British sparrow disappearance studied

Feb 06, 2006

British scientists say they might have determined why the house sparrow, Britain's most familiar bird, has been vanishing.

Many suggestions -- including magpies, cats, pesticides, climate change and home improvements -- have been made for the disappearance since 2000, when The Independent offered an $8,700 prize for the first properly accepted scientific answer.

Although the prize has never been claimed, The Independent says scientists might be getting close to a solution.

Kate Vincent, a postgraduate researcher at Leicester's De Montfort University, said her research appears to bear out experimentally that the sparrow disappearance might be due to a similar decline in the numbers of insects and other invertebrates that sparrow chicks need for the first few days of their lives. Although sparrows live on grain and other seeds, during their first week of life the chicks need animal protein in the shape of small grubs, flies, aphids and spiders.

The implication is that insects and other invertebrates are becoming much scarcer in Britain.

The Independent's prize is for a peer-reviewed paper in a scientific journal that accounts for the recent, sudden and precipitate decline of the house sparrow in Britain.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Life-saving train design is rarely used

24 minutes ago

(AP)—Technology that can blunt the tremendous force of a head-on collision appears to have paid off in the remarkably low number of serious injuries suffered when a Southern California commuter train slammed ...

Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

42 minutes ago

On a summer day in 1885, three Hawaiian princes surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on crudely constructed boards made from coastal redwoods, bringing the sport to the North American mainland.

Recommended for you

Predicting human crowds with statistical physics

Feb 27, 2015

For the first time researchers have directly measured a general law of how pedestrians interact in a crowd. This law can be used to create realistic crowds in virtual reality games and to make public spaces safer.

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

Feb 27, 2015

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

Broken windows thesis springs a leak

Feb 27, 2015

The broken windows theory posits that minor misdemeanors, like littering or graffiti spraying, stimulate more serious anti-social behavior. LMU sociologists now argue that the idea is flawed and does not ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.