By: Michael Fox
I just read an interesting article in Canadian Geographic: Inside the mysterious decline of Earth’s insects
Why are insects important?
If we want to bring beautiful birds like the Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti back to our urban gardens we need to provide their preferred Food: insects. As well as Water and Shelter.
The article is Canadian, however, the relationships between insects and our local birds is still relevant:
“We have only half the birds now that we had in the 1960s,” says migratory bird researcher Bridget Stutchbury during the preamble of “Songbird SOS,” a CBC Nature of Things episode that first aired in March 2015. While the investigations into the loss of bird species span everything from habitat loss to light pollution, pet cats and collisions with buildings, severe, long-term declines in insectivorous birds stand out as a possible proxy for a decline in their insect food sources. Such a broad-based factor is suggested in the nose-diving populations of 22 of 26 aerial insectivores that breed in Canada — including swifts, flycatchers, nightjars, swallows and whip-poor-wills.
The best way to preserve insect diversity and abundance is the same as it is for all animals — maintaining habitat and habitat diversity. It’s a subject on which Simon Fraser’s Elle has much to say. “If our farming practices aim to preserve diversity, then it will wind up being good for the farmer. For instance, preserving a hedgerow creates habitat for bees to nest in, and is also habitat for birds and small mammals. Preserving species on this planet can’t just be a thing we do out in the wildest spaces — it also has to happen in human landscapes,” she notes.
Those landscapes include cities, whose less-complex insect faunas reflect an environment of mostly invasive plant species and the monocultures common to landscaping. “In urban areas, the diversity of birds and insects in native trees versus non-native trees is higher. If we’re all living in cities, then we need to make them better,” says Sandy Smith, a forestry professor at the University of Toronto. “Currently we’re reducing things to something that either looks good or is easy to manage. It’s this kind of homogenization that worries me most because you’re creating a vulnerable world.”
Plant Local to Feed Locals is a key to creating a diversity of Food for birds like Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti and introducing team of free specialist pest controllers to protect your vegetable garden.
You can create habitat for both small bird and insects in your Pollinator Link® based on what we are learning with our small forest bird planting in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.