Neonicotinoid pesticides cause sparrows to suffer

A group of toxicologists studied the white crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) and found that these birds suffer greatly if they eat seeds from fields treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.

In particular, researchers found that these small migratory birds become “anorexic” when exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides. The latter has been the subject of various studies published in recent years and it has been discovered, among other things, that they can decimate pollinating insects including bees and bumblebees.

This type of pesticide has worried the authorities so much that the European Union banned three pesticides of the neonicotinoid class as early as 2018. The researchers kept several hours of white crowned sparrows in cages. Some of them were given low doses of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide.

and quantities injected were equivalent to those they could ingest if they ate seeds from a field treated with this pesticide. Following this “treatment,” the researchers released the birds with a small radio transmitter placed on their backs.

The researchers found that the birds that had been given pesticides ate far less than the others, about one third less. This situation lasted for 3-4 days after administration, once considered by the same researchers as necessary to get the pesticide out of their bodies. After this phase, the sparrows then returned to eat regularly to regain the lost fat.

The study appeared in Science.