Resident and migrant blackbirds in southeastern Virginia: Agricultural depredations and winter roost locations
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In an effort to determine type, extent, and distribution of agricultural damage by blackbirds, county-wide damage appraisals were conducted in the fall of 1960. Crops checked included corn, peanuts, and milo. Based on the 96 fields examined throughout Nansemond County, the average monetary loss to the corn crop was slightly less than $.05 per acre. This loss can be reduced by planting a variety with a high degree of ear drooping and planting as early as possible. The peanuts appeared to be the crop most heavily damaged. An estimated 50 per cent of the crop was picked before blackbirds arrived. Of the part of the crop left exposed after the arrival of the blackbirds, only a small portion sustained damages amounting to above $5 per acre. By harvesting peanuts at an early date, losses to blackbirds can virtually be eliminated. The 1960 milo crop was not damaged by birds nearly so severely as previous crops were reported to have been. Anthracnose, a fungal disease, accounted for about 86 per cent of the damage previously called "bird damage." An estimated 15 per cent of this crop was destroyed by anthracnose, insects, and birds. In the case of all three crops, it was noted that the first and most severe damage was to those fields nearest nesting and roosting habitat.
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