Empowering Agricultural Professionals to Support Beneficial Birds and Discourage Pest Birds

Project Overview

WPDP21-022
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $93,851.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G206-22-W8617
Grant Recipient: Wild Farm Alliance
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Jo Ann Baumgartner
Wild Farm Alliance
Co-Investigators:
Shelly Connor
Wild Farm Alliance

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: Beneficial Bird Habitat
  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Farm Business Management: Habitat Assessment
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, indicators, riparian buffers, wildlife
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    Most farmers see perching birds and raptors as beneficial (Kross et al. 2018) and want professional assistance with determining how to support their actions, and how to manage pest birds when they cause trouble (Bardenhagen, et al. 2020). The majority of bird species that visit farms are beneficial during nesting season when they provide critical pest control services. We can encourage them year-round by increasing farm habitat and diversity with cost-effective on-the-ground IPM practices. If pest birds are a problem, they can be discouraged with specific practices during the shorter periods when they cause damage.

    To increase the adoption of bird-friendly and bird-deterrent practices on farms in California, Oregon and Washington, agricultural professionals must be trained on the latest research, tools and resources that support and manage the roles of birds on farms. Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) will develop an online, interactive training module comprising five tracks, each containing two one-hour classes, with instructors who have conducted avian pest control research, and/or have experience with farm conservation practices and pest management strategies. Four videos will be integrated into the curriculum.

    Through our classes we will educate agricultural professionals on how to assist farmers, virtually or in the field, to assess the farmscape, and to outline technical aspects of practice implementation (e.g. planting hedgerows, installing nest boxes, using frightening devices). The five tracks will be live for 100 participants. Results will be measured through pre- and post-training evaluations of the participants in the live classes. Finally, we will make the recorded classes, videos and other related WFA resources available in an online resource library to be used by agricultural professionals during the classes and later when giving trainings themselves. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The purpose of this project is to advance agricultural professionals’ understanding of, and technical assistance for, supporting beneficial birds and managing pest birds on farms. Our interactive online training program and resources will target extension educators, pest control advisors, NRCS planners and Conservation District staff, sharing science-based bird-friendly and bird-deterrent strategies that will ultimately grow their capacity to help farmers with their conservation, production, and pest management needs and goals. 

    Objectives include: 

    1. By August 2022, 100 agricultural professionals from California, Oregon and Washington will increase their understanding of the research and the cost-effectiveness of on-the-ground IPM practices that reduce pesticide use, incorporate birds as pest control allies, and manage pest birds from attending at least one of our five tracks in our live online training program. They will also be equipped with tools and resources to better assist farmers with assessing a farm and implementing practices that support beneficial birds and manage pest birds. 
    2. By August 2022, more than 1000 agricultural professionals will view one or more of our four 10-15 minute education videos, increasing their knowledge about 1) how to assess and support the farm for birds’ food, nesting and cover requirements, 2) which beneficial birds can be supported with nest boxes, 3) how to design the farmscape to be bird friendly and safe, and 4) how to manage pest birds.
    3. By December 2022, an additional 500 agricultural professionals will access our online resource library and be better equipped with knowledge, skills and resources to assist farmers with implementing practices to support beneficial birds and manage pest birds. Some professionals will later use these materials when giving trainings themselves. We will compile resources (previously created and newly developed through this project) in a multimedia online library.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.