Swallows are small, speedy, short-winged aerial hunters with slender bodies and pointed wings and a tail, just like a jet airplane. The birds are quick and graceful in flight, often catching a variety of flying insects in midair during a long, dizzying air travel pattern near the water or in a meadow. These short-billed aerial hunters know exactly what they are doing. A single Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) , for example, can consume 60 insects per hour, an amazing 850 per day. The small birds are surely one of Mother Nature’s most successful avian insect predators.
In Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns offener Landschaft gibt es immer weniger Vögel. Darauf hat der Naturschutzbund Deutschland (Nabu) nach der diesjährigen Zählaktion „Stunde der Gartenvögel“ hingewiesen. „Während sich bei den Vögeln unserer Dörfer und Städte über die Jahre Zu- und Abnahmen die Waage halten, gibt es auf den Wiesen und Feldern fast nur Verlierer“, sagte der Nabu-Landesvorsitzende Stefan Schwill am Donnerstag in Schwerin.
Er zijn steeds minder insecten. Uit onderzoek blijkt dat de hoeveelheid insecten in de natuurgebieden rond het Duitse Krefeld met bijna 80% is afgenomen in 25 jaar van 1989 tot 2014. Een afname die volgens een publicatie in Science niet alleen in Duitsland geconstateerd wordt, maar ook in andere landen. Zo daalde het aantal insecten in Schotland met 60%. Het onderzoek in Krefeld werd uitgevoerd in natuurgebieden waar niet zo extreem veel was veranderd in het beheer van die gebieden zelf. Maar in de omgeving is wel veel veranderd.
Normally my first sighting of swifts – the dark, scythe-winged birds that scream over our summer rooftops – is on voting day in May. I can’t blame them this year. If I’d spent the past few months swooping over the Congo and Mozambique, I’d have shunned the cold grey mizzle that greeted voters yesterday. Swifts (Apus apus) are among the last summer visitors to arrive and the first to leave, flying south as soon as they have raised their young. They were made for flying and only touch down to nest.
North America has more than a billion fewer birds than it did 40 years ago, with the snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) and the chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica) just two of the better-known species in dramatic decline across the continent, a recent survey has found. The total number of continental landbirds stands at about 10 billion, down from about 11.5 billion in 1970.
Entomologists call it the windshield phenomenon. "If you talk to people, they have a gut feeling. They remember how insects used to smash on your windscreen," says Wolfgang Wägele, director of the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity in Bonn, Germany. Today, drivers spend less time scraping and scrubbing. "I'm a very data-driven person," says Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Oregon. "But it is a visceral reaction when you realize you don't see that mess anymore."
Aerially-foraging insectivorous bird populations have been declining for several decades in North America and habitat loss is hypothesized as a leading cause for the declines. Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are a model species to test this hypothesis because nest site use and availability is easily assessed. To determine if nest site availability is a limiting factor for Chimney Swifts, we established a volunteer-based survey to inventory and describe chimneys (n = 928) that were used or unused by swifts.
The influence of crop type (pasture, silage and cereal) on the abundance of aerial invertebrates and the density of foraging barn swallows Hirundo rustica was investigated in lowland mixed farmland in southern Britain. After taking weather and other confounding factors into account aerial invertebrate abundance over pasture fields was more than double that over silage, and more than three and a half times greater than that over cereal fields. Pasture fields also hosted approximately twice as many foraging barn swallows as both silage and cereal fields.
Data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), as part of the Pesticide National Synthesis Project, show that use of neonicotinoids in agriculture rose from about 150 metric tons (all imidacloprid) in the late 1990s and early 2000s to between 510 and 625 tons in 2004. From 2004 to 2007, these figures nearly doubled, and in 2012, according to USGS data, between 2,677 and 2,819 tons were used. Data for 2013 and 2014 are still preliminary but suggest the numbers have continued to rise.