Bird feeding has been an American tradition since at least the times of Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau. It provides us with wonderful opportunities for close viewing of birds. It can also be good for birds.
Feeding birds helps them individually by providing easy food sources during severe winters and harsh migration periods. It also helps birds collectively by fostering our understanding of and affection for them, and by providing opportunities for citizen scientists to collect a large, widespread body of data that is helpful for conservation purposes.
Bird feeding does bring a few problems with it. Feeding stations should be maintained properly; otherwise, disease organisms can kill individual birds, sometimes in large numbers. Inappropriate food items can be unhealthy and possibly lethal. When birds fly off from feeders, they can crash into our windows — and half of all birds that hit windows die from their injuries. When bird feeding subsidizes some invasive exotic species, these birds can wreak greater havoc on native populations. And bird feeding may maintain populations of some opportunistic birds at higher levels than is healthy for the environment and other, more vulnerable bird populations.
In this section we'll give you some advice about what kinds of feeders and seed are best for the birds you want to attract, and give you some suggestions about how to keep your feeding areas clean, healthy, and safe. Click through the tabs at the right to browse through our topics; we hope they'll help you get the most out of your feeding stations and the birds that visit them.