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Why you shouldn't feed birds in the Whitsundays 

The idea of hand feeding a wild bird for the perfect photo op or the chance to say that you got up close and personal with a cockatoo or lorikeet is a tempting to even the most cautious animal lover. However, while it might seem cool and worth it, there is a potential that you could cause harm to the animal or cause irreversible behavioural changes that it will live with for a lifetime.

If you are providing food for the birds in your neighbourhood, make sure you’re providing the right kind of food. For example, Cockatoos cannot eat regular sunflower seeds, only the black variety, and not very many at that. They can cause liver damage, cancer and affect their growth. Lorikeets can’t eat bread or honey as it will damage their tongues, and no parrot or cockatoo can eat avocado or citrus fruits.

Hand feeding birds can also cause imbalanced populations, where birds who are handfed begin to replace smaller less aggressive species when they are forced out of the area. It is best to let species forage for food naturally so the species growth is naturally controlled.

By hand feeding or leaving communal food out for birds, you also are increasing the chance of spreading disease within populations. Diseases like beak and feather disease are easily spread among Cockatoos and is contagious to all parrot species. It is a lot like leprosy in humans but is incurable to birds. It causes their beaks to overgrow and feather loss, impairing their ability to eat and even causing them to be rejected by their flock. The only solution is to put the bird down so it doesn’t spread disease throughout the population.

So is it worth it? The short answer is no. It’s best to leave our funny flying friends to themselves and watch them from a distance and minimize our interaction with them so they can continue to live their natural lives in the wild

Sam Clapham
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