Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Use coloured baits to reduce accidental mortality during predator control

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A review of three replicated, controlled trials in Day County, South Dakota, USA, and another in Routt County, Colorado (Kalmbach & Welch 1946), in 1945, found that bird assemblages (mainly songbirds and doves) took a higher proportion of uncoloured grain (88% taken) than of yellow (73%) or green (23%) grain, and when uncoloured was not available, birds took more yellow (87% and 15% in two sites) than green (39% and 9%). In addition, more dead birds were found with uncoloured poison grain in their stomachs than with yellow. Very few birds were found with green grain.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, randomised and controlled, ex situ experiment (Nicholls 2000) found that consumption of day-old chicks by 33 American kestrels Falco sparverius was greatly reduced by dying chicks green or blue, with no birds consuming blue-dyed chicks and two birds also avoiding green-dyed chicks. All birds reduced food intake significantly. Treating chicks with two repellents (discussed in ‘Use repellents on baits’) did not affect consumption in addition to dyeing. This study is also discussed in ‘Use aversive conditioning to reduce nest predation’.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated, randomised and controlled trial in Adelaide Zoo, South Australia (Johnston & McCarthy 2007), found that dyeing food (minced beef, fruit and ‘Wombaroo insectivore mix’ – a commercially available food mix) blue had no effect on its consumption by six captive bush stone-curlews Burhinus grallarius over a ten day period.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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