Science of bird feeders

When I newly arrived the UK, I noticed that there are lots of different types of bird feeders selling in Poundland and Wilko. It is the first time heard about bird feeders. Hence, I did some search about bird feeders and found out that according to Biological Conservation, 87% of the UK homes have bird feeders. Each household spent around £0.35 daily per each food type to feed the wild bird. Since it is very popular in the UK, I felt curiosity about it and bought a simple bird feeder, hung it outside my window.

I waited a week and got my first bird visitor. It made me enjoy the wonder of nature when more visitors came by. I researched more data online and found lots of websites teaching people to DIY bird feedeers from plastic bottles. Hence, I created my first bird feeder.

I hanged them side by side, the DIY one seems more favorited by the birds. From my observation, I learnt a little bit about the habit of birds and planned to improve my bird feeder to:

  • Allow more birds to land at the same time.
  • Less food should be exposed to air to avoid getting wet by the rain.
  • Make holes at the bottom so that some of the seeds can fall to the floor to feed the birds that like to eat on the ground.

The second version of the bird feeder functioned very well. However, after noticed how the birds used it, there is still room for improvement for my next version.

Without being aware, I learnt lots of knowledge, such as:

  • Different types of feeders, including those squirrel-proof feeders with a mechanical design.
  • Types of birds, whenever a new bird arrives, I will access to the bird database to check the name of the bird. Therefore, I also learnt what to notice for in a bird; size, color of feathers, beak shape, and color of legs.
  • Types of food, seeds, mealworms, suet balls and blocks, different kinds of food attract different birds.
  • Bird care taking, to keep good hygiene and how to clean the bird feeder

The whole bird feeding activity not only improved the general knowledge of the public toward nature sciences. It also enhances the creativity and hand-on ability via DIY bird feeder and bird cake. Furthermore, bird feeders can provide food for adult birds that they can save energy to find food and spend more time in nestling. It also helps wild birds to survive in winter. In sum, feeding wild birds has lots of advantages and should be encourage. However, Hong Kong citizens are not allowed to feed wild birds or will be liable to a fixed penalty fine of 1500 HKD (around 150 pound).

Poster released by GovHK

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong Government claims that feeding wild birds will let them lose the foraging instinct which change the wild animals’ living habit. And birds will increase the risk of disease transmission.

Show Your Love • Stop Feeding Us

Canadian Journal of Zoology also points out that feeding wild birds alters wildlife behavior and ecology in ways potentially relevant to disease spread. Recently, a farm in Kent confirmed with bird flu. That alert started to concern people again, should they invite birds to come to their garden. In addition, some birds will hit windows. It is due to some people installing bird-window feeders that confuse the birds.

In sum, bird feeders bring us entertainment to enjoy, it helps us to educate our next generation to be responsible for nature, at the same time, it helps to development good sense of science; nevertheless, it also brings us risk of disease transmission and changes the habit of wild animals. Should we place bird feeders in the garden or not?