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starling control methods_brochure_Final Draft (Read-Only)

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Banning Banning the the bird<br />

bird<br />

Controlling Controlling <strong>starling</strong>s <strong>starling</strong>s with<br />

with<br />

trapping trapping and and other other management<br />

management<br />

management<br />

strategies<br />

strategies


Pest Bird Control<br />

a challenge for every landholder<br />

One of the main pest bird species on Eyre Peninsula is the common <strong>starling</strong>,<br />

which threatens both agricultural productivity and native ecology. They defecate<br />

on sheep and potentially devalue the wool, foul up stock feed and water<br />

troughs and also eat beneficial insects and other soil organisms. They compete<br />

aggressively with native birds for food and shelter and spread diseases through<br />

parasites and faeces.<br />

Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Board has been researching<br />

some <strong>starling</strong> <strong>control</strong> techniques that are relatively cost-effective and easy to<br />

apply on the farm or in town. The study incorporated various aspects including<br />

habitat use surveys, trap trials, trough modifications and other deterrents, and<br />

physiological trials to try to find a weak link in the <strong>starling</strong>’s defenses that may<br />

be exploited to develop a <strong>control</strong> method specific to this species. This <strong>brochure</strong><br />

will help you plan how to <strong>control</strong> <strong>starling</strong>s on your property.<br />

Bird <strong>control</strong> by its nature is difficult. There are a number of features common to<br />

pest bird species that make applying <strong>control</strong> <strong>methods</strong> effectively very difficult.<br />

Birds are notoriously wary of new things within their environment, and will<br />

relocate to a new area if something new appears. Birds can also travel long<br />

distances very quickly,across water bodies and<br />

disappear into dense vegetation swiftly leaving<br />

little trace of their whereabouts.<br />

Many bird species which become pest species<br />

are generalist species - they have wide diets,<br />

broad habitat preferences and are tolerant of<br />

a range of environmental conditions. There is<br />

rarely one single <strong>control</strong> method that is<br />

effective in <strong>control</strong>ling feral birds - a<br />

combination of a number of <strong>methods</strong> spread<br />

out throughout the year and over consecutive<br />

years is usually preferable to a single,<br />

seasonal <strong>control</strong> effort using one method. And<br />

any <strong>control</strong> plan will be more effective if it is<br />

carried out by a group of neighbouring<br />

landholders, rather than individuals in<br />

isolation.


Common or European<br />

Starlings Sturnus vulgaris<br />

Common <strong>starling</strong>s were introduced into South Australia in Adelaide in the 1840s<br />

for pest <strong>control</strong> and also to help settlers from Europe feel more at home in their<br />

new surroundings. The species has since spread westward and reached the west<br />

coast of Eyre Peninsula around the 1950s. They have been the focus of a large<br />

<strong>control</strong> program in Western Australia since the 1960s, aimed at preventing the<br />

spread of the <strong>starling</strong>s into the biologically diverse and highly productive south<br />

western region of Western Australia. Current <strong>control</strong> <strong>methods</strong> for <strong>starling</strong>s include<br />

trapping, shooting, nest removal and prevention and habitat modification. There<br />

are also numerous <strong>methods</strong> that can be applied to limit the effect of <strong>starling</strong>s on<br />

both infrastructure and native flora and fauna.<br />

Methods of Starling Control<br />

There are only a few <strong>methods</strong> of lethal <strong>control</strong> authorised for use against <strong>starling</strong>s<br />

in South Australia:<br />

• Trapping<br />

• Shooting<br />

• Nest, egg and juvenile removal<br />

Poisons targeted specifically at <strong>starling</strong>s are not currently available in Australia<br />

because of the risk they will harm non-target species. Poisons should not be used<br />

in your <strong>starling</strong> <strong>control</strong> program unless under direct supervision by scientific<br />

authorities and necessary permits have been obtained.<br />

Reducing The Effects of Starlings<br />

These <strong>methods</strong> will not kill <strong>starling</strong>s or remove them from the breeding population,<br />

however they will help to reduce the effect of <strong>starling</strong>s on your farm or<br />

home, your stock or pets and native flora and fauna:<br />

• Stock trough modification to reduce water availability for <strong>starling</strong>s<br />

• Habitat modification such as revegetation or vegetation protection to<br />

make habitat less suitable for <strong>starling</strong>s<br />

• Blocking up of nest sites to prevent breeding<br />

• Removal of roost sites, if possible<br />

• Use of commercial audio-visual deterrents


1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

Trapping <strong>starling</strong>s:<br />

making the most of your traps<br />

Traps are available to landholders free of charge from your local EPNRM office (see<br />

contacts details on the last page of this <strong>brochure</strong>). There are a number of things<br />

you can do to help make the most of your trapping program:<br />

Trapping is best carried out during the season when birds are found in large flocks.<br />

On Eyre Peninsula, this is traditionally from early summer until early autumn but is<br />

dependent on the seasonal conditions.<br />

There are a few different trap designs available and each has its pros and cons.<br />

EPNRM officers can discuss which trap might suit your needs best.<br />

Ideally, traps should contain a lure. This helps to attract birds into the trap and<br />

increases the number of birds captured at any one time. The best option is live lure<br />

birds. Lure birds are of the same species to be captured, and are housed within a<br />

lure cage to protect them from predators. To ensure maximum effectiveness of lure<br />

birds, they must be kept happy with food, water and shelter, and their cages<br />

should be cleaned and replenished - at the very least - every two days. Other lures<br />

that have been found to be effective are food sources, like grain and fruit, and<br />

water.<br />

Traps should be placed where<br />

<strong>starling</strong>s are feeding or<br />

watering. Placing traps at roost<br />

sites is ineffective because<br />

roosts are sites of rest and<br />

information sharing; birds will<br />

not be interested in traps.<br />

Other food sources should be<br />

removed. If required, free feed<br />

for a few days beforehand by<br />

leaving a scattering of grain or<br />

fruit where you intend to place<br />

the trap or leave the trap open<br />

for <strong>starling</strong>s to come and go<br />

freely. This gets the birds used<br />

to the bait and going into the<br />

trap.


5 The locations of your traps should<br />

be evaluated after two weeks of<br />

trapping. If traps are no longer<br />

catching birds in their current<br />

location, move the traps to<br />

another location or remove them<br />

for a few weeks. Starlings become<br />

very suspicious if their mates<br />

continually go missing!<br />

6<br />

Inspect your traps often. If traps<br />

are on uneven ground, or if there<br />

are large gaps in the paneling,<br />

trapped birds may escape.<br />

7<br />

Euthanasia and disposal of pest<br />

species is a sensitive issue. For<br />

more information on how to<br />

dispose of <strong>starling</strong>s and other pest<br />

species humanely, please contact<br />

your local EPNRM office.<br />

A Modified Australian Crow Trap, commonly<br />

used to capture <strong>starling</strong>s<br />

SHOOTING STARLINGS…<br />

While shooting is generally not an<br />

effective method to kill a large number of<br />

<strong>starling</strong>s, it can be used to deter flocks<br />

from roosting in certain areas, such as<br />

around sheds and homes. This will<br />

probably require more than one episode<br />

of shooting, usually best done at dusk<br />

when the birds are coming in to roost.<br />

You can use either a shotgun with<br />

number seven shot (used for clay target<br />

shooting) or a .22 calibre rifle with<br />

birdshot.<br />

Although this may deter the birds from returning, it is possible other <strong>starling</strong> flocks will<br />

move in to take their place.


Managing <strong>starling</strong>s… On your farm.<br />

Removing resources is the best way to reduce the presence of <strong>starling</strong>s on your<br />

farm. If you have a feedlot, try to make food and water troughs “<strong>starling</strong>-proof”.<br />

There are many techniques available to land managers to accomplish this<br />

including:<br />

• PVC pipe over trough edges, creating rounded edges that <strong>starling</strong>s find difficult<br />

to grip when drinking<br />

• Lowering the water level of troughs so birds cannot reach the water. Troughs<br />

not in use should also be emptied<br />

• Make sure your taps, hoses, troughs and tanks are all in good working order<br />

and free of leaks. Puddles of water are perfect <strong>starling</strong> swimming pools!<br />

• Lengths of dripper hose/pipe on fencing wire, creating rolling perches which<br />

prevent birds perching on fences<br />

• Anti-perch devices for eaves, guttering and other surfaces which prevent birds<br />

from landing and perching<br />

• Model birds of prey, which<br />

when placed in different<br />

locations around a feedlot<br />

or yard, make the site<br />

unpleasant to visit.<br />

• If you have particular crops<br />

you want to protect from<br />

<strong>starling</strong>s, you might like to<br />

try using a commercial birdscaring<br />

gas gun. These are<br />

used to deter <strong>starling</strong>s from<br />

vineyards and other<br />

horticultural crops.<br />

A modified trough with poly-pipe to prevent birds<br />

perching<br />

Remember!<br />

Successful <strong>starling</strong> <strong>control</strong> programs combine a number of different <strong>control</strong><br />

<strong>methods</strong> and operate throughout the year. For example, combining trapping in<br />

the summer flocking season with nest site <strong>control</strong> during the breeding season<br />

will be more successful than a single <strong>control</strong> method applied once a year.


Other techniques for managing <strong>starling</strong>s<br />

Habitat management<br />

In a similar way to removing food and water sources, removing breeding habitat<br />

or nests can be a very effective technique for managing <strong>starling</strong> numbers on your<br />

property and within a district. Starlings return to the same area each year to<br />

breed, and their young will also use the same habitat as their parents. If there are<br />

<strong>starling</strong>s breeding on your property it is recommended that:<br />

• Nests around sheds, houses and machinery be removed as soon as they are<br />

detected. If possible, the adults should be eliminated and any eggs or young<br />

also removed.<br />

• Use mesh, wire, tennis balls or other materials to block holes that might be<br />

used as nest sites. You should not block holes or hollows in vegetation as these<br />

may be used as nest sites for<br />

native species.<br />

• Revegetate! Starlings will nest<br />

primarily in small patches of<br />

vegetation which are degraded<br />

and have little understorey.<br />

Fence patches of vegetation off<br />

and rehabilitate remnant<br />

vegetation to improve its<br />

quality. If possible, make the<br />

patches bigger or more<br />

connected to other patches.<br />

Starlings are fringe dwellers,<br />

because they can find food and<br />

shelter easily on the fringes of<br />

areas of vegetation.<br />

• Plant native species of trees<br />

around your property. Large<br />

trees like Aleppo pine, Norfolk<br />

pine or large Eucalypt species<br />

provide roosts for <strong>starling</strong>s<br />

during summer.<br />

Starlings will nest in hollows in native<br />

vegetation with a poor understory.


Natural Resources Management Officers undertaking trough<br />

modifications on a property west of Ceduna<br />

For more information on<br />

<strong>starling</strong>s and <strong>starling</strong><br />

<strong>control</strong>, please contact<br />

your local NRM board<br />

office...<br />

Port Lincoln<br />

(08) 8626 7555<br />

Elliston<br />

(08) 8687 9275<br />

Streaky Bay<br />

(08) 8626 1108<br />

Ceduna<br />

(08) 8625 3060<br />

Cleve<br />

(08) 8628 2077<br />

Whyalla<br />

(08) 8640 3481

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