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Wine & Wildlife

November 24, 2011

Wildlife often suffer from our insatiable need for agricultural land. But researchers in California are finding that birds and vineyards can actually benefit each other.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Bird-friendly vineyards…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many people think that wildlife and agriculture don’t mix. For instance, the conversion of California’s native oak woodlands to agriculture has left many bird species without tree cavities to build nests in. But according to UC Berkeley ecologist Julie Jedlicka, birds and vineyards do have the potential to co-exist in a mutually beneficial relationship. She and her colleagues at UC Santa Cruz put up hundreds of nest boxes in northern California vineyards. She says the number of insect-eating bird species quickly increased.

JULIE JEDLICKA (UC Berkeley):

For example, we’d find Western bluebirds, and tree swallows and chipping sparrows, whereas in areas without nests boxes, there were only a few species of insectivores.

HIRSHON:

Her team also put out larvae of a common crop pest, and found that more than 2 ½ times more of these insects were eaten when nest boxes were present. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.


Western Bluebird using nest box. (Kevin Cole/Wikipedia)