'The Messenger': Death of songbirds is environmental warning

What could be a more welcome sound of spring, than the return of songbirds? But whether you've noticed it or not, the birds are fewer and farther between each spring. We hear about the man-made causes behind the songbirds' decline and why their silence should be a warning.
(Courtesty of 'The Messenger' documentary.)

You're not likely to see or hear the Jaeger seabird unless you're out at sea... say, off the coast of Newfoundland. The Jaeger spends most of its time far from shore.... or at least it usually does. But something's different with the Jaegers this year.

Instead of fattening up over the sea as they usually do, many jaegers are showing up on land in a sickly, starved state. The Jaegers are hardly the only bird population that's imperilled right now and there's a sense among those who are watching these trends, that birds may just be the globe's canary in the coal mine. 

  • Ian Jones is an ornithologist at Memorial University. He's in St. John's. 

The message that the birds might just have for us all is the subject of a new documentary film, screening at Toronto's Hot Docs festival. It's called The Messenger.

  • It was directed by Su Rynard, and she was in Toronto.
  • Christy Morrissey is an ecotoxicologist from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Health Canada's Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency, which regulates these pesticides sent us this statement:

"As we move through the re-evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides, we will consider Dr. Morrissey's data along with all other relevant data that is available. An interim report is targeted for later this year." - Health Canada

It's also worth mentioning that last fall, the province of Ontario announced it plans to reduce by 80 per cent the amount of crops planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017.  

Are you noticing a change in the number of songbirds? Let us know.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sonya Buyting.