Date of this Version
In Arkansas, blackbirds are responsible for appreciable damage to rice, grain sorghum, oats, wheat, rye, and corn. By far, the greatest damage is to rice. As is shown in the following table, the losses to rice producers amounted to an estimated $3,049,055 in 1968, the last year that a survey was made. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of this loss was to standing rice destroyed and to the cost of bird control measure in standing rice. The remaining losses ($2,140,320 ) are to seeding or to efforts to control bird depredations to new seeding, (see Table 1).
Blackbird damage to grain sorghum and corn was mostly to standing grain; that to oats, wheat and rye, to seeding, although there is occasional damage to standing grain. Additional problems are caused by blackbirds in feed lots. The total losses to Arkansas agricultural producers due to blackbirds in 1968 was about $3,500,000.
Bird damage in a specific locality and on specific crops seems to vary in intensity from year to year. However, surveys during the past ten years suggest a fairly consistent level of total damage state-wide. The damage in 1968-and I believe in 1969—was somewhat lighter than we have come to expect from past exper¬ience. (See table 2.)
On a per acre basis the damage in 1968 showed a considerable decline when compared to previous years. A part of this decline is probably a temporary situation. Some of the decline in losses to rice and grain sorghum, however, are due to changes in varieties, such as development of bird-resistant milo, and to changes in cultural methods. Further appreciable reductions due to changes in these factors seem unlikely, (see table 3.)
Since rice producers sustain the greatest losses to birds, they have generated the greatest demand for bird control programs. Three species are responsible for most of the damage to rice. They are the red-winged blackbird, common grackle and brown-headed cowbird. These birds have created problems for rice producers since the first successful rice crop was grown near Lonoke, Arkansas, in 1904.