Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Requirements for the Control of Roosting Blackbirds, Starlings, and Crows Using Pyrotechnics

Courtesy University Missouri Extension

As fall wanes and winter approaches the sounds of hundreds to thousands of blackbirds roosting in residential trees and along tree lined boulevards will increase.  In the old days, cities, counties, or other entities that were willing to pay for USDA Wildlife Services to control these roosts with avicides, could count on excellent control and dispersal of the birds.  USDA no longer offers this service as the chemical they used, DRC 1339, is no longer available and with recent budget cuts, they simply do not have the budget or personnel any longer to assist with these activities.  Adding to this dilemma, one other chemical, a scare agent called Avitrol, is no longer available and Starlicide Complete is labeled for agricultural use in this state.  What are municipalities and home owners going to do to disperse these birds?  The first and most obvious solution, and a starting point, is to trim up to 30% of the tree canopy branches that the birds are roosting in making sure to "open" the canopy up so the birds cannot congregate closely.  The next step, depending on the tree or trees, would be to use bird netting placed over the canopy and for very large trees this is difficult to do but it is possible if they birds have been using the trees for an extended period of time.  Finally, what we have recommended for years has been to use a combination of bird distress tape calls and pyrotechnics (bird bangers and screamers).  There is now a wrinkle in using this method to disperse the birds and that wrinkle is that the ATF, which has regulatory authority over the use of explosive devices, has determined that Explosive Pest Control Devices (EPCDs in their lingo or bird bangers) require the user to obtain a permit.  This permit costs $100 and you must reapply every 3 years.  In the application you will be required to fill out a 4 page  application form, be fingerprinted, include a 2 x 2 photograph, and include a check, money order, or credit card.  There are then very strict requirements for storage and record keeping.  Fortunately, not all pyrotechnics were included and one group, the bird screamer, which emits a siren like sound as it travels (but without the explosion at the end) does not require a permit to use.  The new protocol for dispersing these roosts is to go out at dusk as the birds begin congregating around the roost trees and play the bird distress tape CD (available for cost from the UK Department of Agricultural Communications) and shoot the screamers into the birds.  Continuing doing this until the birds settle in for the night and then shoot into the tree for a few minutes.  You will need to repeat this procedure for three to five evenings (as a minimum) until the birds leave that roosting area and settle into a new area. For those interested in learning more about nuisance wildlife control, a webinar will be held on November 29.  More information about this can be obtained at http://www.ca.uky.edu/forestryextension/fallwebinars.php

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