Birds improve our quality of life. Watching them flutter around a backyard feeder or jump in the grass can be entertaining, lightening the mood and providing insight into animal behavior. Observing our fellow humans connects us to nature and reminds us that we coexist with wildlife. And behind the scenes they do even more for us: we get many benefits from sharing our planet with birds through so-called “ecosystem services”.

Ecosystem services include all the positive benefits provided by natural systems. The term encompasses everything from basic food and oxygen supplies to more subtle benefits, such as how wetlands reduce damage from storms and floods. Referring to these natural processes as "services" makes it easier for ecologists and environmentalists to quantify the value of nature (sometimes literally in dollars) as well as the losses resulting from environmental damage.

Birds make an enormous contribution to all habitats and are essential to the well-being of people and the planet. When bird species disappear, their special functions and benefits also disappear. And introduced species cannot easily replace the essential functions of native species, according to a new study published in Science Advances. This means it is crucial to maintain the persity of birds we have.

You may already know some of the ecosystem services birds provide, such as pollination of your favorite fruits. Here are some of the most surprising ways birds (metaphorically) move the world.

Their excrement is an important fertilizer.

Bird droppings, also called guano, play a key role in nutrient distribution, and seabirds are particularly important. After months of feeding on fish and other marine animals at sea, they visit land to nest in large colonies of hundreds or thousands. When seabirds come ashore with full stomachs and defecate, they concentrate enormous amounts of nutrients in their coastal breeding grounds.

In northwestern Greenland, for example, large numbers of pigeons arrive to breed every summer. In this way they transport around 3,500 tonnes of nitrogen, an important nutrient for plants, from the sea to the land. All this nitrogen encourages the growth of local grasses in the normally dry Arctic habitat and nourishes herbivorous animals such as rabbits, geese, reindeer and musk oxen, which are hunted by humans for food. Where there are pigeons, the number of muskoxen is ten times greater.

At one point in human history, large deposits of bird guano were so valuable as plant fertilizer that Spain started a war against it. The advent of synthetic fertilizers means that bird droppings are no longer discussed but, as in Greenland, guano deposits continue to support many ecosystems and people.

The spread of spores by birds can keep entire forests healthy.

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Birds are known to carry seeds. They munch on their favorite fruits and then spread the droppings full of seeds that ensure new plants continue to sprout. Scientists recently discovered that some birds also have a tendency to forage for valuable mushrooms. In the forests of Patagonia, the Chucao Tapaculos and the Magnificent Huet Huets are voracious truffle hunters. Each time they dig up a mushroom, they eat it and move on to the next one, displacing the spores and spreading a variety of tasty mushrooms.

It multiplies more than a food source for birds: truffles are, in fact, the fruiting bodies of a complex underground network of fungi that keep birds alive around the trees. Underground fungal filaments transport nutrients to tree roots in exchange for sugars.

Mutually beneficial connection is the structure that supports the entire forest system. Birds make sure it remains intact.

Birds are ecological exterminators.

Why? birds, food is often as important to the environment as where they defecate. For example, many birds are voracious predators of parasites. Swallows can eat up to 60 insects per hour. In an agricultural field, swallows save plants vulnerable to pests and leave us more food. And installing barn owl nest boxes on farms reduces the population of destructive rodents such as ground squirrels. Likewise, installing nest boxes for western bluebirds can save grapes. In this way, promoting and protecting bird habitat is an excellent alternative to harmful and widely used pesticides.

Bird breeding equipment Birds they create the habitat.

For birdwatchers, woodpeckers are double good news: they offer a magnificent spectacle and build other species that nest in cavities. Research has shown that cavity-nesting birds (birds that roost in tree cavities or other holes) thrive best when there are many woodpeckers. In a recent study conducted in Texas, birds such as chickadees, flycatchers and wrens were more likely to survive long-term if they built their nests in burrows abandoned by woodpeckers rather than those created by rot. The burrows dug by woodpeckers allowed better access to tasty insects and provided better protection from predators.

Woodpeckers are so important to other species that monitoring them can provide scientists with information about the health of the entire bird community. These are environmental indicators: if there are woodpeckers nearby, you can be sure that there are many other birds too.

They are the animals that help your health the most.

They are the best helpers for animal health.

Vultures are the only vertebrates that feed exclusively on carrion. (Other scavengers, such as coyotes, also hunt for food.) Because vultures have such a singular focus, they are remarkably efficient at scavenging for scraps. Research has shown that when vulture populations decline, the number of rotting carcasses in a landscape increases by a factor of 10, according to a study conducted in South Carolina. In a study conducted in Kenya, scientists observed that carcasses without vultures they took three times longer to decompose than usual. More decaying matter means a greater risk of disease for humans and other animals. Next time you're out walking and don't see a dead deer, thank a vulture.

Some birds lend a leg (or a wing) to others Species.

Birds have two main types of limbs: wings and legs.  Nature Blog Network

If you're still not convinced that birds are here to help you, consider that some directly help other species, including humans. The Greater Honeyguides live up to their name and extend across sub-Saharan Africa: there brown and cream birds that feed on beeswax and insect larvae literally lead people to honey. In contrast, human honey hunters use noise to attract large honey guides. (Different people across the continent use different communication signals to call honey guides. The Yao community in Mozambique uses a distinctive trill. Hazda hunters in Tanzania rely on a whistle.) The birds then transport them to the hives.

This is an example of true teamwork. Hunters help birds because they can knock down and dismantle a hive more easily than a single bird. And when hunters follow honey guides, they reduce the time spent searching and increase their chances of finding a hive.

This is a prime example of a truth that most bird lovers already know: birds make life a little sweeter.