From: Ian on 01/09/98 11:34
Subject: birds in inner Melbourne
I am an artist & design academic developing an (unusual?) artwork for
the Melbourne Festival (mid October to early November) which will
involve the making of a large sculpture with approximately 750kilos of
bird seed (something like a giant birdy-bell). It will be placed on grass
at the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets to be slowly (or quickly)
eaten away over the three week duration of the festival. I expect it will
easily attract a lot of pigeons, and probably a bit of media attention. I
plan to make a time elapse film capturing the birds eating away the
1. I would like the sculpture to attract a range of birds if possible ?
particularly indigenous birds. What birds do you think I
might expect to attract? Any suggestions on how I might get the
pigeons to move aside and best attract indigenous birds (eg those
migrating at the time?)
I believe that it is standard practice for birdy-bell manufacturers to
use a diluted PVA glue (standard wood-working or craft glue) to bind
together seed into larger shapes (casein for smaller shapes). I am
told that the PVA on the husk ?goes through as roughage?, or some
birds eat only the seed kernal after de-husking it. Can you offer - or
advise me as to how I might gain ? confirmation that PVA (poly-vinyl-
acetate) will not have negative effects on birds who may encounter
it. I beleive it is the chloride in Vinyl (ie PVC
which is the risk.
Thanks for your time, and hope you may be able to assist me.
Your imaginative project sounds interesting, but you need to be aware of
some aspects that you may not have considered. Few of our native birds are
seed eaters - only pigeons, parrots and finches. Most eat insects and/or
Your giant seed bell is only likely to attract introduced, pest birds
(feral Rock Doves [pigeons], Common Turtle-doves, House Sparrows and
possibly Common Mynas). There is an outside chance that an Eastern Rosella
or Galah may find the site, but these birds are uncommon within the CBD.
One of the challenges for municipal authorities and pest control companies
is to control problems caused by introduced pest birds. These include
damaged masonry from pigeon droppings, and smell and potential health
hazards associated with roost sites. These birds have the potential compete
with native birds for food and/or nest sites.
Whenever I have the opportunity, I advise against the feeding of native
birds, because of the many problems it can cause. Your proposal is not
likely to cause any problems for native species. However, it may well
encourage more well-meaning but misguided members of the public to get onto
the bird-feeding bandwagon.
I do not know whether PVA glue affects birds. Pigeons do not husk the
seeds they eat, so are likely to ingest more PVA than birds that do remove
the husk, such as parrots.
I hope this helps.
Wildlife Damage Control Officer
Secretary/Treasurer, BIRDS Australia Parrot Association
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
4/250 Victoria Parade
EAST MELBOURNE VIC 3002
Phone 613 9412 4429
Fax 613 9412 4586