do backyard bird feeders really help, or are we interfering with the natural feeding process of birds and squirrels etc…

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do backyard bird feeders really help, or are we interfering with the natural feeding process of birds and squirrels etc…

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Truly we are just artificially increasing the carrying capacity of the land. In other terms the amount of wildlife that a given area can naturally support.
What happens when individuals decide to stop putting feed in feeders? The wildlife that has come to depend on that now suffers. Yes they can go next door, but are those neighbors now feeding at an increased rate to offset what has been lost due to the loss in food elsewhere? If not than the carrying capacity of that area has just shrank. Is one feeder going to make a huge difference, probably not. But if this small change is magnified over several thousand households, or several hundred acres of land. The impact can be seen in the natural wildlife in the area.

Yes it is nice to bring wildlife to your yard. That was not the question, but there always is a trade off to some degree when doing so.

Just my 2 cents is all.

Extra, artificially available food will increase the population of birds however an artificially high amount of cats reduces them, think of feeding birds as keeping the stock for cats replenished.

Just having a backyard is interfering with wildlife. Different plant species fulfill different roles in an ecosystem, and changing what plants are in your yard affects the animals there in many ways great and small. Even if you very carefully cultivated a perfectly native garden, just subdividing the land into yards affects the animals (even the birds).

A backyard feeder will also affect them. Good or bad, help or hurt, depends on perspective and is entirely subjective. There are animal behavior cycles based on food availability, like some bird migration patterns. Keeping food available during scarce times could put them off their schedule. Nutrition requirements can also be a concern. Animals are hard-wired to crave calorie-dense foods, so they may end up over eating if you provide too much of the wrong food.

On the other hand, a feeder could simply replace what was lost when the houses were built, in which case it will only help the animals adapt to the new altered ecosystem. It’s really difficult to say which it is. If you see a lot of fat squirrels, then maybe ease up on the peanuts.

I agree with the other person who posted that backyards interfere with the natural feeding in the first place. If you live in a developed area or an area that has been modified for farming crops or routing water then it would probably be helpful to native and migratory birds if you do something to replenish their habitat. That might not be a bird feeder. You could check with local preserves and nature centers for guidance. If I wanted to help, it would be with native plants for native insects and maybe a bird bath. I would also consider what products I use for plants (weedkillers) and pesticides.

Depends on the bird. Chickadees are fine, most songbirds are fine, squirrels are fine. Should check with your local wildlife office for a full answer though.