Taking birds under our wing

Birds at ponds and creeks in Hume can access an abundance of natural food and could be harmed if residents offered them bread, Hume Mayor, Councillor Adem Atmaca, said today.

Cr Atmaca called on everyone to visit parks and gardens across Hume to enjoy local wildlife, but asked people to resist the urge to hand feed birds.

“We are lucky that so many species of birds call Hume home, and I encourage families to spend time in our parks, watch the ducks swim, take their photos, and enjoy a picnic in the gardens,” Cr Atmaca said.

“While it has been a familiar pastime to throw bread at ducks, we now know that this is not actually healthy for these beautiful wild creatures.

“Many birds find it hard to digest processed food, and it can cause some to get sick.

“Pieces of bread may also attract rats to the area, and they often carry diseases and a desire to prey on bird eggs and little chicks.

“Rats that converge on our parks can subsequently head to nearby homes as they sniff out pet food and rubbish bins, and this can be a nuisance for local residents.

“Foxes may also converge on parks at night where there is bread, and these animals are quick, strong and hunt a variety of birds.”

Native ducks and other waterbirds can be found at Hume’s popular wetlands, such as Jack Roper Reserve in Broadmeadows and Spavin Lake in Sunbury.

Residents who visit Hume’s parks are asked to dispose of their rubbish in bins, because adult birds can ingest items like plastic, and this makes them unwell.

Litter at parks can also enter stormwater drains quickly and then flow out to sea, where the rubbish harms Victoria’s marine animals.

Cr Atmaca has encouraged residents to offer sanctuary for neighbourhood birds in their backyards, without the use of bread and seeds.

“If you put processed food out for birds, it can attract pest species that are not normally in your area, and these birds can frighten away others that call your neighbourhood home, like Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and Fairy Wrens,” he said.

“Species which arrive from outside an area may carry illnesses too, and these diseases can be severe.

“Birds that come to expect a feed at a particular home can also become aggressive, and this is often scary for passers-by, such as young children.

“There are plenty of natural sources of food in our neighbourhoods, and it is possible to attract local birds through other ways.”

Shrubs like acacias, banksias, bottlebrushes and grevilleas will entice a range of honey-eating birds, and smaller prickly shrubs will invite little wrens and finches.

When the warmer weather returns, a bird bath that is hidden amongst foliage can draw birds which need a little respite.

“Hume City Council wants to nurture an environment that helps birdlife to flourish across our entire community,” Cr Atmaca said.

Updated : 3:22 PM, 12 June 2015

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