Impacts of feeding birds
Monash attacts a variety of birds and animals to open spaces including parks, bushland reserves, road verges and wildlife gardens. These places provide an abundance of natural foods for local wildlife.
While it may be viewed as fun to feed birds, it can cause them more harm than good. Their own natural diet provides them with what they need and some foods can cause them problems.
Please respect the wild nature of birds and keep them healthy by not feeding or handling them.
Why you shouldn't feed birds
To maintain healthy wildlife
- Feeding animals inappropriate food can cause them dietary problems. This can make them sick and die a premature or painful death.
- When birds ‘gorge’ themselves on white bread they stop eating their natural foods, which are more nutritious. The birds can then become malnourished. Birds can also choke on wads of bread.
- Food left lying around can become stale and grow fungi that are poisonous to wildlife. It can also encourage rodents to infest areas.
- It can encourage introduced animals to the area where native wildlife then have to compete for the habitat.
- Artificial feeding can alter the natural balance between life and death. This can lead to sick animals being kept alive and possibly transmitting their disease throughout their population or into other populations.
- Artificial feeding can make wildlife an easy target for predators such as foxes, dogs and cats.
- Young birds are not taught by their parents how to forage for natural foods – they then risk starvation.
To encourage natural migration
The natural cycles of migration (which are largely determined by seasonal food supplies) may be disrupted when supplementary food is readily available year-round.
To reduce the risk of diseases spreading to humans
- Close contact with animals may increase the risk of diseases being spread to humans.
- Feeding can keep sick birds alive which increases the risk of disease spreading to other birds and/or people.
- The possibility of viral, fungal or bacterial diseases being spread increases when large numbers of birds congregate at a feeding site.
- Large amounts of bird faeces pollute footpaths, tables, boardwalks/jetties, and other facilities where the birds are being fed.
To help manage blue-green algae in waterways
Bread thrown into waterways contributes to the high nutrient levels that promote the growth of blue-green algae.
To reduce the risk of residents unwittingly provoking aggressive behaviour in birds
Birds such as swans can be unwittingly provoked into aggressive behaviour, which could harm you or the bird.
Cockatoos, Corellas and Galahs
The population and redistribution of cockatoos, corellas and galahs changes due to changes in landscape (clearing/changes in agriculture) and climate conditions.
In their natural setting, these birds forage for most of the day looking for seeds from acacias, eucalypts and other vegetation. If they are fed bird seed, they are satiated quickly and then spend time exercising their beaks. As they have been brought out of the canopy to the ground by providing bird seed, this ‘beak exercising’ occurs in the form of chewing fence posts and other wooden housing fixtures.
As they are only exercising their beaks, not eating the wood, any form of coating to deter the behaviour is unlikely to be successful.
To ensure this destructive behaviour reduces over time, residents should not feed birds.
How to attract birds to your garden naturally
Instead of putting food out for birds in your garden, plant indigenous plants that produce flowers, fruits and/or seeds to encourage local wildlife to feed naturally. Also provide sources of water that you can clean regularly.
Good bird habitat includes food, water and shelter, and the more variety you can create in your yard, the more birds you may see in it. Consider adding a bird bath or two to the garden. A pedestal and a hanging birdbath is ideal and will cater for different types of birds. When the weather is dry, a bird bath can be a lifesaving oasis which will attract many birds. They like to bathe and drink in it, so be sure to clean it often and that its position is easy to access.
For more information
Further enquiries about wildlife issues can be directed to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on 136 186.