Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Proceedings of the 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. (J. B. Armstrong, G. R. Gallagher, Eds). 2013.


Pyrotechnics have long been used to frighten birds from specific areas but birds might ha-bituate to them. Anecdotal and limited published reports suggest that killing a flock member can reduce habituation. However, little behavioral work has been conducted in this area. We exposed brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) to noise from either 0.22 caliber blanks or 15-mm pyrotechnics in a series of controlled, cage experiments to determine if killing a flock member increased the time that cowbirds re-spond to pyrotechnics. Cowbirds responded no differently to pyrotechnics following the death of a flock member either before or after habituation to pyrotechnics. Our results might have been influenced by cage effects or perceived inconsequence of the death of a conspecific. Further work with other species is warranted, particularly with regard to sociality.