Birds play an essential role in the functioning of the world’s ecosystems, in a way that directly impacts human health, economy and food production – as well as millions of other species.
Birds pollinate plants, are nature’s clean-up crew, spread seeds, keep coral reefs alive, and more. Smaller birds may eat seeds and nuts, dropping many of these to the forest floor where creatures below can access these nutrients. Other birds spread nutrients in the ocean. The bird droppings are rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, which is an excellent fertilizer for plants and even coral reefs.
Some birds control insect populations and prevent them from overwhelming plants and trees. Worldwide birds consume 400-500 million tons of insects each year within gardens, forests, farmland, and even towns and cities.
Others eat fungi then disperse them throughout the forest as they travel. Trees rely on fungi networks to communicate with one another, share resources like food and water, and send distress signals if there is an insect attack.
Unfortunately, bird species are on the decline worldwide. Bird species in the US and Canada, for example, have declined by nearly 30% in the last 50 years due to habitat loss through urbanization and repurposing land for farming.
We should encourage governments to protect wildlife like birds through policy and regulations before important species are lost.