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The mything link

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Professor Darryl Jones, urban ecologist from the Griffith School of Environment at Griffith University in Brisbane, brings some more content of his soon-to-be-published book, The Birds at my Table. There are many myths about bird feeding in Australia and the new book incorporates ones that will stun readers around the world. One of these is that people shouldn’t feed lorikeets seeds because they have a brushed tongue which could be damaged.

A brushed tongue is used exclusively for removing pollen and nectar from plants and in lorikeets that makes up 70-80% of their food intake.
Indeed Darryl has witnessed flocks of lorikeets feeding all day on sorghum seed and records show they eat all kind of seeds, so the myth does not hold up.
That however, is not an adequate diet and (just like other parrots) lorikeets feed on protein all the time.

Often this is in the form of insects and grubs but also as the meat of roadkill or farm animals that have died. Even more bizarre is the diet of certain types of bower birds in north Queensland. They are completely vegetarian, eating only fruit and leaves, except when they are raising chicks. Then they provide a specialised high-protein diet for those chicks by feeding them the brains of tiny birds!

Birds like lorikeets physiologically know what to feed on whether it is protein, fat, sugar or water. They get what they require using food from their environment. When females are producing eggs and embryos they know what sort of food to find for the protein. Meat also has calcium which is needed to make shells for their eggs. Birds are very intelligent and won’t eat food they don’t need so home feeders should not worry. Like humans, birds will eat things that are not necessarily good for them.

Bread, for instance, could become a problem if it occupied a big part of their diet. In terms of bird feeding and bird behaviour this new book might well be the mything link.

Image 3 from Ted Mulder
Image 4 from Mark Ogden 

Professor Darryl Jones was interviewed for A Question of Balance by Ruby Vincent. Professor Jones provided all images. Summary text by Victor Barry, December 2016. 



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Feeding wild birds: when did it start? Bird feeding bible: The Birds at My Table

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