Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Make you Fink on Friday

Prozac may be harming bird populations, study suggests

Starlings who were fed same levels of antidepressant drug found in sewage earthworms suffered loss of libido and appetite

Starlings tend to flock to feed at sewage works, where they feed on worms with low levels of Prozac from human waste. Photograph: SIGI TISCHLER/EPA

Increasing consumption of antidepressant drugs may be helping humans but damaging the health of the bird population, according to a new study.

An expert who has looked at the effects of passive Prozac-taking on starlings says it has changed not only their feeding habits but also their interest in mating.

Dr Kathryn Arnold, an ecologist from the University of York, said: “Females who’d been on it were not interested in the male birds we introduced them to. They sat in the middle of the cage, not interested at all.”

Arnold’s research, which is investigated on BBC2’s Autumnwatch, took her to sewage works where birds flock to feed.

“They’re a really great place to watch birds because they’re attracted by all the worms and invertebrates that live there,” she told Radio Times.

“I started thinking, ‘What about what’s in the sewage?’ If you or I take a headache pill for instance, a high proportion of it ends up being excreted completely unchanged.”

She measured the level of Prozac present in earthworms living in sewage. It was tiny, around 3-5% of the average human dosage.

She then fed worms containing the same concentration of the drug to 24 captive starlings and monitored their behaviour over six months.

The birds began to display side effects similar to those reported by humans prescribed Prozac.

“The major finding was a loss of appetite. Compared with the control birds who hadn’t had any Prozac, they ate much less and snacked throughout the day. The problem then is that they’re less likely to survive long, dark winter’s nights.”

It was not just food that lost its appeal – the birds’ libido also fell.

However, in one significant area, the starlings’ reaction to the drug did not mimic its effect on the human brain – their mood remained unchanged.

Arnold said: “Antidepressants reduce anxiety in humans but we can’t ask a bird if it’s anxious; we have to measure it in a behavioural way. We present them with an unfamiliar object and see how they react. If a bird is bold, it’ll carry on feeding, even though there’s something strange in its food bowl. But we found no effect on boldness, which is what we’d expected.

“Maybe we were measuring it the wrong way and that wasn’t a particularly stressful task. If we repeated it, we’d use a different method or different novel object. Or it could be that there are enough variations between bird and human brains that Prozac works in a slightly different way.”

Autumnwatch presenter Chris Packham said there may be no simple answer. He said: “This change in behaviour could impact negatively on their ecology. We know for instance we’ve lost 50 million starlings in the UK since the 1960s.

“Pharmaceuticals could play a part. The next stage of the work is to look at wild starlings to check if they also have chemical residue in their bodies.”

Arnold said she was not attacking antidepressants or the waste-disposal industry. “I’m not saying that if you’re depressed, don’t take Prozac. Sewage treatment works are really good sources of food for birds. We’re certainly not saying they should be covered over.

“Science needs to deliver better estimates of the environmental risks posed by pharmaceuticals. The effects we’ve measured so far are quite subtle.

“These aren’t big die-offs but they could have a negative impact on wildlife. We need to find out whether they are. It’s going to get worse so we need to get a handle on it.”

Source: TheGuardian

Opinion:

Once again, an example of whatever man does, has an effect on the natural balance.

Change the World Wednesday – 27th Aug

Funny-Taco-Bell-01-300x300

The reputation

I am pleased to report, Montezuma has had his revenge and gone back to Mexico. Not sure if he’s actually from Mexico, but I have always made the connection… maybe that’s the influence of Taco Bell’s reputation.

I have been testing my water by boiling, it’s okay to drink, so I have stopped buying my water.

Birthday week BBQs planned for Friday and Saturday, trying to do it green.

So far I have homemade pickled onions and beetroot. Today looks like it will be the day (no sun) to make chimichurri and sauerkraut. Cheaper and greener than buying.

I still have serving problem for Saturday. I don’t have many plates or eating tools.

Made two jars of pickled beetroot on Monday

It’s going to be a busy week.

But it’s fun to do it once a year.

Friday BBQ at the bar, and Saturday for the family.

Onward, this week’s CTWW is about listening.

Click the banner for the full post

This week, spend 15 minutes listening to the sounds in your area. You may wish to sit quietly in your home or out in nature. Perhaps you want to find out what noises you hear in a shopping mall or on a busy street. As you listen, try to hear the sounds of nature. Can you hear them or are they drowned out by man-made noise? The idea, this week, is to simply listen and identify sounds.

Our praça is not a very quiet place, we have quite a bit of traffic, and the kids playground is in front of the house, so any wildlife is scared away. There is also a casarão (big house) being built on the side street, alot of construction noise from that. I have a fox terrier, Mary Jane, on one side and another dog on the right, at times it’s dogs in stereo.

So we suffer from urban noise pollution.

A dead bat in the praça yesterday

A dead bat in the praça yesterday

But we do have some birds and bats.

One of them died and finished up in the rubbish collection. It’s the first time I have seen on of them apart from flitting through the trees at dusk.

The most common bird is the bem-ti-vi (great kiskadee – Pitangus sulphuratus) with it’s distinctive call, hence its name. Bem-ti-vi means nice-to-see-you.

Bem-ti-vi

Bem-ti-vi

Another common visitor to the praça is this little brown and white fellow.

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Viuvinha – Arundicola leucocephala

Don’t know the name of this one. (see update)

We also have hummingbirds, and yesterday I heard parrots screeching overhead which is rare.

But I often sit in the praça just to observe, observing includes listening.

Very relaxing, and a pasttime that I recommend.

UPDATE

The bird is a freirinha (little nun) Arundicola leucocephala or viuvinha (little widow), goes by both names.

Having a beer at the botequim (bar) is educational.

Here’s a photo of our praça

Our praça from in front of my gate

Our praça from the playground in front of my gate

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Not a CTWW Post – 9th Jan

Of course it’s not, today is Thursday.

Yesterday just didn’t happen. Read Press the Fn Key and you’ll see why. I got some posting done, but didn’t get to all my blogs. But, I did do the dishes…

Today is a pseudo-challenge.

Most of us have gardens, except those poor souls who live in cages apartments.

Why do we have gardens? Generally, because we like nature in one of its many forms, flowers for their beauty, trees for their fruit or shade, veges for their nutrition, or even a lawn for its peace. And, animals and birds for their grace.

The challenge is do something for the wildlife in your garden.

or

If you already do, tell us about it in a post.

Simple Backyard Bird Feeder

Simple Backyard Bird Feeder

Yes, do something that attracts birds or animals to make your garden a place of peace for the New Year.

Only one more week without Small…

 

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