About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

When should I feed the birds?

I was recently advised that it is not a good idea to feed birds in my backyard from spring to early fall.  Is that the case since I do not want to do the wrong thing by the birds?  I understand this may not be helping them learn to fend for themselves.  Please advise...Thank you, LJ

That's a very good question:
Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining and educational pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. It provides a needed stress relief and brings families together. There is no designated time to feed the birds. Most people feed year round so they can watch the birds up close.

Currently one third of the U.S. populations feed the birds in their yards. They watch the birds in the winter to brighten the long, dark, dreary days, and then watch the beautiful migratory birds that come in the spring all excited for nesting. Next comes watching the baby birds at the feeders demanding food from parents and finally the large variety of birds that gather after nesting to make the long journey south or to bulk up for winter again.

Spring to early fall is my favorite time to feed birds. You’ll see different birds at your feeders during summer than you do during winter, like hummingbirds and other nectar-eating birds. And many such as orioles, finches and warblers, show off their vibrant spring and summer plumage spreading color throughout your yard.

Birds only supplement their diet up to 10 to 20 percent at feeders. Most birds like to forage for food. And most native flowers, bushes, and trees like birds to help pollinate their flowers, eat harmful insects, and disperse their seeds. Landscaping your yard to provide native plant cover and natural foods for birds is a good way to attract birds and provide them with sanctuary.

Bird feeders are mainly for your enjoyment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office of Bird Management states: "If you enjoy feeding the birds, there is no reason to stop feeding the birds in the summer. You can do it year round. Feeding the birds in the summer will not make them lazy or too dependant."

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology scientists state; "Keep the restaurant open year round and offer a variety of seeds and suet."

For birds in Michigan, studies indicate that Black-Oil Sunflower, Sunflower Chips, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types. Suet and peanuts are also high energy, high fat foods which are invaluable in the fall when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to produce new feathers.

Talk with our Certified Bird Feeding Specialists about the many ways you can enjoy feeding the birds in summer and all year long.

Thanks for the question. I hope this information is useful.

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    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Good to know but still let my feeders remain empty for about a week when they run out of food. lol