Importance of Birds

We live on a blue planet governed by the laws of the natural world. With a cursory glance at a wetland, a rainforest, scrubland or even one’s own backyard, there’s an intangible relationship between species sustaining it all. Ecosystems like these have workers designated with biological roles that are constantly interacting and shaping our environment. Whether it’s the plants, insects, animals or birds, our landscapes are tied together with a series of processes that lay the foundation for a non-physical network of connections. It is this dynamic web of life that is crucial for the homeostasis of our planet. Here we will look at some of these roles played by our feathered protagonists in question which have benefits cut out for not only the habitats around us but for us human beings as well.

Pollination

While different types of insects and bats serve as vital reproductive extensions for flowering plants, birds too provide a helping hand in ensuring the continuation of the biodiversity prevalent on our planet. Ornithophily is a term used for pollination carried out by birds as they move from one flower to another. Sunbirds, white-eyes and warblers in particular fall under this category due to their small stature and nectar probing adaptations which allows plants to stick their pollen either onto either their feather or their bills. This mutual exchange has immense ecological significance where one gains food(nectar) and the other receives its very own pollen delivery system.

Pest Control

Needless to say, that if birds disappeared from our world, we would be plagued by swarms of insects. It would cause mass hysteria as ecosystems would perish within months with nothing to keep their populations under regulation. Birds are notorious for consuming heaps of insects, this number can go up to 400-500 million tons per year. While species of waterfowl and kingfishers are known to feed on molluscs, birds such as bee-eaters, drongos, swallows and hawk and pick out insects. With such proficient agents at our disposal, we can put an end to the use pesticides or insecticides to protect our crops and instead incorporate natures very own tools to ensure that our food is protected and far safe for our own consumption.

Weed Control

If it weren’t for grain-eating birds, the diversity we see in terms of vegetation could be far more limited. A few species of plants could easily take precedence over others as their seeds would grow rampant while propagating over large areas of land. Birds like sparrows, munias, doves, parakeets are instrumental in feeding on countless seeds that drop to the ground which helps in keeping certain species of plants from becoming invasive.

Decomposers

Certain species are specialist scavengers. Vultures, kites, magpies and crows are known as nature’s cleanup crew as they consume carcasses within hours. They go through flesh in a manner that leaves very little to rot and without them, there would be a surge in the populations of feral animals which would consequentially lead to an increase in diseases transmitted between them. Without these decomposers, we would be far more susceptible to contagious infections from decaying carcasses.

Landscape Architects

Birds are the proficient gardeners and farmers we need as they play an active role in seed dispersion which shapes countless landscapes through the world. Species such as bulbuls, orioles, barbets, parakeets and hornbills are voracious fruit eaters that unwittingly drop seeds as they cover distances. Once they set foot onto a new habitat, the seeds germinate and sprout into life. This ensures the renewal of plants and ecosystems that oxygenate our planet and provide us with even more fruit/food than we started out with. The ripple effect certainly has great benefits.

Seasonal Indicators

Many birds migrate due to changes in season. They are perhaps great indicators of the onset of one as they far more tuned in to wind directions and the subtlest changes in weather. Observing their behaviour and migration patterns can inform us about the inbound seasonal transition. Seeing Jacobin’s Cuckoos during the advent of pre monsoons is an accurate sign that a spell of monsoon showers across India is around the corner.

A Bird Watcher’s Delight

If it wasn’t for vibrant plumages and bird songs, birders would miss out on some of the most marvellous spectacles of the natural world. Observing birds thriving in their natural environment as they go about their tasks is an absolute joy for many. A world without bird would certainly lack the colour and exuberance many crave to witness. It also instils a great sense of calm and can be quite a meditative experience. Altogether, a simple activity such as birdwatching can evoke a much deeper appreciation for the natural world.

They Encourage Tourism / Conservation

With many hotspots across the country becoming increasingly popular to view birds, people from around the world throng to witness birds at these sites interact with their environment. Areas of nesting and massive congregations become hubs for tourists to enjoy the magnificent show displayed by these winged wonders. This surge in tourism has generated the much-needed income within the communities of these remote areas. Having found a more sustainable livelihood, many individuals who were once poachers now protect the very species they used to hunt. This has impacted the revival of many species as the reduction in hunting for illegal trade and bushmeat has fallen dramatically.
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