If I Stop Feeding Birds in Winter, Will They Die?


Recently, a reader of Feeding Backyard Birds addressed a concern about our feathered friends. This concern is very common to many who are unacquainted with wild bird feeding. To all readers, the question in general is:
If I stop feeding birds in winter, will they die?
A bird’s instinct is to rely heavily upon itself to find food. Year round, however, bird feeders draw backyard birds. Providing food distracts wild birds from carrying on their instinctive foraging habits.
If you usually feed birds year-round or close to it, but you suddenly decide to stop feeding birds in winter, backyard birds must break the habit of looking for an easy meal and very quickly resume their instinctive habit to forage in the wild.
True, if you do decide to stop feeding birds in winter, they will face the challenge to find food; nonetheless, this challenge will be temporary, for wild birds have the advantage of flying to a territory that will better meet their needs. This territory may be natural foraging grounds nearby, or even a neighbor or two who feed birds in winter.
If you are away temporarily and need to stop feeding your backyard birds for a period, you may not like the thought of your feathered friends going elsewhere for the feeding season as you return. To avoid their departure, you might consider asking a neighbor you trust to feed your wild birds.
A neighbor who feeds wild birds is likely to handle the bird food and the bird feeders properly. Depending on such a neighbor will assure you that your feathered friends will continue to have a reliable home.
Whatever other reasons you may have for not feeding birds in winter, remember one thing: The wild birds of your backyard will find a way to survive as they rely on their God-given instinct.
– Craig Curtis