Back Yard Birds: A few comments (fwd)

Subject: Back Yard Birds: A few comments (fwd)
From: Kiran Krishna <>
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 20:03:07 +1000 (EST)
Dear Clive, 

You write:

> I understand from this that you mean 'Almost universally, people feeding 
>birds does more harm than good.'
> This sounds a little sweeping in spite of the use of 'Almost'. I consider 
>that I feed native birds by planting in my garden native plants that
>provide  flowers, nectar, and seeds, and also attract lerps and other
>small creatures.  Given the reduction of natural habitat, and therefore
>the reduced number of food sources available in urban areas, I don't
>think I am unduly disturbing the 'natural' balance.

  Granting that, in an unguarded moment, I might have said more than I
meant, you misunderstand me. What I should have said was that people 
should take care where they distribute their bounty. I have frequently
heard of people taking special care of Noisy Miners. At any rate, I doubt
I will be contradicted if I were to say that untargeted direct food aid
under some circumstances (and especially that which is prevalent practise
in Australia of distributing bread crumbs among feral pigeons and silver
gulls) can do more harm than good. I apologise for not considering that
trees grown in our backyard serve as food sources for a variety of birds,
endemic ones included, but given the Bottlebrushes in our backyard which
have lately given me the pleasure of seeing the Red Wattlebird, and the no
less pleasurable Rainbow Lorikeets that frequent this neighbourhood, I am
an enthusiastic a supporter of them as can be found anywhere.
> Elsewhere in the world feeding birds can be seen to be well intentioned 
>attempts to right some of the wrongs of the past, and some of the
> consequences  of social improvements.
> In southern Africa, animal carcasses have been deliberately made available by
> farmers and others for vultures, whose natural food sources have been 
>drastically reduced by the reduction in numbers of game animals, the 
>restricted ranges available after the development of farming, the effects
>of poison baits placed out in the farming areas, and improved sanitation
>measures put in place.

It pleases me to hear of attempts to redress past wrongs, and I have no
doubts that all bird feeding, responsible and irresponsible, is
well-intentioned. However, I still maintain that the well-intentioned
people who now feed pigeons might with a bit more (for want of a better
term) education, redirect their efforts towards avenues that are more 
likely to get to the much less common species. I apologise for not
explicitly acknowldging that there are people whose efforts are already

> I understand that different climatic conditions may dictate different 
>approaches to providing for our urban birds, but I have wondered, and
>still do, whether the widespread feeding of birds in the northern hemisphere 
>has the additional effect of creating, in the general population, more 
>awareness of wild birds and a greater appreciation of the need for their
> conservation.Certainly, there seems to be a perception that attracting
> young people to the birding fraternity is more difficult in Australia
> than it appears to be in the northern hemisphere.

I would very much doubt that there are proportionally any fewer
bird-feeders and fountains in Australia than elsewhere. Certainly, I have
seen quite a few of both.

> I, for one, cannot conceive an environment without birdsong, and I would 
> even prefer the 'pest' species' calls to no calls at all. 

  While that choice has not been offered to us, we shouldn't, in my humble
opinion, make it. Let us agree that the endemic bird populations could be
much lower than they are now, and that something - not necessarily a
positive action against them - does need to be undertaken to ensure a
better distribution of species. I apologise for suggesting anything more
than that.


Kiran Krishna
3rd yr physics
(Falkiner High Energy Physics)
University of Sydney
NSW 2006


Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,     
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:     
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.     
The music in the piano stool. That vase.     
     - Home is so sad, Philip Larkin

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