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Does feeding wild birds prevent them from doing their job of eating insects?

freeofgod 8 Apr 29
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I have heard it's best to only feed birds a minimum of seeds especially during the summer. Often one ends up feeding other animals as well as squirrels. I only put out suet during the winter months.

JackPedigo Level 9 Apr 29, 2019

#1. Birds that are seed feeders are rarely, if ever carnivorous. Their beaks give their diet preferences away. I've not seen any bird feeder suppliers supply insects; although you can get meal worms for lizards.

#2. We've taken over most of their habitat; and we're growing in population (world wide) by 158 more births, than deaths, per minute! So we kind of owe it to wildlife to feed them.

#3. Insectivorous birds are rare; the small flycatchers (obviously) the various woodpeckers, the Martins (that we build the big houses for) the Robins and even starlings are good insect hunters.

#4. There's few omnivores that eat both plants and animals....the hummingbird are not just sap and nectar consumers - they eat lots of insects on the wing. The Bluejay is very adaptable; sort of the "Raccoon" of the bird world. The starling has not only proven to be diet-adaptable; but he's an agressive nest robber. Putting a mirror inside of any nest boxes you build will scare off starlings because they are so hostile that if they see another starling (themselves) in the mirror they run...So remember that if you build nest boxes!

Robecology Level 8 Apr 29, 2019

If the birds are well fed they won't be hanging around the feeder when there are fresher menu items on offer. Considering the year after year reduction in bird populations in many areas I would say this is something I wouldn't worry about.

Surfpirate Level 8 Apr 29, 2019

I stop feeding them once their food becomes abundant.


I was told that birds always use multiple sources. So whether you feed them or not is irrelevent - they will go on to the next source. Not just gorge on what you put out.

The problem would be if the entire area fed with birdfeeders and they gave up on natural resources when they are available.

In early Spring or when they are sitting the young I like to help out here and there. But usually their real food is plentiful.

RavenCT Level 9 Apr 29, 2019

Feeding typically attracts more birds, but they may not be as interested in the tough food as the easy food. I feed the doves in my neighborhood, since we have a hawk nesting across the street in the park. and she needs to eat.

glennlab Level 9 Apr 29, 2019

I was reading and thinking: whynon earth you would feed doves. But as I continued reading you answered my question. 🙂


Depends on the bird, some are seed eaters, but it also depends on the time of year and weather, best not to feed if their usual diet is available to them or when they are feeding the chicks...

RichieO Level 8 Apr 29, 2019

Thanks. I've heard both. Right now there are a lot of birds and I always have stale bread. Guess I'll freeze it for winter use.

@freeofgod Actually bread is one of the worst things you can feed to birds. The only time birds should be fed bread is when there is nothing else to feed them. There are lots of informative articles online about birds and bread. On the other hand, a number of swans died of starvation in England because people stopped feeding them bread. I am told that if you have to feed birds bread, try to make it as whole grain as possible.

@StevenWilbur good to know but it's bread or nothing. I do throw out leftover french fries if the gkids leave some behind.

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