Asking the Experts: Is it okay to feed the birds in winter?
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) –Leaving out seeds for wild birds is a popular hobby, especially for bird watchers– but as the weather gets colder, is it ok to leave feed for birds, or will it cause them to stick around instead of migrate for the winter?
According to Sharron Cornacchione the Animal Curator for the Museum of Arts and Sciences, there’s more concern for birds that don’t migrate.
“It is actually a really good thing for them,” Cornacchione said “One of the reasons is that we’re encroaching on their habitat. They’re losing a lot of their habitat which is their food source and other things and it’s not just birds, it’s a lot of other native species of animals. So if we can help out to some extent in the winter months to feed them it’s a win-win.”
As for migratory birds– feed doesn’t really affect them. Those types of birds migrate regardless, based on instincts according to John Girard Co-President of the local Audubon Society.
“Birds migrate really based on the length of day and so we can feed them or not and they will come and go. We’re super lucky here, we’re in what’s called the Atlantic Flyway and we literally have millions of birds that migrate through here in the Spring and Fall.” Girard explained.
Both Cornacchione and Girard agree it’s okay to leave out good quality seeds for wild birds. They also recommend leaving out water too, just make sure the water does not freeze and make sure food and water are in the right place.
“You don’t want to put a feeder out in the middle of an open area where any predator can stand in the bushes and watch and see them going back and forth and especially a lot of cats that are outside and stuff like that, they’ll stalk them. So if you give them some type of cover it’ll give them a better chance.” Cornacchione emphasized.
It’s recommended that if you have any cats please do not let them outside, they’re one of the biggest threats to birds, especially during the winter when there is no leaf cover for birds to hide in.
Overall birds will manage on their own — but it’s okay to leave food and water for our feathered friends.