Feeding birds

Subject: Feeding birds
From: Jenny Adams <>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 16:23:43 +1100
I am sending this because I have found so many people feeding native birds,
as a Bush Regenerator we need birds to pollinate the few remants of bushland
left, and as a bird counter for 15 years I see more and more birds fighting
over food in some exotic garden. I apologize if this is like 'sending coals
to Newcastle' for most birdos. Jenny Adams.
        Jenny Adams
        Phone: Sydney 02 9692 0819


It is not  necessary to kill birds with kindness.
Many of us love to have birds visiting our gardens.
But is is distressing to see misguided members of the public
'helping' birds by providing bread,  seed  or  sugar water.
These are all junk foods for birds and sadly introduce disease and
distress to the birds.
        The simplest and most rewarding way of bringing birds close to our 
homes is
by planting native plants and providing water in the form of a shallow  bird
bath.  You can create a delightful totally native garden or  if your garden
is already established it is possible merely to add a clump of well chosen
native  species to provide a range of foods and  habitats for a number of birds.

        Native birds behaving naturally will provide hours of interest when they
are porvided with the food that suits them best and as we sit  back and
watch we can be happy that we are really assisting their survival.


        Salt-   present in bread and processed food and not present in birds
natural diet.
        Fat - also limited in natural diet. Kookaburras eat lizards, frogs 
etc, all low in fat unlike the processed meat often fed to them.

        Bird Seed - often not the type of seed that the birds would naturally 
Seed left out in damp conditions rots, grows mould and introduces disease to
the birds.
        Spread of disease -  by concentrating food and birds in large numbers in
one place.

        What happens when you stop? - birds often become dependent on the 
of food and lose the ability to forage for themselves particularly if they
have been reared to this type of feeding by the parent birds and not taught
how to find food in a natural circumstances.
        Illness -  'Runners' are created by a virus spread from bird to bird
and causes loss of flight feathers and therefore prevents flying.  These
birds become easy prey for  cats and foxes. They also can get a bleeding
disease which is caused by a lack of pectin normally obtained from the
pectin in nectar of flowers and is not in honey or sugar.


        Pollination  -  many Australian plants need birds to fertilise them so 
they can produce seed. Without the birds , reproduction of native flora
species can be severely affected.( European Bees do not do this job)

        Dispersal of fruit - many Australian plants are dependent on birds to
spread their seed, often seed viability depends on passing through a birds gut.

        Behaviour changes -  aggression and increased stress through different
species feeding together. Birds can often be obseerved squabbling like rate
around feeding tables.

        Feral Birds - If you live in a city area the only birds you sometime
attract are feral birds, rats and cockroaches.

        Wants of people versus the needs of the environment -  it is unfair
to treat creatures as though they are there for our own pleasure only
without considering the welfare of the animals.  Often people have a
mistaken belief that birds need supplementary feeding. This is an old
European idea where plants and insects shut down over the long cold winter.
In Australia plants do not shut down and there is plentiful food all year
round. Lots of native flora flower in winter the birds are adapted to the
provision of natural food and move around as necessary.

        Ecosystem  - The Australian environment is intricate and complex,
and has evolved over millions of years. Much disruption is caused by
habitation loss and agriculture and what little remains of our natural
heritage needs to be protected not further disrupted by inappropriate
treatment of fauna.

Attracting  birds to your garden
The best way is by planting native locally indigenous plant species and
providing a simple bird bath in a place that is safe from cats. Plant
species should include understory plants like native grasses and ground
covers, shrubs and trees. Most birds eat a balanced diet, 90% eat incects
plus nectar, seed or fruit

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