As with many things, familiarity breeds contempt and while we are lucky in Great Britain to have such a fantastic range of bird species – native as well as seasonal visitor – they are wrongly regarded as commonplace and therefore undervalued and often ignored.

Many of our native bird populations are struggling due to the loss of habitat, while others are finding that their once abundant food sources (insects, slugs and snails) have been drastically cut due to the industrial and private use of insecticides and molluscicides.

House sparrow
It is the combination of non-specific insecticides and light pollution that has caused the greatest damage causing a massive reduction in native insect populations upon which many of our native bird species depend on for their survival. Perhaps worse still is the slow creep of agro-chemicals into the food-chain, affecting both adults and their young from generation to generation - clearly the environmental lessons of DDT have not been learned.

While global warming has an influence on local habitats there is of course much that we can do to help preserve the local populations of birds that are most at risk. Bird boxes, food supplementation, wildlife ponds and sympathetic planting schemes that can all improve the local habitat, and create an all-year-supply of natural food. In suburban areas, an almost continual supply of suitable shop-bought bird foods has already helped to supplement the diets of a range of seed eating wild birds, but the fate of our insect eating birds is much less secure. Without the help of a concerned and interested public our native tit and finch populations would be in a far worse state.

It is of course an exaggeration to say that the beauty of our native birds is equal to that of the Indonesian birds of paradise, but they are still beautiful nonetheless. The sideshow above shows a small selection of birds that are still commonplace to our shores, but a number of these have already been in steady decline over the past 60 years. Try to imagine looking at them with fresh eyes or with the very real thought that some of these species may well become extinct in our lifetime.
If we can’t value the life around us, the how can we expect to truly care about the environment at large.

For related articles click onto the following links:
British Birds


Phil Davis said...

Hi, just to let you know, the bird you have labelled "House Sparrow" is actually a Tree Sparrow.

Simon Eade said...

Hi Phil and thanks for your comment. While I respect your opinion I feel that I need to assert that it is a genuine house sparrow and not a tree sparrow - which looks different. Sorry