COUNTRYSIDE: Pesticides decimating farmland bird population

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The Independent Online
"Not so much a Dawn Chorus, more a barber's shop quartet." The description yesterday by broadcaster and naturalist Julian Pettifer of the dearth of bird song outside his Berkshire home reinforced the findings of a report linking pesticide use and the decline in numbers of farmland birds.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wants the new Government to encourage industry to develop pest-specific chemicals and to tax pesticides according to their impact on wildlife.

With insects and seed-bearing weeds killed off, the chicks of several species are being starved to death, suggested the report by two Government advisory bodies, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and English Nature, and the RSPB.

Underlining what many ornithologists have long suspected, the report identified 11 endangered species, including skylark (down 58 per cent in 25 years), lapwing (down 62 per cent) and song thrush (down 73 per cent). Stephen Goodwin