U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Proceedings of the 14th WDM Conference (2012).


North Dakota is the top sunflower-producing state in the United States, annually harvesting about 404,686 ha (1 million acres). Since the early 2000s, corn also has become a major crop within the state due to increases in corn prices. Blackbirds (Icteridae) can cause significant damage to both ripening corn and sunflower. The National Sunflower Association considers blackbird depredation to be a key factor in the reduction in sunflower acreage in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). In order to better quantify the amount of damage caused by blackbirds, we assessed blackbird damage to ripening sunflower and corn in 120 randomly selected plots during 3 growing seasons, 2008–2010. On average, damage to sunflower was more intense than damage to corn, with sunflower in the southeastern region experiencing the greatest levels of damage. Further analysis will determine possible landscape characteristics associated with this damage.