Photo of Downy Woodpecker at feeder by Old Pirate from NC
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approximately 54 million residents of the United States feed wild birds at backyard feeders. This is important due to the fact that our environment has changed drastically over the last fifty years. Not only do our wild birds have to deal with loss of habitat, they must also compete with birds like starlings and house sparrows that are not native to North America.
Feeders provide a supplement to natural food supplies for wild birds. Rarely do they comprise the bulk of their diet. In general, wild birds depend on foods they find away from bird feeders and they find them with incredible efficiency. If all supplemental feeding stopped overnight, there would probably not even be a noticeable decline in bird populations.
The fact is, the joy of introducing children and adults to bird watching is reason enough to attract wild birds to backyard feeders. This is why bird feeding has become the second most popular passive hobby in the US, second only to gardening. And the great thing is that they compliment each other and you can do both at the same time if you wish!
What I want you to know is that you don’t have to worry about leaving your feeders empty when you go on vacation for a few weeks. Wild birds have been fending for themselves for thousands of years and they will find food whether you feed them or not. Offering your birds a constant food and water supply really is a benefit for you because you get the constant joy of watching them.
So, should you feed wild birds year round? My answer is yes for several reasons that will be discussed in my next post. Until then….happy birding!