Do you like feed & put out drinking water for wild birds?  If so, this is a perfect opportunity for you to become a citizen scientist & help researchers at Deakin University & Griffith University by participating in ‘The Australian Bird Feeding & Watering Study.’

The researchers know that many people feed birds & have fresh water available for them, particularly in their own back garden & that they enjoy doing so.   They want to know more about whether feeding wild birds impacts on bird diversity, the abundance of birds, what species come to eat or drink at your garden restaurant, whether gifts of food affects bird behavior & also what food people are giving to the birds.

The researchers intend to develop guidelines that will help people know what to feed wild birds without harming their heath.  Many people think feeding bread is okay for birds.  Although the birds love bread, it is actually very bad for them.

Birds in Backyards says, a diet of too much food not natural to their diet is likely not to contain the nutritional needs wild birds need & can lead to health problems.

For example –

  • Mince or processed meats: these foods can stick to beaks leading to infection. Mince is very high in protein & if the birds fill up on this, they could develop malnutrition. They need other nutrients like bone, fur & insects. If the parent birds feed their chicks mince, their chicks could develop brittle bones.
  • Processed meats: are high in salts, fats & preservatives.  “Magpies fed items like devon have been shown to have high cholesterol!”
  • Bread: can cause digestive problems, as the bread ferments in their stomachs. Moldy bread is toxic.
  • Honey/water mixes: are lacking in the complex sugars contained naturally in the nectar of flowers.
  • Feeding areas can become dirty & spread disease amongst visiting birds. Parrots can spread Psittacine Beak & Feather disease.  If you ever see a bird with this disease, you will not need convincing that they are suffering.  It causes a long slow death.

The surveys are being held over four weeks –

  • Week 1: Monday 1st – Sunday 7th August.
  • Week 2: Monday 8th – Sunday 14th August.
  • Week 3: Monday 15th – Sunday 21st August.
  • Week 4: Monday 22nd – Sunday 28th August.

To participate, you need to sign up here –

A healthy wild Cockatoo.

A healthy wild Cockatoo eating grass seeds.

A sick Cockatoo with what I think is Beak and Feather disease.  The difference is profound.

A sick Cockatoo with what I think is Beak and Feather disease. The difference is profound.