Why Birds Matter


Northern Cardinal - Todd Schneider

Birds amaze and delight us. Their beauty captivates us. Their ingenuity and ability spark our imagination. Yet birds play many other important roles in our lives and the world.

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without birds? Well beyond their beauty and splendor, birds matter! Their impact on the natural world and our own history should not be underestimated.


Did you know that birds contribute to the diversity of plant life through pollination and seed dispersal? Or that birds control insect outbreaks and create important nesting cavities for other species? Or that they help rid the world of disease through scavenger “clean-up” services? Birds help shape our culture, provide important economic benefits, and serve as important indicators for scientists about the state of the environment.


Yet even though they are so important, most bird populations are declining. We have already lost birds such as the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, and Bachman’s Warbler, and many other birds are endangered or threatened.


Nothing is more important for bird conservation than sharing your enthusiasm and love for birds with others! They provide a wonderful source of enjoyment and are an important connection we have with the natural world.


At Atlanta Audubon Society, we believe that everyone can make a difference! Making a difference in the world begins with just one person. . .you! It means getting educated and getting involved. Whatever your talents or gifts, organizations devoted to protecting the natural world need you. Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life and the beneficiaries of your commitment will be the birds that we all love!


Here are several other ways that you can make a difference!


What Can You Do?


Buy Shade Grown Coffee Many of the songbirds you see migrating through Georgia will spend part of their winter in a Central or South American coffee plantation shaded with canopy trees. The more native canopy trees there are, and the greater diversity of those trees, the more birds and wildlife they will shelter. Buying shade grown coffee will protect trees, wildlife, and the birds! More information is available at our Shade-grown Coffee Facts page.


Think About the Trees on Your Property Because old dead trees provide important sites for woodpeckers to drill cavities and burrow nests, don’t cut down a dead tree, if possible. If it isn’t a safety hazard for people or property, consider leaving it alone. Not only will woodpeckers potentially benefit, but other cavity adopters will take advantage of the nest long after the woodpecker has left.


Feed the Birds At a minimum, all birds must have food, water, shelter, and nest sites. The easiest way to attract birds is to put out bird feeders. But remember, busy feeders are great places for diseases to be exchanged amongst birds. Provide the proper menu to avoid waste, clean feeders regularly, and rake up hulls underneath the feeders to help keep visiting birds healthy. Visit www.backyardbirdcare.org for more information.


Certify Your Backyard as a Wildlife Sanctuary As more and more land becomes developed across Georgia, consider certifying your backyard as a wildlife sanctuary with Atlanta Audubon Society. Creating or enhancing your property to include food and water sources, nesting site, and shelter for birds will help provide critical habitat where development has eliminated many natural areas and important “corridors” for successful migration. More information is available at our Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Certification page.


Buy a Duck Stamp Do you know that buying an official duck stamp can be one of the most important things you can do for conserving the environment? Duck stamps cost just $15 each and 98 percent goes directly to habitat conservation. To date, more than $700 million has been generated to add 5.2 million acres of habitat to the National Wildlife Refuge System. Buy them at most post offices, sporting good stores, or online at www.fws.gov/duckstamps/


Keep Your Cat Indoors Scientists estimate that cats (both domestic and feral) kill four million birds each day (one billion annually). Common victims include Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, and House Wrens, as well as other endangered and rare species. In addition, cats may out-compete natural predators for food and have a detrimental effect on wildlife. You can find out more about why it is important to bring your cat indoors at www.abcbirds.org/cats/


Share Your Passion for Birds Nothing is more important for bird conservation than sharing your enthusiasm and love for birds with others! They provide a wonderful source of enjoyment and are an important connection we have with the natural world.


Be a Citizen Scientist Throughout the year, a variety of organizations have special bird counting events that the general public is invited and encouraged to join. Events, such as the Great Backyard Bird Count, the Christmas Bird Count, and Pigeon Watch, are not only fun and a great activity for family and friends, but they provide scientists with invaluable data on the current condition of birds around the state and across the country. Check out www.birds.cornell.edu for more information.