Neonicotinoids and Songbirds: Not only a threat to bees.

Pollinators and their magical relationships with one another, the plants, animals, and namely birds they touch are an ongoing delight in our family’s day to day lives. My kids are and I are always on the lookout for the next species of something that we haven’t seen yet in our own backyard. We just spotted a new lizard (potential Texas spiny), aside from our regular green anoles the other day. The chickadee pair is back. A downy woodpecker has been stopping at our feeder and digging into a dying crepe myrtle in the neighbor’s yard. What would we do without our songbirds and bees? They are a pivotal part of our garden’s biodiversity.

Neonicotinoids and Songbirds: Not only a threat to bees…

We’re still on the lookout for new bees (other than our common western honeybee), but we need more flowers. (And neighbors who don’t spray their yards.)

On that note, the kids and I are doubly aware of the effect insecticides have on this biodiversity. We know pesticides, namely neonicotinoids are quickly leaving us a world without bees. But what about birds?

What do pesticides mean to you?

Recent research has found that a pesticide mainly used to target seed consuming insects is directly effecting our songbird populations. On the subject of neoniconitoids and songbirds, they are not only a threat to bees…

This article from National Geographic outlining the research concerning songbird consumption of seeds laced with neonicotinoids and resultant appetite loss is deeply concerning.

The seeds are an appetite killer for migrating songbirds. As birds are traveling, they stop at farms to eat the contaminated crop seed spillage and lose days of migration and critical feeding. Ultimately what would be a helpful pit stop cause populations to plummet. So in a world where habitat loss is fast and real, a migrating bird’s dependence on humanity is real. How long can we support our own population by wiping out others?

Certainly if the European Union has banned neonicotinoid use, what is stopping our country from doing the same? Well in these heated times, there are plenty of ways to answer that question.

Back to the question, what do neonicotinoids or pesticides in general mean to you?

We as a society should be in an uproar that we are returning to a state where poison runs so deeply in our food and water systems that not only bees, but songbirds are vanishing from our suburbs. Thus imagine a community without birdsong or the hum of insects. Their absence from our communities and accompanying silence drove Rachel Carson to compose and publish her work, “Silent Spring” in September of 1962.

What do pesticides mean for our kids?

Carson’s pioneering work launched changes in our government with regulations that curbed poisons that were not only contributing to fast, widespread killing of populations of birds within our communities (to the point of stark silence due to lack of birdsong and natural activity out our front door) – these “miracle” toxins were affecting the development of children both in the womb and on the street. In other words, her voice and willingness to speak out and pay close attention changed all our lives for the better.

Fast forward almost 60 years later and back to the conversation on seeds laced with neonicotinoids. Surely there are other ways to solve the problem of crop seed loss and famine. Fragmenting and ultimately destroying the biodiversity of our food web only undermines any future we have of solving anything. Neonicotinoids and songbirds: not only a threat to bees but to all threads of life.

Banner photo of chickadee by Jack Bulmer from Pexels.

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