Hot off the press is a new resource for farmers put together by the Wild Farm Alliance (along with myself and Dr. Sara Kross): Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds.
Growers are quite aware of the role that a few pest bird species play on their farms, but are often unaware of the beneficial services provided by many birds species, including insect and rodent control. In this guide we summarize results from dozens of ecological studies that have demonstrated significant crop pest reductions by insectivorous and carnivorous birds; in some cases these predatory effects have also been associated with reduced crop damage or improved yield. But ecologists and farmers agree that the story is more complicated than that. In some cases, depending on crop, landscape context, or bird species, the role birds play in reducing pest numbers can be insignificant from the grower perspective, or pest species may have a more damaging effect than do insectivores in having a positive effect. Ecologists are currently quite interested in deciphering this complexity, curious about the conditions under which the predatory effects of birds are most helpful to growers. We are also moving in the direction of trying to determine net outcomes of bird presence on farms. We ask questions about whether the beneficial services outweigh the disservice costs, and under what conditions managers and farmers can tip the balance in the direction of benefits to growers and consumers while also protecting biodiversity.
The aim of this guide is to distill the current available research into a useful and user-friendly guide for farmers and conservationists alike, with the hope of us all working together to find creative sustainable solutions for conserving biodiversity while also providing humans with the food and fiber we need.
The full document can be downloaded here.
Baumgartner, J. A., S. Kross, S. Heath, S. Connor. 2019. Supporting beneficial birds and managing pest birds. Wild Farm Alliance.
The Urban Scientist
Tenure, She Wrote
Small Pond Science
Natural History Institute
Cool Green Science
Open Access Ecology Journals