For the Birds: Birds need bugs

Monday, May 28, 2018

Baby Barn Swallow
Photo by Joe Sweeney

By Christine Southwick

Baby birds are hatching. Parents are scrambling to keep feeding these hungry open mouths.

For bird parents this means finding bugs, caterpillars, spiders, etc. in the quickest, most efficient manner.

A yard with lots of native plants can help bird families grow, prosper and survive.

Birds need bugs that are familiar to them, which are found on native plants.

If you have a plant with no bug nibbles, then that plant isn’t helping wildlife, especially our resident and our migrating birds.

Black-capped Chickadee feeding young
Photo by Doug Parrott
A yard that has been sprayed with pesticides reduces the available food sources, and even if a bird does find bugs, the bugs may have enough poison to kill the baby bird, and maybe even the parent, which could result in the death of the whole family.

Herbicides are harmful to birds, especially robins, and sparrows, since these birds forage on the ground a lot. 
Herbicides will get on their feet, into their nests, and on worms, spiders, beetles, and other bugs found on/in the ground. 
Poisons kill blindly, and baby birds are very susceptible, since they are small, young and eating only food brought by the parents.

Purple Martin feeding young
Photo by Kim Stark
Pesticides, and herbicides are causing bees to die at alarming rates. Several pesticides have been banned in Europe, but still sold here.

February, 2018, a major report from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors (Efsa) concluded that the high risk to both honeybees and wild bees resulted from any outdoor use, because the pesticides contaminate soil and water.

This leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids.” The Guardian (April 27 2018)

Long-acting herbicides contaminate ground water before breaking up — the longer the advertised effect, the more likely it will get into our streams and into our lakes and the Sound and kill water plants. Local creeks, like Thornton and McAleer have measurable amounts of herbicides when tested.

Yellow Warbler with small caterpillar
Glyphosphate, usually sold as Roundup, is non-selective, and kills all plants it touches (including milkweeds needed by Monarch Butterflies).

On a windy day, drifting spray can kill plants nearby. Roses are especially vulnerable.

These two groups of poisons are this generation’s DDT.

Without bees and other pollinators there will be no crops.

Without bugs and their food plants there will be massive bird extinctions.

Mulch and pull weeds — don’t poison. Don't help cause a Silent Spring.


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