Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why we should care about birds

From: American Bird Conservancy 

Birds inspire us.

Our affection for birds dates to the dawn of our species. Eagles, doves, and ravens permeate our history, cultures, and religions. Images of cranes, falcons, geese, and parrots adorn the walls of Neolithic caves, Egyptian pyramids, Mayan temples—and most American homes today. Storks deliver us at birth and owls mourn our deaths. Each new generation marvels at the beauty of birds and their ability to fly away, leaving us simply to wonder.

Birds are indicators of environmental hazards.

Because they are sensitive to habitat change and are easy to census, birds are the ecologist's favorite tool. Changes in bird populations are often the first indication of environmental problems. Whether ecosystems are managed for agricultural production, wildlife, water, or tourism, success can be measured by the health of birds.

Protecting birds promotes good land stewardship.

Birds have been a driving force behind the American conservation movement since its early days, when unregulated hunting, use of toxic pesticides, and destruction of wetlands threatened our wildlife and wild places. The environmental problems we face today are even more complex, and we need a new generation of committed conservationists to counter them.

Birds are a tremendous economic resource.

Forty-six million Americans watch birds. Birders are the market for a burgeoning industry, spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year feeding birds, purchasing equipment, and traveling in pursuit of birds. This economic force—and the benefits birds provide in insect and rodent control, plant pollination, and seed dispersal—add value to sustaining birds and their habitats.

But most of all, we have a moral obligation.

As stewards of our planet, we have an absolute ethical obligation to maintain all other species regardless of their functional values. We should no more allow the loss of species than destroy a masterpiece of art. The very least our generation can do is to ensure our children inherit as much as we have now.

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