An interesting read - Why do we feed wild animals?

To: Julian Bielewicz <>, 'Birding Aus' <>
Subject: An interesting read - Why do we feed wild animals?
From: Greg and Val Clancy <>
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2016 11:03:14 +0000
Hi Julian,

Thanks for your reply.  It is always good to have debate on contentious 

It is obvious that you have done quite a bit towards providing natural 
habitat for local wildlife
especially as you planted the Allocasuarinas for the Glossy Black-Cockatoo.

I would like to respond to a few of your comments - "we have never observed 
any signs of disease
among the regular domestics or wildlife visitors".

reply - in our area beak and feather disease has
been spread among King-Parrots and lorikeets and this is most likely due to 
contamination of
artificial feeding sites.  Diseased birds defecate onto the food eaten by 
other birds.  It may not
be a problem in your area but there are carriers that do not appear sick but 
can carry the disease.
This is most obvious in the King-Parrot by the presence of scattered yellow 
feathers in the plumage.

"we 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."

reply - When I referred to predatory birds I was referring to birds that are 
regularly fed by people -
kookaburras, butcherbirds, Magpies, Currawongs etc. and not raptors.  These 
species either discourage or prey on the smaller bird species.  The list of 
bird species that you refer
to in your email as occurring in your garden are all medium to large 
species.  This is a common scenario
in gardens with too many exotics or non-local plants like Grevilleas and 
where people feed the larger birds.
Medium to large species are thriving while most small species are excluded.

"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]?"

reply - if the butcherbirds were behaving in a natural way it would just be 
nature taking its course.  In this case the feeding
concentrated the butcherbirds near the nest leaving no chance for the Osprey 
nestling to fledge
without being attacked.  This was the only nest that I studied where this 

"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."

reply - I agree that humans have created major problems for our wildlife but 
artificially feeding birds is
only exacerbating the problem.  Making gardens, including local parks, more 
wildlife friendly
is a far better way of assisting nature.  If this is done properly maybe 
even the small birds will benefit.

"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 

reply - I am sure that you believe that your wildlife feeding s benefiting 
the wildlife but check on the number of
small birds that visit your garden compared to the large noisy and 
aggressive birds.  Rather than being
utter claptrap I would reiterate that feeding wildlife can have negative 
repercussions on the species
that people feed (often with good intentions) but I know that some people 
are fully aware of the
problems of feeding wildlife but do it anyway - because they like doing it. 
I know that I won't change
your mind on the topic but I have received four requests off-list for my 
paper which included some very
supportive comments.


Dr Greg. P. Clancy
Ecologist and Birding-wildlife Guide
| PO Box 63 Coutts Crossing NSW 2460
| 02 6649 3153  | 0429 601 960

-----Original Message----- 
From: Julian Bielewicz
Sent: Sunday, January 24, 2016 2:25 PM
To: 'Greg and Val Clancy' ; 'Birding Aus'
Subject: An interesting read - Why do we feed wild 

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”.

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