Fewer blackbirds in Dutch gardens prompt fears of bird virus

Blackbird
Blackbird. Photo: Bengt Nyman / Wikimedia Commons

The blackbird population in the Netherlands is not doing well, according to Sovon bird research. Sovon's interim figures show that 15 percent fewer blackbirds were spotted in the country so far this year, NOS reports.

"We see tens of thousands less than last year. That means that you really hear fewer black birds in the neighborhood", Albert de Jong of Sovon said to the broadcaster.

The blackbird is threatened by the Usutu virus, a virus transmitted by mosquitos. In 2012 this virus led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of blackbirds in Germany. 

Despite the decline, the blackbird is still the most common bird in the Netherlands, and is not threatened by extinction. But Sovon is still worried about the virus and wants the situation to be closely monitored. "If you see a dead blackbird, you can have it collected so that it can be examined whether it has the virus."

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