I know what you’re thinking. This is… really weird. And also pretty funny. But instead of this just being a silly internet video, what if this were our reality? What if birds had arms?
How would this affect our planet’s wildlife? Could these birds destroy our cities? And how could this change our diets?
Okay. Before you comment that we’ve run out of ideas, just relax. This idea may seem really dumb, and sure, maybe it is. But if all birds replaced their wings with arms, the consequences would would change our world.
There might be as many as 400 billion birds flying around Earth. That’s nearly 50 birds for every single human on Earth. So what would happen if our world turned into this?
Birds with arms may have existed at one point in time. After all, at one point, these things were dinosaurs. And it is possible that before their arms became wings, birds had other features, like beaks and feathers.
And who knows, maybe something like this still exists today. Science does say there are over 5 million species yet to be discovered. But instead of just one bird species having arms, we’re talking about all of them.
And if something like this did happen, the world would get pretty messy. In New York City alone, there are an estimated 4 million pigeons, which is one for every two people living in the city. Right now, these pigeons live on top of buildings and trees, but if they had arms instead of wings, they’d need to get creative on where they live.
They’re already known as flying rats in New York City, but now, that name might just be turned into pigeon rat. That’s because they might be forced to live in sewers, streets, or wherever else they can manage to sneak into. And now these 4 million pigeons would be making New York City even more crowded than it already is. These pigeons would be
everywhere on the streets.
But New York wouldn’t be the only city suffering from this. There’d be 100,000 pigeons walking around Venice, and London would have 1 million.
And if you’re already annoyed with them constantly flocking to you, and pecking at your food with their beaks, it would be even worse if they had arms. Now they could just grab your food with their hands and run away. And they’d be doing this a lot more often since they’d be much more desperate for food.
Birds are able to thrive due to their agility when catching their prey. Since they can fly, birds can cover a huge amount of space, which expands their options for food. But if they couldn’t fly, they’d have to look for food in a much smaller area.
But maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about that all. With birds having arms, maybe they would be a lot more useful to us humans. We could train them to use tools to help with farming or woodworking.
And maybe we’d eat a lot less chicken since it would be just too close for comfort at that point. Aw, man, I’m really going to miss chicken wings. But the lack of chicken wings would be the least of our worries if birds didn’t have arms.
One of the biggest changes we’d notice would be the huge increase in rodent and insect populations. These two creatures are birds’ main sources of food, and they eat a
lot of them.
Without birds being to eat as many and keep these populations in check, the ecosystem would be significantly damaged. And if they couldn’t fly, birds wouldn’t be able to pollinate any plants.
That’s something they do a lot of. The hummingbird alone pollinates hundreds of wildflowers in the United States. And with less pollination, we would see fewer plants, flowers, and less wildlife.
Pollination is hugely important to any ecosystem, and without it, we’d see significant impacts to nature all around the world. And since birds also spread seeds, we’d start to lost many different plants. Eventually they’d go extinct.
So although birds can be annoying at times, they’re one of the key ingredients that help keep our planet healthy.
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- “How many birds are there?” GASTON, KEVIN J., and TIM M. BLACKBURN. 1997. 6 (4): 615-625. doi:10.1023/a:1018341530497.