The Sugar-water Bird Feeding Project
Kia ora! My name is Daria Erastova. I am a PhD student at the University of Auckland carrying out a research project on how native birds interact with sugar-water feeders in urban backyards. The aim of this study is to find out what effect this practice has on bird welfare and social behaviour. Specifically, I am interested in comparison between Auckland and Dunedin, two big cities with differing climates and bird communities.
I am being supervised by Assoc. Prof. Margaret Stanley
Feeding birds in urban parks, gardens and residential backyards is growing more popular worldwide allowing citizens, disconnected from nature, to engage with wildlife. The practice of feeding birds in residential gardens is becoming increasingly popular throughout New Zealand. According to a recent study, about half of New Zealand households feed birds in their gardens, with almost 20% of them providing sugar water for native birds. While we now understand the negative impacts of feeding bread and seeds on native bird communities, there is still little known about how provision of sugar water affects the behaviour and health of native birds. Having access to artificial food might have some advantages for visiting species, especially over winter when natural food sources are scarce and unevenly distributed. It may also contribute to reproductive success of local territorial birds. However, there are concerns that this practice risks changing bird behaviour and jeopardising their health.
This project will help to fill gaps in our understanding of the influence that sugar-water feeding has on foraging activity, social behaviour and our knowledge of bird disease dynamics. If you would like more information or to be kept updated about this research, contact me here.
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