There is a growing level of bird damage to planted corn, sunflower, canola and rice seed. National statistics on the damage is not tracked by NASS or other government agency because birds have not been classified as an agricultural pest. Certain species are used instead as monitors for pesticide safety by regulatory bodies. As a result of the extensive testing done on birds, several well known pesticides used to control insects have been removed from use because of avian toxicity. (Measurol, Furadan, Lindane).

Several states have monitored significant changes in bird damage. Wisconsin observed a direct correlation between increased corn field damage due to cranes with the loss of lindane from use as an insecticide treatment. Crane populations also continue to grow as a result of aggressive restoration of breeding flocks and habitat. Cranes are now back in newly planted corn fields in Wisconsin that are within 1 ½ kilometers of a wetland where reports of 20% or more of the crop is destroyed. Of the 3.5 million acres of corn planted in Wisconsin, 2.7 million acres are within the potential feeding range of cranes.

Juvenile and sub adult cranes in a marauding flock feed heavily in early morning and early evening

South Dakota is dealing with a pheasant population that continues to grow with successful habitat restoration. The cropland reserve program has set aside significant land areas adjacent to corn fields. Cover and nesting sites have been provided in the process and with the loss of lindane and measurol, there is no longer an effective way to keep planted corn seed off the pheasant’s menu. Early spring does not offer birds much dietary diversity and the liquid starch found in corn seed is essential to birds reproductive health. In 2008, around 20% of the corn fields in South Dakota had noticeable bird damage that could vary from 5% stand loss to over 50%. Replanting in the Dakotas is a risky venture due to the short season. The economic impact of reduced stand is compounded by the necessity of additional weed control as well as yield loss.

Mississippi has increased corn acreage substantially in the last two year at the expense of cotton. With over 750,000 acres in corn now, migrating blackbirds, grackles, crows and cowbirds have found corn seed to be a very attractive source of starch for the energy needed during the migration north. The narrow planting window in the delta region is perfectly timed for the spring migration and losses to birds have now been estimated by the state to be high. Twenty five percent of the planted corn is experiencing from 10-15% stand loss and 5 % of the corn is experiencing greater than 25% stand loss. Tillage practices plus narrow planting timing work against any replanting in Mississippi so crop yield is directly affected. As in South Dakota, increased weed control adds to the input cost of field experiencing bird depredation.

Crop Loss summaries for representative states 2008-2009
State Bird Species % affected acres Stand Loss % Replant Cost per acre
Mississippi Blackbird
Grackle
Cowbird
Starling
Crow
25%
5%
10-15%
>25%
$100-$120
South Dakota Pheasant 15-20% 8-10% $50
Wisconsin Crane 74% 5-20% $50

Bird Damage in the Field

More attention will be paid to bird damage to fields planted with corn, rice, sunflower, canola, sorghum and other cereal grains in 2010. Identification of damage caused by birds as compared to rodent damage can be difficult to differentiate. The following photos can be used as representative samples of damage caused by different species.

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Testimonials

“I have been using Avipel for the first time this year and last year we had sand hill cranes that completely destroyed over half of our field, and this year they haven’t touched it. So it’s been working awesome so far.”

Avipel® Seed Treatment

  • Protects corn seed from birds taking plants from the row
  • Low cost per acre
  • Insures your seed investment from bird loss

How It Works

Anthraquinone (AQ) is the active ingredient in Avipel. Studies have demonstrated that 9, 10 anthraquinone (AQ) is an effective and non-toxic bird repellant. AQ and its derivatives are found in plants and is thought to affect birds as a gut irritant.

Although Avipel is technically a pesticide in that it repels a pest (birds), it is important to remember that it has no toxic properties.

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