Last Updated on April 22, 2023 by Tommy
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), 47.8 million Americans enjoy feeding birds in their yard. That amounts to about 1/3 of the United States population!
The hobby benefits birds too. Primarily, it helps those who have stayed for the winter and are struggling to find food. But it also helps those who have just finished a long migratory flight back home and are tired from the journey.
Because of the hobby’s popularity and its benefits to local wildlife, February has been declared National Bird Feeding Month in the United States.
The Story of National Bird Feeding Month
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On February 23, 1994, Illinois’ 10th District Congressman John Porter announced National Bird Feeding Month.
“I would like to recognize February, one of the most difficult months in the United States for wild birds, as National Bird-Feeding Month.” He said. “During this month, individuals are encouraged to provide food, water, and shelter to help wild birds survive. This assistance benefits the environment by supplementing the wild bird’s natural diet of weed seeds and insects.”
Porter further supported his suggestion by discussing the pastime’s benefits for families.
Bird feeding is a good activity for the entire family, enabling parents and children to spend quality time together, he said. Additionally, it helps the adults relax while being an educational experience for the children.
Over time, Porter explained that children could learn to identify different bird species by sight. They can also observe each species’ feeding and living habits and which types of seeds attract which types of birds.
Last but not least, it’s a highly inexpensive hobby: all families need to invest in is a simple bird feeder and some seeds, and they are good to go.
Porter succeeded, and National Bird Feeding Month became official. Today, February has many promotions and activities surrounding wild bird feeding and watching.
National Bird Feeding Month Themes
Each year, the National Bird-Feeding Society selects a theme for National Bird Feeding Month.
The themes are usually playful taglines encouraging Americans to feed their backyard birds. Here are a few examples of past themes:
|2012||If You Feed Them, They Will Come…|
|2011||Most Wanted – America’s Top Ten Backyard Birds|
|2010||Hatching Out – An Introduction to the Wild Bird Feeding Hobby|
We are all still eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2023 National Bird Feeding Month theme!
How To Celebrate Bird Feeding Month
What’s the best way to celebrate bird feeding month? By feeding birds, of course!
Here are some of the best bird feeding tips, including ideas on making your garden more bird-friendly:
Best Bird Feeding Tips
- Feeding birds is as much for you as it is for the birds. Place your feeder within line of sight from your window so you can appreciate your visitors’ beautiful feathers from afar.
Additionally, birds like to feel safe while eating. To improve the chances of birds visiting, install your bird feeder near trees and shrubs. They are less likely to come if your feeder is out in open areas where they are exposed.
Lastly, it’s recommended to keep your bird feeder high off the ground where pet cats can’t get to the food–or the birds!
- Birds need lots of fat to generate enough energy for flying. Seeds are always a safe food choice, particularly black-oil sunflower seeds. For variety, you can also feed birds suet, fruit, worms, and even oatmeal.
- Birds need to drink, too. Don’t forget to leave out bowls of water!
- Regularly clean out your bird feeder/s and bowl/s. Birds can sometimes poop where (and while) they eat. If left for a long time, bacteria can contaminate their food and cause sickness.
- Make your garden more bird-friendly by installing birdhouses and bird baths. If you live in a cold region, consider investing in heated bird baths to prevent the water from freezing!
- Occasionally, squirrels may come and try to eat from your bird feeder, too. In this case, you can:
- Invest in a squirrel baffle
- Sprinkle some dehydrated cayenne pepper powder into your bird seed mix (birds don’t detect spice–squirrels do!), or
- Set up a separate feeding station for your squirrels!
Other Activities For National Bird Feeding Day
Looking for yet more activities for the month? Try these:
- Take the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Call Quiz to see how well you can identify different bird songs.
- Participate in the Annual Bird Count by taking 15 minutes to count the birds in your yard and submitting the number on the official event website.
- Kick your bird-watching up a notch by learning to sketch birds while you spot them!
- Start a bird stamp collection. BirdStamps.org shows postage stamps with birds for nearly all countries worldwide!
- Don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalBirdFeedingMonth for any bird pictures you post on social media to connect with fellow bird lovers this month!
A Note About Feeding Wild Birds
While feeding animals can appear harmless and helpful, there are some long-ranging and long-term effects.
For one, birds may extend their range or migrate to places with more food. Research suggests that cardinals and Carolina wrens, in particular, have started moving northward, possibly because of the availability of feeders in that region.
You may also not necessarily be helping all the birds who need help! For example, house sparrows tend to be aggressive and territorial and may hog your feeders to themselves. They may even attack other birds who try to approach.
If you leave out food that is too nutritious too often for your birds–such as oatmeal–they also run the risk of becoming overweight.
There are also three risks: Disease. Predation. Collision.
- Disease – Birds are wild animals. You have no idea where they may have been perching! Thus, there is always the danger that visiting birds will bring bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and leave them on your surfaces.
- Predation – If birds learn to rely on your feeder for their regular food source, predators may track their habits and take advantage of their predictable schedule.
- Collision – Birds are notorious for their tendencies to smash into glass windows. Be careful where you place your feeder – you don’t want birds to hurt themselves smashing against your windows!
All this being said, however, we at Floofmania still think it’s a great idea to feed your backyard birds regularly! We are simply encouraging you to do it mindfully and be aware of the possible implications of the practice.
Other bird-related holidays in the US include
- National Bird Day – January 5th
- World Sparrow Day – March 20th
- National Audubon Day – April 26th
- World Migratory Bird Day – Second Saturday in May in Canada and the U.S., and the second Saturday in October in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
- Bird Day – May 4th (a different holiday from National Bird Day!)
- National Hummingbird Day – September 2nd
- National Pet Bird Day – September 17th
Other Holidays in February
Aside from being National Bird Feeding Month and, of course, the month of love, February is also
- Black History Month
- American Heart Month
- Canned Food Month
- Great American Pie Month
- National Cherry Month
- National Grapefruit Month
- National Children’s Dental Health Month
- National Self Check Month
- National Grapefruit Month
- National Hot Breakfast Month
- National Library Lover’s Month
- National Snack Food Month
- National Embroidery Month
- National Weddings Month
Author: Bernice Go
Bernice Go is a violinist and orchestra manager by profession but a writer by hobby. She enjoys writing about various topics, from music to animals to self-development. When she isn’t playing the violin or writing, she loves reading, traveling, playing video games, and savoring a good cup of coffee.