Has anyone ever settled the age-old debate over feeding wild birds? You know the divide I’m talking about, you may have a firm opinion yourself.
One faction says feeding wild birds is harmless, even good. The other holds that it’s a bad practice. Obviously, it’s fun for the humans. But nay-sayers maintain it’s unhelpful or dangerous for the wildlife attracted – creatures may become dependent, throwing natural cause and effect cycles off-kilter. Neglected bird feeders are implicated in the spread of disease too.
As reported by Tom Spears for the Ottawa Citizen, that argument has come to Quebec’s scenic Gatineau Park, which has stopped keeping bird feeders that were very popular with winter skiers and snowshoers.
It’s an old issue in wilderness-style parks: Where to draw the line between preserving nature and giving visitors a good experience.
Tony Bull, a retired Parks Canada manager, has been skiing in the park for years and was upset when the feeders came down.
“I think they just added a lot of life to the experience of skiing. You would stop and look at the birds and then you’d go on,” he said.
“The forest is alive with birds and of course squirrels feeding underneath from the dropped seeds.
“I’ve skied a couple of times (since the feeders were removed) and it’s just dead. No squirrels, no birds, it’s just a dead landscape and I think it’s a shame.”
Beyond the Gatineau Park debate, there’s a real mix of opinions and technical advice out there. Here’s something from the UK listing several benefits of feeding wild birds, which cautions such feeding should be consistant – don’t feed for half a winter and then suddenly stop.
What’s your take on the topic?
If you’d like to read more about it, the ever-useful Cornell Lab of Ornithology has this handy informational site.