Birds are a farmer's best friend.

Birds make you happier and they eat the insects that eat your crops! Fun facts about birds:

Watching birds is good for your mental health.  

  • Cox et al. 2017 reported that lower levels of stress,  depression, and anxiety were associated with the number of birds that people spotted in the afternoon.
  • In the same study, higher levels of vegetation were also correlated with better mental health.

Many birds are insectivores, they eat insects all or part of the time.

  • As a group, birds consume 400 to 500 million tons of insects a year around the world (Nyffeler et al. 2018).
  • Birds consume about the same tonnage of insects per year as spiders. Spiders eat 400-800 million tons of insects per year (Nyffeler and Birkhofer 2017)
  • Insects are estimated to have a mass of over 700 million tons globally (Sanderson 1996). Imagine if there were no birds to help keep this population in check.

There are around 10,700 species of birds. 

  • Sadly, humans have been the cause of mass bird extinctions. Between 10-20% of all birds are extinct due to human predation. Most of these were large flightless and likely tasty birds living on islands (Fromm and Meiri 2021). In all 68% of flightless birds are now extinct. 
  • Current extinction of birds is mainly driven by habitat destruction, not predation.
  • Neonicotinoids, which are nicotine-based pesticides,  negatively affect insects and birds (Li et al. 2020).

.

References

  • Daniel TC Cox, Danielle F Shanahan, Hannah L Hudson, Kate E Plummer, Gavin M Siriwardena, Richard A Fuller, Karen Anderson, Steven Hancock, Kevin J Gaston, Doses of Neighborhood Nature: The Benefits for Mental Health of Living with Nature, BioScience, Volume 67, Issue 2, February 2017, Pages 147–155, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biw173
  • Fromm, AMeiri, S. Big, flightless, insular and dead: Characterising the extinct birds of the QuaternaryJournal of Biogeography2021482350-2359https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14206
  • Li, Y., Miao, R. & Khanna, M. Neonicotinoids and decline in bird biodiversity in the United States. Nat Sustain 3, 1027–1035 (2020).https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-0582-x!
  • Nyffeler M, Birkhofer K. An estimated 400–800 million tons of prey are annually killed by the global spider community. Sci Nat 104, 30 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-017-1440-1
  • Nyffeler M, Şekercioğlu ÇH, Whelan CJ. Insectivorous birds consume an estimated 400–500 million tons of prey annually. Sci Nat 105, 47 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-018-1571-z
  • Sanderson MG (1996) Biomass of termites and their emissions of methane and carbon dioxide: a global database. Global Biogeochem Cy 10:543–557 https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/96GB01893