The Benefits of the Bird Feeder
Birds like them, but do they need them?
By Sam Nunes, Environmental Educator
Many birds stick around to brave the cold winter months with us in Connecticut. Those that do are faced with the challenge of finding food in an unproductive season. Birds are forced to scrounge for any berries, seeds, or insects they may find hiding under bark and in other crevices. Luckily for the birds, Americans provide close to one billion pounds of bird seed each year! These nutrient packed treats help fuel a bird’s metabolism through the cold winters. Have you ever wondered if our aid is actually creating birds dependent on us for survival? If we stopped feeding these birds, would they forget how to search for the berries, seeds, and insects?
Researchers who asked this question found that birds who regularly used backyard feeders were able to switch immediately back to their natural foraging behavior when feeders were removed. So, no need to worry when the feeder is left empty for a while! Birds may not be dependent upon the feeders, but they do still get many benefits from them!
The prevalence of food increases the chance of a bird’s survival, and therefore helps to boost the populations of the species. Local songbirds such as Cardinals, Mourning Doves, and Tufted Titmice have been increasing their population size and range aided by the rise in bird feeders.
One final benefit provided by bird feeders is that they help bring us closer to nature. Songbirds are beautiful and unique, each in their own way. A bird feeder helps us to see many different species that we may miss otherwise!
Holland, Mary. Naturally Curious . North Pomfret: Trafalgar Square Books, 2010.