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Feeding birds in winter is one of the nation's most popular wildlife-watching activities, yet many ornithologists say it's often more rewarding for people than for birds. And it might even put wild birds at risk.
"Feeding birds is not necessary for their survival except in extreme weather conditions," said Stephen Kress, vice president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society. "Feeders can definitely help them get through that kind of weather."
Birds - Eaters - Feeders - Birds - Habitat
Most birds are insect eaters and aren't attracted to backyard feeders. "For those birds, I recommend planting natural habitat and native plants," Kress said.
Besides, birds who do eat seed "will be more likely to come to feeders if there is some cover nearby. They'll be able to feed and dodge back into the safety of shrubbery."
Error - People - Bird - Feeders - Locations
The most common error people make when managing bird feeders is incorrect placement—putting them in locations where birds are frightened by foot traffic, vulnerable to predation by cats, or at risk of flying into windows.
"If a feeder is within 3 feet of a window, it's better," Kress said. "If a bird is spooked, it won't be killed when it strikes the glass. And keep your cats indoors so they can't stalk vulnerable birds and animals."
Learn - Bird - Species - Area - Feeder
Learn which bird species frequent your area so you can avoid feeder wars and understand the pecking order.
"Some birds are more aggressive at feeders," Kress said. "Their eating habits are such that they can consume a lot and not leave much for the others."
Answer - Locations - Kinds - Seeds - Feeders
One answer to that is to feed at multiple locations using different kinds of seeds and feeders. Nyjer seeds,...
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