November 15th, 2014
How Does a Bird House Help The Environment?
"Birds play a dynamic role in nature. Anywhere you go in this world, you'll see birds performing a multitude of functions that help to sustain our ecosystem. Without birds, the animal kingdom would not be the same."
You may wonder how a simple birdhouse can help our environment. Although birdhouses come in a wide variety of designs, any type of bird structure that is intended for the benefit of avian life will help the environment. Birdhouses help to protect birds from predators, keep them warm in winter, give them a place to raise their young, and offset disruptions that occur in nature.
Importance of Birdhouses
There is a large percentage of birds in the U.S. that will choose an enclosed structure to live in. Since the natural habitat of birds is being reduced every year, assisting them with a simple wooden structure will provide various species with a safe place to dwell and keep their numbers strong. This aids in the evolution process even when disruptions occur.
Yes, a basic structure that is designed just for our avian friends can help them to live well and be happy. Think about the many disruptions that occur in our eco-system today, and a simple birdhouse can benefit our environment by offsetting those disruptions and tip the scales back in favor of avian wildlife.
So exactly how does a birdhouse benefit the environment?..
Creating a balance in nature.. (The Natural Order)
Mounting a protective wood structure in your backyard will keep the chain of events happening in a natural order.
Let's examine these benefits in detail below...
A simple bird structure with the proper dimensions will give a motherbird a secure nesting compartment to dwell in and raise her young. When baby birds have a safe place to grow up, they will become strong enough to fly away and eventually take up their place in nature. This helps mother nature to keep the cycle of evolution in order.
A birdhouse mounted just 5-7 feet off the ground will make a short swoop-path for birds to land on the ground below. This will encourage a regular routine for birds to fly back and forth from the birdhouse to the ground below, and back again. When birds walk on the surface of the ground, they essentially help to fertilize the soil from the scratching effect caused by their claws. Just by walking or hoping along the soil surface, their claws effectively "etch" the soil, causing it to become loose and more absorbent. This allows various nutrients to mix in with the top soil and increases good bacteria needed for pH balance. Birds will also defecate on the soil, which sinks into the soil creating a good compost mixture for fertilizer.
Some birds are considered insectivores and naturally hunt worms, flies, mosquitoes, beetles and other pests. Without birds eating these insects, massive infestations would occur and create an imbalance that would be devastating to man and nature. Birds benefit us for the simple reason that they are able to hold in-check the most powerful living species on earth, . . insects. If unchecked, insects would control the earth.
Some birds such as Sparrows, Jays, Finches, Nuthatches Titmice, Dove and Blackbirds like to eat seeds. If it were not for these seed eaters and others, countless quantities of weeds would overrun our yards, gardens and fields.
Observation and Fact Gathering
Providing controlled structures for birds allows humans to observe them and study their behavior. This subsequently helps science to better understand the environment and how people and wildlife can live together.
Different birds have different abilities. Together, the bird kingdom plays its part collectively in carrying out what mother nature requires from them.
Various species of birds have different capabilities as far as what they offer to the environment. A birdhouse will aid in maintaining most species and help to preserve them in their evolution. Evolving naturally will enable them to maintain their balance and purpose within the animal kingdom.
When considering the most common plant pollinators, most people will think of honey bees. And it's true that honey bees play a big role in transporting pollen from one flower to another, but did you know that birds aid in the pollination of plants too?
When pollination is carried out by birds, the term used to refer to it is ornithophily. Pollination of flowering plants by birds is common among hummingbirds, sunbirds, honey-eaters to name a few. By supplying these types of birds with a safe place to live, you are enabling the mother bird of that species to lay her eggs and raise her young. With more bird pollinators in your neighborhood, you are essentially enhancing the pollination process for vegetable plants and fruit trees, thus benefiting the environment with more productive food-bearing foliage.
Invite avian pollinators to your geographical area by creating a pollinator friendly habitat in your yard, garden, farm, park or school. To learn more about what you can do to help pollinators, click here. Download your help guide here. To find out which birdhouse is right for a particular species, go here.
Dissemination (seed dispersal)
Some plants are dependent on birds for successful seed dispersal and regeneration. How? When seeds are eaten by birds, the outer seed coats are weakened as they pass through the bird's digestive system. Once a seed has passed completely through the digestive tract of a bird, it will often be dropped far away from the host tree's location, allowing the tree family to regenerate and expand into new areas. This is particularly beneficial in areas of the world where ecosystems are dependent on this particular process, such as new Zealand.
In the high mountains of the American West, the seeds from trees are commonly dispersed by one bird in particular - the Clark's Nutcracker. This bird is a cousin to the crow and has a sturdy bill that opens pinecones to pluck out the seeds. After it eats or stores the pinecone seeds inside its throat, it then buries the uneaten seeds, allowing the seeds to grow into adult trees. If it were not for the Clark's Nutcracker, trees would be at a severe disadvantage when it comes to regeneration, especially the Whitebark Pine!
Bird feeders will also help to promote the bird population. If you live in an area of the country that has extreme cold, a year-round bird feeder will help non-migrating birds find food and will help support birds and songbird populations when food is scarce.
A bluebird is a songbird that is naturally inclined to search for enclosed structures to live in. Bluebird numbers declined greatly in the 1900's, but with the help from man-made structures such as bluebird houses, they have made a substantial recovery thanks in part to bluebird trails. A bluebird trail is a continuous "trail" of bluebird nesting boxes mounted in open areas with the intention of increasing the population of bluebirds.
Imagine what our world would be like without songbirds...
The sound of birds singing helps us to experience pleasure and calmness. What would our lives be like if suddenly we could not hear them singing in the morning? As we live our busy lives, the sound of a songbird outside our window makes us feel calm and gives us a sense that we are at peace with nature. Bird calls range from sweet-sounding to loud crowing, and many other sounds including chirping, chipping, crying, whistling, peeping, and even the screeching of a barn owl. Not all birds are songbirds, but it's easy to appreciate the presence of all birds when you consider what they do for us. The next time you feel a little stressed, take a walk to the park and listen for a songbird. There are many species of songbirds in America to enjoy. The resulting pleasure derived from the experience will help you to live in a harmonious world.
Negative forces are always at work!
There are many variables in nature that work against a mother bird and her babies. The chances that a negative outside force will hinder the success of a mother bird in raising her young are enormous. Predators such as snakes, cats, squirrels and raccoons are just a few examples that will prevent baby birds from reaching maturity. Human encroachment is another negative force that is always at work. Mounting a birdhouse in your neighborhood helps to create a balance between humans and birds, as well as other wildlife. It enables man and beast to thrive in the same environment, and fulfills mother natures' intended purpose for man and beast to live and evolve together in harmony.
What birds want in a birdhouse..
It really depends on the species. Certain birds mainly want protection and warmth inside of an enclosed structure, while others look for an open platform structure just to lay their eggs. Some species of birds may not feel the need for safety as much as others do simply because they are not as vulnerable. They may only need a platform to rest or lay eggs. You may have noticed that some mother birds will lay on top of their eggs to keep them warm and safe, but some won't. This is why doing a little research on birds in your area will help to determine whether you should mount a bird house or bird platform. Basically however, all birds manage to follow their instincts when looking for a place to either nest, rest or hide.
Kids can do their part too!
Mounting a birdhouse is easy and takes little time. It doesn't take much time or effort, and kids will find it fun and satisfying. When you place a birdhouse somewhere in nature, you are essentially helping a mother bird find a safe place to lay her eggs and creating a warm environment for incubation. Parents can help kids to understand wildlife better by assisting them in mounting a simple birdhouse in their backyard. Eventually, they will develop a strong sense of awareness that they did something to contribute to their local environment. Kids will also find it fascinating to watch eggs hatch and grow into baby birds.
Teaching kids about animal life also helps them to understand the ecosystem. The outdoors offers many avian species to observe, from songbirds to predators, as they all play a part in the balance of nature. A child will enjoy watching a bluebird because of their blue feathers. And what's more fascinating to see when purple martins fly through the air like acrobats? The sight of these amazing creatures will help a child appreciate the colorful and diverse beauty all around them. But kids might miss it all if an adult does not direct their attention in the right direction.
Declining Bird Populations
Scientists have found that the number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined significantly in past decades. Although a few species have recovered somewhat, the majority of all other bird groups have declined about 29% overall since 1970.
A birdhouse is just a simple structure, and it's primary purpose is for the mother bird to lay her eggs. The first impression that most people get when they think of a birdhouse is just a simple structure used by a mother bird to lay her eggs. And for the most part this is true, but a bird house may help to keep avian populations strong even in lieu of a larger reality that involve disruptions.
In our busy world, there are many things that can disrupt the balance of nature. Examples of disruptions include:
- Cities expanding their boundaries.
- Forrest fires caused by careless humans.
- Pollution in the air and waterways.
- Human activity such as dirt-bikes, ATV's, camp grounds and over-hunting.
- Competition from non-native birds being introduced into different bird habitats other than their own.
Indeed, disruptions occur in nature all the time, and a birdhouse may help to offset some of those disruptions in very unassuming ways. A hundred years ago, most disruptions were not a great concern, but today they are not only a constant problem but a rapidly progressing threat. Conditions such as these can cause the normal habitat of wildlife to become disrupted, forcing birds and other animals to migrate to other habitats with unsuitable climates. It also forces them to live with unfamiliar predators that they cannot defend themselves against. A simple wooden structure with four walls, roof, and a floor is all it takes for anyone to aid our feathered friends in survival.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, songbird populations have been declining steadily. In the case of the North American Bluebird, however, birdhouses have helped to reverse this decline. In recent decades, efforts have been made by humans to help promote bluebird numbers by building bluebird trails, which involves setting up multiple birdhouses along a track or trail at certain intervals. It's a common belief today that the efforts made by people in past decades have greatly helped to improve bluebird numbers.
Birds offer unique and dynamic contributions that only birds can offer. Their unique contributions would be non-existent in some areas if it were not for the efforts of compassionate human beings who set up birdhouses, as well as politicians who enact laws that protect birds and other wildlife.
"Birds are magnificent creatures, and arguably one of the greatest among all survivalists. With their ability to run, hop, jump and fly, they are readily able to forage for food, hunt for food, defend against predators, flee from danger, provide for their young, relocate and adapt. For dedicated bird watchers, their colors, feathers and shapes makes them very attractive and fun to watch. Yes, birds are truly amazing. Mounting a birdhouse in your backyard will help keep bird populations strong, thus helping our environment!" Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed reading about the benefits of a birdhouse, please read our article on What Color Should I Paint a Birdhouse»