For these birds, a pedestrian-free Sydney is no trouble: a chance to spread the wings and explore strange landfills, to make new friends and find out what’s for dinner on the other side of the Red Rooster line. This may come as a disappointment to Sydney’s bird watchers, who have been hoarding stale bread in anticipation for a return to the city. Dr. Martin gives some advice here: use restraint. If you choose to engage them with food, you must recognise many like minded Sydneysiders are doing the same. Less is more, and be sure to respect signage in parks asking you not to. Dr. Auman also asks pedestrians to look out for birds that may need our assistance, as the Gulls sometimes get trapped with fishing hooks embedded in them or wrapped in fishing line. As an alternative to food donations, just “call your local animal rescue hotline if you find a sick or injured bird”.
Alternatively, you may be better off holstering that Quarter Pounder and letting the camera eat first. The Big City Birds app is an easy pathway to Citizen Science, allowing anyone with a smartphone to contribute vital data on how these birds navigate a constantly changing urban environment. Information on where they’re nesting, what you’re feeding them or what they’re naturally foraging, will help us understand how and why these birds have been able to adapt.
With each change in the city’s environment, these birds have found new ways and opportunities to thrive. When we put lids on our bins, they learn to open them. When we stop showing up, they improvise. So for the bird sympathetic among us — stay those hands! The Ibis and Silver Gulls have no need for charity. Their capacity to thrive should give us pause to reflect on the birds that haven’t or can’t (and while you’re at it, schedule a trip out to the wetlands — just remember to keep your distance and respect their environment). The city dwellers know, where there’s a will (and a beak) there’s a free lunch.