Feeding Birds

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Feeding Birds
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 2016 04:47:30 +0000
A few years ago Kunwinjku relatives and I participated in the making of a 
documentary on my sister’s country in western Arnhem Land.

To the surprise of my relatives, the presenter, a Perth snake-catcher called 
Bruce, tried to catch every reptile he came across, and they asked me to 
question him about his motives.  Bruce told me that he liked to catch snakes in 
particular because he ‘loved’ them.  Djedje Reverend P. Nganjmirra, whose 
mother was a senior custodian for that country, had Python Dreaming, meaning he 
saw those snakes as relatives, and I had once seen him cry when a water python 
was mishandled during the making of a previous documentary.  So I told Bruce 
that catching snakes as he was simply scared them and was no way to show love.  
Instead he should do as Kunwinjku did unless they were hunting for food, that 
was to leave snakes alone and to show love and respect by simply caring for 
their country.

And that went for most wildlife.  Elders did not want any visitors on my 
sister’s country who might disturb wildlife in their desire to see or 
photograph a certain species.

By the same token Kunwinjku relatives living in Gunbalanya had no issues with 
people feeding birds or other wildlife around their homes; they did so 
themselves at times.  What’s more Kunwinjku elders understood why people 
identified with the wildlife in their gardens - after all that’s what they did 
with dreaming animals.  And they empathised.

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 30 Jan 2016, at 8:16 pm, Maris Lauva <> wrote:

> Your points are all valid Greg. But you are talking of something different 
> from what the "feed 'em" faction are saying. They do not support bread for 
> ducks and sausages for Kookaburras. The thread is being aware of dependency, 
> avoiding changing foraging habits, providing appropriate food in 
> insignificant amounts etc. Birds will interact with people whatever happens 
> and they have any number of chances to obtain their own human food through 
> scavenging. Science aside, birds' best long term survival chances depend on a 
> large part of the population being aware of and enjoying the presence of our 
> avian friends. As people become aware they often expand their intervention in 
> nature to provide bird baths and bird friendly plantings in their gardens. 
> This interest often expands to wider conservation issues.
> Incidentally I stopped feeding my Magpies a couple of years ago - They still 
> visit every day, trolling for bugs through my much mulched native, inner 
> suburban garden and having a slurp from my bird bath..
> ________________________________________
> From: Birding-Aus <> on behalf of Greg and 
> Val Clancy <>
> Sent: Saturday, 30 January 2016 4:32 PM
> To: Julian Bielewicz; 'Dave Torr'; 
> Cc: 'Frank O'Connor'; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Feeding Birds
> Hi David and others,
> There is no doubt that feeding birds and other wildlife can provide some
> wonderful opportunities to observe (and photograph) them but at what cost?
> I have previously detailed the problems with feeding birds (disease,
> unnatural flocking, concentration of predatory birds, the exclusion of small
> passerines, unsuitable food, aggressive animals etc.) but you seem to
> dismiss these concerns as irrelevant because millions of people in the
> northern hemisphere feed birds and they can't be wrong.  Humans have
> developed many habits that in hindsight are found to be wrong regardless of
> the good intentions at the beginning.  Dousing people with DDT was seen as
> the correct thing to do in the 1940s, clearing large tracts of bushland was
> seen to be the correct thing, burning fossil fuels was seen to be the
> correct thing.  The one good thing about humans is that we can learn from
> our mistakes and take corrective action but we don't always do so.
> It would be good if you could provide scientific evidence that feeding
> wildlife doesn't
> have the consequences that I have outlined.  You ask me what my evidence is.
> As an ecologist I have studied the ecology and biology of birds, including
> their behaviour.  I have observed birds being fed and the consequences and
> have worked regularly with the New South Wales National Park & Wildlife
> Service where I have seen first hand the problems of wildlife feeding.
> Animals that are fed often lose their natural fear of humans.  This is not
> such an issue with smaller species but birds like kookaburras, currawongs,
> magpies and butcherbirds can become quite a problem, even a danger, in
> national park picnic areas.  Feeding Dingoes on Fraser Island has led to the
> death of one boy and large Lace Monitors have had to be removed from picnic
> areas on the north coast of NSW as they were becoming aggressive and were
> approaching people for food in a dangerous manner.
> I have heard reports that the Quokkas on Rottnest Island in Western
> Australia show the signs of being fed by humans.  Apparently the animals
> that have little contact with humans have a healthy coat and look healthier
> than those that are fed.  I am not sure whether people are still allowed to
> feed the Quokkas today but if they aren't it would be good thing for these
> interesting small macropods.
> I still argue that the problems with feeding wildlife out weight the
> benefits and the benefits are mostly to the human feeder and not the
> wildlife.
> Regards
> Greg
> Dr Greg. P. Clancy
> Ecologist and Birding-wildlife Guide
> | PO Box 63 Coutts Crossing NSW 2460
> | 02 6649 3153  | 0429 601 960
> Letter head
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Julian Bielewicz
> Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2016 8:46 AM
> To: 'Dave Torr' ; 
> Cc: 'Frank O'Connor' ; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Feeding Birds
> Greeting David
> Like you I too was brought up in England where we regularly fed the birds,
> perhaps with a little more vigour during winter cold snaps but nevertheless
> more or less throughout the year.
> I can well recall one of my fondest memories of bird feeders.  I was having
> lunch with my then girlfriend [now wife] and on looking out of the
> living-room bay window was pleasantly surprised to see a small group of
> Long-tailed Tits _Aegithalos caudatus_ busily pecking away at the metal
> contain filled with suet [beef fat].  Most of our neighbours [including
> non-birders] fed birds.
> Also like you, I retain fond memories of bird feeders in the USA.  Where
> would Spoffords be without their bird feeders?  Would we ever have "ticked"
> Gambel's Quail _Callipepla gambelii_, Costa's Hummingbird _Calypte costae_,
> Violet-green Swallow _Tachycineta thalassina_ or  Northern Cardinal
> _Cardinalis cardinalis_ without David Jasper's extensive bird feeder system?
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