They look innocent enough but the tiny birds have been a nuisance since the species arrived back way back in 1890 because they spread livestock disease, destroy fruit crops and displace native birds. I’m Susan Allen when Open Range returns, what do we do about all those starlings! I admit it’s a bit captivating to watch thousands of starlings sweep in large united black masses across the vistas in Big Sky country but in reality each tiny bird carrries a big wallop for agriculture. Infestations of starlings are a plague for livestock and crops not only because they carry various diseases but they consume valuable feed. One little bird can eat up to fifty percent of it’s weight in grain each day and considering how large a flock can be the impact on crops can be devastating. In the Midwest corn belt it has been estimated that a starling can eat what would equate to a half bushel of corn per year. Given the current corn prices one starling can gobble up $3.50 worth of crop annually, multiply that by several thousand in just one flock and the birds impact is astounding. Here in the Northwest the USDA has implemented periodic kills to help farmers that raise the ire of environmentalist. The majority of farmers and ranchers are forced to resort to thier own methods of coping that include trying to shoot, trap or use some sort of netting or repellant. For a list of ways to control starlings visit the USDA website’s Wildlife damage page and type in starlings. There you will find labeled control materials that are safe for livestock, pets and wildlife.