Feeding Red Kites
I was alarmed to read a letter (Wendover News, June 2015 edition) from a pet owner asking people to think about the consequences on pets of feeding red kites. Whilst I agree with what the correspondent says, in my opinion the consequences are even worse than those stated. People should leave the red kites alone and under no circumstances be feeding them. This is why :
• Red kites are more than able to fend for themselves. They should not be treated as if they were garden birds. If there is insufficient food in an area, they will move out to where they can find food naturally. Artificial feeding is preventing their dispersal to normal densities.
• Artificially high densities cause conflicts of interests. “Urban myths” start to spread and mantras such as “there are too many kites” gain currency
• It is selfish behaviour to attract these birds to gardens by providing food. The “feeder” may live near to a neighbour who hates them and starts spreading rumours such as “the red kites ate my guinea pig/rabbit/whatever”
• Feeding the kites can be a death warrant – such as at RAF Benson. This establishment has been given a licence to shoot any red kites that are considered to put flight safety at risk – appeals to nearby villagers to stop feeding them fell on deaf ears.
Everyone who really cares about nature and our birdlife would not jeopardise the red kites in this way for their own selfish pleasures. Additionally, as the original correspondent pointed out, it is doubly selfish in that it now appears to be having a knock on detrimental effect on pets.
Many people and organisations are really worried about individuals feeding the red kites. The RSPB local Aylesbury group is one example of a concerned organisation. We appeal to all individuals who are feeding red kites to ask them to please stop it. If you live near to a property where it occurs (and it is completely obvious where this is from the flocks of circling birds) and you have a good relationship with that householder, could you consider having a quiet word with them to ask politely and gently if they could stop it?
It is time for real bird lovers to step up to speak for the red kites and stop the selfish feeding. Please feeders, just leave the birds alone. Stop feeding them from your garden.