The Beginners Guide to Backyard Birding: Amazing Facts on How Feeding Birds is Affecting Nature
Barn Swallow on Barbed Wire
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According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 50 million Americans feed birds. That means that we spend on average 4 billion dollars a year on more than one million tons of bird seed every year! That’s a lot of bird seed and a whopping number of birds being fed. Like we discussed in the last blog post, feeding birds brings backyard birders many benefits like relieving stress and anxiety, plus it makes us happy. While we know feeding the birds benefits them, did you know that you’re actually providing a helpful hand to more than just your neighborhood birds? Here are just 4 ways that backyard birding can benefit nature.
As the world grows at an unbelievably reckless pace, birds and other wildlife are losing natural food sources, nesting spots and shelter to homes, offices buildings, and parking lots. Proper feeding, bird houses and native landscaping can help replace those resources, allowing you and nature to reap the benefits. Let’s talk about the impact backyard birding can have on nature and your neck of the woods.
With a little bit of research and hard work you can help nature thrive in your own backyard. Let’s look at 4 of the benefits backyard birding has on nature.
1. There is strong evidence that feeding backyard birds has actually helped support population growth in some bird species.
You might think that wild birds only benefit from backyard feeders during certain times of year, but birds actually have a year-round need for a reliable food source. That’s where you come in. The chicks hatching in the summer can put a great demand on local food resources. The more you feed the birds during nesting season, the less time the parents will need to stay away from the nest looking for food. With your bird feeders supplementing their natural food sources, birds have a reliable, plentiful source of food to keep their chicks well fed. The simple act of putting out a bird feeder and keeping it clean and full can greatly improve the chances that your backyard birds and their offspring will survive. According to a recent study, survival rates for birds are 38% higher in areas where bird feeders are present. Pretty cool, huh?
Some bird species don’t migrate during the winter months, so these backyard birds greatly benefit from year-round access to your bird feeders. When their food sources are covered in snow, your bird feeders provide an important and easily accessible food supply for winter birds. Some birds consume up to 10,000 calories a day (the human equivalent of a 155,000-calorie diet!), so your backyard feeders can be a helpful supplement for the birds in your area during those cold winter months.
2. Did you know that your backyard birds can help with your weed control? Many small birds such as sparrows and finches eat a tremendous amount of seeds, especially from those nasty, unwanted seed-bearing weeds that might be undesirable in your native landscape. Think about it, you won’t need any of those harsh weed killing chemicals to keep your yard from become an untamable jungle if you just let nature do what it was designed to do.
3. Not only do birds help with weed control, but they also assist with flower pollination too. This can result in a lush, full flowerbed and beautiful bird-friendly landscape with less overall effort. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators to their backyard? Make sure you do your research to find out which native flowers will attract these magnificent backyard visitors. It never hurt to have a few hummingbird feeders hung to help attract and keep them in your backyard. But don’t forget about the other pollinators though. The same flowers that attract hummingbirds can also help attract butterflies and bees to your backyard sanctuary. Make sure you look into getting a butterfly house and a Mason Bee house to help out these helpful backyard visitors.
4. Almost all gardeners find that the struggle to protect their flowers, fruits and vegetables from grasshoppers, aphids, and other ugly insects can quickly turn into a full-scale war! As a backyard birder, you don’t want to introduce any damaging chemicals into the environment that could be harmful to your bird buddies. But don’t worry, you already have the best natural bug killer in your backyard. it's nontoxic, and extremely effective. You guessed it…Birds! Birds have been feeding on the earth's insect population for, well, forever! They’re just doing what comes naturally! But you have to attract these colorful bug killers to your backyard or garden and encourage them to eat the unwanted visitors. You'll be amazed at just how much your feathered foragers do consume. A tiny swallow can devour 1,000 bugs in 12 hours and a house wren may feed 500 insects to its young in the course of an afternoon.
There are so many ways that backyard birding can help impact the natural world around us. Isn’t it our duty to help it in any way that we can? If we don’t, then who will? We are privileged to be able to interact with nature and our environment. However, when we invite wildlife into our world we are required to act responsibly. The visitors to our backyard should feel safe. In their own way they trust us to protect them. We should limit our contact and involvement in their daily routine and life, keep a high code of ethics and show them the empathy they deserve. We will discuss this in more depth in the next blog post. Your not going to want to miss it.
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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view
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