can you feed birds in massachusetts

MassWildlife strongly advises the public to avoid providing supplemental food for wildlife—that includes backyard bird feeders. Feeding birds and other wildlife can often cause more harm than good. Feeding wildlife at any time of year teaches them to rely on humans for food, which puts them at a disadvantage for survival. Bird feeders may increase mortality from window strikes and predation by pet cats, some of the largest sources of wild bird mortality in North America. Supplemental feeding also congregates wildlife into unnaturally high densities, which increases the risk of spreading a variety of bacterial and viral diseases among birds. Bird feeders often draw wildlife other than songbirds including bears, coyotes, wild turkeys, and rodents closer to homes.

The good news is that bird and nature lovers can attract birds naturally throughout the year by adding native plants, bird houses, or bird baths. Read the suggestions below to create a bird-friendly yard.

To attract birds naturally, first you need to attract insects. Birds, like the common chickadee, require native trees and plants close to their nest in order to find enough insects to feed their nestlings. To attract more birds to your back yard native fruit-bearing shrubs (like those listed below) are essential, both for the fruit and the insect fauna they support.

A healthy mix of native vegetation will draw a variety of species to your yard. Native trees and shrubs that produce berries (like dogwoods, serviceberries, cherries, blueberry) provide fruit in summer and/or fall and are much more nutritious (high in fats and lipids) than fruits of non-native plants. During the summer when birds are nesting, the young are fed almost exclusively invertebrates like caterpillars. Native plants support a much higher diversity and number of invertebrates than non-native plants. This is especially true with caterpillars, which are the preferred food for young songbirds. Growing native plants in your yard can be the best way to attract many species of birds to the area and increase nesting success for chickadees and other species.

Are you looking to attract hummingbirds? Native species of wild bergamot and red columbine have colorful, tubular flowers that will entice hummingbirds and butterflies! You might also include trumpet honeysuckle, cardinal flower, spotted impatiens, Canada lily, and native azaleas and rhododendrons.

Birds need water for drinking and bathing. To enhance your garden for birds, add a source of water for them like a birdbath or fountain. They are especially attracted to moving to dripping water. Ideally, the water level in artificial birdbaths should be no more than 2 inches deep. A gradual decrease in depth towards the edges allows birds of all sizes to drink and bathe in the depth they prefer. A water drip or wiggler may be added to create the sight and sound of moving water, while deterring mosquitoes. Water should be replaced weekly to keep it clean.

Shelter is as critically important as food and water. Birds need a safe place to rest, preen their feathers, and escape when predators are present. Each night, birds settle into dense shrubs or coniferous trees to sleep. Providing these refuges in your yard is another way to attract birds. Consider adding wood or wicker bird houses for nesting in the summer and roosting during cold winter nights.

We all like to keep a well-maintained yard. But birds like things a little more on the wild side! Leave small piles of branches and leaves around your yard. These will attract ground-dwelling invertebrates—perfect for birds like American robins and northern flickers. The brush piles provide shelter for bird species like the Carolina wren. Decomposing piles will replenish nutrients to your soil over time. When possible, dont cut down dead trees, also called snags. Snags are favored foraging and nesting places for many species of birds.

Having a diverse range of native plants in your yard will attract a multitude of species. Fruit from native berry-producing trees and shrubs (such as dogwoods, serviceberries, cherries, and blueberries) is available in the summer and/or fall, and it is far more nutrient-dense (high in fats and lipids) than fruit from non-native plants. When birds nest in the summer, they almost only feed their young invertebrates like caterpillars. Compared to non-native plants, native plants support a far greater diversity and quantity of invertebrates. This is particularly true for caterpillars, which young songbirds prefer to eat. The greatest method to draw a variety of bird species to your yard and improve chickadee and other species’ chances of successfully completing their nests is to grow native plants.

Shelter is as critically important as food and water. When there are predators around, birds need a secure area to rest, groom their feathers, and flee. Birds nest in thick bushes or coniferous trees every night to sleep. Another way to draw birds to your yard is to create these havens for them. For summer nesting and chilly winter roosting, think about including wicker or wood bird houses.

If you want to draw in hummingbirds, consider adding trumpet honeysuckle, cardinal flower, spotted impatiens, Canada lily, native azaleas, and rhododendrons. Native species of wild bergamot and red columbine have vibrant, tubular flowers that will appeal to hummingbirds and butterflies!

MassWildlife strongly advises people not to give wildlife extra food, including backyard bird feeders. Providing food to birds and other wildlife can frequently have unfavorable effects. Wildlife that is fed at any time of year learns to depend on humans for food, which makes them less likely to survive. One of the main causes of wild bird mortality in North America is window strikes, and bird feeders may increase the risk of these incidents. Another is pet cat predation. Additionally, supplemental feeding drives wildlife into abnormally high densities, increasing the possibility of bacterial and viral diseases among birds spreading. Bird feeders frequently attract animals to homes besides songbirds, such as bears, coyotes, wild turkeys, and rodents.

To attract birds naturally, first you need to attract insects. For birds, such as the common chickadee, to find enough insects to feed their nestlings, native trees and plants must be near their nest. Native shrubs bearing fruit (such as those mentioned below) are essential to bringing birds to your backyard because of their ability to attract birds and because of the insect life they support.

To Keep the Squirrels Away

The patented design of the Squirrel Buster Classic Feeder and Squirrel Buster Standard Feeder keeps squirrels away from your bird feeder, even if you have more squirrels than birds there. The outer cage, also known as the “shroud,” lowers to obstruct the feeding ports when a squirrel snags hold of the feeder. What it excludes: a wide range of songbirds, such as goldfinches, cardinals, nuthatches, and chickadees.

To Get a Closer Look

The Observer Window Feeder invites birds to perch directly outside your window. It is incredibly simple to use and uses three suction cups to attach to a window. The open “trough” design features a sloped overhang to shield seed from rain or snow and can hold any kind of seed up to ½ pound. Great for sunflower seed or even mealworms for attracting bluebirds.

can you feed birds in massachusetts

Large red and yellow flowers on the Perky Pet Hummingbird Feeder draw hummingbirds, and built-in guards on the feeder’s four feeding ports keep bees away.


Is it okay to feed backyard birds?

It’s not necessary. Bird feeding is most helpful when birds need the most energy, such as during temperature extremes, migration and in late winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted. Most birds don’t need your help in the summer.

What states is it illegal to feed wildlife?

There are multiple legal consequences to feeding wildlife including the violation of California Code of Regulations section 251.3(opens in new tab) which states “no person shall knowingly feed big game mammals, as defined in Section 350 of these regulations.”

Do wild birds recognize humans who feed them?

Do Birds Recognize the People Who Feed Them? Recent studies have shown that birds can recognize humans and may know their voices too. Their research shows that birds recognize humans, their faces, and in some cases our voices.

Is it legal to feed birds in USA?

In most instances,* bird feeding is legal in the US. And there is no state or national law against hanging bird feeders in your outdoor space, though laws that prohibit feeding wildlife are sometimes interpreted to include birds.