From the Desk of Old Ben: 10 (Incorrect) Myths About Wild Birds
1. There is no need to feed wild birds in Summer....
Answer: Not entirely true. Though there are abundant sources of natural food most summers, many times, birds need to find food easily. This is because the parent birds also provide for hungry babies in their nest. This can get the parents overworked. Providing them bird seed will help them to get food without much competition. No matter which season, leave food outside for our feathered friends. This will keep many species returning to your backyard year after year.
2. If you feed birds, they will become dependent on your
handouts, and will forget to search for food on their own.
Answer: This is not true. Birds get only 25% of their
food from bird feeders. The remaining 75% comes from natural
sources like insects, bugs, sap, spiders, pine nuts, grasses and
so on. If feeders are not present, birds will not starve. They will
resort to natural resources to gain food. However, during drought
and harsh winters, it is very difficult for them to find food. So,
it is always better to provide supplementary food through bird
feeders. Rest assured that birds will not be completely dependent
3. It is okay to feed bread to ducks.
Answer: This is a false notion. Giving bread to ducks is as good as
feeding them junk food. White bread offers NO nutritional value, and
can be a source of excessive fats for the ducks. It may even pollute
waterways and lead to diseases. Animals and pests like rats, mice,
insects, and predators will also be attracted to the bread. Feeding them cracked corn, vegetable trimmings, fresh pears or grape halves
4. Bird feeders do not require cleaning.
Answer: Again, not true. There is a misconception that there is no need to clean bird feeders. In fact, bird feeders should be cleaned from time to time. Without cleaning there is a good chance you will end up making birds sick. Due to exposure, bird feeders can become breeding grounds for bacteria and diseases. It is recommended to scrape off the old bird seed and clean the feeder with soapy water and a 10% solution of bleach. Rise thoroughly and dry the feeder before putting it back. Clean your feeders a minimum of four times a year, or once at the start of each season.
5. Birdseed NEVER goes bad.
Answer: Untrue. Like any type of food, birdseed can spoil over time, especially if it is stored improperly. Seed can attract pest and rodents or become mildewed, and old seed dries out and is less likely to be eaten. If you store birdseed properly, it can last for weeks or months and still be suitable for your feeders. Choose a cool, dry area to store seed. Use airtight containers that will deter rodents and insects. Many seeds many be stored in your freezer for use later. All seed has insect eggs in it. Warm or hot conditions will allow the eggs to hatch. Freezing kills the insect eggs.
6. Uncooked rice will make birds' stomachs swell and explode.
Answer: Incorrect! Most birds eat all kinds of grains, including rice, with no ill effects at all. It's part of their natural diet.
7. Don't feed peanut butter to birds, they will choke on it.
Answer: Untrue. I have been using peanut butter to feed birds for many years. I have observed that my visitors take tiny amounts, fly to the nearest tree or shrub, place it under a leaf or piece of bark and eat it as though it were a bug they just found. If you are uncomfortable giving high energy peanut butter to your birds, just mix it with some black oil sunflower seeds.
8. Hummingbirds hitch rides on the back of geese.
Answer: No such thing has ever been documented!
9. This feeder is squirrel-proof!
Answer: Nice try! While it is true that some bird feeder designs are more squirrel resistant than others, no feeder is 100% squirrel-proof. Squirrels are cunning and resourceful, and if the feeder has a seed or food they like, they will spend hours discovering a way to get it, causing significant damage.
10. No need to clean bird baths since birds use mud puddles.
Answer: I disagree. Unclean bird baths are perfect breeding grounds for algae, mosquito larvae and mold. Keep bird baths clean and filled with clean water on a regular basis. Birds prefer a shallow dish that they can stand in to drink and bathe.