What to feed

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Joannew126's picture
What to feed

I know this is a sticky topic with people. I would like to know if you would like to feed birds every once in awhile, what is it best to feed them. I'm not talking about feeding all the time and I have planted natives from our local area. But I don't see the problem with every so often leaving something out. Would just like to know what would be best . Fruit?

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

What birds do you want to feed Joanne? Not many will eat fruit. Many people on this forum would say nothing is best. And feeding occasionally is a bit hard on the birds. They quickly get used to handouts and will turn up regularly at (their) meal times. I have just moved to a new place and there is a (fat) Kooka who comes and sits on the patio railing waiting for the feed that he obviously received regularly or occasionally from the previous (or nearby) occupants. I haven't fed him but I know he picks up scraps from the barbie, etc. Its hard to resist the temptation to feed birds when their natural environment has been so diminished by human development. Most would agree that providing habitat is the best course of action.

Araminta's picture

Frankie by Araminta » Thu, 27/06/2013 - 16:32 please have look at Frankie's beak.

I don't want to say anything, but please have a look at this bird, and think about what commercial food like seeds do to birds. There are so many different aspects to artificial feeding, that I don't want to comment.

You have been doing a great thing by planting natives, why on earth do you want to feed? Just watch birds feeding in your shrubs.

They don't need to be fed anything else. I could talk about the effect artificial feeding has on birds. Get some information and think about what it can do to birds.

If you love them, don't feed.


Joannew126's picture

Hi Araminta, I did read about Frankie which is why I wanted to know what was best to feed birds. We have 6 acres of land. Lots of big, old gum trees. For now we only get there every weekend. We already have a lot of beautiful birds that visit. Have planted some natives and plan on planting a lot more. Have put a bird bath there that the birds love. My plan is to have a beautiful, healthy habitat for the birds and the wildlife there. Just thought that until things start to grow there was something that I could put out once in awhile for them.



Actually if you ask any fruit growers they will tell you (well complain to you really) that quite a few different birds eat fruit. I have seen lorikeets eating watermelon, grapes and apples and a cockatoo stole my apple once. He sat in a tree and munched on it for a while until one of his mates tried to take it off him, which made him drop it.... I was hungry too. Cheeky bugger.
Oh and Currawongs eat fruit. There is a grape vine growing near me that the Currawongs and mynahs love. They can have it too the grapes off it are horrid. Currawongs eat the berries off any tree around here native and non. I often see them spitting out the seeds later and don't forget all the birds who eat figs (native of course). Figbirds for one.  Where my mum lives, the rosellas used to eat the lilli pillis. Until the neighbor chopped it down (grumble). That was really nice tree too. (Disappointment)

There are fruit eaters everywhere out there folks.

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

Yes of course you're right richman. That was a rash statement of mine. Maybe I should have said something like "not all species will eat fruit". smiley

Woko's picture

I'd very much encourage you not to artificially feed the birds attracted to your property by the native vegetation, Joannew. Even occasionally. Here are some reasons:

If you feed them exotic fruit & seed there's a possibility that seeds will find their way into the environment, germinate & diminish the quality of your bushland.

Humans seem to survive a McDonald's hamburger occasionally but do we know what effect occasional artificial feeding will have on birds? Is it worth the risk of damaging birds?

Occasional feeding is likely to be irregular & become what's known as intermittent reinforcement. This is the strongest reinforcement of all & is how people become addicted to gambling. Intermittent reinforcement will strongly drive birds to seek food from humans & take them away from their task of maintaining the quality of bushland. E.g., artificially fed honeyeaters will be taken away from pollinating flowers which means less seed which means less bush regeneration.  

Any risk to birds from the dreaded beak & feather disease which is spread at artificial feeding tables is to be avoided I would have thought.

I believe it's important to consider our motivation when we artificially feed birds, regularly or irregularly. Are we doing it for the birds or are we doing it for ourselves, our own amusement or interest. A bird-centred approach would involve restoring natural habitats which supply natural food. A human-centred approach would involve artifical feeding.

I'd encourage you to be patient with your indigenous plantings (for which you need to be highly commended) & watch as the bird species numbers increase over time. In my experience there is more than adequate enjoyment in this approach without artificial feeding.

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