Why We Need Bird Conservation

Note: You can download a PDF file of Why We Need Bird Conservation to print out and pass around to all your friends! (488 KB)

Birds provide many things that are beneficial to humans and the environment. There are many reasons why bird conservation is vital, which can be broken down into four main categories:

  1. Ecological Value
  2. Scientific Importance
  3. Economic Impact
  4. Social Significance

Baltimore Oriole Common Grackle Eating a Brood XIII

Ecological Value of Birds

Birds are part of the natural system. They are pollinators for many plants. Hummingbirds, warblers and orioles are examples of birds that are important pollinators.

The Orchard Oriole eats nectar and pollen from flowers, especially during the winter. It is an important pollinator for some tropical tree species, transferring the pollen from flower to flower on its head.Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Rodent control would be much more of a problem were it not for large rodent-eaters such as owls and hawks.

A nesting pair of Barn Owls with six young may consume more than 1000 mice during a three month nesting period.Maryland DNR

Birds also eat incredible amounts of insects. Forest insects are extremely reduced because of birds, saving forest and money.

One study examined the indirect effects of North American insectivorous birds on plant growth and found that population declines reduce forest productivity because of potentially higher numbers of leaf-chewing insects – (Whelan, 1994).

There is ecological damage from not protecting birds. Extensive recovery efforts for a species in trouble cost far more than protecting the habitat before it gets that far gone. This is not to say that we shouldn’t protect these specific critically endangered species, but to focus also on protecting less endangered areas as well before it is too late.

Pileated Woodpecker House Finch

Scientific Importance

Where did we learn about flight? How did Darwin come up with the mechanism for evolution, the theory of natural selection? Bird studies are constantly helping us advance scientifically.

Researchers at the Methodist Neurological Institute (NI) in Houston and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City used functional MRI to determine that songbirds have a pronounced right-brain response to the sound of songs, establishing a foundational study for future research on songbird models of speech disorders such as stuttering.Science Daily

Birds are also key to indicating environmental changes. Large, rapid bird declines can announce an environmental problem that needs immediate attention. Studies on how birds are affected by habitat fragmentation or pollution can clue us in to specific problems that eventually will also negatively affect us.

Pesticides contamination (especially DDT) impacts were shown by declines in Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Brown Pelicans, and Bald Eagles and, more recently, die-offs of waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders from agricultural runoff.

-The Birders Conservation Handbook

Bird studies will continue to teach us more about climate, environmental issues, and lead to new scientific breakthroughs.

EL 10x42 With Duck Stamp Canon 100-400mm IS Lens

Economic Impact

The economic impact of birders is obvious. A typical weekend trip for a birder includes food, gas, lodging, as well as possibly new gear. Over a birder’s lifetime, gear and travel adds up quite a bit and birder numbers have been increasing.

In the United States, recreation is important and increasing. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2001, 82 million people participated in hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, while in that same year 89 million people attended all major league baseball and professional football games.

Birds also save money by eating pests. From gardening to farming, birds can be beneficial to reduce the amounts of pesticides needed.

When forest birds eat insects, the result is greater tree growth and a longer period between insect outbreaks — services that may be worth as much as $5000 per year for each square mile of forest land (Scott Robinson, 1997).

Naturalist 'D' at SBBO Birdfreak Birders

Social Significance

You don’t have to feel obligated to take care of the environment, but the Earth is what we make it and the birds definately can’t fight us for it. What birds provide in the terms of enjoyment is great and we are able to still today go out and watch them. Even non-birders can appreciate a singing robin after a rain in the summer and birds also represent many symbols such as freedom and strength.

Birding is a growing hobby, one that is good for all ages and a great family activity. Most people like to be outdoors, which is good for physical and mental health.

Healing the broken bond between our young and nature is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demand it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depend upon it. – Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

There is more than one reason we should conserve birds and it is up to us to learn and care for our environment and it is not too late to get involved.

Reference List

  1. Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods. Algonquin Books, 335 pages, 2006
  2. Reuters (2007, June 12). Bird Song Study Gives Clues To Human Stuttering. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 8, 2008
  3. Robinson, Scott K. The Case Of The Missing Songbirds
  4. The United States Environmental Protection Agency
  5. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  6. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  7. Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  8. Wells, Jeffrey V.,The Birder’s Conservation Handbook
  9. Whelan, Marquis, RJ, Insectivorous birds increase growth of white oak through consumption of leaf-chewing insects. Ecology. Vol. 75, No. 7, pp. 2007-2014, 1994.

Note: You can download a PDF file of Why We Need Bird Conservation to print out and pass around to all your friends! (488 KB)

13 thoughts on “Why We Need Bird Conservation

  1. . . . because we can give birds like the ivory-bills a second chance!Please don’t give up on Ivory-bills! Bobby and Tim didn’t, and after 33 years of search, research and following leads they saw the ivory-bill, So what makes anyone think that in almost 4 years an almost posed sharp photo would be easy? ? ? ?

    I invite all birders and other interested parties I find on the web to visit the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation’s Update Blog, just in case they are interested, because the search must continue: ibwfound.blogspot.com

    Check in Often, who knows what you’ll find.


  2. Melissa – thanks!!

    Mon@rch – thank you and we agree!!

    Norma – years ago when looking through a Peterson Field Guide (one of the few that had the Ivory in it) we had hope that the Ivory-bill was still around… we have never given up that hope.

    We second that everyone should check out the IBW Foundation Update Blog!!

  3. Great, great post! I just forwarded it to my wife to pass along to her students, and I’ll be using it at future bird talks, walks, workshops, and anywhere else I can!
    – Mike

  4. Mike – Thank you!! We are so glad you are making good use of this. Thank you for passing it along 🙂

  5. Zen – Thank you so much! We love the resources on the site and are honored to be a part of it!

  6. wonderful article. I’ve just added your blog to my list of Great Bird Blogs at http://www.birdingnet.com/links.html.

    I hope this list will help convince people how important the conservation of birds (and other animals) is so important.
    I would also add that I think that a bird (or a wolf, a puma or any other animal) has the same right to live on this planet as we have. People tend to forget this.

  7. Markus Jais – Thanks for adding us to your blog! We believe too, that all animals deserve a place in this world. It is up to us to help them have somewhere to call home.

  8. Hello just read this post and loved it I have just selected this post for my annual project (bird conservation) this has helped me out in an excellent way.

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