Why Feed Birds? Good Reasons To Set Up A Bird Feeder

Matthew Cowan, Web Developer For American Expedition
Written by Matthew Cowan, Web Developer For American Expedition April 07, 2013

As an avid bird feeder, I'm sometimes asked why I spend money on bird seed and go to all the fuss to maintain bird feeders throughout the fall and winter months when it may be chilly outside. The simple answer is that feeding birds provides many benefits - both to the birds, and to myself as well. These are the five best reasons I've found why I feed the birds:

Birds Make Good Assistants In The Garden.

Bluebirds with grubs in their mouths.

The same grubs that give you fits in your garden provide tasty meals for bluebirds.

Birds won't just eat what you put out for them. The same birds that are attracted to feeders filled with commercial birdseed will also eat the seeds of weeds that love to sprout up in your garden. Additionally, many birds that eat seeds also love to eat insects, including snails and worms that like to feast on fruit.

Some of the best birds to attract to your garden are Eastern Bluebirds. Farmers used to erect bluebird houses and bluebird feeders to attract the birds before the invention of commercial pesticides because the birds were so effective at controlling populations of insects like grubs. To attract bluebirds, you can set out bluebird feeders filled with mealworm grubs. Additionally you can set up a bird house specially designed for bluebirds to encourage them to take up roost.

Feeding Birds Can Make You Feel Better

There have been some surveys and studies that suggest feeding birds can help fight seasonal affective disorder and symptoms of depression - there are even stories of directors of assisted living homes reporting that bird feeding had theraputic effects on their patients.

A goldfinch with really bright yellow.

Could the sight of a yellow goldfinch be enough to brighten someone's day and make them feel better? My answer is yes.

What is it that makes the activity of bird feeding effective against depression? Is it the simple act of providing for another living creature? Bird feeding can be seen as an act of kindness, and even simple acts of kindness have been shown to boost happiness. It could also be the songs of the birds, or the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges they wear - bright colors are known to improve moods as well. Or, it could be the simple act of just getting out of the house for a few minutes every day to clean & fill the feeders provides a retreat from the stresses of work and modern life.

Natural Sources Of Food For Birds Have Been Diminished

A bluebird perched above a bluebird house.

Bluebird numbers have improved in part because of birding enthusiasts who feed them and erect bluebird houses.

Many of the birds that are popular among bird feeding enthusiasts have had their natural habitats severely diminished by human development. For example, bluebirds like to live in and near dead trees with softer, decaying wood full of insects and that have cavities where they can raise their young. Most homeowners in suburban neighborhoods are not keen on keeping the dead trees in their yard that the bluebirds like to make into homes, however - and those houses have in many cases replaced the forests the bluebirds used to call home.

Bluebird numbers rapidly declined, however the practice of birders erecting bluebird houses and setting up bluebird feeders has helped them to recover. The backyard bird feeder is an important tool in the fight to conserve the wild birds of America.

Feeding Birds Can Be A Good Way To Bond With Children

Deer looking at nuthatch.

Both young children and deer can be easily distracted by the antics of a cute little nuthatch.

Feeding birds can be a learning experience for young children. They can learn about the different types of birds, what types of seeds different birds like to eat, and they can watch through the seasons what types of birds show up when. Children can also learn about feeding habits. For example - some birds, like chickadees, will quickly grab a seed and then leave to find shelter where they can eat. Other birds, like blue jays and woodpeckers, will stay at the feeder and eat because they don't have as many predators to feer.

Additionally, making a child responsible for a bird feeder can teach them valuable lessons. If you make 'filling the bird feeder' a regular chore, the children can learn the values of conservation and responsibility.

Feeding Birds Is Incredibly Easy

Chickadee flying in hand.

Chickadees are so friendly that once they get to know you, they'll even eat out of your hand.

There is only one key entry barrier to feeding birds, and that is providing something that they will eat. There are lots of tricks and techniques you can use to attract certain kinds of birds, and special feeders you can buy, but that's secondary - the truth is, you can just set out some seeds and before long, you'll be attracting Chickadees and Nuthatches.

If getting started is easy, continuing is only slightly more difficult. You should clean feeders a few times a season to prevent the spread of disease among birds, because dirty feeders can eventually build up germs and fungus that is bad for the birds. You can make this task less difficult by purchasing an easy to clean bird feeder - something that is not too difficult to take apart and put back together. Luckily, we have several of these bird feeders in the bird feeding section of our wildlife store.

In Conclusion: Bird Feeding Is A Wonderful Hobby

I find bird feeding and bird watching brings me quite a bit of joy, especially when I see the dashing red of a cardinal on a snowy winter's day, or when I first spot the goldfinches shedding their drab olive color for the bright yellow in the spring. It's a hobby that helps me maintain my garden, and it's not very difficult or expensive to keep up with. These are my reasons, I'd love to hear what yours are in the comments section.

About The Author

Matthew Cowan is a graphic designer and web developer from Washington, MO. You can view his work at www.mnc4.com

1 comment

  • Comment Link Rick April 09, 2013 posted by Rick

    I've always loved watching the birds on my back deck feeder trays. One morning I was thrilled to see a male cardinal, indigo bunting, and goldfinch standing side-by-side on the same feeder. It was a great display of nature's primary colors! By the time I was able to wrestle my camera out of the other room, they had moved on... Reading your blog reminds me to get my feeders clean out and ready for spring!

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