So you happen to live out west in the faulted hill-folds. One day a kākā lands on your deck railing and winningly bounces along and back. It is looking at you. It is looking for food. Its head bobs up and down. It knows you have some.
A) put out a saucer of nuts;
B) toss it some bread;
C) see if it will eat corn from your hand; or
D) ignore it (apart from getting a few photos) and resolve to go to the Ōtari Plant Sale next year and get some bird-friendly native shrubs?
Personally, I’m all for (D), particularly when it comes to kākā. Wild animals that get familiar with humans have a way of eventually making nuisances of themselves, especially those as intelligent as kākā or their cousins, the kea. And I’d rather the birds were thriving because the natural environment we’ve recreated here had year-round food, shelter and safety rather than risk them becoming yet another human-commensal or -parasitic species.
But that’s just me, humourless zealot that I am. Many people get a lot of pleasure from backyard feeding of Wellington’s now-abundant birdlife. And who could blame them – our birds are pretty cool.
Luckily then, Zealandia has issued “Feeding Birds at Home:
A Guide For Nature Lovers”, a handy PDF detailing how best to feed them.
I learnt that doing it right is a little more complicated than it first seems, but still quite doable. And that definitely, my options (A), (B), and (C) above are terrible (fresh fruit or special parrot pellets are best for kākā).
But I think I will need to hunt out some better trees and shrubs for around the house…