Surfactants as blackbird stressing agents
Applications of wetting-agent solutions produce mortality in birds. The exact cause of death is undetermined, but it is believed that destruction of the insulating qualities of the plumage permits ambient cold temperatures and evaporation to lower the body temperature to a lethal level. The original concept of using these materials as bird-control tools was developed in 1958 at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Laurel, MD. Early field trials by personnel of the Division of Wildlife Services and the Denver Wildlife Research Center indicated that ground-application techniques had promise but limitations of the equipment precluded successful large-scale roost treatments. In 1966, Patuxent Center personnel began using tanker-type aircraft to evaluate high-volume aerial applications of wetting agents. The success of these tests led to the use of small aircraft to make low-volume, high-concentration aerial applications just prior to expected rainfall. Recent trials of the low-volume method show that, with some limitations, it is effective, inexpensive, and safe to the environment. Current research emphasizes the screening of new candidate materials for efficacy, biodegradability, and toxicity to plants and non-target animals, as well as basic investigations of the avian physiological mechanisms involved. Field trials to develop more effective application techniques will continue.