Benefitsof Birds


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Benefitsof Birds

  1. 1. LSC-CyFairBenefits of BirdsTim SebestaProfessor of KinesiologyLSC-CyFair
  2. 2. Golden-CrownedKingletAmerican GoldfinchYellow-RumpedWarblerRuby-CrownedKinglet Eastern PhoebeOrange-CrownedWarblerCedar Waxwing Dark-Eyed JuncoCommon Winter Birds in Houston Backyard
  3. 3. Gray CatbirdChestnut-sidedWarblerRose-breastedGrosbeakWhite-eyed Vireo Baltimore OrioleBay-breastedWarblerMagnolia Warbler Eastern Wood PeweeLSC-Cyfair Migratory Birds This WeekTennesseeWarblerYellowWarblerCommonYellowthroat
  4. 4. Benefits of Birds• Birds add joy to the lives of many• Birds are pollinators• Birds act as pest control• Birds are frequently considered indicatorsof the health of our environment
  5. 5. Benefits of BirdsNectarivores (birds that help in pollination)Pollination helps with increase yield ofeconomically important plants. Many plantsare exclusively dependent on pollinatingagents for seed formation.Birds and Agriculture• Insect and rodent control• Plant pollination• Seed dispersal
  6. 6. Benefits of BirdsScavengers: The scavenging species of birds playan important role in nature. They help in diseaseoutbreaks and help in the recycling of nutrients innature. Vultures help keep the environment cleanby eating up rotting animal carcasses. Vultures,kites and crows are invaluable scavengers. Theyspeedily and effectively dispose of carcasses.Vultures kites and crows are efficient scavengersby removing dead animals.
  7. 7. Benefits of BirdsInsectivores: A large proportion of thenormal food of the birds consists ofinsects. Insects can be considered “pests”if they damage crops or could possiblecause injuries to humans.
  8. 8. Benefits of BirdsFrugivores: (Fruit Eating Birds): These birds help in thedispersals of seeds, which helps in regeneration. Ex: Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Mockingbirds, CedarWaxwing, Brown Thrashers, Orchard Orioles, BaltimoreOrioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Gray Catbirds, Rose-breastedGrosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Eastern Bluebirds
  9. 9. Migration Facts• 778 are migratory• 300 species migrate to Latin America• 19 species of shorebirds migrate 8,000 miles1 way• 34 species of wood warblers and 22 of the 29species of waterfowl are shared betweenU.S., Canada, MexicoOf the 852 bird species in the UnitedStates:
  10. 10. Migration Flyways• The major wintering areas for NorthAmerican migrating birds are the southernUnited States and Central America.• Four major flyways south: the Atlanticflyway, the Mississippi flyway, the Centralflyway, and the Pacific flyway.
  11. 11. Why Do Birds Migrate?• The reasons are complex and not fully understood.But a simple explanation is food and a safe place tobreed. Birds which breed in the summer in theextreme north such as the Arctic benefit from anabundance of food as plants and insect life flourish inthe long daylight hours; and because few largepermanent predators can survive the harsh winter.Many birds that breed in the Arctic simply lay theireggs on the ground. Being able to fly, they can avoidthe harsh winter conditions, and be the first to arrive toenjoy the summer benefits.WesternSandpiper
  12. 12. Why Do Birds Migrate?• Behavior is inherited; however, birds will not migrate in theabsence of certain physiological and environmental cues.In the late summer, the decrease in sunlight stimulates amigrating birds pituitary gland to produce the hormoneprolactin and its adrenal gland to produce the hormonecorticosterone. These hormones, in turn, cause the birdsto accumulate large amounts of fat just under the skin,providing them with enough energy for the long migratoryflights. The hormones also cause the birds to becomerestless just prior to migration. The exact time ofdeparture, however, is dictated not only by the decreasingsunlight and hormonal changes, but also by suchconditions as the availability of food and the onset of coldweather.
  13. 13. Help Migratory Birds In Your Community• Because many birds use constellations for guidance,well-lit skyscrapers and communication towersprovide misleading cues and lure birds away from thecorrect path. These man-made structures cansometimes cause them to circle for hours until theybecome disoriented, exhausted or stunned, leading topredation and death. You can help prevent thistragedy by encouraging cleaning crews, buildingmanagement and security guards to turn off the lightsin offices, especially during peak migration seasons,and by working with others in your community toaddress the proliferation of communications towers.
  14. 14. Help Migratory Birds – Be A Caring Consumer• Much of the coffee we drink comes from Central and South America.Traditional plantations grow coffee under a canopy of trees, whichprovides habitat needed by over-wintering birds. Increasingly,however, land is being cleared to grow coffee in full sun; this habitatloss, coupled with the alarming rate of summer habitat loss in theUnited States, is the most significant factor contributing to the declinein Neotropical migratory birds. You can help preserve critical winterhabitats for birds such as the ruby-throated hummingbird, Baltimoreoriole, Kentucky warbler, and swallow-tailed kite by purchasing onlyshade-grown coffee and cacao.•
  15. 15. Eliminate The Poisons In Your Yard• Yet, we assume that the lawn and garden chemicals found on the shelves at hardwarestores are safe to use around birds (and people.) Take a close look at the labels. Too manypopular pesticides are lethal to birds. And while many pesticides may not kill birds oncontact, they can contaminate bird food (insects) and water.• What are the alternatives? Mechanical and biological techniques for pest control provideless hazardous options.• Website (An organophosphate insecticide used in Orthene and other Products.)BENDIOCARB (A carbamate insecticide used in Ficam and other products.)CHLORPYRIFOS (Organophosphate used in Dursban, Dragon, Ortho-Klor, and otherproducts.)DIAZINON (Organophosphate used in Bonide Diazinon Soil Granules, Knox-Out, and otherproducts.)DIMETHOATE (Organophosphate used in Cygon and a variety of other products.)BRODIFACOUM (An anticoagulant rodenticide used in d-CON, Talon-G, and other products.)GLYPHOSATE (An alphatic herbicide used in Roundup and other products.)
  16. 16. Cat Predation• Americans keep an estimated 60 million cats as pets.• Scientific studies actually show that each year, cats kill hundreds of millions of migratorysongbirds. In 1990, researchers estimated that "outdoor" house cats and feral cats wereresponsible for killing nearly 78 million small mammals and birds annually.• University of Wisconsin ornithologist, Dr. Santley Temple estimates that 20-150 millionsongbirds are killed each year by rural cats in Wisconsin alone.• Cats are a serious threat to fledglings, birds roosting at night and birds on a nest.Research shows that de-clawing cats and bell collars do not prevent them from killing birdsand other small animals. For healthy cats and wild birds, cats should not be allowed toroam free.• Work with your local humane society, veterinarians and state wildlife agency to enact andenforce free-roaming cat regulations.Cat Collar withBell To ReduceRisk
  17. 17. Bird-Window Collisions• Contemporary homes and modern office buildings often use insulated and reflective glassto replace walls. These windows may be aesthetically pleasing to humans, but often theyare lethal to birds. Unfortunately, many birds cannot distinguish the difference betweenreal sky and a reflection of the sky in a window.• In the United States alone, Dr. Dan Klem of Muhlenberg College estimates that each yearduring migration 98 to 976 million birds fly full tilt into windows and are fatally injured.• Dr. Klem says we can minimize these collisions by breaking up the reflection on theoutside of the window with a non-reflective window coating, window screens, flash tapeand bird netting.• Life size animate "scares" (plastic falcons, owls and balloons) and falcon or owl silhouettesattached to windows with suction cups are not effective deterrents.• Planting trees and installing window awnings to block the sun from hitting the window mayeliminate some reflection. Putting a bird feeder on or within a few feet of a window helps toslow birds down and lessen the effect of impact.• Migration isnt the only time homeowners have trouble with bird-window collisions. Birdsmay hit your windows during breeding season and in the winter too.
  18. 18. House Sparrows And Starlings• Every Spring, birds that nest in cavities compete with each other for alimited number of nest sites. The neotropical migrants that nest incavities - purple martins, tree swallows and great-crested flycatchers -have adapted to competition from chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers.• The "rules of competition" changed around the turn of the century whenwe humans imported two European cavity nesting species: housesparrows and starlings.• House sparrows eliminate nest competitors by attacking the adults andkilling the young when they are on the nest. Starlings eliminate nestcompetitors by taking over cavity nesting sites. Our native birds dontseem to be able to defend themselves from house sparrow and starlingattacks. So, if you put up a nest box to help bluebirds, martins,chickadees, titmice, woodpecker, wrens or flycatchers, you must monitorthe box and eliminate house sparrows and starlings.
  19. 19. Protect, Create and Restore Habitat• Getting involved in migratory bird conservation here in the United States or in Latin America canbe as simple as writing a check, donating equipment or picking up a shovel. Many agencies andorganizations that work to protect, create and restore breeding and wintering habitat formigratory birds are participating in Partners in Flight. You can get involved in this internationaleffort by contacting any of the participants listed at the end of this booklet.• Then think about your lawn. How much lawn do you really need?• Survey your yard for dead and dying trees. Top them so they dont fall on your house, but leavethe standing trunks and make a brush pile with the downed canopy. Dead trees and brush pilesprovide shelter, nest sites and food (insects) for migrating birds.• Providing water can be as simple as putting out a bird bath or as complicated as installing apond with a creek and waterfall. Birds are attracted to water features that are shallow (less than2" deep), clean (hosed out daily, sanitized with hot soapy water and bleach at least weekly) andnoisy (the sound of dripping water is a magnet for songbirds). Water features are most effectivewhen placed out in the open, where birds can see predators coming.• If you put out bird feeders, select a safe feeder and keep it clean. Polycarbonate plastic tubefeeders are the easiest to clean. Use one kind of seed per feeder, dont use seed mixes. Washseed, suet and fruit feeders in hot soapy water and chlorine bleach at least once a month. If youuse a tray or bowl feeder, plan to sanitize it more often. To be sure your hummingbird feedersdo not harm the birds.• You dont have to put out a bird feeder to provide food for our neotropical migrants. Landscapeyour yard with native evergreen and fruiting trees, shrubs, grasses and vines. Design yourgarden so that your plants flower and fruit throughout the spring, summer and fall.
  20. 20. Help Migratory Birds In Your Own Backyard• You can make your yard a stopover for migratorybirds by providing them with some essentials: water(even just a shallow dish), cover (evergreens andbrush piles), and berry-producing trees and shrubs(such as dogwoods, American holly, viburnums,American highbush cranberry, and serviceberry). Toattract the insects that birds eat, mulch your leaves ina sheltered corner and dont deadhead flowers suchas coneflowers, marigolds, cosmos, and sunflowers.Birds will feed on the seeds. You may also choose toput out a variety of seed feeders during migratoryperiods, along with cut or dried fruit.
  21. 21. • Certification will require:– At least 50% native plants– Food for the wildlife year round,preferably provided by plants.A feeder alone will not beconsidered.– Shelter for the wildlife, including:brushy plants, tall trees, shrubs,and wildflowers. Artificial sheltersuch as nest boxes, brush piles,rock piles, and bat houses may alsobe included.– Water in a useable, reliable form forthe wildlife.
  22. 22. FOOD SOURCES: Natural or Supplemental• Identify the types of plants that provide fruits,nuts, berries, seeds, nectar and other materialsthat wildlife might eat.– Acorns from oak trees– Fruits attract numerous birds and small mammals– Sunflower (Helianthus) provides seeds for many kindsof birds– Tubular flowers attract hummingbird species
  23. 23. FOOD SOURCES: Natural or Supplemental• Identify the types of plants that provide fruits,nuts, berries, seeds, nectar and other materialsthat wildlife might eat.– Acorns from oak trees– Fruits attract numerous birds and small mammals– Sunflower (Helianthus) provides seeds for many kindsof birds– Tubular flowers attract hummingbird species
  24. 24. FOOD SOURCES: Natural• Tall Trees– Live Oak– Red Mulberry– Pecan• Small Trees– Yaupon– Mexican Plum– Shining Sumac• Shrubs– AmericanBeautyberry– Texas Wax Myrtle– Dewberry• Perennials– Turks’s Cap– Cardinal Flower– Shrimp Plant– Firecracker plant
  25. 25. FOOD SOURCES: Supplemental
  26. 26. WATER SOURCES: The Key Ingredient
  27. 27. SHELTER: Natural
  28. 28. SHELTER: Artificial
  29. 29. Wildscaping Tips:■ Use native plants adapted to your local conditions thatprovide the kind of food and cover wildlife require.■ Recycle leaves, plant clippings and kitchen scraps intocompost and don’t bag grass clippings.■ Conserve water. Irrigate in the early mornings or evenings toreduce water waste.■ Closely follow all label instructions when applying pesticidesand fertilizers, and try to minimize their use.For more information on creating your Habitat
  30. 30. How To Watch Spring Migratory BirdsAlong The Texas Coast• Plan to arrive after April 15 and before May 15 for the best birding. Make reservations at acentral spot that will give you access to several birding areas along the coast.• Make High Island one of your main stops. Smith Oaks, a 122.2-acre sanctuary here, is oneof the best-known migratory stopovers on the coast. Boy Scout Woods and EubanksWoods are other excellent birding sites on High Island.• Consider Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Although this is better known as a winteringground for thousands of ducks and geese, there are good numbers of birds here year-round. In spring, areas such as The Willows may serve as migrant traps for a variety ofwarblers and other birds.• Spend some time at the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary on the Bolivar Peninsula. This isa great spot for regularly occurring shore birds, as well as migrants, and has beenrecognized as an internationally important site by the Western Hemisphere ShorebirdReserve Network. Bring a scope for the best views.• Stop at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, best known as the wintering place of endangeredwhooping cranes. The cranes start to leave the refuge in early April to go north to nestinggrounds in Canada, but there is still much to see here in migration.• Visit Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. This area has plenty of varied habitats andcan be a good migrant trap in spring, especially when the weather is bad.• Check your bird guides and maps for other birding locations on the upper Texas coast.Those mentioned are the most visited, but there are many more birding opportunities in theregion.
  31. 31. Where To Go To View Migratory Birds
  32. 32. Texas Ornithological Society - Audubon Society - Birding Association - Bird Conservancy Birding Center - Links to the World (Texas) Audubon Society - Nature Club - - - Edition of the Houston Chronicle, Star Section, “Wonders of Nature”TEXBIRDS listserv -
  33. 33. Sources Of Information About Migratory BirdsTo keep current with efforts in migratory bird conservation, geton the mailing list for the freePartners in Flight Newsletter Fish and Wildlife Foundation,1120 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 900,Washington, DC 20036.)TEXASParks & Wildlife, 4200 Smith School Rd.,Austin 78744