Happy National Bird Day everyone! This is a day celebrated in America as a way of bringing attention to all different issues that birds face, and also a way of realise how they are important within our ecosystem.
What are Birds?
Birds are warm-blooded invertebrates that have feathers, a lack of teeth, a beak and lay eggs. Not all birds can fly, take Penguins as an example!
Since birds are so incredibly diverse, it is difficult to talk about them as a whole so I will try and talk about different species and their importance.
Please also check out my post regarding International Vulture Awareness Day for more specific information!
Issues That Birds Face
Bird population is slowly declining. The word ‘slowly’ should be emphasised here because it is the reason why not many people are noticing. Since 1970, population within America has declined by 29%, however there are some instances where population decline has been more dramatic, such as the Common Blue Jay, which has lost 80% of its population, and the Common Grackle which is at 50% of what it was.
The main cause of their population decline is agriculture. This is due to the use of chemicals, the destruction of hedges and trees which they nest in and drainage of water off the farm land.
Leading on from loss of habitat, other industries also influence this, such as fracking and deforestation for paper or cocoa beans. Birds are also suffering from colliding into buildings and cell phone/electricity towers.
Why Are They Important?
Birds are either in the middle, or at the top, of a food web. Due to this, they play an important role in maintaining populations of their prey, as well as their predators. They also, indirectly, provide food for scavengers and foragers.
Plants require birds as they act as pollinators! This is typically done by hummingbirds (top right), sunbirds (bottom) and honeyeaters (top left)!
As strange as it may sound, birds are also important for parasites, or other small invertebrates that have a mutual relationship with them. Certain flies live in between their feathers, as do lice.
Did You Know?!
- Flamingos are only pink because of what they eat! Their natural colour is a sort of grey.
- Birds have ornaments (such as their tail) which are used for mating. The bigger and more colourful the ornaments, the more likely they are chosen as a mate. However! These ornaments can also make it difficult for birds to fly and makes them easier to spot for predation.
- There are approximately 10,000 species of bird across the globe. It is estimated that we know approximately 95% of species out there.
- The smallest bird is called the Bee Hummingbird that is 57mm in length and weights 1.6g. It can be found in Cuba!
- Birds are born altricial, which means they cannot look after themselves and require their parents to feed them and protect them.
- I have a tattoo of a barn owl on my shoulder!
The Good News!
Some bird populations have increased, such a ducks and geese! Over the past 10 years, there has been a slow increase of up to 8% of Canadian Geese.
There are also some laws in place across the world that assist in keeping these animals safe. In England, there is a piece of legislation called ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981’ that states all birds and their nests are protected from disruption and they cannot be injured or killed. There is also a UK law ‘Protection of Birds Act 1954’ which relates to the protection of wild birds, and also relates to bird sanctuaries.
Charities Who Need Your Help!
If you are interested in helping these incredible and diverse animals, please check out these charities (click on the pictures to be directed to the website):