Feeding wild birds in suburban house yards (backyard bird feeding) is an extremely popular activity throughout western countries. In Australia, several studies into the sociological aspects of wildlife feeding have recently been conducted, which report that over a third of suburban householders commonly feed birds on their property. This study was aimed to obtain in-depth sociological information related to backyard bird feeding in both urban and rural settings and to make geographical comparisons. The survey was conducted in August 2003, targeting households in suburbs of Greater Brisbane and localities in the Lockyer Valley, southeast Queensland. The survey confirmed the popularity of backyard feeding both in suburban and rural environments, with the estimated household feeding rate between 36% and 48%. It also involved 43 species of birds being fed. Respondents reported interaction-related reasons and charity-inspired motivations as reasons for starting to feed birds in their backyard. Most feeders regarded the effects of bird feeding as either positive or none despite a lack of authoritative reference sources. The survey consistently showed no significant differences between urban and rural households no matter what question was asked. With now more realistic information that backyard feeding is popular throughout the study area, concerns for the possible effects on recipient animals seem valid. Further research in this area would undoubtedly be useful for relevant agencies in Australia and other countries, including Japan, where this activity is prevalent, to develop more objective and effective policies and guidelines in relation to this complicated and rather controversial activity.
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