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Why feed the birds?

Why feed the birds?

Written by: Brenda Holloway, Wildlife Product Manager


Many customers enjoy feeding wild birds during the winter months, and there are some that feed all year round. Not only does this bring a variety of pleasant colors and sounds to a yard, but placing feeders and planting native plants also provides a valuable service to the local ecosystem. Wild birds do a great job of controlling insects in the spring and summer. Douglas Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, has observed that chickadees raising a brood of chicks will use 350 to 750 caterpillars every day to feed their young. Additionally, adult robins will eat a variety of different insects during the day, including grasshoppers and spiders, and can eat up to 14 feet of earth worms in a single day! Thus, attracting wild birds to your yard will go a long way toward pest management in your neighborhood. 

As the temperatures start to drop with the approach of winter, and plants begin to go dormant, wild birds start to feel the pressure of fewer food options. This is a great time to attract wild birds. Wild birds like a variety of seed, nut, and fruit options, and picking a bird seed with a blend of items will attract many different species of birds. Not only does this provide you with greater visual entertainment but having a variety of wild birds is great for your yard come spring, as different species of birds prefer eating different species of insects!  

In addition to providing a variety of seeds, it is good to provide multiple feeder types. Different birds prefer different styles of eating. Cardinals, for example, prefer feeding on flat surfaces, and often you will see them eating on the ground underneath a bird feeder, cleaning up what other birds may have discarded. Nuthatches are one of the few birds that can hop headfirst down a tree and enjoy tubular feeders with peanut splits or other nuts in them that encourage this natural behavior.  

Wild birds are a great and easy way to keep your lawn and local ecosystem in balance. By providing food for them, especially in the cold winter months, you are encouraging the wild birds to establish themselves in your area. This helps decrease your local insect population, keeping both you and your plants happy through the spring, summer, and fall! 

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