Attracting birds to your yard with certain plants is one thing but hand-feeding them could be doing more harm than good.
While it’s not against the law to feed birds, it is frowned upon by some local councils who dish out fines for doing so.
Echoing this view, the New South Wales Government of Environment and Heritage website advises against feeding any native animals, including birds.
“When you feed native animals you're giving them the wildlife equivalent of junk food. Instead of eating a wide range of natural foods, they depend on processed seeds, bread and other foods that are not part of their natural diet,” the website says. “This can make them very sick.”
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Once animals learn they can get food from humans, they can become aggressive towards people when hungry.
“Hand-fed birds become a nuisance - you may start feeding one or two birds but, within a short space of time, great flocks can descend. This can be a frightening experience, especially for small children.”
In addition, hand-fed birds are “susceptible to illnesses that can be transferred to other birds.” Not to mention, young birds who become reliant on food from humans may lose the ability to forage for themselves.
Despite the advice from the government, Associate Professor Darryl Jones writes for ABC News: "Although bird feeding is an immensely popular past time practised daily by millions of people all over the world, almost nothing is known about what all it’s doing to the birds."
While feeding birds is frowned upon by some, it's unlikely people will stop doing it.
Jones adds: "The best we can hope for, at least until more explicit research is undertaken, is for feeders to follow some simple guidelines like keeping their feeding areas clean; avoiding bread and processed meats and not putting out too much."