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Controlling Wildlife in Your Backyard
It sounds wonderful to have a whole flock of Northern Cardinals or Goldfinches in your backyard vying for the delicious gourmet spread you have provided. BUT...
There are concerns here in addition to your own pleasure. I've heard that some enthusiasts start complaining that feeding birds is too expensive because they feed as much as 50 pounds of black oiled sunflower seeds a month...and the birds STILL aren't satisfied! Enought is enought...so they quit feeding altogether.
I'd like to suggest an alternative and give you the rationale for it.
Feed a little. Water a little. Provide a little shelter, and a few nestboxes. Sit back and enjoy the wildlife...and then get on with your life. The wildlife will get on with theirs too. Surprised?
Would you feed your child a steady diet of ONE food? Didn't think so. The same reasoning applies to wildlife. I can't think of a single species that eats only one food. (I could be wrong...of course, and if you know of one, please inform me :-)
I have the word of a knowledgeable pro in the birding products industry that there is no definitive research on what food, or how much, or when or where ... is really best. Most research in this fledgling "nature" industry is based on citizen science...observations, compilations of birdfeeder watch programs, etc. Very limited testing has been done.
I tend to think that if there is no clear evidence for a specific behavior... "moderation is the best policy". It's okay to feed wildlife, but it's not okay to overdo it. And here are the reasons:
- Wildlife diets are based on native sources in a localized area. They like variety, and they thrive on supplements, but we don't yet have enough information to totally substitute food sources for them.
- High traffic can spread disease, cause waste and encourage wildlife fights. I can't think how any of those situations benefit wildlife...can you?
- When you attract wildlife to a neighborhood with a food supply, you would probably like to keep them there...and a steady supply of SOME food is more likely to do that than sporadic supplies of a lot of food. More pleasure...less pain.
There are some reports out that a steady diet of corn weakens the bones of squirrels. I don't have solid evidence of this yet...but common sense tells me that it could be true based on the historically sound policy of "moderation and variety in diet" that seems to be a good approach to health.
And birdfeeders that are too large...too crowded in small spaces...and attract too many birds that leave their droppings at the site are known to spread diseases. Some of these diseases have almost decimated a species...such as house finches, or doves.
The solution is to spread the population over a wide area... and provide proper management of feeders and nestboxes. That means cleaning them with a mild bleach solution at least once a month (or more often if they become soiled, or dirtied with wet food).
With a common sense approach to living with wildlife, it is an incredible joy to watch the goings and comings of wildlife in your own backyard.
For more articles about WILDLIFE GARDENING
Garden Decor: Aquascaping for Beauty and Purpose
Butterfly & Caterpillar Gardening and the Environment
Water Gardening is the New Frontier
Rocky Sloped for Habitat
Mailorder Gardening for Wildlife Friendly seeds and plants
Butterflies are Flowers of the Air