Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cowbird traps

Thanks to Texas Parks and Wildlife's 'Cowbird Trapping Guide' I now know much more about cowbird trapping. Q and A below inspired by their pamphlet.

Q - Why would I want to trap cowbirds?
A - Throughout North America songbird numbers are declining. While there is no one single reason for this decline, one major contributing factor is the spread of the brown-headed cowbird. It is not feasible to eliminate grain fields and suburban yards, or remove all grazing animals from the landscape to control parasitism by cowbirds. Therefore, trapping of cowbirds to reduce their numbers becomes an important option to consider if we are to prevent declines in songbird populations.

Q - How do I attract cowbirds to my trap?
A - Cowbirds are gregarious - add a dozen live cowbirds to your trap.

Q - I don't have any cowbirds how do I get started?
A - Add some grain, place it in cowbird habitat and be patient.

Q - Can I build my own trap?
A - Why yes you can with these easy to follow instructions for a 6' x 8' portable trap.

Q - How do I kill the cowbirds?
A - Quickly and humanely.

Q - No really, how do I kill the birds?
A - Cervical dislocation: Hold top of neck between thumb and forefinger, grab head with other hand, turn and lift until you feel the cervical vertebrae detach from the head.

Q - Doesn't the cowbird have as much right to live as the songbirds?
A - Did we mention that this means we don't need to remove cattle or restore habitat?

Rather than removing cattle in order to reduce parasitism, the members of the Central Texas Cattlemen’s Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have found that parasitism rates can be reduced in Black-capped vireos by using the cattle to attract cowbirds into traps located near the cattle.

No comments: