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Why Do You Feed Birds?

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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 00:24   #1
birdchaser
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Why Do You Feed Birds?

I'm a PhD candidate studying urban bird conservation, lifelong birder, and this is my first post here.

Basically, I'm writing a chapter in my dissertation on backyard bird feeding, and I want to be able to comment on why people feed backyard birds. I want to be able to say more than just...because people enjoy it.

So here goes...

Why do you feed birds?
With all the other things you could do with your time and money, why feed birds?
If you enjoy feeding birds, what exactly about feeding birds do you most enjoy?
How did you get started feeding birds?
Why do you think other people don't feed birds?

I look forward to any comments anyone has on this...including most memorable bird feeding moments, etc. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.
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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 10:19   #2
Richard D
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdchaser
I'm a PhD candidate studying urban bird conservation, lifelong birder, and this is my first post here.

Basically, I'm writing a chapter in my dissertation on backyard bird feeding, and I want to be able to comment on why people feed backyard birds. I want to be able to say more than just...because people enjoy it.

So here goes...

Why do you feed birds?
With all the other things you could do with your time and money, why feed birds?
If you enjoy feeding birds, what exactly about feeding birds do you most enjoy?
How did you get started feeding birds?
Why do you think other people don't feed birds?

I look forward to any comments anyone has on this...including most memorable bird feeding moments, etc. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.
Why - It's a simple way of helping to conserve dwindling populations of some species (House Sparrows in particular are a red-list species in the UK). In my lifetime I've seen a decline in numbers of once common birds (in my view largely through changes in agriculture) and I can help counterbalance some of the problems. I also enjoy watching birds close by.

Why don't people? Probably largely can't be bothered to make the minimal effort.
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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 10:45   #3
Jos Stratford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdchaser
I want to be able to say more than just...because people enjoy it.
In reality, I think the the overriding answer is exactly what you say above!

But to your questions, I now maintain two feeding stations - one in my garden and one in woodland on my land, just establishing a third feeding station in meadows on my land. In total, last winter the number of feeders totalled about 25 to 30 feeders between the sites, plus a bird table at each and scattered ground feeding. In summer it drops to about 8 to 10 feeders. Costs me a small fortune - their food bill much higher than mine!

Why do you feed birds?
All the answers I gave under your nestbox thread equally applicable here, but I think the short of it is it has become an addiction!

With all the other things you could do with your time and money, why feed birds?
Everybody spends time and money to maximise pleasure first and foremost and if birds is your thing, then feeders is the easiest way to be surrouunded by them.

If you enjoy feeding birds, what exactly about feeding birds do you most enjoy?
One other point to mention here - in this part of the world almost all birds migrate out in the winter and all lakes etc are frozen. Birding in the 'general countryside' is dire, so you want to see birds, you've got to work at it! In reality the best winter birding in this country is at my feeders - five species of woodpecker, Nutcracker possible, Crested Tits, etc.

How did you get started feeding birds?
Always done it, don't know the answer to this one.

Why do you think other people don't feed birds?
Almost nobody in this country feeds birds, so I guess they are the normal ones ...but of course I'm a Brit abroad, so I'm the normal one!


PS winter garden population of birds stands at 500-600 birds per day, the woodland station only a yaer old is much lower (so far). In the years I've been feeding, populations of species such as Tree Sparrow have shown steady increase - for example, Tree Sparrow flock has gone from 25 to 30 to the current total of approx 100.
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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 11:01   #4
rogerscoth
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I am 30 years older than Richard D, therefore I have seen more of a decline in British bird numbers - that is why I feed birds all year round. Also, in the last few years due to ill-health, I am mostly restricted to observing my garden and the birds give me much pleasure.
I live on the edge of a small village surrounded by farms, and when I first moved here 32 years ago it was not long before the farmer of the field at the bottom of my garden removed a lot of hedges (to enlarge fields and save work) that provided much food (and shelter) for birds. Many farms suffered like this, and recently farmers are now being encouraged to plant hedges again (and being payed for the privilege - from my taxes!)
It is not all bad news in this area, because there are a lot of worked-out gravel pits that are slowly returning to nature, and they provide good habitats and food sources for many species of birds.

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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 17:52   #5
Mary Evelyn
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My late mum used to rescue wild birds many years ago and had many brought to her.My father built a large outdoor aviary for this purpose.

Why do you feed the birds......From being a small child,they have been an important part of my life although,I didn't begin feeding them myself until I was married.It was just normal for me,as my parents had always cared for the birds.They did not discriminate between birds and they were all treated equally.

Time and Money......... Never give it a thought.

What do I most enjoy about it......... Everything, and just wanting as always,to help make life easier for them.

How did I start............I think I have answered that one already.It was my upbringing...I actually wrote about common birds and won a prize ha ha when I was still in junior school.

Why don't other people feed the birds...............It would be unfair to judge.Each to their own.
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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 20:08   #6
Stuart Watson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdchaser
Why do you feed birds?
With all the other things you could do with your time and money, why feed birds?
If you enjoy feeding birds, what exactly about feeding birds do you most enjoy?
How did you get started feeding birds?
Why do you think other people don't feed birds?

I look forward to any comments anyone has on this...including most memorable bird feeding moments, etc. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.
Hi Birdchaser - similar points as others

Why do you feed birds?- Apart from enjoying watching the birds when they are feeding i feed them because i care. I worry because many of their natural feeding environments have been replaced with housing and industry (beneficial for some birds)which in turn must result in more competition/stress/mortality amongst a given species. Hopefully by feeding - some individuals may have an easier life and thus continue to strenghten their species stronghold. In winter it`s particularly hard for the smaller birds, and it is harsh to see them struggle. In summary - To ease the strain.

Time and money? - I`d doubt that i spend a great deal of time or money actually feeding them. Often when the feeders are empty i`d throw out some scraps of bread, or the remainder of the previous nights takeaway. Certainly better than going in the bin. Not much time or money spent, but if i had more of both then i`m sure i`d do more. Simply to help.

Most enjoy? - Particularly in winter again- when a species unfamiliar to the area stops by for a feed. You know they are on a mission to get somewhere, and food is scarce at the time - but when they`ve fed and flown you can`t help but feel that the passer by has appreciated the surprise feast. Enjoy knowing that the food has been appreciated.

First started? - Firstly to see the variation of species attracted. I was also a member of a bird club which stressed the importance of feeding- especially for smaller birds in the colder weather.

Other people don`t? - I`m sure everyone has their own reasons. Some prefer to donate to cat/dog homes for example and others to charity. Some presumably have their own mouths to feed, and others give it no thought. My father however would angrily protest if i threw out scraps for the birds. The reason being the constant bird mess on his car - which he blamed specifically on the "sh***y pigeons". His attitude was "Don`t feed them - they are flying vermin". I don`t think he liked birds much, but he never bothered with any other species - until pigeons arrived.

Most memorable bird feeding moment was on a frosty morning in a burger joint car park throwing cut up scambled egg over the car park i was surrounded by around 30 Carrion Crows. Strangely no Gulls or Starlings for some reason. Anyway - one landed on my wing mirror and allowed me to feed him directly. I`m sure this only happened through desperation because it was so cold. I was delighted, as i love Crows. As i got out my vehicle to bin the wrappers a woman was walking towards me flapping her arms at the birds and saying "are you okay? - i thought you must have been scared there". I explained to her that i had been feeding them. It must have looked menacing from an outsiders point of view. Magpies and Rook in big numbers, but to this day i`ve never seen so many Carrion Crows gather together.
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Old Wednesday 27th July 2005, 13:02   #7
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I feed for the occasional joy of seeing a rare bird and the peace of being with nature.
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