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France's birds hit by summer drought and heat

Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux says lack of rain has seen a drop in food sources this year

The double-whammy of continuing drought and twin heatwaves this summer has hit France's bird population hard, the Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO) has said.

The general lack of rain across France has meant that the insect population is down compared to usual levels this year - mosquito numbers are particularly low, the organisation said. This has left many birds struggling to find food.

"People had noticed that the birds were hungry around their homes," Julien Présent, of the LPO, said. "They started feeding the birds as in winter, with grease, and feeders were full. It was proof that we had a shortage of insects."

The organisation also recommends putting a shallow container with flattened edges and filled with regularly refreshed water in an open, shaded area to allow birds to drink and bathe.

Meanwhile, LPO centres have been taking in birds - notably martens - that have jumped out of their nests due to heat. "It is a complicated time, with many young birds in distress," Mr Présent said.

Some birds are enjoying the drought, however. Fish-eating birds such as herons, egrets and terns are finding their prey easier to catch as river levels are low.

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