But as I turned the corner toward home, the “smoke” awakened as thousands of birds took flight. The whoosh of flapping wings seemed to be in stereo, as the birds scattered in every direction.
These birds damage crops, eat livestock feed, and
have potential human health and safety concerns, such as salmonella. A
study by the USDA in 2000 estimated that starlings cause roughly $800
million a year in damage. In 1999, three Kansas feedlot operators
reported a $600,000 loss from bird damage alone. Feed and grain prices
have skyrocketed in the past decade, which means even more significant
losses for Kansas producers and especially feedlots. Several area
feedlots have volunteered to be part of a new study by the USDA, looking
for ways to control the pesky interlopers.