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Common Insecticides Found to be Toxic for Songbirds
University of Saskatchewan Research Shows Insecticides Can Affect Migration


Migration is a key stage in a bird's life; any disruption could cause a rise in death or missed opportunity for breeding.

Insecticides could be affecting the health and migration of songbirds according to a study done by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.

The study, conducted by post-doctoral fellow Margaret Eng, examined the effect of neonictinoid and organophosphate, two commonly used insecticides in North America, on seed-eating songbirds.

Migratory songbirds often use farmland as a stopover for nourishment. By consuming seeds, granules, or soils treated with insecticides, songbirds can suffer from weight loss and altered migration, said the study.

Eng collected the data by capturing white-crowned sparrows during spring migration and feeding them a high or low dosage of insecticides daily for three days. The effects on the songbirds given insecticides were compared to a controlled group that was not given insecticides.

Both bird groups that were given dosages of neonicotinoid exhibited signs of toxicity. The results showed that the birds exposed to insecticides lost fat stores and body mass due to decreased food consumption, which could severely affect the birds' ability to migrate successfully.

"These chemicals are having a strong impact on songbirds. We are seeing significant weight loss and the birds' migratory orientation being significantly altered," Eng said in media release by the University of Saskatchewan.

A majority of the birds recovered after the experiment but Eng noted that a slight deviation in their migration patterns could result in a rise in mortality or loss of breeding chances.

To read the study in full, visit: For More Information.

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August 20, 2019, 8:54 pm PDT

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