Want a print of this? Trash Birds "Trash Birds", 2021. Aimee CozzaDigital Illustration. Filed in Digital Illustration, Illustrations, Include. Want a print of this? Available now as a collectible card series on NeonMob. Along with deforestation, birds are often pushed out of their habitats by human development — or replacing natural areas with developed ones, such as houses and buildings. The roseate shoebill, often mistaken for a flamingo, is consistently pushed out of their breeding lands. When these birds are forced out, they make use of other areas that may leave them — and their young ones — more vulnerable to predators. When nesting material is hard to find, a bird will use whatever it can. Sometimes that’s what we consider “trash” — birds make nests out of strips of plastic and bottle labels, straws, and much more. These materials can contain contaminants and chemicals that can leech onto the skin of their offspring. Videos online have surfaced of many birds mimicking “songs” they pick up from humans, such as a ring tones and, more heartbreakingly, deforestation noises. However, some birds, such as the robin, are forced to sing their mating calls at night as they simply cannot compete with the loud noise of an urban landscape. Canaries are especially susceptible to pollutants like carbon monoxide, so much so that canaries have been used for some time as an underground detector for of carbon monoxide. Since the odorless, heavy gas can suffocate people, a canary can alert to the presence of carbon monoxide. A coal miner would carry a canary in a cage, and if the bird became ill or died, miners would know that unsafe working conditions were in play. Canaries were used to detect carbon monoxide until 1986. The humble hummingbird travels thousands of miles over the course of its lifetime, utilizing its built in perception of the world (including magnetic field detectors). Hummingbirds have been known to use the light from stars to help navigate across their yearly migration. However, light pollutants such as city lights can disorient and confuse birds like the hummingbird, ultimately driving them off course from their destination. Along with the many environmental factors that harm birds, our avian friends also need to contend with being hunted. The Siberian Crane, for example, is continually hunted in India and Russia, despite being illegal to do so. Hunters hurl cords into the air and snag these cranes as they attempt to migrate. When caught, the birds are sold or eaten. These special birds are also susceptible to habitat loss as changes in hydrology in the forms of dam structure changes and more can force them from their breeding grounds. Water pollutants affect all birds, and cannot be restricted to just one. Microplastics, too small to see or even filter, invade their drinking sources, along with other pollutants and contaminants that can cause a bird to become ill or die. Many birds are impacted by industrial-level accidents, such as oil spills that contaminate the water they drink, live, and breed in for decades to come. Birds coated in unrefined petroleum struggle to walk, breathe, see, and fly, which ends up killing many waterfowl. Purple martins are often a beautiful bird caught up in industrial level accidents like oil spills. When forests are use for lumber to build homes for humans, homes for animals like birds are destroyed. Along with it are often places for the bulk of their food sources, such as insects that live primarily in various woods. This forces wildlife out of their preferred habitats to search for food sources elsewhere. Birds of prey are often found to be susceptible to man-made contaminants, though often indirectly. Most birds of prey feed on rodents, which are often fed on by fleas and ticks. In the effort to eradicate ticks and fleas through use of pesticide, these birds of prey end up ingesting pesticides which can be toxic and prove fatal for them. As temperatures rise where the Ivory Gull lives — in the Arctic — it makes it harder and harder to source food. In addition, Ivory Gulls seem to have the high concentration amounts of banned pollutants PCB and DDT, according to a 2008 study conducted in Norway. Because of these factors, breeding success and adult survival rates suffer. When birds fall from the sky, it seems like the end of times… As it should. Birds are, along with insects, some of our most early indicators that something is wrong with our environment. In 2020, birds fell en masse from the sky and died from various causes, speculated to be due to displacement from wildfires or deforestation, smoke inhalation, or even starvation. Birds were literally flying until they died. When you can’t find anything to eat, even colorful bits of plastic look appetizing. Birds eat bits of plastic waste carelessly discarded into the environment, and, with no way to digest them or expel them, the bits of plastic build up in their bellies, compacting their system until death. Due to rising global temperatures and human interference, wildfires are breaking out more and more across the planet. When a wildfire erupts, a bird simply flies away… if it is able. Fledglings that are not flight ready, unhatched eggs, nests, and habitats are all left behind and consumed by the raging flame of a wildfire. Massive man-made environmental events, such as those like the Chernobyl disaster, can greatly affect birds. Two bird species have been negatively impacted by excess radiation since the Chernobyl disaster. The great tit and barn swallow both were seen to produce large amounts of pinkish pheomelanin pigment in their feathers. Because this takes a lot of antioxidant use, it may leave the birds impaired against fighting free radicals. Interestingly enough, a disaster such as Chernobyl has actually been seen to benefit many birds. Of the 16 species studied, most benefitted from increased exposure to radiation — leaving them with more antioxidants and a better overall body condition. A “bird fallout”, also known as a migratory fallout, is when a variety of birds that may not normally be seen together pause at once to take shelter from adverse conditions — usually extreme wind. When birds don’t arrive to their destination on time, sometimes they can suffer consequences such as not being able to compete in finding a mate.