Making your world a better place

 Photo by Melissa Penta. Courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.

Photo by Melissa Penta. Courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.

Feed the Birds

It’s that time of year when the neighborhood birds are hoping that we’ll put a little something out to help them get through winter. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University has some helpful tips on how to feed your backyard birds:

Bird feeding has been an American tradition since at least the times of Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau. It provides us with wonderful opportunities for close viewing of birds. It can also be good for birds.

Feeding birds helps them individually by providing easy food sources during severe winters and harsh migration periods. It also helps birds collectively by fostering our understanding of and affection for them, and by providing opportunities for citizen scientists to collect a large, widespread body of data that is helpful for conservation purposes.

Bird feeding does bring a few problems with it. Feeding stations should be maintained properly; otherwise, disease organisms can kill individual birds, sometimes in large numbers. Inappropriate food items can be unhealthy and possibly lethal. When birds fly off from feeders, they can crash into our windows — and half of all birds that hit windows die from their injuries. When bird feeding subsidizes some invasive exotic species, these birds can wreak greater havoc on native populations. And bird feeding may maintain populations of some opportunistic birds at higher levels than is healthy for the environment and other, more vulnerable bird populations.

The website provides information as to the responsible way to take care of wild birds. I clicked on the tab in the right sidebar, “Project Feeder Watch” where I learned how to become a citizen scientist. You can record and send data to the Cornell Lab:

Join Project FeederWatch and take your bird feeding to the next level. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s good for birds!

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds at feeders throughout North America. Participants count birds as often as weekly from November through early April. The data are an invaluable resource for scientists working to understand broad-scale movements and long-term trends in bird populations.

Here’s an article from the National Wildlife Federation which has more tips on making the most  of your bird feeding venture and if you should feed birds all year round.

And if the title of this article, "Feed the Birds" reminded you of Julie Andrews singing the song in Mary Poppins, here is a clip from the movie.

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Cover photo by Kathleen Franks

Background image by Getty Images

© 2014 - 2017 Kathleen Franks