Dear Homeward Bound: Is it a good idea to feed birds in winter?
Dear Homeward Bound,
My friend and I were talking about feeding birds in the winter and he said that he’d herd it was not a good idea. I think that’s crazy; I love feeding birds and I know that it helps them make it through the winter — especially late winter when the natural food sources are super scarce. He said it can hurt birds more than help them.
What do you think? Seeing the birds at my feeder is one of the things that gets me through the dark days of winter!
I agree with you about the joys of feeding birds … it also feeds our souls. But your friend’s perspective got me curious and so I did a little research using the National Audubon Society. It turns out that there are some things to be cautious about when feeding winter birds and they gave some good tips on how to minimize the dangers.
It is important to position your feeders out of prevailing winds and also near to brush piles or other cover so that birds can be protected from predators. Some studies have shown that hawks alter their own migratory behavior if winter feeding stations are around and they have a ready supply of easy prey.
Also important is to position your feeders at least 10-15 feet from your house so that you minimize the danger of window collisions. This can detract a little from your viewing pleasure but it is a small sacrifice to make.
Like feeding any animal, it is important to make sure you are using a good quality food (hands down black oil sunflower seeds won for being the most universally attractive food) and that you keep your feeder clean and dry as moldy food can present real dangers to birds’ delicate systems.
And last but not least, remember to bring in your feeders around late March or early April. This is when slumbering bears begin to rouse and the last thing any animal lover wants is to condition bears to being fed by humans.
Dear Homeward Bound,
I recently heard about how protestors in Montpelier disrupted the Governor’s speech and it made me wonder about how I could become more involved in standing up for animals when laws are made. I’ve heard so many stories about animal cruelty. Are there any laws being debated this year that will help animals? How do I learn about them and what I can do help?
You have really good timing, since the second half of Vermont’s legislative biennium is just starting. The first and easiest thing you can do is to contact your elected senators and representatives and tell them that you care about animals and you want to see them supporting legislation that protects animals. You can easily find out who represents you in Montpelier by going to legislature.vermont.gov/people/.
There are several bills in the Statehouse right now that are designed to help and protect animals. You can learn about them and how you can help by liking the Vermont Humane Federation on Facebook at facebook.com/VTHumane/.
Thanks for standing up for animals!
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