Don’t feed the birds

In Offtrack on ABC RN last month ‘To feed or not to feed‘ there was an argument to feed birds. ‘Professor Darryl Jones from Griffith University is an urban ecology expert AND he’s an evangelistic bird feeder. That combo is incredibly unusual in Australia, where bird feeding is often frowned upon.’

I commented on the program’s website: ‘I admire Darryl Jones’ enthusiasm but much more important is the need for gardens to ditch lawns and hard landscaping (encouraged by many TV shows). The loss of biodiversity is a problem and gardens can make a difference – and attract native fauna.

Blue-faced Honeyeater in our garden

I walk past birds just a foot away on plants in our garden, a good wild garden does not need feeders, unless perhaps in a severe winter in the northern hemisphere.
And disease, as he admits is a problem. How many people really will wash their feeder daily?

NB. George Seddon argues that ‘gardeners are, in fact, one of the most important groups of land managers in this country, since between us we manage more than 50 per cent of all urban land in Australia, that is, the land that carries 80 per cent of the population: land that is not vast in area compared with that managed by farmers, pastoralists, miners and state agencies, but greater in value and in resource consumption than all of them.’

And further vindication of this position in today’s Guardian. ‘Garden bird feeders are contributing to the spread of serious diseases among wild birds, scientists have warned, causing previously rare illnesses to become epidemics in some populations.’

There’s also this recent article on the junk food that is too often fed to birds.