Rob - Bird feeding experience - bird sitting

To: <>
Subject: Rob - Bird feeding experience - bird sitting
From: "Michelle Plant" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 12:05:06 +1000

Firslty my apologies for not responding earlier.  Clive forwarded this on to me 
some time back.  Studying full time, children and xmas make a hodge podge of 
time management.

There are a number of issues (as well as the interesting note provided by Carl 
Clifford relative to honey disease/ problems) that might be considered relative 
to the situation you mentioned.

My name is Michelle Plant - have been investigating wild bird feeding practices 
for a number of years, currently doing PhD research project on bird health and 
the supplementary feeding environment.

Possibly the biggest concern that I would have - is the potential for disease 
transfer between the avairy birds and the wild birds and visa versa.  There are 
a number of diseases that each environment can expose the birds too - with them 
coming in to close contact it is possible for transmission to occur.  Some 
diseases could have devastating outcomes for either group - and most bird 
keepers I know invest a great deal of time, love and money into their 
collections - which would suggest they would be devastated if they suffered 
losses as a result of disease.  In addition, whilst your friend can monitor the 
health of his avary birds and treat when necessary - this is not generally the 
case for the wild birds.  Health care for wild birds is next to impossible.

It sounds as if there is a wide range of wild birds visiting and each group may 
bring with it a spectrum of disease agents.

This could be exaserbated by the fact that people generally clean up after 
avary birds but not so much so for wild birds - some disease agents can remain 
viable in the environment for long periods of time - so if there is a 
collection of feed and droppings developing this can further encourage disease 

Then there are nutritional concerns.  It is suggested that birds will only 
obtain a fraction of their daily intake from supplementary feed offerings - but 
this has only been reviewed on Magpies in a small geographic area in south east 
queensland.  We simply don't know at this point what percentage of a birds 
nutritional requirements might be met at supplementary feeders.  Is the feed 
nutritionally appropriate for the species being fed?  Many questions and 
considerations for responsible feeding practices.

My opinion is that human foodstuffs including bread are a no no.  Sausage / 
mince etc also are no no's for carnivorous birds - we know that there are 
detrimental health effects from offering vitamin deficient mince / processed 
sausage meats.  There are many good quality options for supplementary feed that 
will work to meet the bird's nutritional requirements.

My suggestion is always one of minimalism and care.  Your idea to offer natural 
feeds (planting a variety of natives) and water is best if wanting to attract 
wild birds.  Water can also foul very quickly particularly if contaminated and 
with high temperatures - so a water feeder does require management too.

Hope this is of some help - happy to discuss further.

Michelle Plant

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