|Usefulness of Birds|
|Written by Mohan Kumar M.|
Owls and diurnal (active in day) birds of prey are highly beneficial to humans in keeping down the population of rats and mice.
Other than man, rats are considered as the most successful mammals on earth.
Rats are prolific breeders. Hypothetically, a single pair can multiply in to 880 individuals in one year.
Rats feed on grains. The over all loss in food grains caused due to rats is around 10% of total food production. Hence, most of the rat species are termed as pests across the world.
Many of the owls and hawks prey predominantly on rats and mice. On an average a barn owl pair consumes 3 rats in a night and 1095 in a year. If 50 % of the rats eaten are females, then hypothetically, barn owls reduce the increase in 481800 rats in a year.
Imagine the menace of rats with out the owls who serve us for free.
Though, traditionally dubbed as a witch's friend, in reality owls are a farmer's friend.
Pollinators of Flowers
In the interaction between the flower and the bird, nature has evolved a way in which both of them benefits mutually- Nectar for the bird and transfer of pollen for the flower.
A flower is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants. The process begins with pollination, is followed by fertilization, leading to the formation and dispersal of the seeds
In pollination, the pollen grains transfer from flower to flower. This is taken care by bees, butterflies and other insects.
A large number of nectar feeding birds help flowers to pollinate. Flower nectar is rich in carbohydrate and provides excellent nutrients.
Many birds like the sun birds exclusively evolved to feed on nectars.
The plants typically have colorful, often red; flowers with long tubular structures holding ample nectar and orientations of the stamen and stigma that ensure contact with the beaks of the bird.
The sun bird with its long slender beaks, capable of hovering flight and are light enough to perch on the flower structures are efficient pollinators.
Caretakers of Trees
Leaf warblers are small dull green color bird highly active in the forest canopies.
There are 18 species of leaf warblers in Indian subcontinent and all are migratory.
These warblers spend 75% of their waking hours foraging for small insects. On an average it eats 3 insects every minute. Mostly they feed on leaf eating caterpillars.
In a day of 11 hours, a single warbler eats an average of 180 insects every hour, or about 1980 insects per day
The service provided to all plants in the forest by these birds is astounding. Imagine the task done by the other insectivorous birds such as the flycatchers, minivets, shrikes, drongos and babblers.
These birds are the nature's caretakers in the forest who protect the plants and trees from the insects.
There are many species of insects in the world from locust to grasshoppers, from beetles to weevils and most are destructive pests of our food crops.
Swarming bands of locust can destroys hectares of lush fields in a matter of hours.
The wheat crop has over 200 species of insects pest where as the maize has more than 400. Over 500 species of insects thrive on fruit tree and berries.
Ever year millions of money has been spent to procure and spray pesticides to keep insects at bay.
The pesticide apart from killing the insects enters the food chain and slowly contaminates the environment.
If that is the case won't we welcome some one who keeps a check on insect population? That is what many birds do.
Tits, Black drongos, Indian Rollers, Grass warblers, cuckoos and fly catchers are all insectivorous birds that serve us as natural insect pest controllers in our environment.
It has been estimated that a fly catcher catches about 20000 insects to feed their young. A cuckoo can eat several hundred caterpillars a day.
If calculation is made in a global scale taking all insectivorous birds in to account the proportion of insect consumed will be unimaginable.
If man dose not tampers nature, it has answers for all our problems. Isn't it?
Have you ever suffered the stink of a dead and rotting rat left for a day? Have you cared to know who removes the dead dog on the road run over by a speeding truck? Imagine the world with out scavengers.
The disposal of carcasses of dead animals and other decaying waste in the confines of our locality depends entirely on the Vultures, Crows and Kites
They feed on carrion and waste in garbage dumps, and play an invaluable part in keeping our environment clean and disease-free.
The rotting carcasses, if left unattended will become a breading ground for flies and maggots.
In India a community called pharsi, instead of cremating the dead bodies they feed it to vultures.
Now, about 99% of vulture's population is gone due to the use of a veterinary drug called diclofenac.
When vultures feed on the dead cattle treated with diclofenac , the drug causes renal failure resulting in death of vultures.India Government has officially banned the veterinary use of diclofena.
India Government has officially banned the veterinary use of diclofena.
Humans should thank the nature's scavengers who keep the environment clean.
இயற்கை காக்கும் எமது பணிகளில் நீங்களும் பங்கேற்கலாம்