Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Birds and Pesticides
Name: Suzanne M.
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 10/1/2003


Question:
I put up a bluebird house and the parents (same mother and father) had two sets of bluebirds this summer, both fledged and the first set even came to my meal worm feeders. About 4 weeks ago the mother bluebird came to the feeder by herself and brought meal worms up to the fledglings for about 4 days in a row, she seemed very jittery and the father was nowhere in sight, after about a week I never saw her or the babies again. Today I noticed a bluejay with absolutely no head feathers, I do not think he is molting, too late in the season. My neighbor has admitted to spraying roundup, could an herbicide kill the bluebirds and cause birth defects in other birds??


Replies:
There are so many things that can happen to birds, from both human and non-human impacts, that it is impossible to say what caused the bluebirds to disappear or the jay to lose head feathers. It is most likely the two are not related, but again, no way to say for sure. Roundup is used for weed control in many ecological habitat restoration and maintenance projects, and I have NOT heard reports of negative impacts on birds. Roundup is a poison, of course, and requires proper handling and application. In Illinois, commercial and public applicators of roundup must have a license from the Ill. Dept. of Agriculture, but homeowners may apply on their own property without regulation. Even if there is a connection to your bird observations it would be virtually impossible to prove, unless there was an ongoing situation with very careful study.

J. Elliott


Click here to return to the Zoology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory