Antidepressants in the water supply that cause mating problems for male starlings

Antidepressants in Britain's water systems are causing mating problems for starlings, forcing men to sing less attractive women (stock image)

Female starlings who ingested antidepressants in Britain's water systems are more likely to be ignored or attacked by males.

Researchers say worms and other insects are passing drugs to birds after picking them up at sewer works, a popular feeding spot for starlings.

According to the researchers, contaminants can make females less attractive to males because they make birds more lethargic.

The problem means that men are less likely to sing contaminated females and may be killing one of Britain's most beloved native songbirds.

Scroll down to watch the video

Antidepressants in Britain's water systems are causing mating problems for starlings, forcing men to sing less attractive women (stock image)

Antidepressants in Britain's water systems are causing mating problems for starlings, forcing men to sing less attractive women (stock image)

Dr. Kathryn Arnold, of the University of York, said: "Here is the first evidence that low concentrations of an antidepressant can interrupt the courtship of songbirds.

"This is important because animals that are slow to find a mate usually do not reproduce."

"With many declining wildlife populations, we have to ask ourselves if more could be done to eliminate chemical contaminants such as pharmaceuticals from our wastewater."

In 2016, 64.7 million antidepressant articles were prescribed in the United Kingdom, according to a new study led by the University of York.

Some of these compounds are stable in the environment and decompose slowly once they have passed through our bodies and into the wastewater treatment systems.

To investigate how these drugs affect the birds of Great Britain, Dr. Arnold and his team captured 24 wild Eurasian starlings, 16 females and eight males, in North Yorkshire.

Researchers say that earthworms and other insects are passing drugs to birds after collecting them in sewer works - popular starling feeding spots (stock image)

Researchers say that earthworms and other insects are passing drugs to birds after collecting them in sewer works - popular starling feeding spots (stock image)

Researchers say that earthworms and other insects are passing drugs to birds after collecting them in sewer works – popular starling feeding spots (stock image)

It is known that Eurasian starlings feed on worms, worms and flies in wastewater treatment plants, which previous research has shown to contain many different pharmaceutical products, including the antidepressant Prozac.

Some of the female birds analyzed for the new study were fed worms drugged with Prozac, while others were fed worms without drugs.

Then, the researchers introduced the males into the females to see how small doses of the antidepressant affected mating habits.

They found that dilute concentrations of Prozac similar to those measured in sewage works seemed to make female starlings less attractive to the opposite sex.

Men were less likely to sing to females who had eaten worms loaded with Prozac, even if that female was an attractive couple.

WHY THE STARS FLY IN A MURMURATION

A murmuring is when a bird imitates the movement of its neighbor, eventually spreading to all the birds in the flock.

Little is known about why this massive aerial trick occurs, although many now believe it could be to protect some predators.

The murmuring can last 26 minutes, but some twist and turn in the sky for up to 50 minutes, with up to 750,000 birds in a single mass.

The pattern of light and darkness, formed as birds try to reach the necessary density, is what provides vital information to the individual birds within the flock.

The co-author of the study, Sophia Whitlock, said: "Singing is a fundamental part of the courtship of birds, used by males to woo favored women and used by women to choose the male of the highest quality to breed their chicks

"The males sang more than twice and even the untreated females than the females that had received low doses of Prozac."

The study also found greater male aggression toward women receiving the diluted dose of Prozac.

Instead of wooing them, the males were more likely to chase, peck or scratch the female starlings in Prozac.

Researchers say the drug can make women more lethargic and, therefore, less attractive to men.

Fluoxetine has previously been found to reduce sexual appetite in female rats.

(function() {
var _fbq = window._fbq || (window._fbq = []);
if (!_fbq.loaded) {
var fbds = document.createElement(‘script’);
fbds.async = true;
fbds.src = “http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbds.js”;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(fbds, s);
_fbq.loaded = true;
}
_fbq.push([‘addPixelId’, ‘1401367413466420’]);
})();
window._fbq = window._fbq || [];
window._fbq.push([“track”, “PixelInitialized”, {}]);
.