Invasive Species – It’s Not What You Think
When you think of birds and invasive species, what comes to mind? I don’t know about you, but I think of house sparrows, house finches and starlings. They really top my list. House Sparrows, an import that takes over any nest box it can, but is equally happy inhabiting ivy on the sides of houses “commune style”. House finches, who are thought, by some, to possibly be mating with native Purple finches; not to mention their gregarious nature at birdfeeders. And, lastly, Starlings, brought to the US in 1890 as part of a plan to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare. (What?)
But you know my style by know. I’m not talking about something that you initially would think of. And no, I’m not talking kudzu either.
I’ll bet you didn’t think of snakes. The truth is, other invasive animal species can also have a big effect on bird species. When they are introduced to non-native habitats, they can take advantage of native species of wildlife, ruining an otherwise symbiotic ecosystem.
That’s what is happening in Florida right now. According to Smithsonian Science, invasive Burmese Pythons are not only attacking bird populations, but also going after eggs in the nest.
Smithsonian Science goes on to say that Pythons, native to Asia, were first found in the Everglades in 1979. They were thought to be either discarded or escaped pets. Today, they have taken over native species and are a continuing and growing threat to wildlife in the Everglades.
Studies and examinations of the Pythons show that they have consumed more than twenty-five species of birds.
They are found to have consumed everything from a small house wren to a Great Blue Heron, but it is only recently that scientists have discovered that they are a threat to eggs as well.
The National Park Service and others continue to monitor and test Pythons in the Everglades. Florida will, experts say,likely become more and more plagued by invasive species due to its favorable climate for so many of the world’s worst offenders, who easily thrive in Florida’s welcoming, albeit shrinking, Everglades.
So, as a little post note, when you think of invasive species, you are, as always, invited to “think outside the nest box”. You are invited to weigh in on the subject by emailing me, or posting on our Facebook wall.
Python image by Sarah L. Stewart, courtesy Smithsonian Science