Bird feeding

Bird feeding

Bird feeding is the activity of feeding wild birds.


James Fisher noted that the first person to feed wild birds was the sixth century monk St Serf of Fife who tamed a robin by feeding it. It was in the winter of 1890-91 that people were encouraged to put out food for birds. In 1910 Punch magazine declared that feeding birds was a "national pastime."Moss, Stephen 2004 A bird in the bush. Aurum Press. p 102-103]

= Activity =Bird feeding is typically thought of as an activity of bird enthusiasts. People who feed wild birds often attempt to attract birds to suburban and domestic locations. This requires setting up a feeding station and supplying bird food. The food might include seeds, peanuts, bought food mixes, fat, kitchen scraps and suet. Additionally, a bird bath and grit, a sand-like substance, that birds store in their crops to help grind food as an aid to digestion, can be provided.

Feeding bread to the ducks and seagulls in the park is also a popular activity.


Certain foods tend to attract certain birds. Finches love Niger thistle seed. Jays love corn. Hummingbirds love nectar. Mixed seed attracts many birds. Black oil sunflower seed is favored by many seed-eating species. Different feeders can be purchased specialized for different species.

Feeding stations should be located near natural cover. Many birds prefer not to be exposed. Therefore, putting a bird feeding station by a window will attract only especially gregarious birds (such as sparrows and starlings). While the viewer will want to have a clear line of sight to the feeding station, it is important for the station to be near shrubbery or a tree. If the station is "too close" to a tree or shrub, other animals (such as squirrels) may find access to the station easy. Locating feeders near low cover gives predators such as house cats a hiding place from which to launch an ambush.

After the station is established, it can take some weeks for birds to discover and start using it. This is particularly true if the feeding station is the first one in an area or (in cold-winter areas) if the station is being established in spring when natural sources of food are plentiful. Therefore, beginners should not completely fill a feeder at first. The food will get old and spoil if it is left uneaten for too long. This is particularly true of unshelled foods, such as thistle seed and suet. Once the birds begin taking food, the feeder should be kept full. Additionally, people feeding birds should be sure that there is a source of water nearby. A bird bath can attract as many birds as a feeding station.

Birds are messy eaters. If the feeding station is over dirt or a lawn, whole cereals and unshelled sunflower seeds will germinate beneath the station, while shelled nuts and degermed cereals will not. Food scattered on the ground beneath the feeding station may also attract rats and mice.


The use of bird feeders has been claimed to cause environmental problems; some of these were highlighted in a front-page article in "The Wall Street Journal". [Sterba, James B. Crying Fowl: Feeding Wild Birds May Harm Them and Environment, "Wall Street Journal", December 27, 2002.]

Prior to the publication of the Wall Street Journal article, Canadian ornithologist Jason Rogers also wrote about the environmental problems associated with the use of bird feeders in the journal "Alberta Naturalist".

During spring, feeders make up less than 25% of a bird's diet but during winter months the birds will return to the feeder which they have come to know as a dependable food source.


Large sums of money are spent by ardent bird feeders, who indulge their wild birds with a variety of wild bird seeds, suets, nectars, and special flower plantings. Bird feeding is regarded as the first or second most popular pastime in the United States.fact|date=November 2007 Some fifty-five million Americans are involved in bird feeding. The activity has spawned an industry that sells supplies and equipment including birdseed, bird feeders, birdhouses (nesting boxes), mounting poles, squirrel baffles, and binoculars.

Common sightings

The ten most common birds reported in U.S. gardens are, in descending order:
*Northern Cardinal
*Mourning Dove
*Dark-eyed Junco
*American Goldfinch
*Downy Woodpecker
*Blue Jay
*House Finch
*Tufted Titmouse
*American Crow
*Black-capped Chickadee:"(from the 2005 [ Great Backyard Bird Count] )"

The ten most common birds in British gardens are, in descending order:
*House Sparrow
*Common Starling
*Blue Tit
*Collared Dove
*Wood Pigeon
*Great Tit
*Robin:"(from the 2006 RSPB Garden Birdwatch. See also the RSPB's list of the twenty commonenst garden birds [] )"

Other common birds include:
*Eurasian Collared Dove
*White-winged Dove

In some cities or parts of cities (e.g. Trafalgar Square in London) feeding pigeons is forbidden, either because they compete with vulnerable native species, or because they abound and cause pollution and/or noise.

External links

* [ RSPB information regarding feeding and the dangers of net bags]
* [ National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat]
* [ National Bird Feeding Society]
* [ Project FeederWatch]
* [ Seed Preference]
* [ WikiHow: How to Stop Squirrels From Eating Your Bird Seed]


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