Backyard bird feeding is a convenient way to enjoy wildlife. According to a recent Census Report, over 65 million Americans, young and old, have given it a try.
What has made watching birds the fastest growing hobby in the country, second only to gardening? What ever it is, watching birds, like watching fish or other animals, seems to make people feel good.
How do our "hand-outs" affect the birds? Little research has been done on that question. But we do know that some birds -- cardinals, mockingbirds and tufted titmice -- have extended their winter range northward, perhaps because of an increased availability of food at feeding stations. There is no indication however that backyard bird feeding has had a negative effect on wild bird populations as a whole.
Backyard bird feeding can, however, have an adverse effect on an individual bird. There may be a higher incidence of disease and birds injured by flying into windows. You can take precautions to minimize these problems.