Do you remember how it used to be in the spring when the migrant birds, swallows, swifts and house martins would arrive back in such large numbers from Africa?
As an aging “Baby Boomer” born in 1951 I belong to the last generation that will have this memory. I am in mourning for this loss and am also sorry that we allowed it to happen during our lifetime.
Climate change, netting on the route and destruction of nesting sites by development are all blamed but it seems clear that the principal reason is the decline in insects.
These birds are all “aerial insectivores” and rely entirely on insects, not only to feed their young but to build up their strength for the return flight to Africa. Insects have declined dramatically in Europe and so birds are becoming too weak to survive.
It seems reasonably obvious that if you kill the insects then the birds that rely on them will die too.
We have a simple choice –either a radical reform of modern farming methods to eliminate the use of insecticides or a Silent Spring.
NOTES AND LINKS
“A Silent Spring” influential book by Rachel Carson published 1964– the first person to document the effect of pesticides.
The Decline in insect populations in Europe – a Wikepedia article about the latest data
British Trust for Ornithology – Population trend of Swift and responsible for the National Breeding Bird Survey
Swift Conservation They help organise Swift Awareness Week 22nd to 30th June
Increasing use of pesticides – A recent report by Friends of the Earth
The Sound of Extinction A short Youtube film with an American take on the Silent Spring (includes human singing)
Image Credits: Maxpixel, British Trust for Ornithology.