Lack of insects in the Netherlands is bugging the house martin

Bird protection organisation Vogelbescherming has named 2018 the Year of the House Martin in an effort to call attention to the dramatic decline of this migratory bird in the Netherlands, public broadcaster NOS reports. Together with bird research group Sovon, Vogelbescherming has mobilised a group of volunteers to find the cause of the dwindling numbers of house martins (Delichon urbicum). Since 1970 some 80% fewer house martins have been spotted in this country and it is thought that since 1920 the decline could be as much as 95%. ‘Their absence tells us something about how healthy our landscape is. Much has changed over the years,’ Sovon researcher Loes van den Bremer told NOS. Van den Bremer says the main cause for the house martin’s decline is the disastrous lack of insects in the Netherlands.

‘People would complain about hundreds flies stuck to the windshield, now that’s a thing of the past,’ Van den Bremer is quoted as saying. The way to bring back the house martin is to change agricultural practice Vogelbescherming says. ‘What is needed are fewer insecticides and more flowers on the edges of fields. Consumers can help by not opting for cheap products but for sustainably produced ones,’ Van den Bremer told NOS. House martins are expected to start flying in from Africa in the next few weeks. Vogelbescherming says people can help it by making a little mud pool in their garden which the birds can use to build a nest.

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