Date: 6/11/19 10:50 am From: 'Dorian Huneke' <huneked...> [osbirds] <osbirds...> Subject: RE: [osbirds] Black billed Cuckoo and more
Interestingly, I have two pairs of tree swallows (one pair that nest somewhere on my street, and another pair up near the barn) who appear to be doing just fine. They are always back earlier than the barn swallows, and in spite of cooler weather and apparently fewer insects, seem to be ok.
From: <osbirds...> <osbirds...>
Sent: Sunday, June 09, 2019 1:55 PM
To: Osbirds group <osbirds...>
Subject: Re: [osbirds] Black billed Cuckoo and more
I can’t say this is something I keep close tabs on, but I would also say that bee numbers are down in my area. Plenty of wasps, some mosquitoes, but not much else. I have seen a few honeybees here and there; perhaps a few bumblebees.
We had tree swallows a couple of weeks ago building a nest in one of our boxes, but they disappeared.
I have noticed a similar absence of pollinating bees. I did see a number of honeybees early in the season, April and early May, and once in a while now I see one, just one in an area, not two, or 10 or 20. I’ve seen a few bumblebees, but not recently. So yes, I think you are so right, the insect world is being seriously affected by pesticides combined with changing weather patterns. We seemed to have skipped right through the blackfly season with very few of them this year. Cold, wet spring usually keeps their numbers down. I know this because having horses means I pay attention to the blackfly population – they love to bite horses, inside their ears especially, chests, groin. Next to no bites this year. I’m also a blackfly magnet and I’ve had no bites this year. My guess is swallows depend heavily on those early season flying insects for a huge part of their food supply, and this is influencing their survival. As of today I have not seen the female barn swallow since yesterday morning.
This is kind of a heartbreaking report. I can empathize with the feelings of sadness.
In potentially related news, I have been dealing with a dearth of pollinating insects all spring. And by dearth, I mean next to nothing. Nothing on the plum blossoms, the apple blossoms, the dandelions, the blueberry flowers, the flowering blackberry.
I follow pollinator patterns closely, having kept bees for several years and being generally alert to insect doings. Thus far, I've seen zero honeybees, maybe 2-4 bumblebees, none of the sphinx moths that usually sup on my pinxsterbloom, and virtually no native bees (aside from the bumblebees).
I called DEC and was told this may be due to the cold, wet spring, but I'm skeptical.. Either someone in my area did a serious number with pesticides, or something is seriously wrong in the bigger picture (which, of course, we know it is).
I wonder if anyone else on this list is observing similar patterns. This, of course, would affect our avian friends sooner or later.
If it's not straying too far off-topic, I'd love to hear from folks about what they are seeing in the way of pollinating insects. I would LOVE to hear that my problem is localized, as upsetting as that prospect is.