can i feed the birds yet

Some 59 million Americans do the same, for the thrill of seeing cardinals, woodpeckers and nuthatches up close, right outside their windows. Feeding wild birds has been an American tradition for more than 100 years.

In 2020, during the first months of the Covid pandemic, participation soared. With people largely stuck at home, bird seed and feeders flew off shelves.

There’s just one problem for bird lovers: how to square the popular practice with conservation ethics.

Regarding the advantages for humans, take into account Paul Baicich’s perspective. He is a co-author of “Feeding Wild Birds in America: Culture, Commerce and Conservation,” which was published in 2015. “There’s nothing wrong with bird-feeding,” Baicich writes. “It’s wonderful. It introduces people to nature — in their backyard. It’s the transitional phase between lounging around the house and actually attending an ” He adds: “The birds don’t need the feeders. We do. ”.

In general, it’s bad practice to feed wild animals. This is due to the fact that causing wild animals to associate humans with food can cause issues. Think: “bad” bears at campsites; alligators stalking people. And the danger is not just to humans. For some animals (deer and rabbits, for example), supplemental feeding can result in digestive issues and change their typical behaviors.

So glad you asked. The Big Three are: Disease. Predation. Collision. Drawing birds into close contact on shared surfaces makes it easy for them to spread bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Luring them to the same place on a predictable schedule makes them more vulnerable to predators, like cats and hawks. Some birds may accidentally smash into glass windows near feeders (though windows in tall buildings are greater collision hazards). With wild bird numbers down by almost one-third since 1970, according to research in the journal Science, we don’t want to add to these risks.

Feeding can change bird behavior. Cardinals and Carolina wrens have extended their range north, partly as a result of feeders, research suggests. Some normally migratory hawks opt to stay put because birds at feeders provide enough prey. A few studies have linked bird feeding to lower egg production and hatching success — exactly why is not clear. Also worth noting: The birds that most aggressively swarm your feeder — house sparrows — are not the species that most need help.

For the excitement of up close views of cardinals, woodpeckers, and nuthatches right outside their windows, about 59 million Americans follow suit. For over a century, feeding wild birds has been a custom in the United States.

If you keep nest boxes:

Avian influenza is only rarely transmitted to humans, according to the USDA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the general public health risk from avian flu to be low. Nevertheless, our NestWatch project always advises good hygiene and highly recommends that people wear disposable gloves and/or wash their hands thoroughly after checking nest boxes. Most birds that use nest boxes are songbirds, which are at low risk for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. If you monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wood Duck, Common Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we suggest you wear gloves, change or wash gloves and disinfect equipment between nest boxes, wear a mask when cleaning out nest boxes, and change clothes and footwear before visiting any domestic poultry.

What to do if you find a sick or dead bird:

Avoid handling sick or dead birds. Alternatively, give your state’s wildlife health agency a call; they can ascertain the cause of death and forward the bird to the relevant laboratory for examination. Furthermore, keep pets away from dead or sick wild birds, including pet birds.

  • Avoid contact with birds that appear sick or have died.
  • Avoid contact with surfaces that have bird feces.
  • If you must touch sick or dead birds:
  • Wear gloves and a face mask.
  • Place dead birds in a double-bagged garbage bag.
  • Throw away your gloves and facemask after use.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water.

Bird flu is not a risk to food safety. It is safe to consume poultry and eggs that have been handled carefully and cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Get in touch with your healthcare provider if handling sick or dead birds makes you feel unwell.


Is it OK to feed the birds now?

However, feeding and providing water to wild birds is generally discouraged because the increased congregation of wild birds at bird feeders and bird baths may lead to fecal contamination of the local environment, which can aid in disease transmission.

What months should you feed birds?

A bird table will be at its most popular when natural food is in short supply, usually between October and April. But food shortages can happen at any time, so feeding all year round is best.

Is it safe to feed birds avian flu?

It does not easily infect people. So if you enjoy feeding backyard birds, go ahead. Clean and disinfect bird feeders regularly and wash your hands afterward. Clean bird feeders every month with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach to help get rid of bacteria and mold in plastic, ceramic and metal feeders.

Is it against the law to feed birds in California?

Please, do not feed wild animals. Many people think they’re being kind when feeding wildlife. Feeding wildlife can not only cause issues with bringing unwanted wildlife and stray animals into residential communities, doing so is illegal in the state of California.