Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To Feed or not to feed...that is the question

I know some birders oppose all feeding, claiming this causes a bird’s dependence on us.
I personally see nothing harmful with helping our frosty, feathered, friends through our harsh winters, especially in times of natural food shortages.
Severe winter storms can kill up to 30% of the bird populations, but with our help, that number can be greatly reduced.
Properly handled feeding can ensure a larger number will survive while enriching our own encounters with wildlife.
Backyard bird feeding is so prevalent throughout North America that this form of support should not be abandoned.
Birding is no longer just a recreational activity that appeals t the free spirit in us all.
It is the single, largest practice of unorganized & unregulated wildlife management in the world. (author unknown)

Should you feed?

In order to avoid abandoning birds to the perils of winter, you need to ask yourself these questions......

-Can you tend your feeder almost every day?
-Can you ensure you will leave enough food when you are away?
-Can you keep the feeders clean?
If you said no to any of these, then you probably shouldn’t put up a feeder.

For those that do want to feed the birds, there are a few important rules to follow....

-Do not feed excessively. Remember you are only supplementing their natural diet, not giving them an entire day’s food. Feed them smaller amounts through out the day.
-Use several smaller feeders to avoid over crowding & the spread of disease.
-Never feed moldy seed. Store it in a dry, covered container.
-Remove excess seed & debris from under the feeder as often as possible.
-Keep your feeders clean! Every 2 weeks or so, scrub your feeders with 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
-Place your feeders out of reach of pets but where you have the best view.
They should not be in full sun or full shade or where wind blows continually. Feeders placed near the cover of trees & shrubs will attract more visitors & offer protection from predators.
-Stop feeding immediately if you notice sick birds at your feeder. Wait at least one week before you put the cleaned feeders back up. Encourage friends & neighbors to do the same.
-Sit back & enjoy Mother Nature’s show!

NOTE....Bird feeders will also attract hawks (easy pickin’s) but this a common part of birding.

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