Small bird’s big appetite riles Venezuelan farmers


Rice and sorghum farmers in this west-central Venezuelan state rarely miss an early morning radio program on agriculture called Punto Agropecuario. These days they’re listening in particular for news about the movements of the dickcissel (Spiza americana), a migratory birdthat feedsprodigiously ontheir precious crops during its seven-month sojournin Venezuela. More than six million dickcissels fly south every year from the U.S. central plains to Venezuela,arrivingfrom September to mid-October. Once here, they cause an estimated $8-10 million in damage to Venezuela’s sorghum and rice crops. Spread evenly over the farm sector, such losses might not cause alarm. But the losses, like the dickcissel flocks, are concentrated. The vast flocks often will bypass one farm yet ravage another nearby, driving its owner to... [Log in to read more]

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