Why you should stop feeding native birds

ABC News | Justin Huntsdale

Why you should stop feeding native birds at your house

By welcoming king parrots, rosellas or lorikeets to your house for feeding, you are serving up a diet of junk food, and reducing their ability to forage for food, authorities warn.

Part of the enjoyment of living in a regional area with garden space is creating a habitat for our native animals in the backyard.

But while birdbaths and frog ponds provide a useful service for native species, a bird feeder full of seed does not.

The issue is so serious that the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has published an information document called 'Keep wildlife wild: please don't feed the animals'.

The department warns against welcoming in native birds and conditioning them into regular feeding.

"When you feed native animals you're giving them the wildlife equivalent of junk food," the publication said.

"Instead of eating a wide range of natural foods, they depend on processed seeds, bread and other foods that are not part of their natural diet. This can make them very sick.

"Animals that expect to be fed by people can become aggressive, harassing people for food when they are hungry."

The department warns that birds will then return to the food source, potentially displacing other species and their migratory patterns.

A king parrot sits on a ledge with the escarpment of the northern Illawarra and ocean in the background.

PHOTO: A king parrot visits a house in the Northern Illawarra. The Office of Environment and Heritage is warning people not to feed native birds. (ABC Open: Will Tinapple)

How feeding wild birds can kill them

The Office of Environment and Heritage said that by feeding birds, a moment's pleasure for you could turn into a junk food addiction for the bird.

They even pointed out that feeding lorikeets sugar-based foods like fruit, could cause the birds to die at an unusually young age.

Research by the Office of Environment and Heritage found that an outbreak of lorikeets dying in large numbers for no apparent reason, was caused by a disease associated with poor hygiene and an inadequate diet.

Scientists directed the blame at the type of food they were being fed by humans, and unsanitary feeders.

The department said you could attract natural wildlife to your garden by planting trees, such as hakeas, acacias, casuarinas and eucalyptus, which all provide natural food for visiting birds.

Source:ABC News | Justin Huntsdale - submitted by West Pittwater resident 

The two strongest arguments against feeding native animals is DEPENDENCY AND POOR NUTRITION.

Dependency – animals may become dependent upon artificial sources of food and become less inclined to forage naturally. This is still debated, as most birds retain their own feeding patterns, but if you are concerned, feed irregularly, do not give too much food and provide different kinds of food at various times.

Poor nutrition - many people do not provide appropriate food or sufficient variety to cover the bird and animals dietary needs. In the case of birds, parental birds may take poor foods back to the nest, which may affect the healthy development of young native birds.



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