Continueing our showcase of the Lamington Mountains National Park at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Queensland, a question arose in my mind as to the legitimacy of feeding wild birds, and more so the need to tie their legs for show purposes.
Birds of Prey shows are becoming popular tourist draw cards in various tourist locations throughout Australia. It is the only place where one can come up close to flying raptors. Sadly they have leather shackles on their legs to remind them they are not free birds.
However cruel it may seem, many of these birds are rescued birds which have been restored to health by human kindness and incorporated into a live show, which in turn raises money to support the ongoing conservation work. This beautiful Wedge-tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest raptor having a wingspan of around 2.3 meters. From these photos you would think this was a wild free bird, but it is a shackled bird in captivity being monitored with a homing device. It is the highlight of the show, where for a price the you can have your photo taken holding the bird.
This Barking Owl can actually be heard barking, which is a delightful opportunity for any birder, especially to have it fly over your head and land right next to your feet, so close I am not able to focus my lens on it.
As you can see above, if I remove the hanging leather straps, you are unable to discern the difference from a wild bird to this captive creature. This Barn Owl is another example.
Listen to the presenter share about this Black Kite, a common Australian raptor, and how they came to own it.
The most popular feature of the O’Reilly’s rainforest experience is to actually feed the wild birds by hand. Birds that are otherwise extremely rare and shy to humans in most other locations in Australia. The Australian King Parrot is an example, especially the female bird is known to be very shy of humans. There are signs near the outdoor eating area of the cafe saying Do Not feed the birds. Many wild life conversationalists also advise it is not good practice to feed wild birds as they become dependent and also the quality of food offered my impair their health.
O’Reilly’s however have done their research and encourage their clients to use appropriate seed and fruit which they provide for this purpose.
There is still nothing more beautiful than to observe the birds in the wild, free and unshackled. Us birders appreciate this more than anything. It always amaizes me when I mention to my city acquaintances that my wife and I are bird watchers (birders) and they ask what birds we keep in cages, or they tell me of the birds they have cooped up in cages at home, thinking this is something we would appreciate. No we do not like to see birds in cages, but there are times, when they are sick or injured, when the cage is the safest place for them until they fully recover.
As you can see in the following photos the difference between the two camps with the Eastern Crimson Rosella, also found in great number at O’Reillys.
As a known birder I have heard so many stories of people feeding wild birds that visit their homes, and how they even let them come inside the house on a regular basis. The usual outcome is that the birds mess up their homes, become quite demanding and hostile if they do not get what they regularly have been receiving at the hands of their human hosts. I have heard of complete timber verandas on houses being literally chewed to pieces by a flock of angry Sulfur-crested Cockatoos. My blogger friend from Queensland hosting MyWildAustralia
blog is visited daily by many birds including Rainbow Lorikeets. See how in this link to one of her posts that the birds find shelter out of the rain, however you can imagine the mess they may make also. Sue loves her many different wild life varieties that visit her back yard and has enjoyed caring for them, but has always valued their freedom. Here is the arm of aussiebirder feeding a female, or more likely an immature male Australian King Parrot, the female is a bird which always has eluded him in the wild of getting a good photo due to their timidity.
What ever our convictions, there are both pros and cons for feeding wild birds and keeping wild birds in captivity. You will remember my posts praising the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney for their conservation project to breed the endangered Regent Honeyeater in captivity for release into the wild, due to their depleting numbers and erratic breeding and feeding problems.
What does this teach us about life. We can sometimes make a global judgement on a particular action people may undertake, but we need to understand that their are exceptions to every process, which instead of bringing harm or apparent selfish outcomes, could be for the benefit of the species concerned. Each situation has to be weighed up on its own merits.
Check out the new addition to my Home Page – see the nesting Tawny Frogmouths in the Royal National Park.
Christmas is just around the corner and what better gift could you give than a gift that encourages and keeps on giving wisdom and understanding for life through our beautiful Australian birds. All photos, some very rare, are aussiebirders work, as is the text, a legacy to his grandies. The book is very reasonably priced and sells for much more in shops and book stores throughout Australia. You can get yours online from my BirdBook page. Two people bought theirs on recommendation from a friend this week. Have a wonderful weekend!
“But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.” – Job 32:8
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Prov 2:6
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” – Prov 3:13