Garden birds in ‘alarming’ decline

 House sparrows and starlings are among the worst hit species Photo: Tomas Belka/birdphoto.cz/University of Exeter/PA


House sparrows and starlings are among the worst hit species Photo: Tomas Belka/birdphoto.cz/University of Exeter/PA

Common birds such as sparrows, starlings and skylarks are suffering “alarming” declines in their numbers, a new study has warned.
Figures from bird monitoring schemes suggest that populations of the most widespread species have dropped by around 421 million across Europe since 1980.
Conservation experts blame increasing levels of fragmentation and urbanisation of the countryside for the huge losses.
They warn that although the 144 species studied in the new report are considered to be common, and are still regularly seen in many parts of Britain, the new findings show they are at still at risk.
Among the worst hit species are house sparrows that have declined by around 150 million birds in the past 30 years while starlings have seen their numbers fall by 45 million. Continue reading

Neonicotinoids linked to recent fall in farmland bird numbers

A barn swallow hunting over a flowering oilseed rape field, Spain. Photograph: Alamy

A barn swallow hunting over a flowering oilseed rape field, Spain. Photograph: Alamy

New research has identified the world’s most widely used insecticides as the key factor in the recent reduction in numbers of farmland birds.

The finding represents a significant escalation of the known dangers of the insecticides and follows an assessment in June that warned that pervasive pollution by these nerve agents was now threatening all food production.

The neonicotinoid insecticides are believed to seriously harm bees and other pollinating insects, and a two-year EU suspension on three of the poisons began at the end of 2013. But the suspected knock-on effects on other species had not been demonstrated until now. Continue reading

Habitat loss, not poison, better explains grassland bird decline

sandpiper

Contrary to recent well-publicized research, habitat loss, not insecticide use, continues to be the best explanation for the declines in grassland bird populations in the U.S. since the 1980s, according to a new study by ecologists.

Last year, a pair of researchers linked the drop in the populations of grassland bird species, such as the upland sandpiper and the Henslow’s sparrow, to insecticide use, rather than to a rapid decline of grasslands, a more commonly accepted theory. However, after re-examining the data, Penn State and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers now believe that the loss of habitat continues to be the best explanation, said Jason M. Hill, a postdoctoral research associate in ecosystem science and management, Penn State. Continue reading

Extinction threat for Ireland’s iconic birds

Bird species such as the barn owl are in dramatic decline

Bird species such as the barn owl are in dramatic decline

SOME of Ireland’s most iconic bird species are in dramatic decline with one-in-eight now deemed to face an extinction threat.

The warning came as a major ornithological conference in University College Cork (UCC) heard that the species decline has occurred despite the greatest conservation effort in Irish history. Continue reading

Decline in migratory birds estimated at 20 pc

KATHMANDU – Experts have noticed a significant decline over the years in the number of migratory birds coming to this region, a phenomenon which they attribute to environmental degradation and climate change. The decline in bird numbers in the last one decade has been calculated by some experts at around 20 percent.

According to veteran ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral, both global warming and rapid reduction of trees and wetlands are reasons behind the lesser numbers of birds and bird species coming to Nepal to stay during summer and winter. Continue reading

UK’s wild bird population continues to decline

Red kite (Milvus milvus), a bird of prey. Figures show both woodland and farmland bird numbers are falling. Photograph: David J Slater/Alamy

Red kite (Milvus milvus), a bird of prey. Figures show both woodland and farmland bird numbers are falling. Photograph: David J Slater/Alamy

The number of wild birds in the UK is still falling, despite efforts to protect them by changing farming practices.

Conservationists have urged the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, to use the money newly available from the EU’s common agricultural policy to step up protection measures.
Continue reading