Date of this Version
Human–Wildlife Interactions 14(3):398–408, Winter 2020 • digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi
Since their intentional introduction into the United States in the 1800s, European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) have become the fourth most common bird species and a nuisance bird pest in both urban and rural areas. Managers require better information about starling movement and habit-use patterns to effectively manage starling populations and the damage they cause. Thus, we revisited 6 radio-telemetry studies conducted during fall or winter between 2005 and 2010 to compare starling movements (n = 63 birds) and habitat use in 3 landscapes. Switching of roosting and foraging sites in habitat-sparse rural landscapes caused daytime (0900–1500 hours) radio fixes to be on average 2.6 to 6.3 times further from capture sites than either urban or exurban landscapes (P < 0.001). Roosts in urban city centers were smaller (<30,000 birds, minor roosts) than major roosts (>100,000 birds) 6–13 km away in industrial zones. Radio-tagged birds from city-center roosts occasionally switched to the outlying major roosts. A multitrack railroad overpass and a treed buffer zone were used as major roosts in urban landscapes. Birds traveling to roosts from primary foraging sites in exurban and rural landscapes would often pass over closer-lying minor roosts to reach major roosts in stands of emergent vegetation in large wetlands. Daytime minimum convex polygons ranged from 101–229 km2 (x̄ = 154 km2). Anthropogenic food resources (e.g., concentrated animal feeding operations, shipping yards, landfills, and abattoirs) were primary foraging sites. Wildlife resource managers can use this information to predict potential roosting and foraging sites and average areas to monitor when implementing programs in different landscapes. In addition to tracking roosting flights, we recommend viewing high-resolution aerial images to identify potential roosting and foraging habitats before implementing lethal culls (e.g., toxicant baiting).
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