A comparative study was undertaken to document more closely the effects of operational pesticide use on non-target avian species. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) and American Robin (Turdus migratorius) nesting activity was monitored in three organic and three conventional orchards during two breeding seasons. Surveys were conducted to characterize the avian community within orchards under both management practices. Organophosphorus (OP) and carbamate pesticides, known to be extremely toxic to birds, were repeatedly sprayed during the peaks in dove and robin breeding activity. Spray card tests revealed that OP pesticides were deposited on 85.5% of the nests tested during routine spray operations. The threat of direct pesticide exposure to eggs, nestlings, and adult birds was considerable. Nest daily survival rates (DSRs) for both doves and robins, were significantly higher in the organic orchards than in the conventional orchards in 1991 and years combined (P < 0.05). Species diversity was significantly greater in the organic orchards (H = 2.43) than in the conventional orchards (H = 1.79). Results suggest that repeated applications of pesticides, within the conventional orchards, directly or indirectly, affected the reproductive success of doves and robins, as well as influenced species diversity within the treated orchards. Organic orchards appear to provide more favorable nesting and foraging habitat for birds than conventional orchards.
Additional publication details
A comparison of the nesting success of mourning doves and American robins in conventionally managed and organic orchards
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Maryland at College Park