Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

October 1987


The farm use patterns of individually marked and transmitter-equipped starlings at a livestock farm in south-central Kentucky were studied each month during the principal damage period (December-February) of 1982-83 and 1984-85 following a pilot study in January and February of 1980. In addition to intensive observation at the farm, sightings of tagged starlings away from the farm were solicited from the public and mapped. For each year of data on individual starlings that used the farm at least once after marking, the expected frequencies of farm occurrence were calculated and compared to observed frequencies. In all 3 years, there was a significant (P<0.01) heterogeneity among birds in their frequency of farm use. The observed frequencies of daily farm use appeared bimodal suggesting starling subpopulations of frequent versus infrequent farm users. The preponderance of individuals occurred at the farm infrequently. Analysis of starling foraging patterns indicated that frequent farm visitors were also likely to use livestock feed sites more often than infrequent visitors. In 1984-85 the monthly starling turnover at the farm was calculated at 70.3% from December to January and 67.4% from January to February. Data on marked starling sightings away from the farm indicated that these individuals only moved a median distance of only 2.7 km from the farm suggesting a strong fidelity to their foraging area near the farm. The management implications of these data are discussed relative to integrated strategies of starling damage reduction at livestock farms in the southeastern United States.