Have you recently walked around Oakland Tech’s main campus and saw a bird carcass? You’re not the only one! Not only do we have dead birds, we also have birds that huddle together on the field at the most inconvenient times. Contrary to what we see, studies have shown that there are fewer and fewer birds every year. As the bird population has started to decline again, many people lack the knowledge to understand how alarming this fact is for all of us.
The biggest reasons that the amount of birds are decreasing are cats and deforestation. Yes, cats. The American Bird Conservatory mentions, “In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year.” Cats are particularly dangerous to birds since they roam freely without much supervision from their owners. Stray and feral cats are an issue because many birds are left vulnerable to attacks by this increasing group of predators. Furthermore, a rapid increase in the human population has also caused direct bird catastrophes. The World Wildlife Fund, an organization focused on protecting animals, explains, “Expanding agriculture, due to an increased population and shifts in diet, is responsible for most of the world’s deforestation.” A constantly increasing global population means more trees are being cut down, which simultaneously destroys the homes of many birds.
In the past and present, birds have been crucial for the environment as they assist with the fertilization of soil. People who have taken history before might recognize the word “guano,” which means bird poop. Atlas Obscura author writes, “Made almost entirely of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, it’s [guano] basically a splat of straight-up energy for plants.” Bird feces are nutritious and an excellent source of fertilizer for plants. The world in the past was so obsessed with guano that a series of wars broke out. A recent article from the Guardian mentions, “As countries around the world wrestle with shortages of imported fertilizer as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Peru has turned to a tried and tested alternative: bird poo.” During times of scarcity, guano provided relief; without birds, the world would suffer.
Birds are a vital species that face an unfortunate decline in population due to both direct and indirect human interference. Often unconsidered for their contributions, birds aid us unexpectedly and in times of need, sometimes in smelly ways.