New review highlights complexities of labeling birds as good or bad on farms

black and blue bird with a moth in its mouth

Much research has shown the benefits of birds on farms when they eat insect (or even animal) pests to crops, but other research also shows that birds can be pests when they eat the crops themselves. Few studies consider the pros and cons together, but a new review published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management takes on the challenge and shows that despite the complexities, birds can be an important contributor to pest management strategies. The review explores the changing history of birds on farms from largely hunted to revered for their natural control of crop pests, back to exclusion due to fear of birds as pests and food safety risks. The authors highlight ways to enhance on-farm bird presence, and acknowledge the disservices birds can provide, offering strategies to reduce bird damage. The authors have also contributed a blog to the journal that dives deeper into the complexities of mockingbirds on California strawberry farms, where mockingbirds are found to eat strawberries and also insect pests that damage strawberries. In this case. the mockingbird represents the reality for farmers with many birds that can be both friend and foe, complicating pest management strategies. Ultimately though, this research is optimistic about finding ways to enhance the net positive benefits of birds on farms.


Photo Credit: Shannon Litt; 

Banner Photo Credit: Mohan Murugesan;