Birds are colourful and vocal, thus easily spotted. Many people grow plants to attract birds. The presence of birds is a good indicator of the environment's health. Avian tourism has become increasingly popular in recent years.
BirdLife South Africa declared May 4 to 10 national bird week. "We decided to use garden birds to advance bird conservation, with the goals of (a) encouraging people to create favourable habitats for birds in their gardens and (b) fostering an interest in birds, especially those in gardens.
A healthier environment will be good for people, especially considering the possible impacts of climate change. "Open spaces are diminishing as a result of development and this is especially the case in urban areas. Gardens are therefore a suitable alternative which provides good and healthy habitats for birds and other wildlife. Everybody has a garden and many have found ways to attract birds into their gardens. To most people bird-watching is not just a hobby, but a means of playing an important role towards the conservation of our birds.
"The Cape Robin-Chat (Cossypha caffra) has been chosen as the bird of the year as an icon to represent all garden birds. It is a common but shy bird found in most gardens in South Africa. It is colourful and its behaviour makes it interesting and a worthwhile." For more information go to www. birdlife.org.za