A Look into the Jeopardy of Birds
We say something is as dead as a dodo. What is a dodo? It’s a kind of bird that has extinct. The same thing is happening to various birds around the world. Although birds we see may be abundant in amount, at the present they are jeopardized because of alien species and diseases, pollution and unlimited logging, and cats’ threat.
The species distribution around the world has been restricted by the vastitude of oceans and other natural barriers keeping species from invading other species’ environment for eons. However, activities conducted by human beings have circumvented these natural barriers, and, as a result, species are invading other species’ habitat, leading to major disasters. Alien invasions can lead to bad disturbance to forest ecosystems. It can even cause severe socioeconomic impacts.
As is told in Lebbin ‘s book, an invading organism does not always turn into a pest. Though people bear considerable worry over alien species, certain animals, such as the brown tail moth, never became a pest that generated severe impacts in USA. Some pest’s impacts are overestimated. For example, the scleroderris pathogen that was discovered in the Northeastern U.S. led to impacts to local environment, but the pathogen never spread beyond the area due to climatic restriction.
Some of alien species lead to tremendous impacts on forest resources. The way they generate ecological and economic impacts are similar to that of native pests. Tree growth, mortality, and reproduction can be significantly affected by forest pests. Some alien pests can even impose long-term effects on forest ecosystems, which is spectacular. For example, the chestnut blight fungus has eliminated American chestnut that was a dominant species throughout the eastern U.S. The elimination has forever changed forest ecosystem in America.
As is told in Pimentel‘s article, the invading forest pests’ threat lies in their ability to die out endangered species or endangered ecosystems where endangered species live. We can take the balsam woolly adelgid for example. Feeding by this pest and interactions with atmospheric deposition has caused dying out of Fraser fir in the southern Appalacian Mountains. If the impacts go on, those firs will extinct finally. This kind of fir is favorite habitat for certain birds, especially when these birds are incubating babies. Great decrease of this kind of fir can contribute to the decrease of birth rate of bird babies.
Birds are threatened by diseases around the world. As is told in Di Mauro’s article, West Nile Virus has been closely connected to jays, crows, hawks and other birds. Bird flu is also a common bird disease that can be infected to human beings. It is also called avian influenza technically. Avian influenza is flu infection among birds. The mutation of the virus can start a deadly worldwide epidemic. As is told in Gurjar’s article, the first avian influenza virus emerged in Hongkong in 1997. The virus has spread around the world till now. Hundreds of people have become sick with this virus, with 60 percent of which died. Diseases such as avian botulism, West Nile Virus and avian influenza that have been mentioned above can spread quickly and may put birds to death in a rather short period.
In the era of globalization, infectious disease thrives due to the movement of goods, labor, and transportation. Epidemics and the diseases started long ago, but they never transmitted as fast as today. As the global economy ties countries closer together, it becomes easier for diseases to spread over borders and cross vast oceans. Those alien virus may be more deadly than domestic ones, which can lead to elimination of local birds.
Pollution is common today, and we can see it all around us. We can find it in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. Bird, as a major resident on the earth, is in crises due to pollution.
Many people prefer peaceful and quiet environment. In terms of this, birds are similar to human beings. Scientists have proved that noise do have effects on birds’ habits. When there is too much noise, birds’ ability to communicate will be significantly weakened. Birds that communicate at low frequencies always find that their voice are drowned out by noise, which can lead to behavior of disturbance.
Water birds are greatly affected by oil pollution that takes place due to oil spill. As is told in Al-Azab’s article, the oil covers the feathers of the birds and sticks feathers together. When the feathers are covered in oil, their original ability to provide waterproof for water birds are weakened. As a result, the water birds’ skin is exposed to sea water and oil that may jeopardize them. When the birds feel uncomfortable, they will try to clean their feathers, but they end up taking in oil and may die from that. Pesticides and heavy metals that are washed into water can also contribute to decrease in the amount of birds. Fishes take in toxic particles in water. Once they are eaten as food of the water birds, those toxins will accumulate in the birds’ body, which eventually poisons the birds to death. What’s more, as is told in Al-Azab’s article, water pollutants can reduce oxygen rate in waters, and, as a result, the amount of fishes will decrease. Then the water birds hunting fishes will migrate to other areas, causing natural unbalance.
Due to industrialization, people are generating air with poor quality by emitting poisonous gas into the air. The air mixed with smog and noxious gases have a devastation effect on the bird population in industrial areas. Moreover, as is told in Bhaskar ‘s article, these pollutants have even lifted up to arctic region. Birds lived in arctic region can be greatly affected, especially those birds bearing high respiratory rates because high respiratory rates make them more susceptible to pollutants in the air and to airborne impurities.
As we all know, forests are birds’ favorite habitat to live. Birds can’t live without forests. It’s common sense. However, we human beings also need forests as resources for products like paper and furniture. In many areas around the world, due to the absence of watchdog, unlimited hagging activities happen. To make things worse, a protection afterwards to recover forests doesn’t get executed. People even cut down original trees to grow new species of trees that can produce more wood, but birds won’t live on the latter trees. As a result, birds lost their resource of food and their habitats, and a lot of them migrate to other areas, and a lot of them dies due to incompatibility with new environment.
Cats are also a factor playing an important role in birds amount decrease. Cats, as people’s favorite pets and excellent hunters, have been brought to every continent and island humans have set foot in and they survived in most cases. The first recorded domestic cat was in Egypt, 3,600 years ago. In the words of researcher William Reville, “Cats witness the prosperity of Egypt and then they reached Greece, from where they spread throughout the Roman Empire. They spread to the east about 2,000 years ago along trade routes. The Mayflower brought cats to the US and cats reached Australia with European explorers in the 1600s” (Reville). Despite our familiarity with cats, they were actually introduced species to many continents.
Cats have become pests to a good many countries on every continent, due to their survival skills and superior fertility. Cats are pests because they cause ecological disequilibrium through killing and diversion of resources from native species. Cats’ instincts of hunting are extremely strong. Unlike some endangered species, for example panda, cats’ strong curiosities enable them to learn fast and dependently. Owners may have noticed that their lovely baby cats are becoming a sufficient hunter only by following its hunter’s natural instincts. Cats are species that will still hunt even though we dote on them.
Cats kill whether or not they are feral or someone’s pet. It is undeniable that owned domestic cats kill large numbers of birds. The originator and coordinator of the “Cats Indoors!” campaign, Linda Winter, argues that at estimate, hundreds of millions of birds and more than a billion small mammals are killed by domestic cats each year in the US alone (Winter). Also, a questionnaire survey of the numbers of animals brought home by domestic cats Felis catus was conducted by a group of biological scientists of University of Bristol in Britain, which revealed that birds were a primary food resource for cats: “A total of 14,370 prey items were brought home by 986 cats living in 618 households. Mammals made up 69% of the items, birds 24%, amphibians 4%, reptiles 1%, fish<1%, invertebrates 1% and unidentified items 1%. A minimum of 44 species of wild bird, 20 species of wild mammal, four species of reptile and three species of amphibian were recorded” (Woods et al).
In the United States, there are over 66 million pet cats (Winter). Also, even in a country like Australia where cats are mainly pests, there were 2.6 million pet cats in 1.8 million houses households (26% of households in Australia) in 1998 (woods et al). What influence could domestic cats have on the native environment in such large population? Ornithologists had noticed the declining of bird population years ago. Lepczyk has also noted, “Since the mid-1960s, long-term data on breeding birds have indicated that many species are declining or fluctuating throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States” (Lepczyk et al 191). And a new study shows that one of humans’ specific behaviors that could negatively impact breeding birds is allowing domestic cats to go outside.Cats frequently kill birds and the combined impact of predation by millions of cats may have a substantial effect on the amount of birds.
Too many cat lovers mistakenly believe their animals are innocent bystanders in the slaughter, says Erin Luther of the Toronto Wildlife Centre (Kalinowski). And they probably don’t have much chance of noticing their own putty tat from going after the birds at the neighbour’s feeder either, says Erin Luther (Kalinowski). These bird feeders are placed in order to help native bird and migrating bird populations recover, but turned out to be a slaughter place. Cats just need to hide behind the feeders and wait, and what a trap! Domestic cats are savaging the North American songbird population, with some U.S estimates suggesting cats kill 1 billion birds a year (Kalinowski). We brought our pets to a place where they don’t deserve to be. We once promised that we will never abandon them, but cat owners are abandoning cats when they can’t afford to give them a warm home. In the US alone, hundreds of cats are being abandoned every day, nowadays (CCTV). We are in common with cats at the point of inconstancy in some degree. We still hope our pet cats can make a living by themselves and they have, but the costs are heavy. Cats can survive without our care and flourish their lineage due to their prolificacy. An owner may never think of what kind of problem could be caused by abandoning a cat, especially when it hasn’t been desexed. One female can breed 30 baby cats at most in one year. Only in 7 years her descendants will exceed 3 million (CCTV).
Measures must be taken before it’s too late. According to the discussion above, birds are jeopardized by us. Birds lose their habitats because of pollution and unlimited logging. We human beings are also generating global warming, which is another disaster for birds. Birds are adept to certain environment, but, at the present, we human beings are destroying it. We may not realize that because our negative effects on birds are not direct, but we actually significantly impact their life and jeopardize them due to the things we are doing. Cat is also a source of jeopardy. Cats are born predators. They may be killing birds when we thought they are wandering cozily outside. Cats like predating birds and they are of large amount, so it is quite reasonable that cats are great threat to birds. It’s time to limit our behavior and to make some change. Only by doing this can we save those lovely birds.
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