When you reach for that carton of blueberries at the grocery store, take a moment to consider how they are produced. In Canada, where blueberries are one of the top horticultural crops, fields are sprayed with a cocktail of chemicals, including neonicotinoids.
Recent research by WHP Advisory Committee Member Dr. Christine Bishop shows that hummingbirds found near blueberry fields in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, are chronically exposed to chemicals. Even the blueberry flower nectar on which hummingbirds forage contains these chemicals, and as a result, over 26% of Anna's, Rufous, Calliope, Black-Chinned, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds contained neonicotinoids.
The results of her collaboration with colleagues at the University of Toronto are shared in a paper published in NATURE Scientific Reports this month. It details the impacts of these chemicals on hummingbirds, including depressed respiration, which potentially reduces their energy levels for foraging, migration, nesting, and other activities.