Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bird Feeding Ethics

I recently read an article questioning the ethics of luring birds to feeders where they can easily become targets for predators. Yes, I have wondered about the ethical nature of this as well at times and it does concern me.

In my bird feeding business, Feathered Friends Bird Feeding Service, I often look for businesses that could benefit from my service. One such business is a fairly new building with very little landscaping and natural habitat near. That is one pet peeve of mine with commercial and residential building, but I digress and may expound on that another time. But, back to this particular business which happens to be a medical office. I go by it frequently and have not gone further in pursuing them for my service because of my concern for the wellbeing of the birds that may be attracted to feeders in the "middle of nowhere" with no place to hide.

So what is the answer then? Do we not put out feeders to attract beautiful creatures to our windows where we can admire and learn about them? I hope not. I love to watch them and marvel at those fascinating animals too much to stop begging them to come to my yard. In addition, I have experienced way too much euphoria at helping my customers also experience this great joy and passion of bird feeding.

Well, first of all, I believe before we even put the first feeder out, we as conscientous bird lovers need to provide a haven for birds so they will be safe and comfortable while eating the food we attract them with. That means we have as much natural cover as we can afford when we begin this endeavor. If that means that thosepeople with little financial resources need to scavenge as much littered branches, leaves, twigs, etc. that we can to make a brush pile near where we hope to put a feeder, then that is the least we can do. Yet, even that inexpensive gesture provides an excellent place for birds to hide from any predators that may come. Don't construct it too close to the feeder where a feral or roaming cat may hide to attack the very birds we wish to protect, either. Place it approximately 15 to 30 feet away where birds can quickly access it, but can't be pounced on by a cat while dining. And make it as large as you can to provide a good size haven for the birds, with lots of nooks and crannies to hide in should a hawk come swooping in for lunch.

For those that are fortunate enough to spend more on our natural plantings a suggestion in planning the design would include multiple height levels of plants from tall trees, to tall, medium, and small shrubs, and also different heights of types of wildflowers and grasses. The messier the landscape, the more protection it probably provides. That is, messy in the traditional landscaping mindset. Fortunately, our current tastes are becoming more naturalized as well, and the community in general is becoming more attuned to a newer idea of landscaping both in our yards as well as our area parks.

As more and more of us look to increase the "wildness" of our yards and communities, the more protection we can provide animals that enhance our homes and everyday lives. Go Wild....for birds!

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