1. Birds in Religion and Science
In a Himalayan kingdom where Buddhism is flourished as main religion in every nooks and corners sees birds as an important component of ecosystem. The legends of birds dates back to early century when four harmonious animals (bird, rabbit, monkey, elephant) cherished the fruit of the seed flourished by a bird in start making it the oldest and eldest of all. Thus, significance of birds towards environmental ecology has been revealed even from the religious point beside the scientific significance. Scientifically, birds are observed as indicators of environment ecology and changes by Koskimies and Pertii in 1989. Their study reveals birds’ richness measuring the species richness of the site. This means higher the bird species, maximum the other species in animal kingdom. This clearly depicts birds as bio-indicator in measuring the health and ecology of environment. Thus, birds are important component of healthy environment.
2.Birds as Environment Indicators
The conservation significance of avifauna in Bhutan is immense because the country is part of Sino-Himalayan mountain forests, Indo-Burmese forests, Indo-Gangetic grasslands, South Asian arid habitats and Tibetan Plateau of wetlands. These areas are categorized as globally important bird regions (Bird Life International, 2003). This proves the country with rich wildlife and forest. Bird conservation is therefore epitome in meeting our conservation mandates of maintaining healthy forest. Birds have been considered as useful biological indicators as they are ecologically versatile and live in all kinds of habitats as herbivores, carnivores and omnivores by Jarvinen in1983. Moreover, birds act as early warning system for any adverse consequences of human-caused environmental changes. The simple example could be the reduction of White Bellied Heron observation in Punakha due to projects and developmental activities.
3. Birds in Seed dispersal and Growth of Seeds
Birds have good system of spreading seeds which later helps to balance and sustain the environment. Birds eat berries and seeds and when they dispose their waste, the seeds are disposed together. Moreover, bird feces prove good fertilization for the seeds that are dropped with their waste which help for the healthy growth of plant. Godley in 1979 stated that, Birds are also significant browsers for forest vegetation performing relatively minor role as pollinators. This shows birds play important role in seed dispersal and as pollinating agent which later helps to enhance the biodiversity as a whole. Morison in 1986 stated that bird response to qualitative and quantitative changes in environment. Unhealthy environment has less diversity of birds due to disturbance in habitat and the otherwise. Therefore, birds provides environmentalist to act upon and work towards environment enrichment and sustainability.
4. Birds in Pleasure & Tourism
Today, with the advent of modernization and awareness, many people derive great pleasure, fulfillment and inspiration from watching birds. Birds are also intricate components of ecosystem which we need for our survival. Ecosystem like forest and marine environment provide us with food, medicine and other materials keeping climate stable, oxygenating air and transforming pollutants into nutrients. Birds play effective role in functioning of these systems. They play great role in food chain, are important bio-indicators for environmental health, help in seed dispersal and fertilization and also as pollinating agent. Bhutan being an environmental champion in the world thrives to maintain the sustainability of our environment like maintaining 60% forest cover for all times to come. Many Non-governmental organizations like World Wildlife Fund and Royal Society for Protection of Nature also thrives in achieving conservation goals through projects and researches. In meeting those conservation mandates, birds are epitome creatures. Diversity of birds in the country could directly be reciprocated as healthy environment and clearly monitor our stage in environmental conservation. Birds are sensitive to habitat fragmentation and landscape modification. Reduction in bird diversity will directly be perceived as failure in meeting conservation goals.
The Final Note:
Therefore, birds act as stepping stones towards the sustainability of environment. Scientifically, birds play vital role in maintaining ecosystem through food chain. Its role as environmental indicator will help conservationist and environmentalist to plan and check their stage of conservation efforts. They are the key creature for diversity of plant through seed dispersal and pollination in some places. The discovery of new varieties of plants could be role of birds as they are winged creatures and seed disposal through their waste are never in fixed places. Socially, birds derive pleasure inspiration to birders and wildlife lovers. Higher the diversity would attract people from different ethnic background to work for its conservation and sustain the health of its ecosystem. So, saving a bird is having a new life for environment. Their feces with seed help in fertilization and growth of seeds. Higher the diversity of birds, larger is the seed disposal and environment remains sustainable.