Can you imagine a world without birds? Neither can I. Birds are incredibly beneficial for the humans and the Earth. Birds participate in a crucial role in the functioning of the world’s ecosystems, and behaviors that directly impact human health, ecosystems, and food production. Millions of species benefit and survive from bird habits.
1. Birds Regulate Bugs
Studies have reported that birds eat 400-500 million tons of insects a year. In China, two-thirds of the diet of a House Swift (Apus nipalesnis) consists of agricultural pests, and in forests across the Americas. During outbreaks of Spruce Budworm, which is bad for the tree, an Evening Grosbeak can provide biological control worth $1,820 per square kilometer. Birds are so useful that nest boxes have become a pest control practice throughout Europe.
2. Birds pollinate plants
Birds are a source of pollination. Historically, butterflies and bees are what come to mind when discussing pollination. However, in South Africa, honeyeaters and hummingbirds provide an essential contribution to hot climates and high altitudes. The Salvia species plant does not have a scent, yet, they range in colors of purple, red and white, which attracts birds since birds favor sight over smell. Approximately a quarter of the Salvia species are bird-pollinated – around 5% of the plants’ humans use for food or medicine are pollinated by birds. If the birds go extinct, human food and medicine will also decline.
3. Birds are Earth’s natural “Clean-up Crew”
Vultures are not particularly well-loved by humans. However, they are essential to keeping our ecosystem secure and clean by assisting in the ridding of dead animal and plant matter. Vultures eat carrion – the flesh of animals killed. Some species of vultures eat cartilage and bone from the deceased animal. The vultures’ diets help to speed up the decomposition process, which in return, aids in fertilizing the Earth.
4. Birds spread seeds
When birds take flight, they take the seeds they have eaten with them and disperse them through their droppings. They bring plants back to ecosystems that have been destroyed and even carry plants across the sea to new land masses. Birds have helped to shape the plant life we see around us – and the world.
5. Birds alter entire landscapes
Habitats like forests, marshes, and grasslands influence people globally, even those humans living hundreds of miles away. They store carbon, keep the climate stable, oxygenate the air, and transform pollutants into nutrients. However, without birds, many of these ecosystems may not exist. Birds preserve the subtle balance between predator and prey, plant, and herbivore. The Salt Marsh Periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata), in the salt marshes of southeastern USA, feeds upon the cordgrass in the swamp. If it weren’t for the bird predators such as oyster catchers, curlews, and plovers, these tiny snails would demolish the whole swamp leaving only mudflats.
6. One birds poop is another coral reefs food
Climate change is a severe threat to many ecosystems across the globe. Coral reefs are one ecosystem that is particularly threatened by climate change. When the water temperature gets too hot for long periods, it kills the algae, which lives on the coral – providing food for the coral. As a result, the algae dies from the hot water, and so does the coral, due to no nutrients from the algae, resulting in bleached coral.
Having seabirds, such as Seagulls, that nest nearby the coral is beneficial to the reefs. The birds will fly out into the open ocean and eat fish or water bugs. During their flight returning to the islands, the birds will poop into the sea, fertilizing the plants and the coral reefs. This poop is full of nutrients from the food that the birds ate out in the ocean. The plants and fish that live in the coral reefs can then benefit from these nutrients that end up in the water around the reefs.
As humans we must take care of the flocks that soar through the skies. They bring us food, medicine, nutrients and provide the earth with a balanced ecosystem. Humans need birds for survival on the Earth’s soils.