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Have you ever really thought about the role birds play in our environment? They are beautiful creatures that most of us love to watch and hear, yet they are also a key part of the environment, often necessary for our survival, and frequently neglected, ignored and exploited. Birds are also frequently used by communities as an indicator of environmental health. Do not forget that some birds have been domesticated and are now major food sources for a large portion of the world's population.

A few ecological roles birds, some of which are important to humans, the environment and agriculture:

food source for animals, including humans e.g. domestic chicken and ostrich.
pollinators e.g. sunbirds and hummingbirds.
eat insects (for humans this may mean the control of mosquito larvae or reduced pests in agriculture) e.g. helmeted guinea fowl and flycatchers
disseminate seeds e.g. parrots
pests or invasive species e.g. house crow, mynah
scavengers and cleaning carcasses of dead animals e.g. white-backed vulture

clean parasites off animals e.g. red-billed oxpecker

However, as we reduce the natural habitat, they come under increasing pressure for survival and come into contacts with new threats to their survival e.g. reduced breeding habit, less nesting sites, hunting, and pesticides. Birds often also come in to contact with agriculture as we continually increase the area we farm. This can result in birds been seen as pests for a number of different reasons. One is that they are provided with an alternate food source that is easy to obtain and tends to be concentrate in a relatively small area. Another reason is that we reduce their habit and hence there natural supply of food and have to look further afield for alternate food sources.

If you have any information you would like to see on this site, or suggestions about were and how we get additional useful information, please have a look at the pages on how you can participate in building information and creating knowledge in EcoBirds.

Please send EcoBirds your comments and suggestions.

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This search facility allows you to search EcoPort directly without having to navigate the more detailed EcoPort menu. EcoPort contains record structures for all birds of the world, and can be searched on scientific or common name in any language (provided it has already been entered). As the bird entities in this knowledge system are relatively new, most records will consist of the scientific name, some taxonomic information, and at least one common name only. This facility can be used to search for any entity type in EcoPort e.g. plants, insects, fungi, bacteria, mammals, birds, and spiders.

Last updated: 01January 2003