First it was the butterflies, then it was the bees, and now it’s the birds

A specific kind of insecticide has been harming bees worldwide. But it is starting to have a ripple effect.

A study in the Netherlands has shown that there has been a decline in farmland birds. They trace the decline to the use of a particular kind of insecticide known as neonicotinoids on insects. Many birds eat insects or feed it to their young. But if their food has been contaminated then it’s possible for even a single kernel of corn to cause the birds to get sick or even die.


Check out National Geographic’s excellent video on neonicotinoids here:

Image of Professor Hans de Kroon in a field


The insecticides are also killing insects, giving birds not enough food to eat. The results could be negative to the effects on the food chain if we don’t stop using neonicotinoids, especially on farmland.

In Canada, Nature Canada is working on solving this problem. We’ve partnered with the University of Manitoba and York University and local naturalist groups to tag and monitor populations of Purple Martin birds. Nature Canada’s Purple Martin Project will hopefully help us understand what role, if any, neonicotinoids have on other species. Click here to learn more.

This is a guest blog post by Courtenay Bettinger, a Nature Canada summer student.