The history of how the gulls saved the Mormon crops in 1848 during a plague of crickets is a testament to how birds make our lives better in America. Those loud and obnoxious birds pooping all over your boat are really doing you a greater service just being alive and hanging around you everyday.
In 1858 Pennsylvania passed a law protecting all song and insectavorous birds from being hunted for a reason, they do a great service eating invasive insects and weed seeds. Many States now have laws protecting these birds and every State has a State bird now.
Many years ago the Department of Agriculture figured out that the estimated value of these birds eating insects was valued at more than 350 million dollars a year to our country. Today insect damage to crops, timber and property is in the billions of dollars and while the insect population continues to mulitply our birds population have not in many cases.
The problem is that in many of these States that protect the bird do not also protect the habitat of these birds very well. Habitat is crucial to birds, they need a place to nest, raise their young and have close access to food, water and particular environments to survive.
A diversity of habitat is crucial for our society too. There is a great cost involved in losing important habitats.
Many of our most important insect and weed seed eating bird populations are not growing because of habitat loss. These birds are the first and best defense against insect damage and weed proliferation.
One tiny Warbler can eat 3,500 aphids in one hour but aphids can produce up to 13 generations of thousands in just one summer. A small Chickadee can eat 138,000 invasive moth eggs in less than a month. An old study showed that just three Mourning Doves were found to have 23000 weed seeds in their stomachs.
Rodents are another pest that birds take care of for us. Many hunters complain about birds of prey eating all the game but that is a big myth. The bulk of all the food taken by birds of prey is mice, rats, reptiles, amphibians, small birds and a very small amount of poultry.
The cost involved in protecting our crops, timber and property is rising all the time. The value of having birds to do a lot of that job is limitless. This cost of protecting our crops is really a large part of the cost on our food today. Chemicals, tilling, weeding and weed control, and insect damage are all things that cost time, money and effort but the birds do it all for free. Why would we not use this free service more?
Just one family of Barn Swallows can eat billions of mousquitos in one season.
Think about this while you sit out on your porch. What would it be like if there were no birds but plenty of mousquitos buzzing around your head. Better light up one more mousquito coil and alls those citronella candles, use some canned spray on your kids bodies and then cover you faces with a mask and then enjoy your porch.
Habitat is critical to the lives of birds and to our society at large and each and everyone one of us can help protect and create habitat.