Feeding birds

To: Peter Morgan <>
Subject: Feeding birds
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2016 06:18:57 +0000

Years ago a friend in a small NT town began feeding Rainbow Lorikeets and soon 
had hundreds of birds coming in accompanied by galahs and corellas.  She 
thought it great for tourism and nothing I said appeared to make any difference.

In both Palmerston and Darwin here in the Top End there are huge roosts of 
lorikeets sustained at least in part by feeders.  I tried to do something about 
them too.  I pointed out the risks to health - the Palmerston birds roosted in 
trees overlooking a food market, even suggesting to Council that their public 
liability insurance may not cover them if people fell ill.   I even tried 
running for Council.  But the response of the good people there was that they 
“loved” the lorikeets and nothing changed.

When we moved here to Darwin River (about 85 km southwest of Darwin) the 
prevous owners told us they’d been feeding a pair of Radjah Shelducks, a family 
of Pied Butcherbirds, and another family of Blue-winged Kookaburras (plus 
Brush-tailed Possums and Northern Brown Bandicoots) for over 25 years.  We’ve 
gradually ceased feeding everything apart from the two ducks, and a few finches 
and doves. Of course in mango season it’s a free for all on our three trees.  
And when the termites arrive in their millions during the Buildup, there’s 
almost a stampede of wildlife around the house.

If people are going to feed birds they need to know how to do it safely and in 
ways that aren’t going to impact too much on other wildlife (or people for that 

Denise Lawungkurr  Goodfellow
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835

PhD candidate, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Founding Member: Ecotourism Australia
Nominated by Earthfoot for Condé Nast’s International  Ecotourism Award, 2004.

With every introduction of a plant or animal that goes feral this continent 
becomes a little less unique, a little less Australian.

On 26 Jan 2016, at 2:15 pm, Peter Morgan <> wrote:

> I was reluctant to get involved in this after Greg Clancy was accused of 
> "utter claptrap", and following the recent complaints about spelling and 
> grammar, and posting reports, I didn't want to contribute to raising the 
> temperature again.
> However I offer this for what it is worth:
> Twenty years ago, we moved on to a bush block and I scattered seed over a 
> large area.  I did not use a feeder which concentrates the birds.  I thought 
> that was the best way to do things.
> And it was great. We had Butcher Birds, Magpies, Galahs, King Parrots, 
> Rainbow Lorikeets, Crows. All the time.
> After a while, I stopped putting seed out, and most of those birds became 
> less frequent visitors.  But what we found was an increase in Blue Wrens, 
> Red-browed and Double-barred Finches, various honeyeaters - Black-chinned, 
> Brown, Fuscous, White-throated, Scarlet, Little and Noisy Friarbirds, the 
> occasional Red-backed Fairy Wren, Eastern Yellow Robin ...
> Two of the migratory species, Rufous Fantail and Eastern Spinebill and the 
> Restless and Leaden Flycatchers might not have have had a connection to our 
> stopping feeding and putting out a birdbath. But we started to see them when 
> we did do that.
> So, we're with Greg on that.
> The other thing that makes us believe that it is better not to feed is at our 
> other house.  There were a few Rainbows about, and people liked that.  So a 
> lot started throwing out seed and bread.  When the numbers increased to huge 
> flocks, the screeching annoyed these same people who then wanted "something 
> done".  Eventually they stopped feeding, the numbers have reduced, and people 
> are happy.
> For us, while it might be anecdotal, we are convinced the that 
> creating/keeping natural habitat, and providing water, is the best way to 
> keep a diversity and more natural mix of birds.  We initially fed the birds 
> for those "good" reasons, but ultimately it was mostly for our own enjoyment.
> It is paradoxical that when we stopped putting out seed, our enjoyment 
> increased simply because we had a greater diversity of birds.  We still see 
> the occasional King Parrot with yellow where it shouldn't be, and we rightly 
> or wrongly put that down to others along the lane who do feed large numbers 
> on their verandah.
> While we prefer not to feed birds, we accept that many do it, and that there 
> is a range of views on this.
> Peter Morgan
> The conservation battle is never finally won; the  development battle is.
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