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


Date of this Version



Published in 31st National Sunflower Association Sunflower Research Forum January 13-14, 2009.


For decades, blackbird depredation of sunflower has been a problem. Sunflower growers consistently place blackbirds in the top tier of problems associated with growing sunflower in the northern Great Plains. Many non-lethal tactics have been employed in an attempt to protect ripening sunflower from foraging flocks of blackbirds. Thinning cattail-choked wetlands to reduce roosting habitat, using pyrotechniques to frighten feeding birds, planting Wildlife Conservation Sunflower Plots to lure bids away from commercial plots, applying taste repellents, and adapting cultural methods such as block planting to synchronize ripening are just a few such tactics. Even so, the numbers of blackbirds migrating through the northern Great Plains can overwhelm non-lethal techniques. That is, in some circumstances there are too many blackbirds for non-lethal techniques to be effective.