Study Identifies Connections Between Pesticides and Declining Farmland Bird Populations


By Amelia Harris, Wake Up World

In recent years, bees have rightly garnered a lot of attention for their declining numbers due to pesticides and other environmental factors. But another population that is greatly affected is farmland birds. (1)

From 1966 to 2013, the populations of 57 out of 77 North American farmland birds declined. A review of 122 published studies about these birds indicated that the use of pesticides has had the most negative impact on these birds, followed by habitat loss. (2)

Sparrows and Pesticides

One study took a closer look at the way a specific pesticide affects birds during migration. The research team focused on imidacloprid, one type of neonicotinoid, which are neurological toxins. Farmers use them to kill pests that eat seedlings. They apply imidacloprid to seeds before planting them. (1, 3)

This type of chemical is supposed to be less toxic to birds and mammals than to insects. But seed spills and unburied seeds can lead to neonicotinoids ending up in the environment and impacting vertebrates. They are also linked to the declining honeybee population. (1, 3)

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