Feeding songbirds helps
ensure their survival
In a recent Living section article by special correspondent Lynn Jackson Kirk, she quoted Carol Heiser of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, who said that wildlife should not be fed. I strongly support her concerns about the intentional feeding of certain wild animals such as raccoons, opossums, bears and others. Natural foods sources and healthy ecosystems are the essential ingredients for the health and well-being of all wildlife that shares our community.
However, in regard to the stated concerns about the supplemental feeding of our backyard birds, there is more to the story.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Bird Studies Canada, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all support year-round bird feeding as being safe for birds, promote it as a valuable hobby, and provide educational information to help people participate in it.
Providing supplemental food to songbirds has shown to be beneficial to both their health and survival. A recent study out of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has documented an alarming decrease in bird populations around the world. The changing climate has impacted the survival of even our local songbirds. A study published in the Oxford Journal shows that responsible feeding reduces stress and improves overall health to the birds that supplement their diet at bird feeders.
Nationally, more than 54 million people feed birds and develop a strong connection to nature in their own yards. No other wildlife-associated activity attracts more attention or participation. Bird feeding has many positive effects for both people and the birds and would not be so popular with millions of home owners if it truly created problems for birds' health or with nuisance wildlife on a regular basis.
Owner, Wild Birds Unlimited.