'It's killing them': Dire warning over common magpie mistake

·3-min read

Well-intentioned people might think they're doing good by Australia's native animals, but one common act is actually killing them.

For quite some time now the same image of a ragged-looking magpie has been shared on social media — some posts dating back to 2021.

Every time it is shared by local rescue groups or volunteers the same message is reiterated — don't feed magpies.

It was shared once again by Mackay Pet Rescue Incorporated which pleaded with people to cease feeding magpies and kookaburras mince.

While people might have good intentions, all they are doing is harming Australia's native birds every time they feed them, WIRES volunteer Inga Tiere told Yahoo News Australia.

Wildlife carers and volunteers have been sharing this photo of a magpie to highlight the dangers of feeding birds. Source: Facebook/Mackay Pet Rescue Incorporated
Wildlife carers and volunteers have been sharing this photo of a magpie to highlight the dangers of feeding birds. Source: Facebook/Mackay Pet Rescue Incorporated

Her message is simple — people should not be feeding any native animal unless there is absolutely no food for them due to a drought.

"Regarding mince meat, it is actually very, very bad for the native animals," she said, adding that people will often feed it to native birds.

Minced meat offers no nutrients to native birds and often gets stuck in their beaks and the same goes with beef.

"What will happen is mum and dad pick up the meat to feed the babies, the babies can actually get very, very sick and can end up with metabolic bone disease," she said.

The horrific impact feeding birds has

Ms Tiere has cared for many birds who have clearly been fed by humans and she said often their bones will become brittle, similar to osteoporosis.

If a baby bird is being fed the wrong diet by their parents, thanks to humans, by the time they grow up, generally they're quite weak and unable to walk.

"Sometimes we can save them sometimes we can't, sometimes they're actually starving to death," Ms Tiere said.

Feeding birds can seriously impact their health and wellbeing. Source: Facebook/Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Feeding birds can seriously impact their health and wellbeing. Source: Facebook/Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Humans feeding birds also means the babies won't know how to hunt food for themselves. If the person feeding the birds moves away, this can have a devastating impact on the birds who won't know how to get food.

Ms Tiere is sympathetic to people wanting to help out the wildlife — however, often their neighbours also want to help and also leave out food.

If everyone on the street is feeding the birds, there's a chance their health can be impacted and the birds become obese.

Another pantry essential killing birds

She also pointed out that feeding bread to ducks is also harmful, despite being somewhat of a popular idea leading people to think this is okay.

Just like if you're feeding mince meat to magpies, feeding bread to ducks, or any birds, deprives them of essential nutrients.

Ms Tiere suggests people think about if they were to live on a diet of only bread — is that healthy and would you survive?

"Whatever you do never slip bread to any native animal, they will eat it because they think it's food," she said.

"People say 'well they like it', but my thing is if you ask a two-year-old do you want dinner, or do you want ice cream, what do you think they're going to say?"

Ms Tiere also notes people might be oblivious to the impact their actions have on wildlife — giving them human food can kill them, but animals often go away or out of sight to die.

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