An interesting read - Why do we feed wild animals?

To: Julian Bielewicz <>
Subject: An interesting read - Why do we feed wild animals?
From: Janine Duffy <>
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2016 10:22:58 +0000
Well said Julian.

I agree with Greg that a good native garden is a great thing, but I don't agree
that feeding wild birds should be discouraged.

I believe that one of the biggest problems facing our birds, and other wildlife,
is that many Australians don't care whether they live or die. In fact many
Australians know very little about their native wildlife. I deal with mainstream
travelers (not birders - ordinary people) from North America, the UK and Europe,
and I am impressed by their knowledge and understanding of their native birds,
much of it gained from feeders, and in contrast I am shocked and ashamed at
Australian's lack of knowledge. I mean, almost every American knows what an
American Robin is, and a Bald Eagle. But I am constantly asked by Aussies
whether that bird is a magpie, and every whistling kite and brown falcon seems
to be a wedge-tailed eagle!!!

Anything that increases our connection with and understanding of our birds is

And where have we got this idea that it is so bad for birds? Yes disease is bad.
Yes, natural behavior may change. But hell, in a country battling climate
change, drought, and changing fire regimes that affect millions of hectares this
is the least of the problems for the birds.

Back off on the bird feeding community and welcome them instead. A few million
more members of Birdlife Australia (all the bird feeders out there) all funding
and lobbying for change in governmental policy would do far more for birds than
a cessation of feeding.

Check Darryl Jones article in Australian Birdlife, vol 3, no 2 June 2014 where
he raises some important points and challenges some myths.


Sent using CloudMagic Email
 On Sun, Jan 24, 2016 at 2:30 PM, Julian Bielewicz <  
 > wrote:
Greetings Greg

Fay and I, on 7½ acres, have over the past 15 years converted and/or
improved the property’s natural habitat [e.g. on discovering the occasional
visit by Glossy Black-Cockatoo we have planted some 50 new Allocasuarina
littoralis trees [propagated from a neighbour’s mature trees]. We have a
large dam on the southern boundary of the property and a few years ago paid
to have a small “duck pond” [which our domestic ducks have never used]
excavated on the north western boundary. We recently relegated an old
lion’s claw bathtub to the “Doughnut” [an oval garden planted with roses and
natives]. To top up this supply we have three pedestal birdbaths in various
spots around the “front yard”.

We have two bird tables and often scatter seed in “Café Avian”.

As an aside, our menagerie consists of a small flock [c20] of free-flying
domestic pigeons [“Kings”, a table variety], a dozen free-range assorted
chickens and four ducks.

In 15 years of close observation [and feeding seed and kitchen scraps] we
have never observed any signs of disease among the regular domestics or
wildlife visitors; have never observed any of the domestic birds, let alone
any of the wild species, fall victim to a raptor or any other avian
predator. We have noted a Collared Sparrowhawk attempt to take a pigeon but
it failed and has never been seen since. I will admit to a couple of
chickens and a duck being taken by a fox- before we fox-proofed the coop.

While your tale of the Eastern Osprey chicks being so “viciously” attacked
by the Pied Butcherbirds I would immediately question the use of the emotive
“vicious”. What exactly is “vicious” in wildlife terms? How do Torresian
Crow, Pied Currawong, Laughing Kookaburra, etc. mount up in your equation?

Surely, Pied Butcherbirds taking out fledgling IS nature; the natural
process. How do you correlate one [the presence of Pied Butcherbird being
fed by humans] with the other [the taking of Eastern Osprey chick]?

I can clearly recall, back in our Redcliffe days, a cat taking a Rainbow
Lorikeet, dashing across the road and tearing up the fenceline between our
house and the neighboour’s. In the bat of an eyelid, a Pied Butcherbird
swooped down on fleeting feline, causing it to drop the bird. We retrieved
the lorikeet and spent the next few days nurturing said patient. It
survived to fight another day.

A Brownie point for the Pied Butcherbird!!

How did the Pied Butcherbirds connect human feed with the need to kill
fledglings? Did they notice the fledglings during normal foraging
expeditions? Would they have noticed the fledglings regardless or human
supplementary feeds?

Yes, we derive immense satisfaction from feeding the local avifauna but how
can anyone measure the benefit to birds during spring when they have
additional mouths to feed or following a heavy, prolonged, rainstorm when
“normal” food becomes scarer?

Your assertion that wildlife managed perfectly well before humans started
artificially feeding them flies in the face of logic and fact. Surely, if
humans had not initially interfered with the bird’s natural environment [to
create roads, houses, etc] then birds may well have managed BUT humans have
interfered and consequently bird habitat ranges have diminished. Feeding
birds is simply a small recompense for losses inflicted on birds by humans.

We DO feed wildlife in our garden and we derive a great amount of enjoyment
having King-Parrots sit on the verandah; Blue-faced Honeyeater and Noisy
Miner drinking at the bird baths; Common Bronzewing take seed at Café Avian;
Grey Butcherbird and Laughing Kookaburra eating insects and lizards; both
Little and Noisy Friarbird feeding on nectar that the local native plants

We totally disagree with your “bottom line” that Fay and I only feed
wildlife for our own satisfaction and that it has nothing to do with any
benefit to the birds. Utter claptrap!



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