Is It Legal To Feed Wild Birds In Australia?

Is It Legal To Feed Wild Birds In Australia?
Image: iStock

Feeding wild birds in your backyard can be an exciting yet soothing experience – especially if you have small kids in tow. However, have you ever wondered if what you’re doing is legal? Here are the rules (and warnings) you need to know about.

There are no federal laws prohibiting the feeding of native birds in Australia. However, it can still lead to stiff penalties from some councils. For example, Adelaidian shoppers who get caught feeding birds at Rundle Mall can be fined up to $125. So while not strictly “illegal” you can still end up in court for throwing that kookaburra a chippie.

Regardless of the by-laws where you live, feeding a bird on your own property is unlikely to result in a fine. But that doesn’t mean you should do it. The practice is strongly frowned upon by Australian wildlife and environmental authorities, and most of their concerns are backed by scientific evidence.

The NSW Office Of Environment And Heritage warns that bird feeding can cause significant problems – not just for the birds directly involved but also for the wider avian population.

“Hand-fed birds are susceptible to illnesses that can be transferred to other birds,” the organisation explains on its website. “Young birds lose the ability to forage for food and when not fed by humans may starve. Hand feeding can also affect bird breeding cycles.

“Populations of some [hand-fed] birds such as crimson rosellas increase, displacing other birds and mammals that shelter in tree hollows. When currawongs and ravens are hand-fed they breed up and prey on smaller birds, causing an imbalance in bird populations.”

In addition, hand-fed birds can become a nuisance with increasingly large flocks congregating on properties. Their droppings may cause the spread of germs and certain species are notorious for vabdalising anything made of wood (we’re looking at you, cockies!) Discarded seeds, fruit and other refuse can also attract unwanted vermin.

In conclusion, feeding birds in your backyard is not against the law. But if you care about the welfare of birds or the environment, you should stop doing it. Don’t be a flamin’ galah! (…I’m fired, aren’t I?)

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not?
Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.


    • Since Crows normally eat mice and grubs, your uncle is probably making them lazy. They will eat seed, they will probably eat anything, but their diet is usually made up of meat and fruit.
      They are probably knocking on the window because they see their reflection and are attacking the ‘other’ bird they see that has come into their territory.
      Try Covering the outside of the screen door with glad wrap, it doesn’t have to be perfectly neat and flat and it won’t obscure the view from inside either, but what it will do is distort or remove the reflection, which will stop them knocking, or they might move to another reflection.

  • There are too many wankers trying to control everyone else’s lives these days. If everyone just minded their own business we’d all be a lot happier. I’ll continue throwing scraps out for the birds here where mortal enemies congregate side by side peacefully while munching away. Smaller birds are actually learning techniques from the bigger smarter birds. I’ll defy anyone who tries to stop me.

    • I agree with Jeff Citizen !
      Although I can’t produce evidence for this comment, I think you will find that as with most bureaucrats that find themselves in a position of power , enjoy using it regardless of whether it has merit !
      A pox on interfering high rise office dictators.

    • Absolutely agree. We we’ll have experts advising us on everything soon. Arent they already? And society is getting so PC and rule bound, for the worse. Jeez you want to feed the birds. Where does all this go? To a fearful world that is afraid to take risks, be inventive and express themselves in any natural way.

  • I agree with the comments above regarding the overly-PC direction we (Aus) are rapidly heading, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that people feeding birds does create issues for the poor fellas.
    Feeding them good, fresh food in your backyard in a reasonable quantity from time to time really shouldn’t cause too many health/ecological problems, but feeding them constantly and/or giving them shit food is where the issues come from. I never thought too much about feeding birds bread or chips but I learned that it really isn’t good for them

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!