Whatever you do, don't feed the birds, rescue coordinator warns

He might look hungry - but he's just lazy.
He might look hungry - but he's just lazy.

If you think you've been doing your local parrot, lorikeet, kookaburra and magpie friends a favour by feeding them tasty treats, you're dead wrong.

NSW South Coast Wildlife Rescue bird coordinator Jenny Packwood said people who feed birds are killing, not helping, them.

"Rainbow lorikeets shouldn't be eating seed, but they've trained the humans to leave it out for them," she said.

"The black sunflower seeds are the worst things you can give to birds, they're like lollies.

"People feed magpies and kookaburras bacon, sausages, mince, cheese. It gets stuck in the top of their beaks and rots, or they die of calcium deficiency.

"We've had a lot of fledglings come in - they can hardly stand up because their legs are so weak. Because of the rubbish they're eating they're calcium deficient and they just curl up and die."

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Ms Packwood said she had never had as many birds in care as this year.

Last month she cared for 160, and this month is already up to 92.

She said many people think the birds need help because of the summer bushfires, but that is untrue.

"There are thousands of insects now, insects are turning up no one has seen before," she said.

"It's past time to stop putting food out. It can train wildlife to come to the food area and they're predated on by foxes and cats.

"The parents need to train them how to catch and find food, or they won't survive.

"Even if your area is slow to recover, the birds will follow the food, that's why they migrate. Don't encourage them to come back into a burnt out area before there is food for them."

She said feeding dishes were a hotbed of disease for native birds. For birds to be safely fed from a communal dish it would need to be washed several times a day.

What bird lovers can do to support their feathered friend is put out water dishes in safe, shaded spots.

Choose dishes of different depths, and clean them daily.

In residential areas, it may be ok to leave some fruits and veggies in the backyard - but never leave introduced fruits and vegetables in the bush, where they may germinate and wreak havoc on the ecosystem.

This story Whatever you do, don't feed the birds, rescue coordinator warns first appeared on South Coast Register.