"Carla Jackett" <>
Feeding wild birds
Sat, 28 Jul 2001 07:07:29 +0000
Friends of mine in Pine Creek (200 kms south of Darwin) feed birds
putting out copious amounts of seed and nectar mix. The local galah and
Rainbow Lorikeet population has increased greatly, I suspect because of
However given the increase in these species brought about by the
establishment of mango plantations and grain crops I doubt whether my
friends have made much impact through their actions. I should imagine
that a crash in the market for such crops would bring about a much more
devastating effect than my friends ceasing to feed birds.
However in the confines of a city such as Sydney or Melbourne the effect
of artificial feeding may be more noticeable. Apart from increased
competition and diseases brought about by poor diet the feeding of
predatory or introduced birds may have a marked increase on local
avifauna by increasing predation and the risk of disease.
I live in Darwin, and feed birds, but apart from a slight increase in the
number of Bar-shouldered Doves in the vicinity have noticed no related
change in the local avifauna. As the doves are quite aggressive we only
put out small amounts of small seed. Our yard is overgrown with native
trees (it's like a jungle) with an overgrown grassy verge so it's very
attractive to birds anyway.
Feeding birds gives people intimate contact with native wildlife, o
contact they're largely denied otherwise. As a bird guide of some twenty
year's experience (mainly for Americans) I've seen just how important
that contact can be, especially for older, somewhat isolated folks. Tour
guides up here realise that too, and to give visitors that contact feed
wild sea-eagles and other birds of prey, goannas or crocodiles in places
utlised by other visitors.
Consequently individual animals begin to associate people with food.
Visitors have been badly scratched by kite or harrassed by large goannas
(including my clients). There was a recent complaint when a dinghy was
attacked after the operator had inadvertently come between a 5 m.
crocodile and the food left for it on the bank by a tour guide.
As far as I know nothing is being done about these issues except in the
case of the goannas mentioned earlier, and some crocodiles - they were
removed by park rangers.
There are other ways of seeing wildlife. For instance there are guides
who can stalk a large crocodile with a boat so that visitors can view it
closely. And the same can be done with snakes and lizards.
Tour operators continue to feed animals (and chase and catch snakes and
lizards, or in some cases ram crocodiles with boats) because there's a
market for such behaviour. I hope that anyone witnessing such behaviour
complains loud and long.
Denise Goodfellow (Lawungkurr Maralngurra)
Follow these direct links to my work on the web:
Four Short Stories
Birds of Darwin Sketches
Birding & Natural History in the Far North
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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