Foraging behaviour of selected avian species on suburban golf courses


Golf is now one of the most widespread sports in the world (1).  Public opinion is generally split in two. First, golf courses are relatively undisturbed green spaces and as such are havens for wildlife (2). This is especially relevant for suburban golf courses, as they provide habitat for a variety of birds (3). Second, golf courses are harmful because of widespread chemical pesticide use that contaminates food subsequently ingested by birds (4, 5). Neither perception has been adequately tested. We have little knowledge as to whether current golf course spray programs have an impact on feeding birds, and to what extent non-waterfowl species use golf courses as feeding grounds.

            This study addresses the following objectives, a) to examine the feeding behaviour of selected avian species on suburban golf courses and b) to predict their pesticide exposure risk based on foraging behaviour and current spray programs. In 2003 and 2004, the proportion of time spent feeding was found to vary over: golf course, habitat type and month. Most species were more frequently observed in natural as opposed to highly maintained areas, and in the morning rather than in the afternoon. Based on the golf courses’ spray data, the target species seem to be at little risk of direct pesticide exposure. Their foraging patterns and preferences preclude them from direct contact to sprayed pesticides.


Literature cited


1. Gange, A.C., D.E. Lindsay and J.M. Schofield. 2003. The Ecology of Golf. Biologist 50(2) pp 63-68


2. Jones Jr., R.T. 1993. The Environment: Where Environment, Nature, and the Game can Coexist. USGA Green

    Section Record. May/June 1993


3. Tanner, R.A. and A.C. Gange. 2004. Effects of golf courses on local biodiversity. Landscape and Urban Planning

     (article in press)


4. Dodson, R. 1990. Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries For Golf Course Management. USGA Green Section Record.

     March/April 1990: 14-16


5. Driver, C.J., M.W. Ligotke, P. Van Morris, B.D. McVeety, B. J. Greenspan and D.B. Drown. 1991. Routes of uptake

    and their relative contribution to the toxicological response of Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) to an   

organophosphate pesticide. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 10: pp 21-33


Isabel Julian

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