Questions on: Grackles
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q.In the June 13 issue of Farm Forum, a person wrote in and asked about how to get rid of weeds and grackles. You answered the question about the weeds, but did not answer the question about the grackles. There are many of them and they scare all the finches away from the feeders and leave a terrible mess behind. Any suggestions on how to get rid of them?
Thanks for your help. (Aberdeen, S.D.)
A. Actually, grackles are troublesome birds to many living things. I have heard that they tear out freshly planted annuals for no reason, dig up lawns in search of grubs, and drive songbirds away from backyard feeding stations.
Control of grackles falls into the hands of specialists namely Dr. Dave Bergman, a wildlife biologist at the USDA in Bismarck. He said that grackles are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal mandate. However, states like North Dakota and South Dakota have the power to take action to control these pests if they get to the point of damaging property. Check with local authorities before taking drastic action such as using a shotgun on a flock of them!
Bergman suggests the following tactics to help control grackles:
1. Scare balloons.
2. Netting over nesting sites such as trees.
3. Thinning trees to limit nesting sites.
4. Lights that come on while they are attempting to nest.
5.A pellet gun but only after checking with local law enforcement authorities.
You now know as much as I do about grackle control.
Thanks for writing.
Q. I read your column religiously and was wondering if you could help me with these two weeds.
The one with rounded leaves is taking over my yard, and the longer, pointed weed has roots that extend downward forever (it seems) into my flower bed.
Would like to know what I can use to kill these two weeds.
Also, how can I rid my bird feeder of those terrible black birds called grackles. They chase all the gold finches and all the little songbirds away.
Thanks much. (McHenry, N.D.)
A. Thanks for being a faithful reader of the column.
I am going to take this opportunity, since this response will be publicized, to inform everyone on how to send me fresh samples.
First of all, the sample you sent had completely rotted and was unidentifiable--so my answer is a couple of guesses. The rounded leaf weed is probably Creeping Charlie, while the pointed leaf weed is Creeping Jenny (Glechoma hederacea and Convolvulus arvensis). Both are tough customers and will likely need repeat applications of Trimec to control. If you have a lawn care operator in your community, have them apply a material called Confront--it is the most potent broadleaf herbicide I know of for use in lawns.
Now, about sending me a sample:
1. Send it dry, in a zip-lock bag. Don't wrap in a wet paper towel.
2. Send enough of a sample to facilitate identification:
leaves attached to stem, flowers and, if present, fruit.
3. When sending a diseased sample, take it from the
transition zone, where disease and healthy tissue exist.
4. Send insects in plastic vials filled with rubbing
alcohol, in well-padded envelopes.
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