Why we need to talk about bird feeding?

Courting controversy: Why we need to talk about bird feeding?

Professor Darryl Jones, Griffith University – view profile


The practice of feeding wild birds in Australia is highly controversial and has been consistently opposed by many organisations including the RSPCA.

The reasons for this are familiar: dependency, the spread of disease, attracting the ‘wrong’ species, poor nutrition, etc. While these concerns are genuine and widely acknowledged throughout the country, this has not stopped very large numbers of people feeding birds in their house yards.

Indeed, the participation rates of 30-60% are identical to those of countries were feeding is actively encouraged. One of numerous implications of this is that the millions of people feeding birds do not have access to appropriate advice or guidance as to how to engage in the practice with the least harm.

I argue that our concern for the welfare of the huge numbers of birds visiting feeders and often feeding on unacceptable foods necessitates a radical rethink of the traditional blanket opposition.

The experience of feeding can be profound for the people involved and they are not simply going to stop.

Moreover, these people demonstrably care about the impact of their pastime yet are unable to find suitable information. It’s time to talk about feeding?