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


Date of this Version

May 2005


Published in Crop Protection 24 (2005), pp. 651–657. Published by Elsevier Ltd. www.elsevier.com/locate/cropro


The economic impact of blackbirds can be severe to rice producers in the United States. One approach to managing this damage is the application of bird-deterrent chemical to the crop. Previous pilot trials suggested that caffeine offered potential as a safe, economical bird repellent. In this study, cage feeding trials with female red-winged blackbirds and male brown-headed cowbirds confirmed that a treatment rate of 2500 ppm caffeine on rice seed reduced consumption as much as 76%. Trials with mixed species blackbird flocks in a 0.2-ha flight pen resulted in just 4% loss of caffeine-treated rice compared to 43% loss of untreated rice. Field trials of a 10,000 ppm caffeine treatment in Louisiana revealed 490% of caffeine-treated rice seed remained unconsumed on days 2 and 3 of the study whereas blackbirds consumed 480% of the untreated seed. As a rice seed treatment to deter blackbirds, caffeine appears to be effective, economical and environmentally safe, although additional aquatic toxicity testing is desirable. Improvements in formulation will be needed to make the compound practical for general agricultural spray applications and to extend the adherence of caffeine to rice seeds in field conditions.