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Energy & Environment

Could Loss Of Flying Insects Leading To Loss Of Birds?

Wisconsin DNR

Some of Wisconsin's most beloved birds - purple martins, chimney swifts, tree and barn swallows, Eastern whip-poor-wills, and common nighthawks - are in trouble.

Residents can learn more about why and how to help these birds around their home during an early September conference in Waukesha.

A conservation biologist says the bird loss might have a direct link to a mysterious loss of insects.

The DNR's Ryan Brady says the September 6-8 event is the combined annual meeting of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, a coalition of 180 groups committed to conserving native birds, and a summit of the 109 Bird City Wisconsin communities.

He says rapid decline of the flying insect eating birds and bats is a big concern and the reasons for the decline are pretty complex. Brady says the one thing they have in common is they're eating insects out of the air.

He says there is no conclusive data yet to prove the thought that a decline in the populations of flying insects are leading to the bird loss...

"...If you think about 20.30,40 years ago driving on a rural road, or even a city road for that matter, your windshield was full of insects that you have had hit along the way. Those things don't seem to happen any more...."

Brady says it's possible the use of herbicides and pesticides might have something to do with the insect decline but there's no hard evidence and scientists likely will be working to gather that data in the near future.

He says it could be habitat or water quality issues, a number of different factors.

He says long-term monitoring of insect populations has not be done on a regular basis.

Registation for the event closed on 8/21, but a link for more information on the conference is here.

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