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It’s a win-win for bluebirds and vineyards


Cara J

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Putting up nest boxes in vineyards can help provide habitat for bluebirds while simultaneously helping growers keep pests off their grapes. In a new study published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, researchers examined DNA in bird feces to determine which insects western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) were eating. “Molecular scatology research had only been done a few times and was fairly new in the field and all the research had been done on mammals,” said lead author of the study Julie Jedlicka, an assistant professor of biology at Missouri Western State University. “I thought it would be great if we could apply that to birds and move forward in that direction.” In 2011, Jedlicka created a methodology to do so and applied it to her most recent study. As part of their research on three vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif, Jedlicka and her colleagues caught the birds in mist nets. As they removed the birds from the nets, they often immediately provided a fecal sample. “I don’t know if you can say we scared to poop out of them or what,” Jedlicka joked. The team also collected fecal samples from younger chicks simply by picking them up and collecting droppings underneath [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/its-a-win-win-for-bluebirds-and-vineyards/

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