Bird Feeding Good or Bad

It is easy to get started feeding birds, but novice backyard birders often make simple mistakes that can keep birds from enjoying the feeders. While some mistakes only make feeders unattractive, others can endanger the birds.

Team Indian Savanna Suggestions for feeding birds.

If you are using only one kind of Bird Feeder

Birds have different feeding preferences, and different species prefer different feeder styles. Open feeders with trays or perches will attract a decent variety of birds, but to maximize backyard bird feeding it is essential to use different feeders. Consider a mesh sock for goldfinches, nectar feeders for hummingbirds, suet feeders for woodpeckers and jelly feeders for orioles.

Stop using Bargain Basement Birdseed

The cheapest birdseed blends are often mostly fillers such as cracked corn, milo or wheat. These seeds and grains appeal to very few bird species, and other birds will toss the seed to the ground instead of eating it. Birders can save money on birdseed by choosing the types of seeds their birds prefer and taking steps to recycle that seed in the most economical way.

One of the Bad Practices – Feeding Birds Bread

Bread may be made from grains, but heavily processed bread products – crackers, cookies, donuts, cereals, etc. – are junk food for wild birds and do not provide adequate nutrition either for mature birds or growing hatch lings. While bread and other kitchen scraps can be a very rare treat for backyard birds, it should never be fed to them exclusively.

Making Bad Hummingbird Nectar

Feeding hummingbirds is one of the most popular ways to enjoy backyard birds, but using any sweetener other than plain white sugar to make nectar can be dangerous. Choices such as honey, brown sugar and artificial sweeteners do not provide the proper sugar concentration for hummingbird food, and they can produce mold that is deadly to the birds

Ignoring Natural Bird Food Sources

Feeding the birds does not have to mean putting out bird feeders and buying seed. Backyard birders who avoid natural food sources such as fruit trees or nectar-producing flowers, or who kill insects that birds can feed on, are depriving birds of the most nutritious and most economical food sources available for wild birds.

Not Feeding Winter Birds

Many novice backyard birders assume it isn’t necessary to feed birds in winter because there are no birds around. In fact, feeders can be even more critical to winter birds than they are during the summer when hatchlings need to be fed, and there are dozens of winter backyard birds – many of which aren’t around in the summer – that will happily visit bird feeders.

Not Protecting Bird Feeders

There are many other forms of wildlife that will raid feeders before birds can even get a chance to have a meal. Raccoons, deer, squirrels, rats and even bears will snack at bird feeders, often depleting the seed supply without letting any birds get a bite. At the same time, unprotected feeders also expose birds to predators when their senses are dulled by feeding.

Not Cleaning Feeders

It is a mistake to assume that wild birds aren’t picky about clean feeders. A dirty feeder can become clogged, and wet or spoiled seed can transmit diseases to backyard birds, which can then spread to an entire neighbourhood flock. Dirty feeders are also more susceptible to damage and wear, making them less useful over time.

Why Bread is bad for Ducks

Not only can bread be fattening to ducks and make it harder for them to fly and otherwise evade predators, feeding ducks bread can also lead to other problems.

Duckling Malnutrition: In an area where ducks are regularly fed bread, ducklings will not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. Furthermore, because ducks will naturally seek out an easy food source such as human handouts, ducklings will not learn to forage for natural foods as easily.

Overcrowding: Where an easy food source is abundant, ducks and other waterfowl will lay more eggs and the pond or lake will become overcrowded. This makes it more difficult for the birds to seek out healthier food sources and increases the likelihood of territorial aggression.

Pollution: When too much bread is offered to ducks, not all of it will be eaten. The soggy, uneaten bread is unsightly and rotting bread can create noxious odours as well as lead to greater algae growth that can clog natural waterways. This concentrates the pollution and can eventually eradicate fish and other life in the vicinity.

Diseases: Feeding ducks bread can increase the spread of diseases in two ways. First, a carbohydrate-rich diet leads to greater defecation, and bird faeces easily harbour bacteria responsible for numerous diseases, including avian botulism. Second, mouldy bread can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.

Pest Attraction: Rotting supplies of food leftover from sated ducks will attract other unwelcome pests such as rats, mice and insects. These pests can also harbour additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans.

Loss of Natural Behaviour: When birds become accustomed to handouts, they lose their natural fear of humans and may become aggressive in order to get more food. Their loss of fear can also cause other dangers, such as a willingness to cross busy roads in order to reach picnickers and other likely sources of food.

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