Having followed the discussion on feeding birds, my position is: there will be
times when birds will need to be fed, but if that happens, the feeding should
not last longer than the need.
Attitudes to interacting with birds depends very much on life experiences.
Unlike high-level physics, anyone and everyone can participate, and anecdotal
evidence can be valid (up to a point) in ornithology. But I draw the line at
describing people's views on this as "utter claptrap".
Feeding otherwise reduces the diversity, favouring some at the expense of
others, and possibly adversely affecting those that come to rely on, or prefer
artificial feed to their natural diet. There could be a knock-on effect down
through the food chain as some critters and/or plants benefit or lose as a
result of increased/decreased consumption or pollination.
Feeding reduces the "wildness" of the feeding groups and is a step along the
path to domestication.
While I am by no means pure in this, I prefer to find my birds in the wild, and
limit my extent of "helping" to maintaining habitat and putting out water.
I have no experience of the English or American situation, but, should
Australia adopt it? For me, that question should be answered by considering
the welfare of the birds, with the enjoyment of people coming in where there is
little adverse impact on the birds.
Referring back to my earlier email, I have seen people start to feed birds
(Rainbow Lorikeets) for their own enjoyment, coming to justify that by saying
they were helping the birds, to then hating them as numbers and noise
increased. Even the inoffensive Crested Pigeons that came to their feeder are
now not liked. As with much about birds, that point is anecdotal, and many
people enjoy feeding for years.
I think what the professional wildlife managers in NSW have to say is relevant,
and provide two links:
The following is taken from the first link:
Hand-fed birds become a nuisance - you may start feeding one or two birds but,
within a short space of time, great flocks can descend. This can be a
frightening experience, especially for small children. Hand-fed sulphur crested
cockatoos like to chew cedar houses when the occupants are not around to feed
Hand-fed birds are susceptible to illnesses that can be transferred to other
birds. Young birds lose the ability to forage for food and when not fed by
humans may starve. Hand feeding can also affect bird breeding cycles.
Hand-fed birds take over - populations of some birds such as crimson rosellas
increase, displacing other birds and mammals that shelter in tree hollows. When
currawongs and ravens are hand-fed they breed up and prey on smaller birds,
causing an imbalance in bird populations.
The conservation battle is never finally won; the development battle is.
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