Bird depredation of agricultural crops is a worldwide problem. New strategies to include chemical repellents are needed to mitigate crop losses. We evaluated 3 preplant seed treatments (Apron XL® LS [Syngenta Crop Protection, Greensboro, NC], Dividend Extreme® [Syngenta], and Maxim® 4 FS [Syngenta]), one foliar insecticide (Karate® with Zeon Technology™ [Syngenta]), and one foliar fungicide (Tilt® [Syngenta]) as potential blackbird repellents in caged feeding trials and a field study. For all repellents tested, red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) discriminated between untreated and treated rice during preference testing in captivity. We observed a positive concentration–response relationship among birds offered rice treated with 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, or 200% of the manufacturer label for Dividend Extreme, Karate, and Tilt. Relative to pretreatment, blackbirds ate 32% and 69% less rice treated with 100% and 200% Tilt label rates, respectively, during the concentration–response test. Maximum repellency of Dividend Extreme and Karate was 55% at 200% of their label rates. We observed no repellency of a combination of Apron and Maxim at 25–200% label rates during the concentration–response test. We subsequently measured rice crop consumption and propiconazole (active ingredient, Tilt) residues among 10 plots (i.e., netted enclosures) populated with red-winged blackbirds within a maturing rice field. Average mass of rice harvested between treated (Tilt) and untreated subplots did not differ. We recovered an average of 12.3 μg/g propiconazole immediately following the first application and 20.2 μg/g propiconazole immediately following the second application of Tilt. We recovered <0.1 μg/g propiconazole on 15 August 2006, just before populating plots with blackbirds. Thus, the label application of Tilt fungicide did not reduce blackbird consumption within a maturing rice field, and residues of the active ingredient were insufficient for repellent efficacy. Additional studies are needed to determine whether higher concentrations of Tilt repel blackbirds under field conditions and to evaluate other potential repellents for protection of newly planted and ripening crops.
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Vol. 72 • No. 4