Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Do Birds Matter?

I don’t know why, but ever since pre-teenagerhood, birds have occupied my conscience. Yes, through much of my earlier years as a teenager and young adult other matters were at the forefront of my mind – school, sport, work, family, etc. I think I was normal, but I suspect for much of that time, a fondness for our avi-fauna was ever-present in the further reaches of my subconscious.

It was a bit later in life that I really became aware of how my spirits were lifted at the sight of the magnificent aerial displays of a Woodswallow or of hearing the call of the first Oriole to arrive each Spring in my little patch of Gippsland.

And, not until retirement was I able to focus a little deeper on why birds matter.

Many birds of course are beautiful. Many have glorious song, (although Rossini’s ‘Thieving Magpie’ does not come close to the real thing), but birds are important for much more than this.
Golden Whistler - a beautiful songster often seen on the edges of Drouin

Birds occupy pretty much any habitat on our planet. The only other animal species to do this are generally microscopic. Birds live in the arctic and antarctic, the driest deserts and wettest forests, oceans, mountains and plains. They live with us in our cities and towns.

Some birds are inquisitive of humans. Our own Grey Fantails and Eastern Yellow Robins will sometimes fly around anyone that strays into their territory. Others can be downright aggressive toward us – Magpies at nesting time.
Eastern Yellow Robin on a friend's walking stick.

Many birds are sedentary, seldom leaving their small patch of habitat. Others fly thousands of kilometres each year on their amazing migratory flight paths. In 2007, a Bar-tailed Godwit was recorded flying from Alaska to New Zealand, non-stop, in 9 days, an astonishing 11,500km!

And, don’t believe that birds are unintelligent or don’t enjoy some fun from time to time – check out this YouTube video of a wild Crow in Russia snowboarding on a plastic lid!

Yes, all very well I hear you say, but do they matter?

Birds may be the last connection we have to the disappearing natural world. Many birds are pollinators and seed dispersers, some eat annoying pests like insects and rodents, a few are a food source themselves for other animals and humans. In many situations, birds are fantastic bio-indicators – they can tell us the health of an ecosystem.

Of course birds matter. They remind us of our own decency. What right do we have to be the cause of their loss to the world? Birds may not contribute to our economy but is that the highest standard we can ascribe them? If we are so intelligent, shouldn’t we be helping to ensure their survival rather than be the cause of their demise?

Sorry for the rant, I digress.

April is bird monitoring month for
 the Friends of Drouin’s Trees

Our members are conducting some surveys in various locations of our beautiful town and the public is invited to join in.
Crystal Waters Drouin will be 'surveyed'.

Surveys of between 1 and 2 hours duration will be conducted …
Monday 02/04/18, 8am and 3pm.
Wednesday 04/04/18, 8am and 3pm.
Monday 09/04/18, 8am.
Thursday 12/04/18, 8am and 3pm.
Monday 16/04/18, 8am and 3pm.
'Golden Whistler Reserve' in Drouin

We will be meeting for car-pooling and instructions at the Drouin Bowls Club car park at the above times. If you would like further details, please email me – drouinwaresATgmailDOTcom – otherwise, just turn up, preferably with your binoculars.

Want some more?
Europe faces biodiversity oblivion after collapse in French birds, experts warn – The Guardian
Birds as environmental indicators – Environmental
What do birds do for us – Audubon.
Threats to birds – Bird Life Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment