“Birds are the most popular group in the animal kingdom. We feed them and tame them and think we know them. And yet they inhabit a world which is really rather mysterious.”

David Attenborough, Journalist

Pros and Cons of Bird Feeding

advantages and disadvantages of feeding birds

Bird feeding has become increasingly popular over the past years. Many people feed birds in winter at their home or also in nature.

While there are many advantages to bird feeding, there are still some issues related to this concept.

In this article, the pros and cons of bird feeding are discussed in detail.

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Advantages of Bird Feeding

  1. Can help birds overcome strong winters
  2. Bird feeding can help birds sustaining their population
  3. Bird feeding may help to maintain ecological balance
  4. Birds can be cute and interesting
  5. You will attract a variety of different birds
  6. Can be especially nice if you have kids
  7. You can give birds shelter
  8. Bird feeding can lower our stress levels
  9. Bird feeding may become one of your main hobbies
  10. You can share your experiences with family and friends
  11. Bird feeding can reconnect you with nature
  12. You may behave eco-friendlier through bird feeding
  13. You may feel better
  14. Bird feeding may help endangered bird species to survive

Can help birds overcome strong winters

One key advantage of bird feeding is that you can help birds to survive strong winters. Especially if the temperatures are quite cold, birds need plenty of calories in order to stay fit and competitive. However, in case there is a lot of snow out there, birds will often not find enough food to survive.

Hence, in such a case, you can greatly help your birds out by feeding them during this difficult time of the year by feeding your birds with good local and natural bird feed which contains plenty of precious nutrients and calories.

Bird feeding can help birds sustaining their population

Bird feeding can also have a positive effect on the breeding behavior of birds. If birds get enough food, also in strong winters, they are much more likely to focus on reproduction rather than just making searching for food their top priority. Therefore, by feeding birds in your backyard or also in nature, you can help them to sustain or even to grow their population.

Birds are not only more likely to reproduce if you feed them, the survival rates of newborn birds will also be much higher since their parents will have more power to feed them and will also find food much easier.

Hence, bird feeding can also make quite a lot of sense from a reproduction perspective in order to maintain the population of our local bird species.

Bird feeding may help to maintain ecological balance

Another benefit of bird feeding is that it can also help us to maintain the ecological balance in a local ecosystem. Our ecosystems are complex systems where everything is connected with each other.

For instance, if a certain prey animal species declines in population, the related predator species may do so as well since this species will no longer find sufficient prey to sustain its population.

Thus, feeding birds can also help us to maintain the balance in our local ecosystems, which is crucial for a healthy natural long-term development.

Birds can be cute and interesting

Many people also really enjoy bird feeding since they think that birds are quite cute and those people really enjoy watching them and observing their behavior.

In fact, bird feeding can be quite a lot of fun and you may be surprised how interesting it can be to watch the behavior of birds.

You will soon realize that birds can be quite smart and that they interact with each other in a quite interesting manner.

You will attract a variety of different birds

If you feed your birds in winter, chances are that you will be able to attract a big variety of different birds. This can be quite interesting since you will get to know many bird species over time and chances are that you will learn a lot about the preferences of the respective species.

For instance, while bird species A may prefer bird feed A, species B may prefer bird feed B and so on. Hence, if you want to feed birds on a regular basis, make sure that you adapt to the preferences regarding their favorite foods in order to maximize the positive effect of your bird feeding practices.

Can be especially nice if you have kids

Feeding birds can also be nice in case you have children. Many children in our nowadays society spend their time playing video games, watching TV or playing with their smartphones. However, this also implies that many children will completely lose their connection to nature and may grow up in a rather artificial environment that has nothing to do with how our ancestors lived just a few hundreds of years ago.

Therefore, in order to show your children the beauty of nature and how interesting natural processes can really be, it may be a good idea to feed birds from time to time. While you can feed birds in your backyards, it may be even better to take a walk in nearby forests or other nature reserves with your kids in order to maximize the natural experience and to show your kids the true beauty of nature.

You can give birds shelter

Another upside of feeding birds is that you can also provide shelter for many small birds. You might not know it, but small birds are not only at risk to get caught by cats or other pets, they are also at great risk to get caught by bigger birds that feed on them. Consequently, smaller birds are quite on the lower end of our ecological pyramid and they often don’t have too much shelter to hide from their predators.

Hence, you can also do good for those species by providing them a bird house with feed in it where those birds can hide from bigger birds and other predators. Of course, you should make sure that only small birds will be able to get inside those birdhouses so that those birds can be safe.

Bird feeding can lower our stress levels

Bird feeding can not only be quite beneficial for our local bird species, it can also be helpful for us humans in various different ways. For instance, many people in our nowadays society are quite stressed on a regular basis since they often work in demanding corporate jobs and have to manage their family at the same time.

Moreover, many people are also quite overwhelmed by the flood of information they have to deal with every day. In turn, many people develop serious stress levels and some of them even develop serious mental issues over time.

In order to lower stress levels and to reduce the risk of serious mental problems, bird feeding can be a great way to do so since it allows you to unplug from your stressful daily life and to slow down a little bit.

If you want to lower your stress level in an optimal manner, you may also want to turn off your smartphone for a while and do nothing else but observing the behavior of the birds in your garden.

By doing so, you will soon realize that you will feel much more relaxed. Hence, bird feeding can also help you to reload your batteries on the weekend so that you are ready for the demanding tasks that may lie ahead of you in the future.

Bird feeding may become one of your main hobbies

Bird feeding may also become one of your new favorite hobbies. In fact, many people greatly underestimate how interesting it can really be to watch birds and to explore their behavior. Hence, while some people may give up bird feeding after a rather short period of time, enthusiasts may stay on this track and may develop a real passion out of bird feeding.

In fact, bird feeding can be quite diverse since it is not just confined to your backyard. You can also go out and feed birds in their natural environments. For instance, if you live close to a forest or another natural habitat, you will have an easy time just going out to those places and to feed birds in the wild.

You can share your experiences with family and friends

Bird feeding also gives you the chance to share plenty of nice experiences with your family and friends. Many people might not even know about the advantages of feeding birds and you can push them in the right direction by telling those people about your hobby and how much fun it can really be.

Moreover, thanks to our modern technologies, you can also share your experiences over social media and you may even be able to join clubs who focus on observing and feeding birds. Hence, over time, you may also be able to make many new friends due to this hobby.

Bird feeding can reconnect you with nature

In general, bird feeding can also help us to reconnect with nature. In fact, many of us have completely lost connection to nature. Especially if you live in a big city in an office job for long hours every day, chances are that you will have no idea how natural processes work and what it means to conserve and protect nature.

However, disconnection from nature may be considered as quite unnatural since our ancestors lived in natural environments for thousands of years and our bodies and our brains have simply not evolved to work in office jobs all day long. Hence, feeding birds can also be a great way to reconnect to nature and to go back to the roots.

You may behave eco-friendlier through bird feeding

Bird feeding can not only help you to reconnect with nature, it can also help you to make your overall lifestyle more environmentally-friendly. In fact, if you feed birds and experience the true beauty of our nature, you will also become more likely to behave eco-friendlier since you know you have to do so in order to protect our planet and to preserve the natural habitats of these birds.

This increase in awareness is crucial in order to solve our environmental problems and therefore, bird feeding can be a first step towards a much eco-friendlier lifestyle in general.

You may feel better

If you do good for others, you will also feel better afterward. In fact, many people still underestimate the positive effects of doing good for others on our psyche. This is not only true when it comes to supporting other human beings, it is also true when it comes to supporting and protecting our animals.

Hence, bird feeding can also give you a better feeling and a cleaner conscience, which in turn can greatly improve your overall quality of life.

Bird feeding may help endangered bird species to survive

Bird feeding can also be quite beneficial in terms of protecting our endangered bird species from extinction. In fact, many animal and plant species have become endangered in the past due to the destruction of their natural habitats and if we don’t protect them in a proper manner, chances are that those species will become extinct in the near future.

Thus, bird feeding can also be extremely helpful if you live in a region where endangered bird species are present.

Disadvantages of Feeding Birds

  1. Birds may get used to you too much
  2. Excessive reliance on your food
  3. Birds may unlearn how to compete for food in nature
  4. Bird feeding can be considered as unnatural in general
  5. Bird feeding may favor invasive species
  6. Many people use unnatural bird feed
  7. May alter the overall behavior of birds
  8. Birds may transmit diseases on humans
  9. Feeding birds can be problematic if you have pets
  10. Window strikes can be a problem
  11. May do more harm than good
  12. Birds may become fat

Birds may get used to you too much

There are always two sides to every story. This is also true for bird feeding. While there are many important benefits of bird feeding, feeding birds can also have some downsides. For instance, one disadvantage of bird feeding is that birds may simply get used to you too much.

Even though we might not think about them as wild animals, birds are not pets and they originally lived in natural habitats without human intervention.

However, if we feed them on a regular basis, chances are that birds will lose their natural and wild character, which can alter the natural dynamics in our ecosystems.

Therefore, you should only feed birds if it is really necessary in order to avoid that these birds get too used to you.

Excessive reliance on your food

Another problem with bird feeding is that birds may become dependent on you when it comes to ensuring their food supply. In fact, if birds learn that you provide them with sufficient amounts of food all year long, chances are that they will rely on you to provide them with food instead of searching their food themselves.

However, this excessive reliance is not a good thing at all since birds will lose their ability to take care of themselves on their own. Moreover, imagine that you move one day and the future owner of your property will no longer feed those birds. Chances are that many of them will die since they will just not know what to do.

Therefore, make sure that you only feed your birds once in a while so that these birds will not rely on you as a major food source in an excessive and unhealthy manner.

Birds may unlearn how to compete for food in nature

In general, if you feed wild animals, they will unlearn how to compete for food in nature. It will simply be much more convenient for those birds to rely on you as major food source compared to getting out into nature and search for food instead.

However, birds should never unlearn how to take care of themselves since they will be screwed sooner or later when you stop feeding them due to various possible reasons.

Bird feeding can be considered as unnatural in general

Opponents of bird feeding often also claim that feeding birds is unnatural and that humans should not interact with nature in such an unnatural manner. In fact, just a few centuries ago, nobody actually fed birds and birds had to look after themselves all year long.

Therefore, if we feed birds on a regular basis, they may just lose their natural instincts and this might not be beneficial for them as well as for our ecosystems in the long run.

Bird feeding may favor invasive species

Another downside of feeding bird is that it may also contribute to an increase in population of invasive bird species and to a decline in local native bird species. This is especially true if you use bird feed that is much more popular among invasive species than among native species. Hence, make sure that you use the right feed in order to support our native bird species.

Many people use unnatural bird feed

In general, many people also don’t know what they should offer the birds in their backyard or also in nature. In fact, birds are quite different and depending on the respective bird species, they have certain preferences regarding their food.

Therefore, before feeding your birds, make sure to inform yourself about the different bird feeds in order to maximize the positive impact for our native bird species.

May alter the overall behavior of birds

Many people also fear that feeding birds may alter the overall natural behavior of birds. In fact, just a few centuries ago, birds had almost no contact with humans and developed in an almost entirely natural manner.

However, if we change those dynamics too much by feeding those birds on a regular basis, chances are that the interaction between humans and birds will be much different and the overall behavior of birds may become altered in a rather unnatural and unpleasant manner.

Birds may transmit diseases on humans

Many people also don’t know that birds can transmit serious diseases to humans. While the chances for this are relatively low, it can still happen. Especially if you see a dead bird in your garden or in nature, you should not approach it or at least you should wear proper protection when you remove it since this bird may have died due to a certain disease and you want to avoid becoming infected with this disease as well.

Feeding birds can be problematic if you have pets

Also in case you have pets, bird feeding may be rather problematic. Especially if you have a cat, the birds in your backyard will be at great risk to get attacked by your cat sooner or later. This is just nature and you can do nothing about it.

Therefore, in order to protect our birds as best as possible, make sure that you don’t feed them in case you have a pet that could potentially hunt those birds.

Window strikes can be a problem

Millions of birds also die from window strikes each year. Hence, in order to protect the birds in your backyard from unpleasant encounters in this regard, make sure that you install your bird house far away from your windows.

May do more harm than good

While feeding birds can make sense in many cases, it is not advisable that you feed birds in an excessive manner. If they become too dependent on you, this may do much more harm than good since those birds may no longer be able to compete for food in nature.

Birds may become fat

If you feed birds too much, chances are that they will also become fat sooner or later. In fact, while a certain calory intake is crucial for birds to survive, too much of it can have rather detrimental effects on those birds since they will become an easier target for certain predators. Hence, make sure that you limit the amounts of food you provide for the birds in your backyard.

Top 10 Bird Feeding Pros & Cons – Summary List

Bird Feeding ProsBird Feeding Cons
Bird feeding can help birds to surviveBird feeding can make birds dependent
Feeding birds can be funAlteration of natural behavior of birds
Bird feeding can be quite interestingFeeding birds can be problematic with pets
You will learn about nature through bird feedingBirds may get used to you too much
Can become a serious hobbyBirds may unlearn how to compete for food
Feeding birds can help to educate your kidsUnnatural bird feed can be a problem
Bird feeding may make you feel betterMay transmit diseases to humans
Can help endangered bird speciesBird feeding can favor invasive bird species
You can provide birds with shelterBirds may become fat through feeding
You can attract many different birdsWindow strikes can be a problem

Should You Feed Birds?

As we have seen before, bird feeding can be a quite controversial topic. In fact, there are numerous advantages and disadvantages of bird feeding and you should evaluate all the pros and cons of bird feeding mentioned before in order to make a profound decision in this regard.

If you want to feed birds in your garden or on your balcony, make sure to get a nice bird feeding station now!

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_feeding

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/

https://www.avianreport.com/backyard-bird-feeding-tips/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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