Today, April 22, 2016, marks the 46th year of Earth Day. Earth Day began in 1970 when the founder, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, had an idea to have a national day that focuses on environmental issues and awareness. He announced the event to the media and promoted it across the country. The event was scheduled for April 22. More than 20 million Americans assembled in various locations across the United States to demonstrate and demand a focus on the environment. Since the first Earth Day many environmental laws and acts have been created and April 22 is now observed worldwide. Many organizations hold events on and around Earth Day to educate the public, as well as events like tree-planting and clean-ups of natural areas.
So what does Earth Day have to do with birds? If you are reading this blog, you obviously think birds are important. Birds do matter, and everyone who loves them have their different reasons for doing so. Of course, learning about and watching birds fills us with joy and makes the world a more beautiful and exciting place. But many people don’t realize that birds are very important environmental indicators.
In a world where we are dealing with climate change there is a lot of uncertainty. But one thing people who study birds know is this: birds are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment. Their behaviors give scientist clues to what is happening in their ecosystem. Birds are great indicators of the quality of a habitat, biodiversity, and pollution. Thousands of bird species have populations that are declining, especially species that are dependent on very specific environmental factors.
I thought Earth Day would be the perfect opportunity to list some ways we can help with bird conservation. The best part about conserving birds is that by helping them, we are helping the rest of the environment and all the world’s creatures, including ourselves. Here are some thing that you can do to help:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle!
- Become a citizen scientist: There are many ways to do this: report data of the birds you see on sites such as Ebird (run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), participating in local/national bird counts such as Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count and The Great Backyard Bird Count, reporting data about nests and banded birds that you watch.
- Be a responsible pet owner. Please do not let your cat live outside. According to an article by National Geographic (“North American Birds Declining as Threats Mount”) between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds are killed by cats annually in the United States.
- Don’t forget to clean your feeders! Keeping your feeding stations clean can help reduce avian diseases.
- Support conservation efforts of both local and national environment/bird groups
- Reduce your energy usage and make an effort to waste less water
- Plant native flowers and plants in your backyard
- Educate your friends and family (or anyone really!) about these issues. Knowledge is power my friends!
This is just a small sample of things we can do to help our birds and our environment. I hope this post helped inspire you, my fellow bird lovers, to think about how you can help our environment.
If you want to learn more you can check out some of the links I used to write this blog:
- Environment for the Americans: 20 Ways to Conserve Birds
- Environmental Sciences.org: Birds as Environmental Indicators
- Audubon: What Do Birds Do For Us?