Category Bird feeders

Do feeders invite predatory birds?

Some argue that by feeding birds, we invite predatory birds like blue jays and starlings that have the habit of taking hold of nests of other species and killing their young. Look at it this way. No one is sure if this happens near all the feeders. But thanks to feeders, parent birds are better nourished and can spend less time searching for food and more time tending to the nest. The number of chicks is seen to increase in places where birds rely on feeders. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, bird species that frequent feeders do well or better than those that don’t.


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Will birds starve if the feeders are removed?

Some people worry that birds that frequent feeders may become totally dependent on them. And if, for some reason, feeders become defunct, their food source is removed suddenly. It will take time for the birds to find new sources of food. Naturalists point out that most birds, along with seeds, pick up insects, berries and small vertebrates. They do not live on seeds alone. They constantly forage for food when they are not building nests or hatching eggs. You must have seen sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice picking up insects from the ground. So, removing a feeder will not starve them. When trees are covered with snow, the backyard food supply gives them the wholesome food they need, even though birds will be looking for insects in tree barks and bushes.


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Are bird feeders all that good?

Some people argue that feeding wild birds will affect the bird population, and will cause a whole host of problems for wild birds and the environment. They say that wild birds will stop looking for food in their own habitats, and instead go for the easy access to grains in the feeders. While doing so, they may pose a threat to smaller birds they hunt as food. Still, setting up feeder points and creating a natural system around it is great service to the birds. In snowy winters they won’t starve, in hot summer days they won’t go thirsty.

Making our backyards as bird-friendly as possible seems, on the surface, a smart ecological decision, and one of the easiest things we can do to set right some of the damage we bumbling humans have done to this planet.

When we bring back native plants and encourage the proliferation of natural systems, at least on our little plot of land birds benefit. We benefit by getting to witness many common songbirds, and nature as a whole benefits.

So let’s be good residents of the natural world.


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What are steps to control disease transmission at the feeders?

Scientists have reported that bird feeders sometimes spread diseases among birds. This, of course, is rare. But it is a good enough reason to stop feeding birds, asks the author. Any place where animals congregate presents the potential for disease to spread. Birds spread their wings across the ecosystem and so have fewer opportunities for contact with each other. However, these steps will help prevent/control disease transmission at the feeders.

(a) Clean the feeders once in two weeks with 10% non-chlorinated bleach solution. If you see a lot of bird seed waste or bird droppings, change this to weekly cleaning.
(b) Once a week, rake and clean the ground area below the feeder. This is where seed-hulls fall attracting mice. Rodents are usually credited with spreading diseases.
(c) Store the seeds in a dry, secure place. Take care to see that they do not grow mould and do not become food for rodents. Use solid containers, rather than leave them in sacks that can be accessed by mice and squirrels.
(d) See that feeders and the surrounding areas do not have sharp-edged materials. Fences with prickly wires or poles are likely to harm the birds.
(e) If you find the feeders over-crowded, think of a few more such arrangements. You are lucky, birds like what you offer and are bringing friends, so give them more space and food!
(f) Make sure the bird feeder is stocked regularly when you go on vacation, and the bird visitors are safeguarded from predators.


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Why we should have bird feeders?

If you have bird feeders, you can watch Nature in your compound, in your neighbourhood. You can enjoy the sight and sounds of birds closely. Otherwise these birds stay on tree-tops.

(a) You can go on a step ahead and set up several types of feeders for different birds. Then you can plant native plants around it. You can have a pond dug up. With all these, you can transform your backyard into a natural habitat, and create a mini ecosystem, a bird sanctuary. People who have a well-planted backyard report seeing a variety of birds.
(b) Once the feeders get going, you will find squirrels and other small animals coming in to “steal” the grain or forage for it on the ground. Your feeders will benefit a sizeable number of animals. Of course, cats will make visits too, looking for easy prey, but you are calling a natural world, right?

So, making a backyard as bird-friendly as possible seems like a smart ecological decision. It is an easy way to compensate for all the million methods by which we are trying to destroy the planet.

The benefits for ourselves include the sight of a variety of birds, the chance to watch their behaviour and food habits up close and listen to their songs and chatter.


Picture Credit : Google