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


Date of this Version

January 2007


Published in Proceedings of the 12th Wildlife Damage Management Conference (D.L. Nolte, W.M. Arjo, D.H. Stalman, Eds). 2007.


The northern Great Plains are home to a variety of birds throughout the year, particularly during migration. Migratory species use native and restored grasslands, shelterbelts, and agricultural fields for food and shelter in North Dakota. Blackbirds (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) have been documented to cause economically important damage to some crops and thus, are sometimes the target of concerted harassment efforts. Few studies have assembled an inventory of nonblackbirds using small grain fields during the fall and spring in North Dakota that may be inadvertently affected by blackbird management. At least 94 nonblackbird species use crop fields in the spring and fall in North Dakota. Sunflower fields appear to be a particularly important stopover habitat for a variety of migratory birds, with 78 species and 29 species using sunflower in the fall and spring, respectively. We encourage a joint blackbird management / wildlife habitat system including Wildlife Conservation Sunflower Plots (lure plots) as part of an integrated pest management plan to reduce blackbird damage to sunflower and provide habitat for nonblackbirds.