The cardinals, the finches, the doves… the many, many sparrows… What a treat it is to watch the bustling activity at a bird feeder! Of course, only about 20 percent of a bird’s overall diet comes from bird feeders; the majority of their daylight hours are spent foraging for bugs or seeds, mainly from native plants, weeds, and the like.
But aside from those songbirds, who else is visiting your bird feeder? Well, you might be surprised. Squirrels and possums, along with mice, rats, and other ground-feeding animals are attracted to dropped and scattered seeds. And once you’ve attracted rodents and smaller mammals to the area, you can expect the list of visitors to go right up the food chain: snakes, raccoons, foxes, hawks, and owls all feed on those smaller creatures (as well as the song-birds). Outdoor cats, too. It’s a veritable smorgasbord!
Here at City Wildlife we get calls all the time about unwanted visitors to folks’ yards, and the very first question we ask is, “What is bringing them there to begin with?” The answer is always either easy access to food (bird seed, or the critters that feed on the bird seed, or the critters that feed on the critters that feed on the bird seed), or habitat (crawl spaces, wood piles or anyplace that an animal can get into to make a cozy home). Have a raccoon problem? Does your neighbor have a bird feeder? Uh-huh. We’ve found the culprit.
Fortunately, the solution to deterring unwanted visitors to your yard is often as simple as removing what’s attracting them in the first place. And now, at the height of summer, when native food sources are bountiful, would be the best time to pull down those feeders for the sake of humane coexistence. Trust us: the birds and other animals will find an alternate, more appropriate food source. And you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you’re not creating an unnatural habitat and food source right in your own backyard.