why take down bird feeders

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.

Low Risk of Avian Flu to Songbirds

There has been widespread transmission of avian flu to wild bird species including waterfowl and raptors. The virus has also been found in mammals that prey on dead birds. However, transmission to songbirds and other typical feeder visitors has been low (less than 2% of all cases reported in wild birds), although this may change with increased testing or changes to the virus. That means there is currently low risk of an outbreak among wild songbirds, and no official recommendation to take down feeders unless you also keep domestic poultry, according to the National Wildlife Disease Program. We do always recommend that you clean bird feeders and birdbaths regularly as a way to keep many kinds of diseases at bay.

Additionally, even in situations where your state government’s advice contradicts ours, we always advise you to heed its recommendations. We are updating this page as the situation develops.

If You Keep Chickens or Ducks:

See latest information from the USDA Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service.

Rather, Droege removed his lawn and added “very seedy things that goldfinches love like wingstem and perennial sunflowers” to his suburban yard. Asters, goldenrods, and brown-eyed Susan seeds are worked over by winter sparrows and cardinals. Birds that enjoy fruit, such as catbirds, thrashers, and mockingbirds, are drawn to spicebush, chokeberry, and sumac. Additionally, Droege’s garden provides birds with a wealth of insects and nesting cover.

For those who love birds, there’s only one issue: balancing the popular practice with the principles of conservation

Like many other refuge feeding stations, Santa Ana’s uses native plants that produce berries, seeds, and nectar that are preferred by migratory and local bird species. Feeding is seasonal only. The best thing for birds would be to preserve or restore the natural bird habitat, according to Donald However, in accordance with long-standing Refuge System practice, feeding stations assist in providing food opportunities along migratory routes where habitat has been lost.

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.

If you have a yard, start small, says Droege. Yard treatments can be as easy as not cutting certain areas of the yard or, better yet, cutting them once a year; where the public requests such care, leaving neat and tidy borders From there, it can grow to include gathering plants from friends and neighbors who are willing to split them in the spring and fall. ”.


Why should we take bird feeders down?

Rather than providing bird seed to wild birds, a healthier option would be to provide natural sources of food by landscaping with native plants, if possible. This will benefit wild birds and pollinators like butterflies and bees.

What is the problem with bird feeders?

When birds mix at feeders, they’re not super neat. Along with birdseed, they also pick up and share bacteria and waste. Across the country, feeders have helped spread conjunctivitis in house finches; the eye disease impairs their vision, making it hard for them to detect predators and feed.

When should you stop using bird feeders?

Do not feed birds during the spring, summer, and fall. To reduce opportunities for bears and other untargeted animals to appear at your feeders, put out feeders only on the coldest days of winter, when birds can really benefit from the extra calories.

Can birds survive without bird feeders?

Birds like chickadees use our feeders as more of a snack then a main course. More than 50 million people in the United States provide birds with food—whether they toss bread chunks to ducks or erect shiny feeders in their backyards.