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European starling (Sturnus vulgaris; starling) nesting poses debris hazards within airport hangars and to engine and flight surfaces of moored aircraft. We questioned whether consistent removal of nest material would negatively affect use of a nest site, measured by a reduction in material accumulation. We conducted our study on a 2,200-ha site in Erie County, Ohio, USA (41° 22’ N, 82° 41’ W), from April 15 through June 2, 2020. We used 120 wooden nest boxes on utility poles, protected by an aluminum predator guard below the box. Our treatments included (1) twice weekly, repeated nest material removal (RMR; n = 40 nest boxes); (2) complete nest removal, but only after nest construction and ≥1 starling egg was laid (CNR; n = 40 nest boxes); and (3) a control; n = 40 nest boxes; N = 120 nest boxes). Starlings deposited approximately 50% greater mass of nest material and eggs at RMR than CNR nest boxes, indicating that consistent disturbance failed to dissuade use. Predator guard protection of nest boxes at our site reduced nest predation of starlings; the current starling population is likely adapted to selecting these sites. Similar selection toward low nest-predation risk associated with anthropogenic structures and moored aircraft is also possible. Aside from covering moored aircraft and closing hangar doors, actions not necessarily feasible, removal of starling nesting material more than twice weekly would be necessary to maintain minimum control over material deposition that could affect aircraft function and safety.
Blackwell, Bradley F.; Buckingham, Bruce N.; and Pfeiffer, Morgan B.
"European Starling Use of Nest Boxes Relative to Human Disturbance,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 16:
1, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol16/iss1/11
Additional FilesBlackwell et al. Appendix.docx (18 kB)