Why are birds important? This common question may sound innocent, but the answer is essential to our future. Birds are a vital part of our ecosystem. From pest control to vital pollination, there’s plenty of natural actions birds do that affect our lives in ways you probably don’t even realise. With species of garden birds in decline, it’s a sobering thought to imagine our lives without birds, but these consequences would stretch far beyond the lack of bird sightings in our own gardens. Birds carry out many vital tasks to support our eco system, including seed dispersion and marine fertilisation. Without birds carrying out these important jobs, what would our world look like? Let’s find out.
For more information on birds and what you can do to help them, visit us at Garden Wildlife Direct.
So, why are birds important? Well, without them, many of our favourite fruits would be unavailable to us. Birds play a vital part in spreading seeds all around the world, and are able to reintroduce plants to destroyed ecosystems. They contribute to the dispersion of seeds in several ways, including dropping them from their claws or beak, shaking stuck seeds from their bodies, and defecating the seeds from fruits that they swallowed whole. In this way, birds help spread many flowers and food crops around the world. Some of the seeds birds spread include:
- Medicinal plants
When you think about pollinators, bees and butterflies no doubt spring straight to mind. But there are many birds out there who also play their part in pollination. Although crops aren’t as reliant on bird pollination as they are bird seed dispersion, their pollination is vital to a variety of flowers, particularly in the tropics and similar environments. However, some of our favourite garden flowers, including foxglove, petunia, verbena and iris, depend on the pollination of birds. Although there are very few pollinating birds in the UK, many different countries ecosystems depend on bird pollination.
The primary food of most birds in the wild is insects. Without birds feasting on these insects, we could expect large changes in our ecosystem, including a loss of crops and trees. Insect infestations are deadly to plants, particularly crops and forests. If birds weren’t reducing the insect populations, these pests could take over forests and farms, destroying the vital trees and crops that we need to stay alive. Among the plants that would fail without birds controlling their pests are apple trees, coffee bean crops, white oak trees, fir trees, spruce trees and many common garden plants.
Perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind when considering what life would be like without birds, but scavenger birds, like vultures, are a vital part of our ecosystem. After all, who else would clean up dead animals if not birds that have evolved to do such a job? Without scavenger birds swooping in and disposing of dead animal carcasses, less efficient scavengers like dogs and rats will pick up the remains long after the animal died. This will inevitably lead to the development and eventual spread of deadly diseases like tuberculosis and rabies.
Birds don’t just affect the environment at ground level. Many water birds play a vital part in what goes on under the sea too. The Earth’s oceans are home to many wonders, and one of the most celebrated are the beautiful coral reefs. However, did you know that, without sea birds, these coral reefs would not be so spectacular? Sea birds travel far out to sea in order to feed, and the droppings they produce on their way back to the colonies help fertilise marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. Without this essential addition, coral reefs would not be as spectacular and, more importantly, many marine organisms would go extinct. The consequences of this loss would be detrimental both in the sea and on land.