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Dead birds and hibernating flies

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 15 February 2011

Many animals hide away during the cold winter months, surviving on their stores of fat as they await the spring. Bats roost in caves and attics; hedgehogs hide in their hibernaculae; adders hunker down in disused rabbit burrows. But where, one listener wants to know, do flies and bluebottles go each winter?

As the next generation of genetically modified crops emerge from the world's laboratories, you ask how do we know just what's in them and what might be the environmental impacts of their widespread use?

You also ask why do flying geese honk and why, when millions of birds must die each year, do we so rarely find their corpses?

On the Home Planet panel for this week are ecologist Dr Lynn Dicks of Cambridge University; Graham Appleton of the British Trust for Ornithology and Professor Philip Stott, an environmental scientist from the University of London.

Presenter: Richard Daniel
Producer: Toby Murcott
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Blackbird Leg Ring

    The British Trust for Ornithology have confirmed the source ring found by Richard on a dead blackbird in his garden. The ring was put on a juvenile female Blackbird on 20/11/2010 by a volunteer ringer who happens to live in the same village. On this occasion the movement may not be significant but it's still a useful record - it goes into the BTO database and helps us to understand survival rates etc. One of the main reasons that Song Thrush numbers have declined is because juvenile birds no longer have such a good chance of surviving their first winter - they feel the pinch when food is short. Presumably juvenile Blackbirds will also have had a tough time this winter.

    We greatly need more members of the public to find and report ringed birds, as this improves our knowledge on how long birds live, where they go and what happens to them. It's not only interesting for the finder to know where THEIR bird came from but it's good to know that this information can be used to provide scientific information that can contribute to species conservation.

    The British Trust for Ornithology


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