Should you feed birds and how?

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Birds are usually seen as the most free-willed organisms. Their tendency to fly far and high in the skies make the onlookers flush with joy and happiness. Birds also make excellent pets, but not everyone wants to cage them up and take their free flight away from them. Hence the best option employed by many to be up and close with these beautiful, magnificent winged beings is to set up some bird feeders in your backyard. But before you try to do a kind act, mainly to provide bird food in winters, consider and weigh the results of your kind act.

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Winters are seen as gloomy. The lack of animals bustling around, paired with the all-white and gray outsides, can be compromised by putting feeding birds in winter. Interestingly, 40% of Americans use bird feeders to have a touch of nature near them. But before you begin using these free-flying birds as a means for your enjoyment, or solely to provide the birds a meal in the dry-barren winters, look for how human-dependency can impact the birds.

How can you be helping?

Before talking about the potential risks of bird feeders, let us look upon the possible goodness that this kind act of yours can bring. The researches published by Nature Conservancy show that when food is scarce and birds can search only too much in the frigid-chilly weather, the bird feeders provide a sure meal to the hungry birds. Another Winsconsin research showed that the survival rate of black-capped chickadees who are human fed increases up to 69% as opposed to the survival rate (37%) of birds who are not.

A lot of other studies and research also shows that the birds who are fed by humans and get lots of food in winter relish in more breeding profit than the birds that have to look for food. Feeding birds in winters also results in the birds laying more eggs earlier than others of the same species, and hatched chicks are also much healthier.

The other side of the coin

But with this kind act of feeding birds in winter comes the risk of making the birds dependent and them losing their natural instinct of fending for themselves. One research shows that winter bird feeder fed birds struggle in the spring breeding seasons, and their chicks are not much healthier than the birds who looked for their food.

One of the other risks of bird feeders is the window-bird collisions that happen almost too frequently. 

Other risks of bird feeders include intermingling bird species giving off diseases to each other, and bird crowds attracting predators. Research showed otherwise migrating predator birds like hawks, choosing to stay back, which in turn may result in an altered ecosystem.

What you must choose?

Feeding or not feeding birds is a choice that you must make after scientific research only. Here are some dos and don’ts of bird feeders to help you choose:

  • Firstly, make sure that any species of birds in your area is not endangered. Feeding an already endangered bird at an ordinary bird feeder can leave it susceptible to diseases, and predators.
  • Provide high-quality food in a sanitary birdfeeder. Not having the time to do so should be considered as a no to bird feeding.
  • Make sure the birds you feed are not susceptible to change behaviors if they are human fed.

A few dos and don’ts of bird feeders to avoid risks of bird feeders, if you choose bird feeding:

  • Bird Feeders should be placed at a three feet distance of windows to avoid glass-bird crashes.
  • Put bird feeders near trees or shrubs so that birds can hide in the wake of predators. Do not use a very thick hedge.
  • Wash and sanitize the feeders twice a year. Do not use chlorine bleach.
  • Provide the best quality seeds in the best feeder.
  • Place bird feeders away from traffic prone areas.
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