Myths about Wildlife

As a child, you were often told things about wildlife that were simply myths. These are common things people have spread throughout time that has no context or factual information linked to them. There are some common facts that we have all heard at some point in our lives and were inclined to believe, that is until you become a wildlife professional or take a keen interest in wildlife.

Bats are blind: This is one fact, everybody has heard! Bats are in fact not blind at all, they use echolocation to navigate around during the night since their nocturnal creatures. Being able to see in complete darkness doesn’t provide you with an advantage but this is where the echolocation comes into it, they use their mouths to make a sound which will bounce off objects such as moths which provides them with an advantage to catching their prey.

Mute Swans are in fact mute: This fact has been brought up on TV shows but also has been passed around. Mute Swans (cygnus olor) do actually make a sound, usually its just hissing at passers-by but occasionally you’ll get a honk from them!

Ducks love Bread!: This is a personal pet hate and one of my biggest peeves. Ducks and Geese may love bread, but it is not good for them and causes major problems for the birds. You may think it’s okay to feed a loaf to a pond of ducks, but what happens when 30 people visit that one pond with their children every day; that’s a lot of bread! Bread causes a deformity known as ‘angel-wing’ which means they are unable to fly. There is no nutricial value to bread therefore it doesn’t benefit them in any way, rotting bread on the surface of ponds can cause filamentous algae which harms fish populations. Wet and rotting bread can be a home for a mold called aspergillus, which can get into ducks’ lungs, killing them. Bird seed can be purchased from any supermarket or almost any retailers from as little as 99p a bag!

Moles destroy lawns: Mole holes may be unsightly, but lawns can actually benefit from mole activity. Moles provide insect control by feeding on underground larvae which can cause other forms of damage to the lawn. Tunneling also aerates the soil and can improve lawn health over time. Also, the mole holes make a natural putting range!

Baby birds cannot be returned to their nest once you have touched them: Baby birds carrying human scent are not automatically rejected by their parents. Not only do most birds have a poor sense of smell, they also make very committed parents not readily deterred by human interference. This doesn’t mean that people should remove infants from their nests!! If you see a baby bird on the path simply move it closer to the trees and out of harms way and leave it, the parents will be watching and will continue to care for its young, taking the chick and trying to raise it yourself will only cause more harm to the young.

Myths will continue to be shared between people, some myths do cause harm and making sure these myths are corrected or ensuring people know the truth about myths which can cause implications to wildlife.

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Wildlife Enthusiast, Naturalist and Conservationist from Swansea, Wales. Keen interest in the avian kind, bats and reptiles, mainly have a huge love for Owls! Particular interest in scientific data mainly through Nest Recording, Bird Ringing and Surveying. Campaigner for Britain's Wildlife. www.danrouse.org,uk

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