Wagstaffe to Killcare Community Association

 

TO FEED OR NOT TO FEED WILDLIFE or PLEASE DON'T FEED THE BIRDS

One of the most pleasant aspects of living where we live is the prevalence of abundant birdlife.

Unfortunately, a prevalent impulse among human beings is to seek to increase the interaction between species by feeding wild animals, particularly birds.  We try to justify our own behaviour by thinking that we are 'caring' for 'our charges', but in fact such behaviour  is basically for our own enjoyment, and in fact, has a major negative imapact on the environment, and specifically on the birds which we feed.

Regular feeding of any species of wildlife can cause the following effects :

* Development of unnatural behaviour
* Pollution of the environment
* Overpopulation and crowding
* Poor nutrition
* Disease and death

Wild birds can become dependent upon being fed and if this is done from an early stage, the young may fail to learn normal feeding behaviour - for example, in the case of kookaburras, how to catch and kill snakes.

Hand-fed birds, instead of being a natural and pleasant part of a balanced environment, can become a troublesome nuisance : kookaburras and magpies may attack picnickers for their lunches : seagulls become scavengers : ibises empty garbage tins : ducks foul overpopulated areas and can become a health hazard : sulpher crested cockatoos may choose to feed on a timber house if their human feeders are not there to feed them.

One of the most important aspects of the ill effects of feeding birds has to do with inappropriate food sources for wild animals.  All wild animals are dependent upon a diversity of food sources within their natural ecosystem. Feeding birds human food such as bread, biscuits etc does not provide the appropriate nutrients for the animal's  metabolism to function properly. It can also affect the wider environment - for example many Australian native plants rely on specific native animals for polination and the spreading of seed.

An important example of the devasting effects of feeding birds has to do with the feeding of commercial bird seed to parrots.  Rainbow Lorikeets, for example will eat this seed, however, their brush-like tongues are adapted for gthering pollen, plant secretions ( nectar, manna, honeydew etc) and insect secretions (eg lurps). Grinding the seed and grain can cause damage to their tongues, strippng away the fine filaments on the tongue which are needed for their natural food sources. This can lead to malnutrition and death for these innocent victims of human intervention.

The good news for those wishing to enjoy the beauty of our local birds is that there are many ways to encourage their presence. Number one is to try to enhance or reinstate the native vegetation and habitat features on our properties. The native plants in our gardens  should be spefific to the Sydney region and preferably well researched as to the birds and the animals they will attract. Apparently, whilst they will attract native birds, some plants sourced from non-native nurseries can be sterile. It's a good idea to leave some small dead branches on trees for roosting and as observation points and also to leave some of the garden 'wilder' with leaf litter and thick understory.  Another good idea is to provide a water source in the garden - a bird bath or a large shallow bowl of water in an open area for viewing and a position to avoid predator attack will provide hours of enjoyment.

 

To read more on this subject here are a few links to explore :

An article by the NSW Environment Department on Feeding Wildlife

And another specifically on The Dangers  of Feeding Lorikeets

An article by the Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

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