Feeding wildlife can feel like a natural thing to do, but in some cases it can have disastrous consequences.
The public are being urged not to feed wild birds after one unfortunate magpie was euthanised due to the poor diet it enjoyed from human handouts.
Wild Animals Australia shared a photo of the bird, explaining how an unnatural diet can lead to problems such as metabolic bone disease which can weaken them to seriously troubling levels.
“This poor bird was put to sleep this week. His beak was twisted out of shape and his legs bowed so badly that he couldn’t run,” the group said.
According to the post, for the past few years the magpie had been living off being fed table scraps, dog food and chicken mince. A normal diet for these birds consists of insects and small animals.
As a result, the animal reportedly developed metabolic bone disease (MBD).
“Imbalances of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D3 can lead to soft or brittle beaks, claws and keel, bone fractures and enlarged parathyroid glands,” Wild Animals Australia said.
“If you talk to bird carers and avian vets they will tell you that this is one of the biggest causes of euthanasia of black and white baby birds that come into care.”
Birds need a natural diet to be healthy, according to Wild Bird Rescues Gold Coast.
“Unnatural food, provided by most humans, weakens them. It fills them up, taking away their need to hunt for their natural foods that maintain health,” the group’s website says.
“If they pass human food onto their young they breed weak young.”
Animal rescuers also identify other wild Australian birds that can humanise easily and become dependent on handouts including kookaburras, currawongs, crows, butcher birds, and pee wees.
“Bread is not suitable food for any bird. Domestic pet food is even worse,” Wild Bird Rescues Gold Coast warns.
However, many people clearly aren’t aware of this.
“This makes me so sad! For years I've been giving them a handful of dry dog bikkies,” one woman commented on the Facebook post.
If you do want to help feed local native birds, there are things you can do however.
Building a compost heap or worm farm can augment the natural food supply while local wildlife deal with increasingly difficult drought conditions in many parts of the country.
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