The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study

The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study was a citizen science study which ran from 2014 to 2017. The study drew considerable interest as providing food for birds is a popular activity with over 7,000 citizen scientists registered to take part. Attracting birds by the provision of food is probably the most widespread and popular form of human-wildlife interaction throughout the world. However, remarkably little is known about this practice and this lack of reliable knowledge is becoming increasingly important in urban Australia. Understanding the effects of bird feeding and the desire and motivation of people engaged is an important component in understanding the effects and implications of this important and intimate relationship. 

Food availability is one of the main factors limiting bird populations and supplementary feeding may reduce the risk of starvation and may enhance reproductive performance. Despite the impressive scale of bird feeding in Australia, understanding the ecological effects of bird feeding is very limited. While bird feeding may provide positive benefits such as increased over-winter survival and enhanced breeding success, there are also a number of potential negative impacts. For example, the provision of meat (mince, sausages and organs) results in large predatory birds such as magpies, butcherbirds and currawongs being among the most frequent visitors to feeding stations. This raises various issues including potential for bacterial spread owning to feeding raw meat and the potential nutritional effect of heavy use of fatty processed food. If you are going to feed birds, please buy your bird food from www.wombaroo.com.au.

We are currently writing papers from the data we gathered. These papers include looking at demographic and sociological data to aid our understanding into bird feeding. To view our current papers and reports got to publication and media section.

Courtesy of Linda Hansbauer