The Birds with a Taste for Tandoori
Dogs have a habit of eating any food which they can sniff out but what about birds? It turns out that wild birds will adapt their diet to include whatever happens to be available and that could mean that they end up eating some rather weird and wonderful meals. But an adapted diet isn’t always beneficial. It is good to feed the birds, but not with the wrong foods. In addition, some birds can become so reliant on the food provided by humans that they change their natural behaviour.
Regent’s Park in London has just provided the perfect illustration of how good intentions can backfire.
Mystery Bird Feeder
A mystery bird feeder in Regent’s Park is causing problems. The ready availability of food has caused the park’s herons to stay put rather than migrating. This has led to inbreeding and the birth of deformed chicks.
Large amounts of curried rice are being left in the park! The birds are gobbling up the rice which is being left by a person or persons unknown. The police are now involved in tracking down the guilty party who has been dumping literally piles of rice in the park. The Friend’s of Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill are now extremely concerned about the futures of the Grey Herons.
It is believed that the mystery feeder may be a local restauranteur who is probably trying to kill two birds with one stone (literally) by feeding the birds and offloading his waste at the same time. The rice is being dumped early in the mornings.
The Spring edition of The Friend's of Regent's Park & Primrose Hill newsletter states that the park's dedicated police officer was on the trail of the over-enthusiastic bird feeder. "Each royal park has a Dedicated Park Officer (DPO) whose role is to be the police eyes and ears in the park, enforcing park bye laws, including speed control and cyclist safety."
The Birds of Regent’s Park
People have been enjoying the birds in Regent’s Park since the middle of the 19th century. The park is in the heart of the capital and yet provides a peaceful oasis for both people and wildlife. It hosts an impressive 200 different species of bird. The herons are a major attraction and over 20 pairs nest in the park each year. This forms one of the largest colonies of the birds in London.
Other bird species that you can see in the park include redwing, Mistle thrush and pied wagtail but these birds do not appear to have been impacted by the deposits of rice. The herons clearly have a taste for Asian cooking! The mystery feeder probably believes that they are helping the birds and could not have foreseen the consequences of what they are doing.
An Avian 'Whodunnit'
Hopefully the culprit will be found and this 'whodunnit' will be solved. Rice can be a great food for birds, but not when you provide so much that they abandon their migratory behaviour in favour of a curry!