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Don’t feed the birds please!

We’ve all seen the signs “Do not feed the birds” but do you know why this seemingly “caring” act is dangerous for wildlife? We’re sharing these tips with you in the hope that you can educate others next time you see someone feeding the birds.

  1. Feeding bread (or any other human food) lacks the nutrition that birds need for healthy feather, beak and bone development. Birds will fill up on the ‘junk’ food that humans provide, and won’t have room for their natural food
  2. This can lead to wing, beak and feet deformities meaning the birds suffer long-term, unable to eat properly or escape danger
  3. Young birds that are regularly fed by people don’t learn the natural foraging skills they need to survive on their own
  4. Birds that would naturally move around in search for food will stay in the area longer, causing over crowding, over-competition, aggression and leaves them vulnerable if the wetland dries up.
  5. Uneaten food and excess waste from the birds contributes to excess nutrients in the water, leading to algal blooms which degrade the water quality
  6. Birds quickly become habituated to humans, leading to nuisance and often aggressive behaviour around people (such as stealing food).
  7. Birds become less afraid of people and their dogs, increasing their risk of injury or attack by dogs.

Changing people’s perception about feeding wildlife can be difficult. Many view it as an act of kindness, and a way to interact closely with the wildlife they love. People often think the animals are hungry if they are approaching or taking food, and are unaware of the dangerous and life-threatening impacts this can have. Sometimes explaining these impacts to well-intentioned bird feeders can make them re-think this “act of kindness” next time.

Photos of Moorehens and Eurasian Coots by Georgina Wilson

Photo of Raven by Veronica McPhail