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


Date of this Version

March 2006


Published in National Sunflower Association Research Forum Papers 2006.


Wildlife Conservation Sunflower Plots (WCSP) were planted and monitored during a two-year trial/research program to monitor the effect of decoy plots on blackbird use of nearby commercial sunflower and abundance of non-blackbird migratory species within the plots. In the two year evaluation period, in excess of 975 hours were spent by three researchers in the plots monitoring damage, vegetation, and avian use. We used bird numbers, vegetation characteristics, and landuse landscape variables to assess the optimal habitat conditions in and around each decoy plot for luring blackbirds and providing adequate stopover habitat for non-blackbird migrants. In 2004, wetland and shelterbelt acreages were significantly correlated to bird damage in WCSP (r2=0.81, p=0.001, p=0.001). Avian density in WCSP was greater in both years when compared with commercial sunflower and other grain crops. Damage was also higher in WCSP than commercial sunflower and control plots. WCSP can be effective at reducing blackbird damage to commercial sunflower in some instances.