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Starving blackbirds resort to cannibalism after dry spring and early summer leaves them without worms


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By Daily Mail Reporter

Starving blackbirds are resorting to cannibalism of their chicks as they struggle to survive the dry spring and early summer.

The weather has forced their diet of worms too far underground for the birds to feed.

As a result, gardeners have witnessed blackbirds resorting to desperate measures to avoid going hungry.

Hungry: Blackbirds are resorting to desperate measures including cannibalism as they struggle to survive the dry spring and early summer

They have been waiting on freshly-watered lawns ready to pick up worms that rise to the surface.

Blackbirds have also been eating tadpoles and young slow worms, and snatching baby mice from their nests.

The mistle thrush and song thrush have also been affected by the unseasonably warm weather.

Paul Stancliffe, from the British Trust for Ornithology, said an annual survey of 250 birds has shown the average weight of a blackbird has plummeted from 130g to 90g this year.

He told the Daily Telegraph: 'The birds have got once chance left for another brood this year and if the weather doesn’t change, things look pretty bleak.

'Taking tadpoles, slow worms and mice is not normal behaviour.'

In East Anglia, the south-east and south-west, birds that normally rear one or two batches of chicks have not yet reared any.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: 'It's not going to be a wipe-out but we can expect a big drop in numbers.'

Parts of Britain this year enjoyed the hottest and driest spring for more than a century.

Last year, experts warned that the overpowering glare of street lights was disrupting the sleep patterns of song birds and forcing them to start the dawn chorus too early in the morning.

Researchers said blackbirds, blue tits and robins are so exhausted by their early starts in towns and cities, they are more likely to be hunted by predators as the day wears on.

Street lights were also found to be interfering with the breeding habits of birds - and could contribute to a decline in numbers.


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