Birds and Dogs do not mix
My wife had an appointment in Adelaide on Wednesday. I remained in the car in an adjacent park, fortunate to get a shady park on such a hot day. At one point my attention was distracted from doing the crossword in the paper.
A lady entered the park nearby and released her dog from its leash. The dog immediately sprinted across the grass chasing the half dozen or so Australian Magpies and Magpie Larks. The birds abruptly stopped feeding and flew frantically to nearby trees. They did not return to foraging for more than ten minutes after the dog and owner moved out of the park. During the two hours I was there this process was repeated about a dozen times but in less dramatic ways. Most of the other dogs were much more docile, and some were on leads. At one point another dog disturbed a flock of about twenty Crested Pigeons feeding on the ground.
Dogs on the loose can severely impact the feeding habits of many species of birds. For ground nesting birds, especially on beaches, the impact can be devastating. Eggs can be trampled on and broken and nestlings killed and eaten.
There is little I could have done to protect the birds or to make a complaint to the dog owners in this situation, however. The park is one of very few in metropolitan Adelaide as a designated dog park, meaning that the dogs are able to run freely. This has been an area of contention over recent years because there are so few such parks where dogs can roam freely. In my experience dog owners are very vocal and local councils generally listen to their lobbying.
Very rarely does someone speak up for the birds, and that is a concern.
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