Is it okay to feed wildlife in winter?
Many people believe feeding wildlife particularly in winter will help local wildlife during tough periods. There are compelling arguments against feeding wildlife, including building dependencies, habituating animals to humans, increased aggression of animals, higher road mortality, and higher window mortality.
So, when is it okay to feed wildlife in Utah? Wildlife watchers annually spend over $260 million a year, of which $55 million is spent on equipment to include birdseed and feeders. Here are some guidelines to follow that will ensure safe winter bird feeding.
- Black oil sunflower seeds should be provided in tube feeders. This is your best option to attract the greatest diversity of birds.
- If you have squirrels that raid your feeders, you might want to buy feeders with metal ports around the seed dispensers. The feeder should be placed at least five feet off the ground
- Annually as many as 1 billion birds die from flying into Windows. To minimize this risk, place feeders three to four feet away from the window. Windsocks are the decorations hung outside the windows near the feeders may also help reduce the risk.
- Avoid using cracked corn and platform feeders. This may attract crows, ravens, and magpies which may also prey on smaller birds.
- Cats kill millions of birds annually. If you have a cat and want to feed birds keep the cat indoors. Bells on cat collars are not effective.
- Suet feeders may attract insect-feeding birds such as woodpeckers, flickers, jays, nuthatches, and goldfinches do not use sewage when temperatures are warm as it can turn rancid.
More information at wildawareutah.org