I enjoy watching birds at a garden bird feeder but have started feeling guilty that it is having a negative impact on the birds. For example this study recently showed that birds in the UK have longer beaks than their European cousins because bird feeders are more common there. This led me to google for more info and several sites list numerous potential negative effects of feeding wild birds from altering their migration patterns to increased spread of diseases.

Should I feel guilty or are bird feeders just a drop in the ocean compared to all the other ways humans are changing the environment?


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  • $\begingroup$ A good question but not easy to answer and I am not sure it's even in scope for a gardening forum. $\endgroup$ – kevinsky Dec 9 '18 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ It is important to regularly clear, wash and sterilize feeders to reduce risk of infection, but whilst I do have a nut feeder, I've switched to using half coconut shells filled with fat/seed/grains. No longer beaks required for those, and the birds will go to that in preference to the nut feeder(I;m in the UK). They don't last long so risk of infection is very low. But don't forget the ground feeders like robins... scattering sunflower seeds or similar is useful for those. And you could just switch to feeding them during winter and early spring instead of year round, which is what I do. $\endgroup$ – Bamboo Dec 10 '18 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ The serious problem is that birds get dependent on the feeders when food is scarce : Then the people don't consistently put food in it . This is especially true of humming bird feeders as hummers do not have the energy reserves to search for natural food. $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Dec 10 '18 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ I had posted an answer that was probobly the best one your getting but it was deleted for not being scientific (as if most questions in life are answered scientifically). No one in this world is really capable of answering this question and if they say they are their lying. They could say it changes the ecology so no but they can't prove that changing the ecology is morally or ethically incorrect. The OP's question was: "should she feel guilty" that's a theological question not something that can be answered scientifically, morons. $\endgroup$ – Rob Dec 12 '18 at 21:15

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