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

Beside the fact that birds are beautiful, fun to watch, quite intelligent (the list goes on), they indicate to us humans what is happening here on earth. It saddens me that some of us honestly think there is no harm in losing a few species to extinction here or there. Everything on this big blue-green ball we live on is linked in some way and thinking we can just write off a few birds should not be an option. --Kevin Smith, Board member, East Cascades Audubon Society

Birds inspire us to reach for greater heights in life. No wonder the Bible urges us to "mount up with wings like eagles" in order to renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31) --Neil Weatherhogg, Topeka Audubon Society and Audubon of Kansas

Birds have been known to serve shamans as a helping spirit and conduit between the seen and unseen worlds. --Kathy Malm, Board of directors, Prescott Audubon Society

They play a key part in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, both as predators and prey. --Chuck Seniawski, Treasurer, Cheyenne High Plains Audubon Society

Birds matter because they are the most omnipresent, most recognizable representatives of the other species that share the fate of the planet with us. They represent the outdoors and the freedom of unrestrained movement we all enjoy, whether we are the city-dweller watching robins and sparrows in the backyard, the commuter watching flocks of blackbirds and waterfowl as we speed along rural roads, or the avid naturalist catching glimpses of pelicans as we hike along some coastal trail. Birds matter. --Mike Rushton

Birds are the Fed Exes of the natural world. They bring nature to people, wherever we are, sitting on a front porch, hiking a backcountry trail, in a wheelchair sitting by a window. Birds are with us nearly always and as such, so is nature. --Jacqui Bonomo, Executive director and vice president, Audubon Maryland-DC

Birds matter because they symbolize the very essence of freedom. They can fly free from backyard to backyard ignoring the fences between neighbors and from country to country ignoring our cultural differences. Free to pursue life, liberty, and bird happiness! --Eunice M. Cenrohlavek, Lincoln, Nebraska 

Seeing swirling masses of blackbirds wheel across the sky is my favorite nature experience. You imagine the feel and rush of air whooshing by--a roller coaster times 10. I dream of seeing this for real: tinyurl.com/incrediblebirds.Wow. --Marian Langan

I gave a program this summer at a chapter annual meeting with this exact title. In my program I listed lots of ways that birds matter including scientific, economic, cultural (myth, art, inspiration etc.). But I ended with the personal, which I think is what ultimately motivates people to action. My first child died from cancer after a four-year battle from six-months old to almost five-years old. My wife and my subsequent life has included three more wonderful children and much change and growth. I am reminded always of Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers" and how to me, birds represent hope. These delicate creatures making arduous migratory trips, year after year, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but never stopping. There were days when I did not want to get out of bed from the grief but we continue and keep going, just like they do. So when I work in North Carolina, Nicaragua, and across the flyway on wood thrush or golden-winged warblers, I keep that hope close. --Curtis Smalling, Director of land bird conservation, Audubon North Carolina

Birds hold wisdom. The indigenous people know that to be true. They are messengers. To allow or cause a species to become extinct is to lose that knowledge. Forever. --Cindy Fogle, Maggie Valley, North Carolina

They bring hope, beauty, music and wonder to this planet. --Ramona Sahni

Birds matter because we can matter to them. By protecting or restoring habitat, keeping ours cats indoors, curbing pesticide use, and using BirdTape on our windows, we can help keep common birds common and bend the curve on population loss for threatened and endangered species. --Carl Schwartz, Coordinator, Bird City Wisconsin

Birds matter because they are an early indication of the state of the environment. They travel from place to place and by monitoring their movements, we can see changes in habitat, perhaps before we would notice the changes by ourselves. But mostly they matter because they are unique, beautiful, and intelligent. --Paula Wehr, President, Halifax River Audubon

Magazine Category


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