Killing with kindness.
Tragic news of a kākā chick’s death in Auckland highlights the need for wider education on what’s appropriate as food for our wild birds. Here’s why it’s problem – and what you can do about it.
The Auckland Zoo had to euthanise the kākā chick after it was found on Waiheke Island with a suspected metabolic bone disease. This disease is thought to have been because the kākā ate food meant for humans.
A kākā parent naturally would have fed the chick, called Achilles. That’s because adults forage food, eat and then regurgitate it for their offspring. Being fed human food resulted in Achilles developing ‘scissor beak’, a debilitating condition of bent bones, a misaligned beak and subsequent difficulty in feeding.
In recent years we’ve had a number of such high profile cases where the best intentions have resulted in the worst outcomes. It’s a big factor behind the development of our products, in particular the Lucky Duck mix.
We’re noticing this product is becoming more popular, and we know more and more Kiwis are taking to healthy feed like, well, a duck to water. But there’s still much to be done – and education is a big factor.
Here are four ways you can help.
1) Get in touch with your local council. It’s in councils best interests that their local parks and recreation areas don’t become unsightly contamination sites with outbreaks of avian botulism. If you regularly see people feeding ducks with bread either call or email your council and let them know. At the every least busy spots should have signs warning the public, if not duck feeding stations where healthy food is available.
2) Don’t harass the bread feeders. If you see someone feeding inappropriate food to ducks or other wild birds a friendly chat is all that’s needed. Let them know that it is harmful and that there are better alternatives and also that you understand they were only trying to help. Here it’s important to remember it’s very likely nobody will know what they’re doing is wrong.
3) Set an example and share the love. Take along your own healthy bird and duck feed. If you see others feeding unhealthy food give them a bit of your own to try. Children love being told how they’re helping out – so encourage the right behaviour when they’re most likely to listen.
4) Support the cause. There are a number of worthy organisations that you can help. Bird Rescue run centres throughout New Zealand – you can find their website by clicking here. So too does the great work of NZ Forest and Bird require consistent financial support. We’re doing our bit, and encourage others to do so too.