See also: Birds as Pets

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Wild birds - is it right to feed them?

March 2006

I'd like to set up a bird-feeder for my self and my daughter. Would anyone be interested in sharing their informed opinion about whether it is right or not to feed wild birds?
Looking for nature experiences in our Berkeley backyard

Whether it's right or not, you should know that birdseed will attract not only birds, but also rodents -- and I don't just mean squirrels. I had this problem back when I had a yard and a bird feeder. Why not plant things in your yard that will attract birds instead? California fuschia is one of many choices to attract hummingbirds. You can also plant things that will attract butterflies. I don't know which plants attract what, but I know there's books on the subject. That's what I'd do if I had a yard (these days, alas, I'm living in a yardless apartment). Diane

I didn't read the original post but I was just thinking about this today. With the threat of bird flu and it's likely arrival in this country this spring it seems to me that attracting birds at all might be potentially hazardous. So much for letting my kids feed birds out at the park etc... being cautious

I love to feed the birds and watch birds. I don't think there is anything wrong with it. Lots of bird watchers feed birds. Many nature centers that educate about the local wildlife and especially birds will often put in place a birdfeeding station so that you have an opportunity to see local birds. It is a wonderful way to introduce a child to the world of nature. Birds are fascinating to watch. The only draw back to feeding birds is that you might attract small rodents at night and squirrels by day. But there are ways of making this a minimal problem. I have been feeding birds for over ten years. My 5 year old duaghter loves watching the birds. She is becoming a very observent little bird watcher. She is also learning the names of the different kinds of birds and comes up with her own bird feeder ideas. I can give you lots of suggestions, ideas and advice on how to start, where to shop, what kind of books to get, what local birds you might expect to see, etc. There is not enough spaces here to write it all down. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have. Laurey

Birds waking us up and pooping everywhere

June 2003

We have a problem with birds waking the whole family at dawn each morning. (They chirp very loudly outside our window.) At first we thought it was mating season, but it has been happening for almost 3 months now. The same birds also fly into our window and seem to attack any shiney object, as if to attack a rival. The other problem is that there is bird poop everywhere. Does anyone have suggestions as to how to dicourage them? Thanks! Andrea

Because birds/nests are so protected (and rightly so) we also found it difficult to keep the birds away when we wanted to paint our house. We eventually strung up a bunch of CD's (the AOL/MSN free ones) and the shiny reflective parts seemed to scare them away. I don't know if that counts as abuse to the birds, but it worked. trying to preserve both birds and sanity

Try recording the birds and playing it back to them. Cover the shiny objects until they move on. You could also try bird flash tape (thin ribbons of mylar) available at (plant) nurseries. Tape it (in the style of a beaded curtain) to the windows and other places they frequent. Breezes will make the tape ''flash'' and scare the birds away (hopefully). Try making their roosting areas inaccessible by covering with netting. If using netting please keep it taut; we once caught an unwary oppossum by accident in some loose netting. Please don't use Tanglefoot; it harms the birds and is messy. You could also try earplugs or sleeping on the other side of the house. J12

- We had a very similar problem, but with a single bird. We pruned the tree he used as his base from which to attack my daughter's window, and in particular we cut down the limb he was seen on most often. Now he's gone! Liz O.

- I found a website with loads of advice about keeping birds away from windows


Most of them talked about cutting out a silhouette of a hawk (I guess it has to be light in color to stand out against the dark interior), but you have to put it on the outside of the window so they can see it better. Or apparently if you hang colored ribbons on the outside, that keeps birds from flying into the window -- but you're also concerned with keeping them away from the window entirely.

You can also buy a plastic owl from gardening stores, I think, and put it outside the window. My dad said he has to move his periodically or they figure it out. Hannah