General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Can I over feed the outside birds?

Asked by tinyfaery (36189 points ) April 19th, 2014 from iPhone

I have a garden in my back yard. I read about the little ecosystem of a garden and how birds are a big part of keeping my plants healthy.

I’d say about a dozen birds have been frequenting my garden since I started feeding them seeds. At first I just fed them in the morning. Now I feed them in the evening, as well.

I want the birds to eat the bugs and other critters I do not want in my garden. Is it possible for me to feed them so much that they won’t eat anything else? Or do wild birds naturally regulate their food intake?

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14 Answers

kritiper's avatar

Yes, you could feed them to the point where they wouldn’t eat anything else, but you can’t overfeed them.

Coloma's avatar

Some bird species are seed eaters and others are insect eaters, some are both, but the birds you attract to your feeders are seed eaters.Doves, finches, etc.
It will be the Warblers, flycatchers and other insect eaters that go for the garden pests. Also, being breeding season, EVERYTHING is looking for insects for their young. So, in short, no, I wouldn’t worry about it. Some will lunch at your feeders and then snatch up an insect for their nestlings too. Double win!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

No, you can’t overfeed wild birds.

tinyfaery's avatar

Hmm. All I see are doves and finches. Not many birds in my area. I have seen a thin, long billed bird once or twice.

I guess it doesn’t matter that much then. It’s really just about me buying them seed. Eh, my cats love to watch feeding time.

Coloma's avatar

@tinyfaery As a general rule, seed eaters have conical shaped beaks and insect eaters have pointy beaks, Doves excluded. :-)

zenvelo's avatar

The only time you really need to worry is if you feed the birds when they would have normally moved on somewhere else because of natural food being unavailable. It’s part of the migration cycle for some birds to follow the food supply. If birds overwinter because you feed them, make sure you feed them all winter long.

cazzie's avatar

Please don’t feed migratory ducks. I witnessed the most horrible scene on the Oslo fjord. They were freezing to death and suffering from very poor diets because people thought going out and feeding them bread with their children was ‘nice’. It is mostly waterfowl, but here is a good pamphlet from the Fish and Game Wildlife service. (My dad worked with them in Alaska.) http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/newreportspublications/pamphlet/feed.html

Here is some info about why you shouldn’t feed ducks: http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/don-t-feed-the-ducks

Cruiser's avatar

I live next to a wet land where food is most plentiful for birds of all species and have a feeder that is apparently a favorite destination for all types of feathered friends.

LostInParadise's avatar

Very few bird species are strict herbivores and they prefer eating bugs, which provide a more concentrated form of protein. The reason that plants set seeds in cold weather is so that they can be assured that the birds will distribute the seeds without having to compete with creepy crawlies as a food source. I would guess that you will not have any problems if you provide seeds.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie Agreed, except for dumped domestics that cannot fly away to seek new food sources. I feed the domestic ducks and geese at a local small lake, they do have plenty of grass available but winters I put out corn and scratch grains. Poor things, people do not realize how abused dumped domestics are and bread is not a healthy food for them. They need lots of greens, grass and grains not wonder bread and potato chips.

tinyfaery's avatar

I live in the middle of Los Angeles. We don’t have migratory birds. At least not that I notice. These birds are here year round.

cazzie's avatar

@tinyfaery Ah, Los Angeles is a very different kettle of birds than where I live. I was reading some news the other day and came across this from your neck of the hills and it was rather disturbing. As someone who cares about local wildlife, perhaps you could spread this info i around your neighbourhood if they haven’t heard about it yet. http://westcentric.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/rodent-infographic041714.jpg

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie So tragic, I can’t believe people still use poison bait. Bah…ignorant fucks!

cazzie's avatar

Those poor big cats. Those cats I can definitely feel sorry for.

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