Guyana has a high diversity of bird species found in many of the forested regions within the country. It is estimated that there are about 976 species of which includes the endemic and non endemic specie. Birds play a small but significant role in the environment. Some birds acts as agents of seed dispersal and some (hummingbird) act as pollinators. They are of economic value because humans depend on them for food. Birds can also be major pests and pathogen carrying animals (pigeons) which can pose harms to humans and other organisms. There are various factors which affect birds. These factors affect their habitat, food and the organism's niche. Some factors can lead to rapid decline in population numbers and even extinction of some species.
Pollution is a growing problem that is evident in all parts of the world. It can seriously disrupt ecosystem structure and stability. Pollution can occur in air, land and water. Pollution not only affects humans alone, this crisis has major effects on different species of birds. We may think that birds are not affected by noise pollution but this has some amount of effects on them. According to a study done at the University of Colorado, noise pollution can affect birds and their normal routine. Noise would impede in their ability to communicate. This is particular in species which sing at low frequencies. This can prevent them from attracting a mate, and avoiding danger. However there are some birds such as the finches, which are not affected by high frequencies of noise due them vocalizing at high frequencies.
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Oil pollution has great impacts on birds. Oil pollution can occur in oceans, lakes, rivers and also on land .Various oil spills caused large amount of birds to die each year. According to National Geographic, there is an approximated 500,000 birds that are killed every year due to oil spills in the oceans. When a bird lands on these spills, the oil sticks to the feathers of the bird and the bird loses it waterproof shield. This would cause feathers to be lost which puts the bird at risk of. Some birds can even ingest this toxic material by trying to clean feathers; this can cause sudden death of the bird.
Take, for example, the response when approximately 1,300 tons of oil spilled from the bulk ore carrier Treasure. The ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean in June 2000 about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Cape Town, South Africa. Peter Barham, a scientist with Bristol University in England, was part of the international rescue effort. He said approximately 20,000 African penguins were covered in oil from the spill.
Cyanide which is used in the mining industry is very toxic. In Guyana, August 1995, there was a leak in cyanide pool which caused a cyanide spill. This toxic substance reaches the Essequibo tributary where it caused many species of animals to die including a large quantity of water birds which relied mainly on fishes for survival.
Certain agricultural practices can affect birds. The use of agricultural fertilizers in small farms and large scale farms can lead to some amount of chemical run off which can pollute lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. This chemical runoff can lead to algal growth and growth of other aquatic plants. Dependence on these plants and water by birds can pose harm to them when consumed.One such chemical which can threaten birds is DDT(dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). DDT pollution was evident in Guyana but it has been banned since it poses threat to species of birds. It causes the eggs shells of the bird's egg to become weakened.
In addition, chemicals can affect reproduction in birds leading to heavy physiological effects such as breeding, mutation, weak offsprings etc.
Poor air quality due to smog and noxious gases can have a devastating effect on the bird population in dense areas. Birds have very high respiratory rates, which make them even more susceptible to pollutants in the air and to air borne impurities. Areas that are densely populated have fewer bird habitats than areas that are less populated.
Apart from pollution, there are other factors which affect birds in Guyana. Habitat destruction through destructive activities such as mining, and logging( deforestation affects) the bird population in numerous areas. In Guyana there is a great deal of logging being done on a large scale basis. Logging poses major threats on ecosystems. It affects the ecology of birds in ways that causes birds to lose their natural habitats and also disrupts the niche of birds in the environment. A phenomenon like this could lead to birds becoming extinct. Deforestation entails the cutting down of trees in our forested regions. Many of the tress provides food for many species of birds, especially those that feeds on fruits, seeds, leaves and barks. If this activity is continued on a large scale then the food availability for birds would be reduced thus causing birds to migrate in search of food. Canopies that most of the tropical birds use for shade to keep them cool can be destroyed which could actually be detrimental to the bird's health. Deforestation can lead to reductions in food availability and this will eventually lead to decreased rates of offspring continued existence, due to either an increased rate of starvation or due to a reduction in parental body condition.
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The mining industry in Guyana also is a major source which affects birds. Mining would require large masses of land which would require forests to be cut down which directly affects the biodiversity of birds, destroy flora and fauna. Mercury used in mining can pose threats to birds if they accumulate directly or from other organisms. Many cases have sprung where fishes were poisoned due to contamination of water by mercury runoff from mining sites. Birds, which depend on fishes for survival, would be affected by these mercury contaminated fishes which can lead to death.
Human interferences which include, farming, small settlements, and watching camps, seem to be the underlying issue which all other factors branches from. Although deforestation causes birds to vacate their homes, there might be still be birds that may have remained in the surrounding forests. However due to interference by humans birds may resort to other areas to establish their territory. If the availability of forested areas is limited, these birds can be driven to extinction. Even in cases where farming is not done, humans intrude on the ecology of some species of birds. Setting up camps in and around bird habitats would have negative influence towards bird species. At the sense of danger birds can give up their nesting grounds or habitat just to avoid the apparent danger posed by the humans. This result in them is having no places to live, lay eggs or to feed.
Fishes play a vital role in the food chains of some birds such as the kingfisher and crane. If certain species of fish is over harvested then this would directly affect the feeding habits of certain birds. Birds affected by this would have to resort to other food source; this can have great reduction in bird numbers especially if they require the overfished species for survival.
Global warming is a phenomenon that affects the entire world. This involves the heating of the earth's atmosphere due to the release of harmful gases. Human activities influence global warming to a great extent. Emissions from factories, automobile and daily household emissions affect the atmosphere negatively. Similarly deforestation can impact negatively on the environment. Trees helps to absorb the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which can lead to global warming. If trees are reduced then the environment would not have any natural mechanism to combat global warming.. Since this causes temperatures to rise, birds can be affected in that their temperature also rises. Birds can tolerate a temperature range of Range 40 - 42oC and beyond which it becomes dangerous. Birds are known to have high metabolic resting rates which increase the endothermic ability in them. The animal can be prone to overheating (heat stress)which can lead to death causing population of birds to rapidly decline and even becoming endangered and later be driven to extinction.
Reproductive rates of birds are also dependent on the climate they dwell in. major climate changes can have adverse effects on bird species. In areas where it is too cold for them to adapt, reproductive output would tend to drop thus causing reduction in population size. This may also lead to forced migration of the specie. High temperatures can also affect birds. As mentioned before, if it is too hot birds can be prone to heat stress and die. Water availability may be reduced which can hamper the survival of birds.
Birds are very colourful creatures and they attract the attention of many persons. They are used as pets, for reference material and in making art and crafts. For all these purposes, the capture of birds is required. Birds are major items of trade. Rare and exotic species are sold daily in markets at high prices but the price is more laden on the reduction of these species of birds. In Guyana most macaws and parrots are sold locally but there are other rare species of macaws (blue tailed macaw) which are exported and due to exportation they have become extinct. Birds are also killed for their feathers and for preservation purposes which have directly impacted on the balance of population numbers. In Guyana bird singing is a growing activity. Many of Guyana's perching song birds are captured and traded in singing competitions across the country. The Mountain Canary and Towa-towa are two major song birds that are in great demand. The mountain canary is, however, a rare bird that is not highly dominant as the other. Deliberate capturing of this would cause the population of these birds to decline. Trading can also introduce new species of birds into the country. In this case invasive species being introduced can threatens particular species of birds, either by directly preying on them of also by means of inter-specific competition among the species.
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Taking all the factors into consideration, it can be noted that activities that are done by humans directly affects the lives and ecology of birds in Guyana. These activities should be reduced so as to reduce the negative impacts on birds. Since birds are important creatures in the environment there should be policies in place which can lessen harm posed upon birds so that their diversity may be intact for the future.