Cr Kerry Brown says: Don't feed the birds

New signs in Katoomba town centre warn of the risks to human and bird health from feeding the birds and announce council may issue an $110 on-the-spot fine.

The metal signs expected to be erected by council by the end of this week explain it is "not good for the birds and can cause poor nutrition, spread disease, [cause] unnatural behaviour and an ecosystem imbalance [as well as] dependence on food provided".

Katoomba Garden Brigade volunteer, Cr Kerry Brown, said there had been a sharp rise in bird populations with the established feral species of Common (Indian) Mynas and Rock Doves (pigeons) joined by increasing numbers of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.

"In the past, white cockies mostly found tucker in the bush and home gardens with sporadic dawn raids in late winter on newly planted pansies in Katoomba Street.

"Since the bushfires and then COVID, they have become the lords of Katoomba town. On Easter Sunday, cockies were strolling the empty road and perched along the clock arch like the conquering army of an abandoned city."

Conservation officer for Blue Mountains Bird Observers Paul Vale said that town centres serving as artificial habitat and feeding grounds for invasive ferals can unbalance the local ecosystem.

"Bird bodies are not designed for a human diet. It is like feeding your children on junk food that will give them lifelong health problems and probably shorten their lives."

"Common Mynas compete aggressively on the urban interface with native parrots for tree hollows that are already in short supply due to land clearing and bushfires.

"They are also known to carry diseases such as avian malaria which can drive some native birds into extinction. There is a government Feral Scan App that lets people log Myna numbers and locations (https://www.feralscan.org.au).

He said the white cockatoos are from the western plains and "while they are a native species, their over-abundance also impacts local parrot species like black cockatoos and gang-gangs that don't scavenge".

Cr Brown said one of the best ways to help native birds is to create a garden where they can live, feed and breed safely with dense layers of vegetation, trees, native plants with different flowering times for year-round lean cuisine and water facilities.

She noted that, although the risks were low, there were several diseases such as Psittacosis (parrot fever) and Salmonella that humans could contract from inhaling dust of dried bird faeces or feathers.

Cr Brown said she has asked council staff for more street bins but people need to be responsible with their food rubbish. Council was also working with other property owners to try and reduce sites suitable for communal roosting.

"The council is doing its best to keep the town clean but the sheer numbers of birds at the moment make that very difficult."

The on-the-spot fines can be issued under section 632 of the Local Government Act 1993.