Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate love for the environment and wild animals from the love you have for your pets. Many people see birds, squirrels, and fish and find joy in feeding them. Many save their breadcrumbs to take to the park, feed the wildlife, and pose for pictures. Although this may seem harmless, it often gives these animals an unfair advantage. Many species that prosper from human feedings are potential predators.
Crows, ravens, jays, and many other birds that gather around picnic sites often experience population boosts. These boosts, although great for that species, may do harm throughout the ecological chain.
Snowy plovers, the focus of our internship, are one of the species that suffers when crows and ravens are fed. This Friday, in fact, we watched as a raven flew overhead (near a plover nesting site)with an egg in its beak.These predator birds are extremely smart and have excellent memories. Once they know where the nests are, they chow down and have an eggcellent time, driving down populations of snowy plovers.
This week we saw a group of teenagers feeding a Steller’s jay, which seemed harmless to them. They gave it a piece of a cookie while they recorded a video. Like these visitors, most of the time, people don’t realize the effects of feeding the wildlife. After Jasmine approached and informed them about the consequences, they were surprised and quickly picked up their crumbs. It’s easy to share information, and in my opinion, most people will try to help when they can.
In the end, we can only inform people about ecological processes and hope they do the right thing. So please, next time you’re on the beach, in the park, or even in your backyard, don’t feed the wildlife. #KeepWildlifeWild