Why Should We Feed the Birds?
Some people feel we shouldn't feed the birds, but about 54 million people are happily doing it in this country, and there are plenty of good reasons...
Feeding the wild birds has become the second most popular ďpassiveĒ hobby in our country and about 54 million people are doing it, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Gardening still ranks as number one, though I donít know what group of gardeners was studied - I would never have described gardening as ďpassive.Ē
Itís only fair to mention that there are some who think we should not feed the birds and they give various reasons to support their position, some of which may be valid. However, most wildlife organizations not only consider that feeding the birds is a fine thing to do, they also sell both bird seed and bird feeders.
Certainly, the pleasure we experience when we are able to see wild birds at close quarters is more than enough reason to put out bird feeders. We like birds and enjoy having them around. Itís wonderful to hear their songs through our open windows on a spring or summer day, and our winter landscape can be pretty bleak†without their brilliant colors to brighten it up.
It is fun, as well as educational, to see wild birds interact as they feed and bathe in your yard. Putting out food is also beneficial for them. In many locations, especially urban and suburban neighborhoods, birds have lost their natural habitat and their traditional sources of food have become increasingly hard to find. In addition, they often must compete for available food with sparrows and starlings, non-native species in this country. Your feeders will help them survive.
Another great reason for attracting wild birds to your yard with feeders is that they are fantastic bug-eating machines. The birds that come to your feeders and garden will also eat slugs, snails, mosquitoes, and caterpillars,. Those pesky starlings wandering over your lawn eat Japanese beetle larvae and they also go after gypsy moth larvae, which most native birds scorn. A Baltimore oriole can eat seventeen fat, bristly caterpillars a minute, and a pair of flickers will polish off five thousand ants as a first course, then come back for more. Those amazing little hummingbirds eat up to half their body weight (about two ounces) a day in soft-bodied insects such as mosquitoes and spiders.
Feeding the birds can be started any time of the year with little effort. Their natural food supplies are low in winter so that is the best time. However, different species will visit your feeders during the nesting season, and also during their annual spring and fall migrations. Thereís a lot of enjoyment to be had watching the young birds begging for food and learning to fly. My feeders stay busy all year long.
Having bird feeders is not the only way of providing food for the birds. A bird-friendly environment can be created in many ways. Deciduous and evergreen trees, also shrubs and ornamental grasses provide shelter as well as seeds for birds. Several species of birds find fresh fruit mighty tasty, so bushes, trees, and weeds with berries are especially desirable. Flowers attract insects and can be left to go to seed in the winter to provide an additional source of food.
Extinction of the species occurs naturally, but manís interference has accelerated the rate to an alarming degree as our population has expanded and their natural habitat has been decimated. So, maybe the final argument for feeding the birds is that we owe them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Woodward inherited her love of birds from her grandfather, whose hobby was photographing and banding birds. She has enjoyed feeding and watching the birds raise their young in her own backyard for decades. She is the owner of Itís a Birdís World, an online store featuring durable, high-quality bird feeders, bird houses, bird baths and accessories. To see an excellent selection of bird feeders, visit http://www.ItsaBirdsWorld.com.