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Birding Focus: Interesting stories of our feathered friends.

An American robin parent feeds its young hulled sunflower seeds at a feeder.
© George H. Harrison

Feed Birds Year-round

For whatever reason, most people who feed birds seem to feed them only during cold weather. Come the autumn, bird feeding swings into high gear, and the bird stores and nature centers hold their annual bird seed sales.

Yet, those people who feed birds in spring and summer have some of the best bird-watching experiences of all. That’s when the most colorful birds are around, and that’s when parent birds introduce their youngsters to the bird feeders and birdbaths. To watch baby chickadees eat sunflower seeds or baby robins take their first bath is wonderful.

It all comes down to why we feed birds ... the answer should be “for our own enjoyment of these incredible wild creatures.” No one should ever feed birds to help them, or to save them, because birds do not need our help. They have survived for eons before we began feeding them, and studies have shown that even when feeder food is available, they eat only about 25 percent of their daily diet from feeders.

Yet, there are people who would not dare leave their homes in the North during winter for fear that the birds will starve. This is nonsense, and besides, nowadays everyone’s neighbors are feeding birds, and the birds simply move next door or down the street when the feeders are empty.

If we feed birds for our pleasure, we might as well enjoy them the year around, because some of the best bird shows are playing in the summertime.

-- George H. Harrison