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Assistance With Battling the Birds

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
filed under: Birds

John Paulson, North Dakota state director for USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services, sets up a cannon plate in a sunflower field.
       USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services is again offering North Dakota producers assistance with blackbird issues in theirsunflower fields.  Wildlife Services specialists based in six regions around the state, plus support personnel, are available to help growers battle the birds. Those regions, and the specialists’ names and phone numbers, are shown in the state map below.
       APHIS/Wildlife Services advises growers using propane cannons to place them off the ground by securing them on top of chemical totes, metal or plastic drums or on a cannon plate on T-posts.  Cannons off the ground are less susceptible to mice infestation and will remain functional longer.  Also, on-ground cannons can be a fire hazard near dry vegetation; likewise, ground moisture could also damage the cannons.
       More information on how to procure a cannon plate — the prototype of which was built by a Wildlife Services employee in Bismarck — can be obtained by calling the WS?Bismarck office at (701) 355-3300.  The WS office can also suggest sources for additional plates should the grower prefer not to build more on his own.  Wildlife Services can also provide names and contact information for various companies that sell propane cannons, pyrotechnics and other bird control equipment.
       Adding timers to cannons can help prevent “learned behavior” by the blackbirds and also saves on propane, Wildlife Services adds.
       Other bird battle suggestions from Wildlife Services include:
  • Start harassment early; don’t wait for the buildup of large flocks.
  • An integrated approach of harassment utilizing propane cannons, pyrotechnics and shotguns in the most effective.
  • Move cannons to different locations frequently to avoid habituation.
  • If you planted close to cattails, consider spraying cattails with glyphosate (Rodeo®) in accordance with the label; or mow cattails, if possible.
  • Placement of roads or trails in larger fields (quarter or more) allows access to middle of fields for placement of propane cannons and pyrotechnic harassment.
  • Consider spraying a desiccant to defoliate at maturity and accelerate harvest before bird migration.       
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