Vertebrate Pest Conference Proceedings collection


Date of this Version

March 1964


In 1959 Dr. Walter E. Howard, in an article printed in the Bulletin of the California Department of Agriculture, stated: "Even though the starling may be unwanted in California, it is now here and there is little chance of extirpating it". This statement is as true today as it was five years ago. At present we have in California a resident population that is increasing each year and will most probably continue to increase. Nesting starlings have been found from Imperial and San Diego Counties in the south to Modoc County in the north. To-date damage has been confined primarily to grapes and figs in the summer months and to cattle feedlots, hog farms and other concentrated feed sources during the winter months. Most of the winter communal roosts in California have been in cattail and tule areas, well away from urban situations. Because of this we have experienced very little nuisance problem, such as plagues the cities of the eastern portion of the United States. It can be expected that the damage to agriculture in California will increase as both our resident and migrant populations grow and expand. To combat this potential population increase a cooperative program has been initiated by the California Department of Agriculture, the University of California, and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife of the United States Department of the Interior. The agricultural commissioner's offices of the counties of the state are contributing manpower to this program. It is the function of the Department of Agriculture in this program to conduct field testing of control methods, to supervise the statewide banding program and to supply starlings to the University for research. The starling program in California logically separates itself into two distinct parts. The first is the resident breeding population and the birds fledged during the spring and summer months; damage at this time is primarily to grapes and soft fruits. The second is the migrant population that begins to arrive in November and remains until March; damage at this time is pri¬marily caused by millions of starlings congregated at feedlots and other concentrated sources of feed.