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American Kestrels, Most Common Predatory Birds in U.S., “Replacing chemicals” by Keeping Pests At Bay

April 03, 2018 |

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“Farmers are reducing the environmental impacts of pesticide use by attracting birds of prey to their lands. In some areas, American kestrels—small falcons—are replacing chemicals by keeping pests and invasive species away from crops.

Results of a new study, led by Michigan State University (MSU) scientists and appearing in the current issue of the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, showcase examples. “Our research demonstrates that predators like American kestrels consume numerous crop pests and reduce crop damage, which are important ecosystem services,” said Catherine Lindell, a scientist at MSU who led the study. “These pest- eating birds can be attracted to  through landscape enhancements.”

…Kestrels consume crop pests such as grasshoppers, rodents and European starlings. In cherry orchards, the scientists found, kestrels significantly reduced the number of birds that eat fruit. Results from a related study of blueberry fields are pending. “These scientists have demonstrated a win-win situation for farmers and birds,” said Betsy Von Holle, a program director for the National Science Foundation’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, which funded the research.

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