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This is an ongoing research project at the De Montford University (DMU) (Leicester).

WHERE HAVE ALL THE SPARROWS GONE?   Work to boost numbers Here

Oct 2008 - A new and potentially very worrying study links mobile telephone mast emissions to damage of birds eggs and embryos. The impact of this is huge, even in terms of human health. See the article: Here

The serious decline in the numbers of House Sparrows has been attributed to the lack of aphids available in urban areas in the breeding season. For three days after hatching, sparrow chicks need to be fed insect protein, rather than seeds. Sparrow chicks appear to be dying of malnutrition in their nests. The shortage of aphids has been blamed on various factors, including the use of garden pesticides and effluents from unleaded petrol. The humble sparrow may therefore represent the miner’s canary, indicating sources of pollution.

DMU's faculty of Applied Sciences collaborated with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and English Nature with research into the ecology of the urban House Sparrow. It involved a three-year PhD studentship for Kate Vincent (who graduated with a First in Applied Biology) supported by a substantial external resource input from the RSPB and English Nature (about 15,000). The work started by fixing some 300 nest boxes at various locations throughout Leicester, so that the growth of chicks could be monitored throughout the breeding season.

The results of Kate's efforts can be viewed here: Results

APHID SOURCES

If you want to increase the availability of such natural live foods and want to do yourself a favour too - try planting a large strawberry patch. If you make a good job of laying it out, you will not only have a ready supply of strawberries in time for Wimbledon each year, but you will be helping your baby sparrows as well. If the patch is well fertilised, your plants will be so vigorous that a mild attack of aphids won't make the slightest difference to them. You might also find that the local frogs (who also love aphids) move in as well.

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