Dear Hugo *In reply*

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Dear Hugo *In reply*
From: John Gamblin <>
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002 19:17:50 -0800 (PST)
G'day all,

I've just re-read Hugo's email to us all re: The bush
fires and feeding wild birds? did you see the way it
was snuck in? hmmmmmm okay my fine feathered friend,
we debate this issue to the full enth of degree? okay?

What I object to in particularly is exactly why you
say that feeding wild birds is such a bad thing? Do
you wish to go to greater lengths to point out your
reasons as to why? surely when we as humans performing
our human tasks change the Oz environment to such a
degree as we do, then could we not think about what we
have done? how it once was? there are direct tie in's
with bird loss numbers and human habitation and human
numbers plus human developments.

I'm puzzled in a way that everyone there at many BA
locations thinks feeding birds is such a "bad" thing,
this issue has been raised and discussed at great
lengths in the UK and USA? are we alone with our
thoughts on wild birds here in Oz?

The conclusion reached in the UK and USA was so much
habitat and so many feeding grounds were taken up with
human stuff, it was only fair. These objections have
gone on time-and-time again in the UK and in the
States, seems like us Aussies are just walking over
the same ground all over again. No one would probably
argue about (adding) nest-boxes, but it's actually a
similar thing in many ways, "interfering with nature".

Is that not true? do you not, in fact, promote nest
box building just like I do?

Then again, we have way way fewer people than in the
USA or UK, per square acre, but the birds and Aussies
REALLY overlap in a way they don't do in the USA and
UK. I'm sure no one would probably trek miles into the
outback to set up a daily feeding station (unless they
lived there...) But we promote putting up un-monitored
nesting boxes?

How many UK and USA peoples get woken up by birds
tapping at windows or as I have found out on your head
as you camp out under the stars?

Over the years I have been charged with "playing God"
in actually raising or repairing wild birds; but 99.9%
percent of my work is because of human shooting, human
poisoning, human cars, human interference, human pets
(dogs & cats), and of course human industrial oiling
of wild birds. "Let Nature Take Its' Course", I've
been told. "Nature" is not responsible for the
orphanings, shootings, poisonings or burnings. Why
should we think nature can fix up human wrong doings?
It not her fault we act as we do?

I'm human enough to want to punch those people out who
say to me "Let Nature Take Its' Course". If I follow
that then to me I feel there's not much difference in
seeing a young human child cut itself in the shallows
on a beach with sharks around? should we then not say
Aaah let nature take it's course?

I am deeply concerned about the type of glues used to
hold birdseed feeders together; and of course, the
cleanliness of feeders and water put out for birds.

To much for me to dream about Birds Australia selling
safe bird foods and feeders eh?

It's always best to promote very responsible behavior
in wild bird efforts. The more thought given to
anything generally promotes a better outcome.

What our clever USA wildlife people propose is having
water available, and "hides" for their wild birds. You
don't need to feed them to have a "backyard nature
preserve". Only provide water and shelter, potter down
to the Balnarring primary school to fully get my
ground cover, and totally organic soil & plants must
be used. You want to keep a clean water source, that's
the most important thing for any wild bird ...

You've let the genie out of the bottle in another way,
so many places here have "pet" wild birds - to take
birds out of the wild and have them in cages in garden
centers, restaurants etc. That is illegal in the USA.

Naturally, many of our pet birds are raised in
captivity, but in the USA and UK you would not be
allowed to take, say, woodpeckers & raise captive
woodpeckers to be pets, no matter how many generations
of captivity there were .. 

In some ways, the Australian avian veterinary practice
should be miles and miles ahead of the USA and UK in
addressing some health issues of our wild bird
populations. We have a leap because many of the
species ARE kept as pets.

I think I would ask veterinarians for recommendations,
rather than ... dare I say this ... birders, but then
again the wealth of knowledge is not only held by

Studies should actually be done, instead of the
anecdotal "birds will get too dependent" or "water
sources spread disease". I was amused at THAT when I
read it, because natural water sources would spread as
much disease as man-made varieties - maybe more! It
could be argued either way. I will debate with you
till the cows come home or my last day it's human
interference with water that causes water pollution,
even the blue-green algae blooms issue.

Many studies in the UK and USA have shown that feeding
- even over-feeding - does not promote non-migration,
fat birds, birds that are too dependent,
etc etc. Studies SHOULD be done for the Australian
species, and not studies that determine if a bird is a
pest species or not ... for years everyone blamed
starlings for taking over valuable nest sites, until
they determined that starlings nesting on your house
(where the majority are!) don't really impact
cavity-nesters ... then research showed that it was
deforestation impacting the native cavity-nesters -
starlings (and cowbirds, a parasitic nesting species
in the USA) didn't go into the "woods" very deeply. 

The shallower the forest, the more parasites. The
deeper and larger the wood, the better for rare

The other thing is this Hugo, I don't expect to get
rare or threatened species in TOWN, where I live. If I
want to feed birds in town, I would likely get little
pesky things like sparrows, starlings, and I do get

Not Mr. Rara Avis.

Rara Avis is rare for his own reason - he doesn't live
in town and you probably don't want him to. He
wouldn't be safe there. He's not car or aircraft

Mr. Pesky bird DOES live there, and he gives in-town
people a lot of pleasure to feed him, as they dream of
how things once were in the middle of Mehlbin, Sid's
knee or other habitat destroyed places. Check out the
home spread of all Australian cities or the past 30
years? a very small period of time indeed.

This cough and weepy eyes of mine I have at present
grows worse? it couldn't be the bush fires at fault
could it? potters off to bed thinking of Unca Tones

Only thinking about it.

Night Night mate,
Macarthur, I will return, when I'm feeling better, but
Hugo please lets kill this issue once and for all, and
still remain good friends.

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