Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Ruth Sheets, FPUPC Earth Stewards Committee
You may have seen the recent scientific study that revealed severe bird declines. There are now 3 billion fewer birds in North America than we had just 50 years ago. The Audubon website claims two-thirds of our bird species are at risk from climate change. This is a problem because birds are part of our world and should not be under such distress!
The Audubon website gathered responses to the question why birds matter. You can find the answers at https://www.audubon.org/news/why-do-birds-matter, but here are a few reasons to get you started thinking about the importance of birds, and why we should take steps to protect them.
Birds are important because they keep systems in balance: they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, scavenge carcasses and recycle nutrients back into the earth. But they also feed our spirits, marking for us the passage of the seasons, moving us to create art and poetry, inspiring us to flight and reminding us that we are not only on, but of, this earth.
—Melanie Driscoll, Director of bird conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Flyway
Birds matter because they are beautiful to watch and to hear and because they make my heart soar with joy and gratitude of the abundance and diversity of God’s universe.
—Dianne Lawson, Topeka Audubon Society Birds inspire us to reach for greater heights in life. No wonder the Bible urges us to “mount up with wings like eagles” in order to renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
—Neil Weatherhogg, Topeka Audubon Society and Audubon of Kansas
Join the Great Backyard Bird Count!
One of my favorite things to do in the middle of winter is to feed and watch the birds. Every February, for a few years now, I have participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This year it runs from February 12 – 15th. Find out more at birdcount.org. You (or your family team) can create an account to record your bird sightings at ebird.org. Each day of the GBBC I try to spend 30 minutes sitting by my window watching the birds that come to my feeder, and record the results. It is fun to see what others in my town and state are recording each day. It is fun to see birds that I usually don’t get to see because I am usually too busy to notice. I’m told that it is fun for all ages! People from all over the world participate. Consider joining the GBBC this year. You may be surprised of the diversity of birds that are right in your backyard! If you prefer, you can also go for a walk and record birds you see. If you can’t manage it every day of the official GBBC timeframe, that is fine. Just do what works for you.
What can you do to help the birds?
There are many ways to help the birds. I like to feed them in winter, but some other ideas include keeping your cats indoors, drinking shade-grown coffee, gardening with native plants, and using less plastic. Read more about these and other suggestions at https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/get-involved/10-ways-to-help-birds/.
Another impactful way to aid birds is to support legislation that helps birds. Email your US Representative to support the Migratory Bird Protection Act.
Ask your Senator or Representative to please be an original co-sponsor of the Migratory Bird Protection Act (H.R.5552 in the 116th Congress), to be introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, to ensure that incidental harm to birds is again covered under the MBTA and create a much-needed permitting system to reduce preventable bird mortality from industrial and governmental developments, encouraging mitigation.
You can sign the petition at the American Bird Conservancy website: https://abcbirds.org/action/petition-mbta. If you are squeamish about signing online, you can view or copy their letter to serve as a basis for your own letter or email to your US Representative or Senator. The important thing is to speak up for the birds! They have always helped us, and now they need us to help them.
Ruth Sheets Earth Stewards Committee Image Credit: Royalty Free Photo of Northern Flicker: Photo 139333554 © Gregory Johnston | Dreamstime.com