Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where have all the mice gone?

Female Eurasian Kestrel hovering in the breeze
The UK Guardian asks the question, Where Have All The Kestrals Gone? Their numbers declined 20% between 1995 and 2008, with a further drastic drop of 36% between 2008 and 2009.

Other raptors in England whose food source is insects and carrion have not seen such precipitous losses (there is still plenty of road kill). Kestrals rely upon small rodents, and it is their reduced population that is blamed for the Kestral decrease.

A diminishing supply of grain and seeds from intensive farming is the reason postulated for the loss of voles and other small prey...but no conclusive link is offered.

And again, DesdemonaDespair has a story of "catastrophic" decline in the small mammal population of Australia, even in protected conservations reserves, that includes the inevitable disclaimer with which I am so familiar from foresters, about trees: that "A range of factors is contributing to the decline, but we haven't yet been able to explicitly evaluate the relative impacts of each factor."

If you ask me, atmospheric pollution is causing the biosphere to contract - in other words, vegetation is dying (see this post about shrinking supplies of "mast") producing fewer and smaller nuts, grains, seeds and fruit...leading to a decline in the small critters like chipmunks and squirrels that rely upon such nourishment.

But nobody has asked me.

Update: Seed-eating turtle dove also disappearing.


  1. I've notice that even in the peak of summer there are many, more than the usual number of birds at my bird feeders. The birds are consuming sunflower seeds as if it were February. The same is true of the hummingbirds consuming sugar water, consuming more than the normal amount. The other day I cam to the same conclusion that you have: the wild foods are in short supply so the birds are at my house more often.

    (I've had constantly full bird feeders in my yard for the past 15 years.)

    So maybe the age of photosynthesis is winding down, and with it the world we know and love.


  2. found in my email inbox this morning:

    "all top predators like sharks are dying because of the
    collapse of the food chain below them

    man is a top predator also"


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