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: Greenland darkening to continue, predicts CCNY expert Marco Tedesco

Related Stories

Pro-Saudi hackers seize Iran TV's social media accounts

8 hours ago

Hackers took over the social media accounts of Iran's Al-Alam television Sunday and posted material supportive of the Saudi-led air war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, the Arabic-language channel said.

Subzero learning environment enabling avalanche research

9 hours ago

A recent article about avalanche research in Popular Science referred to the effort toward knowing more about the avalanche in its subhead as "snowslide science," and the article was about the interesting lab wo ...

Recommended for you

College rankings go under the microscope

2 hours ago

Parents, students and admissions officials have combed through college and university rankings for years. However, education researchers have largely ignored the controversial lists. That's about to change, according to a ...

A call to US educators: Learn from Canada

16 hours ago

As states and the federal government in the U.S. continue to clash on the best ways to improve American education, Canada's Province of Ontario manages successful education reform initiatives that are equal parts cooperation ...

Devices or divisive: Mobile technology in the classroom

Apr 17, 2015

Little is known about how new mobile technologies affect students' development of non-cognitive skills such as empathy, self-control, problem solving, and teamwork. Two Boston College researchers say it's ...

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.