Why Do Birds Matter?

Why Do Birds Matter?

From authors to ornithologists, avian enthusiasts share their thoughts.

By The Audubon Editors
Published: March-April 2013

Immeasurably and profoundly, birds have been a fundamental source of human aesthetics. It's possible that they taught us to sing. Something within us continues to thrill when they do, and if they ever stopped, we'd find the silence maddening. They're also visually stunning, from a tanager's or a honeycreeper's or a sunbird's brilliance, to a hummingbird's iridescence, to a lyre-tailed nightjar's or a quetzal's or a Indian peacock's impossible tail feathers, to an Andean cock-of-the-rock's crest, to the liquid undulations of thousands of black kites flocking above Karachi, to every albatross's and eagle's majesty, or to the angelic glide of the red-crowned cranes that inspired art, myth, and metaphysics. --Alan Weisman, Author

Birds have always enriched human life, from the ancients who looked to the flight of flocks to foretell the future, to entrepreneurs manufacturing recyclable computer motherboards from waste feathers. It was Rachel Carson's bleak warning of a spring devoid of bird-song that launched the modern environmental movement. As biomimics study the agile, collision free wheeling of starlings to develop algorithms, I delight in the thievery of the sushi hawks who nest near my home, plucking $4 fish stocked in private lakes. Long may they fly. --Hunter Lovins. Author, promoter of sustainable development

No other creature can transcend earth, evoke beauty, inspire dreams, and ground us in nature as does even the smallest bird. --Julie Sacco, Director, North Park Village Nature Center

Birds bring color, pattern, and sound to our landscape. Experience geese rising over Horicon Marsh at dawn, sandhill cranes landing at Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge at sunset, the flute-like song of a wood thrush in a spring forest, or a brilliant yellow American goldfinch on a purple cone flower in a backyard. What joy birds bring to our world! --Diane Lembck, Wisconsin Metro Audubon Society

Birds matter to me because they were my first lesson in caring for something other than myself. I am the youngest. My older brother and sisters watched out for me and I helped Mom watch out for the birds by making sure they were fed and experimented in ways to keep the neighbor's cat away from the Eastern bluebird boxes. Today, I find myself continuing my Mom's legacy by giving my niece and nephews "an eye to the sky" and I take pride in working for Audubon to make sure they have the birds around that I enjoyed as a child. --Frank Moses, Montezuma Audubon Center Director

Why do birds matter? They matter in a similar way as any bolt and nut matters to the success of an airplane flight. We don't know which combination of species is critical for timeless success of the human race. --Venita Bright, Information and Education Division, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Why Birds Matter
Nature's gift to grace the sky.
Flights of fancy, spirits high.
With cheerful song they greet the day
And gently ease our cares away.
--Andy Mauro, Buena Vista Audubon Society

Birds are part of this whole ecosystem we call Nature. They are wonderful to watch, they spread seeds, they are food for other species, they eat bugs, mosquitoes, etc., and this world would not be the same with out them. All creatures, plants, animals, birds, humans, bugs, reptiles, and fish were put on this earth to interact with. --Debby McKee, Topeka Audubon Society

Birds add beauty to our lives, interesting behavior to observe, and are prime indicators of how well we are taking care of our planet. --Donna McCarty, Birdathon chair, Amos W. Butler Audubon Society

Birds are amazing creatures. They are beautiful in sight and in behavior. Some accomplish incredible flights across thousands of miles. Some have adapted to their environments in intriguing ways. We have much science to learn from all of them. We live on a planet that, in part, depends on the ecological services provided by birds. We depend on birds. So perhaps the question should be, "Why do people matter?" What a sad, sterile place the world would be without birds. --Philip Witmer, Board treasurer, Bucks County Audubon Society

Birds matter because they are our most immediate reminders of the natural world. There is something about even the red breast of an American robin that says, "Hey look at me. I'm part of the world too." --Jim Briggs, Kittitas Audubon

Because they are indicator species. --Heath Wakelee, Sierra Foothills Audubon Society

Magazine Category


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