Why do we need birds? What good are they? Plenty – is the right answer. Birds are a part of every corner of this world. And their value to the ecosystem is impossible to overstate.
Birds have been estimated to consume 98 percent of certain insect pests, including codling moths, enhancing agricultural production. Birds pollinate many plant species, particularly flowers.
Scavengers, such as vultures, act as a clean-up crew, consuming carcasses and helping to avoid the spread of disease. Birds’ droppings also help redistribute nutrients throughout the environment.
Changes in bird populations reflect changes in our environment often indicating that there is something wrong and that we need to take action. Loss of birds is a threat to other species, nature and ultimately to humankind. Every living organism, including birds, is part of a food chain so every piece of this chain is important in order to keep the ecosystem balance. A disturbance to the balance could have an effect on humans.
Beyond these ecological benefits, birds just enrich our lives.
Birds have important cultural relationships with humans. Birds are common pets in the Western world. Common bird pets include canaries, parrots, finches, and parakeets. Sometimes, people act cooperatively with birds. For example, the Borana people in Africa use birds to guide them to honey that they use in food.
Birds also play prominent and diverse roles in folklore, religion, and popular culture. They have been featured in art since prehistoric times, when they appeared in early cave paintings. Many young child know of Big Bird, a very large canary of Sesame Street fame.
Feathers are also used all over the world to stuff pillows, mattresses, sleeping bags, coats, and quilting. Goose feathers are preferred because they are soft. Manufacturers often mix goose feathers with down feathers to provide extra softness.
Lastly, birds bring beauty and song into the world. They remind us that there are things more important than the size of our big screen TV or how many social media followers we have. They remind us that we are all connected.
Birds matter. Believe it.
Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.