When our children were young, I bought bird books and had our binoculars handy because we wanted to see all sorts of birds at the feeders we'd placed outside. Some of the feathered, singing creatures we enticed to our yard included house finches, orioles, robins, chick-a-dees and others I can’t even name. We also planted flowers and bushes that would entice them to our area, per the advice of the given reading material. Even now, there is just something really special about seeing a hummingbird at the feeder, and listening for his tiny sound!
As time passed and we kept reading, we discovered that feeding the birds was not always a good thing. It made them dependent on humans for food and caused them to no longer forage for food naturally. They also stayed in an area longer than their usual time before migrating, causing them to be at risk in cold weather. After that, we slowly began deleting the bird feeders and only fed them when the ground was totally snow covered or iced over.
Many years later, I am still reading that while people buy, world wide, upwards of 500,000 tons of wild bird food a year, scientists are just now determining the serious, detrimental effects of feeding these beautiful creatures in our yards via feeders. As thought years ago, this “feeding frenzy” we humans have for the flying critters, cause some very unfavorable consequences for this seemingly kind act. It definitely changes migration habits, causes the spread of diseases and apparently in some areas the evolution of possibly a new species, as the birds are developing longer and rounder bills, and rounder wings.
Additionally, while birds that have a lot of access to feeders are apparently thriving, it sometimes causes the birds to not have the necessary “fat” their counterparts do, who do not have access to the feeders. So in effect it’s making them weaker. Studies also show their natural clues to nesting and other natural habitat rituals are being changed.
Birds, it seems have the same issue with diet, we humans have when we change from what our body requires naturally, to what is easy to acquire. As humans, we have become a culture that eats lots of sugar and processed foods, completely altering natural blood sugar levels and creating a lot of other issues. Add to this the lack of “foraging” for food naturally, (gardening, etc) we run to the grocery store and buy more of those items not good for us!
I challenge you to do some research on your own, to make sure bird feeding from feeders, is really a good choice in your area. Will it create issues for the flying creatures you want desperately to help? Or, might you instead research the best kinds of plants, berry bushes, fruit trees or other natural habitat that would encourage the birds to visit your yard, leaving their migration time table in tact (weather would handle this part of it), and offer natural nutrition.
How ever you choose to handle the flying wonders, I encourage you to enjoy the beauty and sounds of these incredible creatures!