Dear Hugo *In reply*

To: John Gamblin <>, Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Dear Hugo *In reply*
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002 10:45:52 +1100
Dear John -

At 07:17 PM 4/01/02 -0800, John Gamblin wrote:
>What I object to in particularly is exactly why you
>say that feeding wild birds is such a bad thing?

Please take the trouble to read the information sheet carefully.  What it
does is endorse some feeding of wild birds in particular circumstances or
if done with care.  It does NOT say that feeding is necessarily or
automatically 'a bad thing', although it does point out that there are
dangers associated with it.  When you feed wild birds, I am sure that you
do so in full awareness of such dangers, but the info sheet was produced
mainly for members of the public who do not know very much about bird
ecology.  Glib comparisons with the situation in other countries (e.g.
those with different climatic regimes or suites of introduced species) are
inappropriate.  The relevant text reads:

>If you decide to help your bird refugees survive until their burnt habitat
regenerates sufficiently to provide for their needs again, you should
consider providing food for them.  Artificial feeding of native birds is
controversial; many people believe they should find their own food and
bushfires are natural events to which they should be adapted.
>However, bushfires in Australia's settled regions are often caused or
exacerbated by human malice, ignorance and carelessness, and their effects
on native fauna may be magnified by vegetation clearance and the patterns
of settlement.  The apparently natural environment that the birds inhabit
has been permanently affected in subtle ways by humans.  The purist
position of complete non-interference with natural processes is
inappropriate where many ecosystems require active management to maintain
their biological diversity, complexity and viability.
>Feeding birds in suburban gardens can also be valuable in re-establishing
the links between modern society and the natural environment in which our
origins lie.  It teaches us how birds behave, the needs of different
species, the dynamics of the seasons and the breeding cycles and how birds
are affected by environmental changes.  It also provides pleasure to many
people and may be a catalyst for children to become environmentally aware.
>There are also dangers associated with feeding garden birds.  It can
increase the risk of disease, and of unbalanced diet.  It can sustain
artificially high numbers of a few aggressive, feral or pest species at the
expense of small and timid kinds.  Overfeeding can lead to wastage and rot
which will attract rats, cats, flies and European Wasps.
>Feeding birds can be rewarding but it should be done only on your own
property with discretion, with an awareness of possible ramifications, and
it should be monitored by minds constantly alert to its consequences.  In
the long run it is preferable to feed birds by growing suitable fruit, seed
and nectar-producing, and insect-attracting, plants.

Hugo Phillipps
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia
415 Riversdale Road
HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
Email: <>
Web site: <>

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