Birds: The Unsung Heroes

Have you ever noticed how connecting with Birds just makes you feel better? Emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually? When we take time to admire the birds, we admire their beauty, their song, and their ability to fly.  We also admire their importance to the ecosystem. That’s right. Birds provide many direct and indirect contributions to the environment.  But what exactly are those contributions?

I pondered this question myself and I have to confess my embarrassment about not having a more elegant or scientific response. Other than just thoroughly enjoying every chance I get to observe the birds in my backyard and experience a deeper connection to God through them, I am sometimes at a loss for words to explain to others why birds matter so much. (Tell me I’m not alone in that! Lol).

In an article posted by the Audubon, I learned some interesting facts.  Did you know…

  • Birds contribute to the diversity of plant life through seed dispersal (most song birds) and pollination (900+ bird species worldwide).
  • Birds control insect outbreaks by consuming large quantities of mosquitoes, caterpillars, beetles, and moths, and are known to have saved many potato fields, fruit orchards, organic wineries, and cranberry bogs from insect devastation.
  • Birds help rid the world of disease through scavenger “clean-up” services, including roadkill produced on our roads and highways.
  • Birds stimulate economies and tourism in many parts of the world, spending some $41 billion annually on birding activities (including travel, technology, and education) in the U.S. alone.
  • Birds serve as indicators of environmental health and change to climate, habitat, and weather.
  • Bird as a hobby, including watching and learning their names and how to identify them, improves both cognition and mental health.
  • Birds serve as a subject of poetic meditation and focal point for various art forms, including water colored paintings, cross-stitched linens, antiqued brooches, and porcelain china.

The last ten years has seen an explosion of research on this subject, resulting in a strong body of evidence to support bird protection. “For better or worse, economic arguments tend to get more attention in political debates,” says Geoffrey Heal, a microeconomist at Columbia University Business School. The new research, he says, strengthens the case that “most environmental conservation, if well structured, actually does pay off directly.”

It turns out birds aren’t just luxuries for hobbyists or environmental fanatics. They’re actually unsung heroes.

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