“The Independent” Jane Dalton
A parent bird has been spotted feeding its chick a cigarette butt, highlighting environmental concerns and prompting a wave of anger at careless smokers.
The black skimmer bird was photographed at a beach in Florida, US, picking the butt up and putting it in the baby’s mouth.
Karen Mason, who took the photographs, issued a simple plea as she posted the pictures online: “If you smoke, please don’t leave your butts behind.”
She added: “It’s time we cleaned up our beaches and stopped treating them like one giant ash tray. #nobuttsforbabies.”
Commenters endorsed her plea, saying the sight was “heartbreaking and devastating”.
Susan Nagi wrote: “The baby chick needs to become a poster child for change.”
“People are disgusting!” wrote Josee Noel. “They don’t want their butts, as if we do! Time to ban them, everywhere! What about our rights? Nature’s? Toxicity off the charts!”
Ms Mason, known online as Karen Catbird, was inundated with requests from the world’s media to reproduce her photos. “Whatever helps to get people to think before they toss,” she said.
She explained that the birds feed by skimming along the water with their beaks open. “They don’t see what they are getting. This parent must have latched on to a butt in the shallow water,” she wrote.
“People won’t go anywhere without a way to carry their cell phone but they apparently don’t want to be bothered with carrying something small enough for their butts.”
Liette Ricard pointed out discarding butts does not just hurt animals and environments, it can start forest fires too.