Aphids are good news for house sparrows
Appeared on Space For Nature on January 31st 2005
Recent research has highlighted one possible factor in the decline in house sparrow populations: availability of aphids for late brood nestlings.
A study at Leicester's De Montfort University found very high starvation rates for chicks belonging to second and third house sparrow (Passer domesticus) broods. Aphids are a key component of the diet of nestlings during June and July. The study found a significantly lower success rate for broods where there were fewer aphids within 100m of the nest.
As wildlife gardeners, we can take a very significant lesson about the importance of apparent 'pest' species in the wider food web from these findings.
Balmer, D. and Vickery, J. 2004. Wildlife reports: birds. British Wildlife 16: 126-127.
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