Friday, November 6, 2009

Common Bird-feeding Myths


Feeding birds can be a rewarding experience, and a great way to connect with nature. But are you really helping your feathered friends? Here's the truth about some common bird-feeding myths:

Myth: Feeding birds prevents them from migrating.

Fact: Birds migrate in response to factors such as length of daylight and weather, not because of food availability. In fact, birds need more food during long migrations, so your feeder may be a welcome stop for species you don't normally see in your area.

Myth: Birds become dependent on feeders.

Fact: Most birds use many sources of food and do not rely on just one. If your feeder happens to go empty, most birds will find food elsewhere, although you'll have to work harder to bring them back to your yard. Loss of natural habitat due to human development does make it more difficult each year for birds to find the necessary food, particularly during the winter months, so providing a ready source of seeds, fruits or suet can give many birds a leg up.

Myth: The mixed seed at the grocery store is bad.

Fact: Some mixed seed can be bad, while other grocery-store varieties will provide quality for your feeder; the key is in the ingredients. Filler in cheap feed includes lots of milo, wheat, and barley. There may also be inedible objects such as sticks and empty hulls visible in the mix. These seeds are more likely to attract pesky birds and result in more wasted seed on the ground around your feeder. A good mix will have some form of sunflower seed and may also include peanut bits, safflower and millet.

Find more bird-feeding myths on our website.

Photo by Jim Dubois

4 comments:

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Good myth-busting, only one point of contention: seed that falls to the ground is not "wasted" as many birds will eat seed off of the ground.

ExpressYourself said...

Nice!

Katherine Lim said...

Andrew, you're right that many birds will eat seed off the ground - some species, such as juncos and mourning doves, will do so preferentially. However, for ground-feeding birds the type and quality of seed can still be an issue and cheaper "fill" seed may be left on the ground.