Feeding Exceptions

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Feeding Exceptions

Hi guys,

I know most people on this site do not agree with feeding birds and that's fine. I was wondering if any of you make exceptions to that under any circumstances? Currently there are many fires around where I live and a terrible drought. I've been putting out water frequently and every now and then some small parrot and wild bird seed. Under the circumstances do you think this is okay?

Please and Thank you!

(Btw I'm just after opinions so even if you disagree I'm still going to do it)

Lightuningbird's picture

In my opinion, in a situation like that, it is alright to feed the birds some food As with the lack of water there is a lack of grass seed and such. Water is fine, particularly in a drought. As long as you feed the birds the correct feed and keep the water clean. 

in places where there is plenty of food and water it is bad and not nessasery. The birds will become reliant, and being in small places, more lickly to get illness. 
 it is best to just plant native plants that support the local birds. But I can see where with is a problem with the drought and all.

Wimmera mally region, Vic.

Woko's picture

This is an excellent question, Mishkaka.

I've banged on about the importance of providing birds with their natural habitat with its natural food rather than artificially feeding birds. However, I tend to agree with Lightuningbird.

Where birds are on the verge of extinction there is a case for careful artificial feeding. This is particularly the case now that climate change is causing so much havoc & destruction among our natural habitats &, therefore, our wildlife. If you can provide food that is as close as possible to the natural food of the species you're trying to help then that's the best substitute for the natural habitat which has been & is being destroyed by frequent bushfires & severe droughts. Sadly, we may well be heading towards the creation of artificial habitats such as zoos as the only way of having contact with many bird species.

A similar situation is occuring where authorities conduct frequent, often ill-timed burnoffs of habitat in order to protect the property & lives of folk who choose to live in or near the bush. These burnoffs are sometimes preventing the germination of plants by destroying them before they produce the seed which allows the bushland to regenerate. The subsequent reduction in habitat quality is not only threatening the survival of various wildlife species but also destroying the quality of the very thing which attracted people to live in or near the bush in the first place. So artificial feeding (of the birds, not the people) in such areas may be justified, I suggest.

It might be a hypothetical situation but if I could prevent extinction by artificially feeding the last remaining pair of a bird species I would do so, regardless of whether there had been bushfires &/or drought. 

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

HI Mishkaka - I completely agree with woko etc regarding providing natural habitat (and thus food) as the preferred way to support wild birds. But I've read up a lot on the impact of feeding wild birds in Australia, and tend to think that the benefits (if carried out occasionally, sparingly, and hygenically) can outweight the drawbacks. There are thousands of Australians who derive huge pleasure and connection to wild birds through feeding, and I think the benefit of that (through their improved connection to and love of/ knowledge of the birds) is underrated. If more people get to know more about birds and the issues that they are facing (mostly caused to some extent by people, and needing people to resolve the issues) through feeding or providing water, I think it will be net positive for the birds. 

Woko's picture

Alex, I'd like to think that folk who feed our feathered friends do make a connection with nature &, therefore, go forth to protect & conserve them. If, indeed, this were the case I suggest that the artificial feeders would finish their feeding & begin habitat restoration. So far, I've seen no research which indicates that this is the case. Maybe Holly can enlighten us on this. 

My impression is that most people artificially feed birds, as you imply, to get a kick out of having the birds up close & personal. The feeding is for the feeder, not the birds. I seriously doubt that many artificial feeders proceed to the next step of habitat protection & restoration. 


Thanks guys, you have all made great points!

mezsum's picture

Great point you have here on this thread.

My opinion regarding this matter is that we are only feeding birds for our own entertainment and it is like we are saving our soul because of the deforestations we've caused them. We can artificially feed them until we've at least restored some of their habitats or we have successfully transferred them to a better location.

This is just my opinion though.

Woko's picture

Hi mezsum.

I hadn't thought that artificially feeding birds might be motivated by guilt at having destroyed so much of their habitat. I suppose this could be so in some cases but I'm not convinced that it's a widespread motivation. If there is a widespread connection between guilt & artificial feeding wouldn't a lot of the guilty be involved in habitat protection & restoration? As far as I know this isn't the case but I have thought that this topic would make a most interesting research project.

Transferring wildlife to better locations can be fraught. What happens to the wildlife already inhabiting those better locations? Competition for, in many cases, increasingly scarce resources, might prove disastrous for both the old & new populations.

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