Michigan State University:

Attracting kestrels to orchards could create US jobs

American kestrels range from Alaska to southernmost South America. They feed on bugs, small mammals and fruit-eating birds. Growers can attract more of these beneficial birds by building nesting boxes. Because more kestrels mean fewer pests, the birds’ mere presence can produce measurable improvements, says Catherine Lindell, an integrative biologist at Michigan State University and co-author of the study in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

“Having more American kestrels around orchards reduces the number of fruit-eating birds significantly,” she says. “It’s not just a microeconomic boost that simply benefits the fruit grower, either; it has a macro-economic effect that benefits the state’s economy.”

Lindell and her team calculated the benefit-to-cost ratios for building kestrel nest boxes around orchards. The results showed that for every dollar spent, $84 to $357 of sweet cherries are saved from fruit-eating birds.

Futurity.org reports how, in order to scale up their projections, the team used regional economic modelling. These models predicted that increased sweet cherry production from reduced bird damage would generate 46 to 50 jobs, which translates to a major contribution to Michigan’s economy.

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