Wildlife Specialist Warns of Unintended Consequences of Bird Feeders: Increased Predators, Parasites, and Lower Survival Rates for Chick

By Trish Svoboda

Bird feeders are a common way that people enjoy nature. However, Drew Ricketts, a wildlife specialist from Kansas State University, warns that bird feeders can also draw predators and other wildlife into your yard. For example, the presence of a bird feeder increases the likelihood of raccoons entering your yard sevenfold and doubles the chances for deer.

Ricketts said carnivores, such as coyotes and red foxes and those sorts of critters, are at least one and a half times more likely to be in yards with bird feeders.

Ricketts also points out that winter feeding of birds can have unintended consequences. Contrary to popular belief, birds don’t require feeding in winter. A study found that winter-fed birds hatched lighter chicks with lower survival rates compared to those without access to feeders.

In addition, bird feeders can become hotspots for parasites and diseases, including avian pox and lice and mite infections. For those who wish to maintain bird feeders, Ricketts recommends daily thorough cleaning with a 10% bleach solution, followed by a good rinse to remove any bleach odor.

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