Please click the link at the end of this post to read an article in The Independent by Jane Dalton, describing the way traffic noise affects one particular species of bird. Where human risks to wildlife are concerned, this is only one example of how we unknowingly do harm.
When you have contact with wildlife, always be considerate. Avoid doing anything startling, and don’t offer food. Although it may be tempting to share your lunch with a squirrel or a pigeon (which can expand quickly into twenty or thirty pigeons), handouts encourage animals and birds to rely on humans for nutrition. They also get a lot of the wrong food that way.
In San Francisco, the pigeon population has gotten out of hand. This is attributed partly to the fact that humans have fed the creatures and/or left food litter within reach, which has caused the birds to overeat and made them too fertile. Pigeons are everywhere, and so are bird droppings. Besides the obvious problem of bird crap splattering us every now and then, pigeons are being discouraged from following their instincts in seeking food. They’re getting too spoiled to survive on their own.
If you’ve ever been dive-bombed by a pigeon while eating outdoors (I have), there’s a reason. They associate humans with food, and they have developed a sense of entitlement. The same things have happened with wild animals — some very large — who have broken into cars and cabins in rural vacation resorts.
Late in 2015, a squirrel in Novato, California entered an elementary school building and attacked students in two classrooms. The motivation was thought to be food.
When you see a wild animal or bird, admire from afar. Do not approach the creature or do anything else to encourage contact. We may love them, but our definition of love seems different to other species. Put affection on the back burner and emphasize boundaries. Please.
Besides the Zebra Finch story, I’ll include a 2015 CBS affiliate story about the Novato Squirrel Attack as a reminder that your children may be vulnerable.