful in how he has managed bird predation in his field. I know other neighbors nearby are thankful too.

Thank YOU my friend!

So what have we learned so far?

1. Starling flocks have not presented themselves in this field. Some have flown over or around...but only a handful have actually been in the field.
2. Birds that are in the field engaged in predation are Robins, Purple Finches, Cedar Waxwings and some American Gold Finches. Observable numbers range from 10-30 at any given time.
3. Most bird pressure, by the above, occurs between 6:30-8:30 am, and 5:00-7:30 pm. There is some on-going pressure mid-day, but substantially less.
4. These birds and this level of predation pressure has been characterized by other growers as insignificant, and nothing to worry about.
5. No cannons have been used. Screamers have been used in very restrained amounts. JacKites have been deployed for all but a few of the last 24-days. Helikites were deployed for only a few days and removed, stored in wait of changing conditions. Bird distress "squawkers" have been operating during daylight hours for the past 24-days.
6. The presence of natural raptors (hawks, eagles) remains nearby, active and numerous. The combination of artificial and natural raptor objects and sounds has been very complementary.
7. The grower has been very diligent with personally monitoring his field at the two high activity times.
8. The grower used reasonable measures in response to attempt to deal with the song bird presence, i.e., a few screamers, and one shotgun discharge.

With deploying an ever-changing number and configuration of natural-looking raptors, varying their location and concentration; with regular in-field monitoring and measured response to bird pressure; and with an acceptance (albeit reluctant) that some berry loss to song birds is inevitable - the past 30-days have been an unqualified success. In my judgment, the only way to improve in warding off the song birds, would be the use of Migrate or sugar; or using netting.

Now, this could all change in a heart-beat...and hoards of Starlings could appear in very damaging numbers. This is a very distinct possibility. We shall see.

Yet, for now, this has been good for both the grower and his neighbors. I trust all are satisfied. I know I am.


REMEMBER: The villain is the Starling. It is not the grower.

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