Fast food may not be good for birds
Brief by Central Staff
Wildlife – March 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine
You see a lot of birdseed on sale this time of year, and it can be entertaining and educational to watch the birds gather at the feeder outside your kitchen window.
But putting out feed might not be the best thing for the birds. To quote from an article in the Dec. 27, 2002 Wall Street Journal:
“… many ornithologists and wildlife biologists say it does very little good — and even does some harm. Attracting wild birds to feeders spreads disease, aids predators such as house cats, and lures the birds close to houses and roads where tens of millions of them fly into windows and cars. House cats and hawks treat feeders as fast-food outlets, snatching birds from perches or the ground below. Birdseed attracts other mammals, too, and not just squirrels. Chipmunks, rats, raccoons, skunks and even bears feed on seed at night.”
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says 52.8 million Americans identify themselves as bird feeders — more than anglers (34.1 million) and hunters (13 million).
One irony of the popularity of bird-feeding occurs in the Dakotas. The most popular bird food is sunflower seeds, which are grown in those states. But some farmers lose their entire crops to redwing blackbirds which swoop in every fall, so they’re asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to poison up to 6 million redwing blackbirds in a three-year program.
However, “the National Audubon Society thinks killing red-winged blackbirds to save seeds for bird-feeder birds is a dumb idea.” For our part, well, we enjoy watching the jays and crows and bluebirds, but we don’t put seed out. They do seem to find food in our yard, though.
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