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Site Use of European Starlings Wintering in Central New Jersey

  • Author(s): Homan, H. Jeffrey
  • Slowik, Anthony A.
  • Penry, Linda B.
  • Linz, George M.
  • Anderson, Wendy Anderson
  • et al.
Abstract

Managing European starlings with DRC-1339 near urban and suburban areas can lead to adverse publicity resulting from encounters by the public with dead and dying birds. Collectors could retrieve the birds, if the likely sites of mass mortalities were known. In December 2009, we radio tagged 50 starlings at 3 sites in central New Jersey and studied their movements and behavior. Two of the sites were ensconced in a mosaic of suburban and urban habitats, whereas the other was in a rural setting. The sites were selected from a list of agricultural producers that had requested assistance from the Wildlife Services program in New Jersey. Starlings using the rural study site showed strong site fidelity (x-bar = 78% of days tracked), stayed closer during daytime wanderings (x-bar = 2 km), and roosted onsite. In contrast, starlings in the urban-suburban mosaic showed less fidelity (x-bar’s = 10% and 36%), wandered farther (x-bar’s = 6 km and 4 km), and seldom roosted onsite. No study sites were visited by members from the other radio-tagged cohorts. Major roosts in the urban-suburban mosaic averaged 10 km (n = 4, SE = 1.4) from the study sites. We predict that most starlings will remain within 6 km of the site during daytime. Poisoned starlings may become lethargic and seek refuge in dense vegetation (e.g., evergreens) near the baited site. Birds >6 km from a bait site are probably on a direct bearing between the bait site and roosting site.

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