Birds and Landfills

BIRDS & LANDFILLSHeres a program from our archives.For scientists investigating foraging behavior at landfills, the question is – what’s a bird like you doing at a dump like this? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. ambience,garbage dump; seagullsBurger: Birds that go to garbage dumps are finding a wide variety of food, ranging from chicken bones and scraps from the table, to large masses of food that might be put out by commercial restaurants and such.”Joanna Burger is the director of the graduate program in ecology at Rutgers University. She has gone to landfills all around the country to study bird behavior and feeding habits. Burger: Since the turn of the century, there’s been a increase in the number of garbage dumps, largely because, one, we’ve had an increase in the number of people, but also we’ve had an increase in available food, so that we’re no longer as careful what kinds of things we throw away. In a long term sense, it’s not positive for the birds, because we are artificially providing food which we are not always going to provide, and we are providing food that they didn’t evolve with, so that they may not be getting the same nutrition, the same calories, the same foods that they actually need to keep themselves healthy and to keep their young healthy, and to have maximum reproductive success.One of the difficulties with providing birds with foods at garbage dumps is that they become dependent upon it, and if that food source is eliminated for some reason, then birds may actually starve, where if, before that, you didn’t provide them with food, they would have learned how to feed on their own.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Birds and Landfills

What's a bird like you doing in a dump like this? This archival program is part of our 30th anniversary celebration.
Air Date:07/31/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

BIRDS & LANDFILLSHeres a program from our archives.For scientists investigating foraging behavior at landfills, the question is - what's a bird like you doing at a dump like this? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. ambience,garbage dump; seagullsBurger: Birds that go to garbage dumps are finding a wide variety of food, ranging from chicken bones and scraps from the table, to large masses of food that might be put out by commercial restaurants and such."Joanna Burger is the director of the graduate program in ecology at Rutgers University. She has gone to landfills all around the country to study bird behavior and feeding habits. Burger: Since the turn of the century, there's been a increase in the number of garbage dumps, largely because, one, we've had an increase in the number of people, but also we've had an increase in available food, so that we're no longer as careful what kinds of things we throw away. In a long term sense, it's not positive for the birds, because we are artificially providing food which we are not always going to provide, and we are providing food that they didn't evolve with, so that they may not be getting the same nutrition, the same calories, the same foods that they actually need to keep themselves healthy and to keep their young healthy, and to have maximum reproductive success.One of the difficulties with providing birds with foods at garbage dumps is that they become dependent upon it, and if that food source is eliminated for some reason, then birds may actually starve, where if, before that, you didn't provide them with food, they would have learned how to feed on their own.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.