What are the benefits?
Bird watchers love seasonal bird feeding. While it’s a matter of opinion, many bird watchers see spring as the most exciting – therefore the greatest – season for feeding backyard birds.
It is a captivating time of year for humans. For bird watchers, there is great excitement in the breath taking colors male birds acquire as they claim territory with lovely melodies and as they win a mate with their unique courtship displays. Who doesn’t appreciate the charm in the kiss between Cardinals as the male passes a seed to the female? Also exciting – likely a favorite for many – is the joy of witnessing a young bird’s first flight! Then there is the experience of seeing the nestlings get the first meal from a feeder independent from their parents!
For many regions of the United States, an exciting event spring migration brings is the huge and rejuvenating variety of birds stopping by in your backyard. Bird watchers love the spectacular colors and various personalities of the many birds spring brings. From Finches to Buntings, and from Hummingbirds to Yellow Warblers, spring adds the delightful colors that winter washed away.
Clearly now, to most, spring bird feeding is merely for human pleasure. But let’s consider the benefits of spring feeding from the birds point of view.
Why feed Birds in the Spring?
Spring presents a challenge for backyard birds
Spring migration presents a challenge each year. Let’s consider their struggle, to appreciate how our effort to provide food helps wild birds to carry on through the seasons to come.
Spring may be a delight to humans. But it presents a great challenge to the many birds that migrate north. Upon their arrival to your backyard, they are likely exhausted after a long journey in flight. Their need for food is immediate. In order to replenish their energy, they must find an abundant food supply. From the previous winter, wild birds have eaten all natural food sources, such as seeds and berries. Insects, being many birds primary food sources, have yet to emerge.
The challenge is that, although many plants are beginning to sprout from the ground, or even buds from a tree, natural food sources are not yet attainable for many weeks. In regions such as the Northeast and the Great Lakes, accumulated snow postpones the sprouting of plants.
In addition to finding food sources, they also must search for territory to call their own, attract a mate, and in time, prepare for nesting a new generation. We can see just how vital sources of abundant energy are to wild birds who must claim a family in a couple months. Fulfilling this God-given role takes a crucial amount of energy – again – presenting a great challenge.
Such a challenge provides an opportunity for backyard bird feeders to supply essential food in the spring months. Spring feeding gives man the inner joy of knowing they are helping many busy, nesting adults to keep a steady supply of food available to young and to feed the hard working adults as well!
Even more important than food, water sources are crucial to a birds spring survival.
If their hunger is satisfied, but if no water supply is available, our feathered friends could die of thirst.
If the birds feel safe from predators and have an abundant food and water supply, as well as having a reliable nesting area through spring, they are likely to stay through fall until they migrate south for the winter.
I hope you now see the benefits of spring feeding, not so much from the standpoint of bird watchers, but from a birds point of view. We see that we shouldn’t feed merely for pleasure, but for the many advantages wild birds receive by feeding in your backyard.