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d battle
Support pledged for
trapping and
analysis, they’ll be able to tell if the
Using a method called stable isotope
‘fingerprinting’ to get
birds originated from the north or
south of the region, or from outside
better control of starling
the province, such as from Alberta,
explained Dickinson.
to employ to carry out research into
He’s looking for a graduate student
the structure of starling populations in
the valley over the next two years.
By Judie Steeves
the birds originate and how and why
That will include identifying where
ith assistance from
they move over the seasons and their
orchardists and bird
continue this year to capture starlings
watchers, efforts will
they’re listed on the World
Starlings are not native to B.C. and
Tom Dickinson
and work on tracking where birds
Conservation Union List of the world’s
originate, with the intent of reducing
100 worst invasive species of birds.
populations of the crop-devastating
reproductive rate and on the bird’s
That’s partly because of their high
grapes and nearly a half million dollars
birds in the Okanagan and
ability to exploit opportunistically-
for other fruit, notes Dickinson.
abundant food sources, such as
government and agricultural groups
Stable funding from local
ripening orchards of cherries or other
been trapped and euthanized each year
Nearly 50,000 birds a year have
has allowed a research project by Tom
soft fruits, cattle feeding operations
since 2003, although only 15,000 were
Dickinson and Nancy Flood,
and grapes ready for harvest.
removed in that first year.
ornithologists from Thompson Rivers
University in Kamloops, to get under
numbers of starlings began in 2003 in
Efforts at managing the burgeoning
as the Christmas Bird Counts done
Using information from such tools
way “fingerprinting” captured birds by
this area, and in 2004, it was
annually by local naturalists’ clubs and
using a feather for chemical analysis.
estimated the value of crops lost to
breeding bird surveys done by birders
them was more than $3 million for
and ornithologists, Dickinson believes
the number of over-wintering birds is
You’re 365 sleeps closer to Costa Rica
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9911 HP_SpringHorAd_BCFG.indd 1
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2009
2/9/09 8:23:13 AM
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