Influence of ripening grape compounds on behavioural responses of birds

Author: Saxton, Valerie P.

Date: 2004

Publisher: Lincoln University, Canterbury

Type: Thesis

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Lincoln University


Vineyards in New Zealand suffer bird damage caused by several avian species, including blackbirds and silvereyes. The introduced European Blackbird takes whole grapes which reduces yield. The self-introduced Australasian Silvereye pecks on grapes, leaving them on the vine to be further attacked by fungi and bacteria, and the subsequent off-odours can cause grapes to be refused by the winery or to suffer a price-reduction. Bird control methods remain primitive and largely ineffective during the long ripening period of wine grapes. An ecologically sound method to manage and reduce bird pressure requires deeper understanding of why some birds eat grapes, especially since grapes are not particularly nutritious. This work investigated the extent to which blackbirds and silvereyes are attracted by various compounds in ripening grapes. Since in natural grapes these compounds develop and change simultaneously, I developed an artificial grape in which a single parameter could be investigated. Artificial grapes (and sometimes nectar) were presented on a bird feeder table and the responses of birds to hexose sugars, the aromas 2-3-isobutylmethoxypyrazine and geraniol, tartaric and malic acids, grape tannins, and purple and green colour were recorded on timelapse video and analysed.

Subjects: Silvereye, vineyards, bird damage, blackbirds, behaviour, hexose sugar, aroma, acid, colour, tannin, bird management, artificial grapes, Agricultural, Veterinary and Environmental Sciences, Horticulture, Oenology and viticulture

Marsden Codes: 300000, 300300, 300305

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