July 22, 2011

Guest Post: Your Gardening Friend

Today's post is from Holly at yourgardeningfriend.comHolly shares her fascination of nature and enjoyment of landscaping on her blog. Here, she shares her thoughts on feeding wild birds. 

Food For Thought

How can you possibly resist them? Waiting so patiently, with a trustful look of anticipation, as you reach
into the bag of french fries and hamburgers, they wait to be fed. Our intentions are well-meaning - the
birds are hungry, and we have food. What’s the harm in that? None at all… if you’re eating a value meal
of earth worms and a side dish of bird seed. J Unfortunately, it’s been my experience, restaurants
simply do not keep these meals well stocked.

I realize this is not your typical gardening topic, but I don’t think it’s THAT far-fetched of an idea to
discuss either. As gardeners, and people who simply enjoy nature, we LOVE watching birds. I think it’s
important to remember that this experience and, more importantly, responsibility doesn’t stop at the
edge of our garden.

Just because they’re willing, and even eager, to eat fast food crumbs, it doesn't mean it’s good for them. Birds are like kids. If given the choice, many kids would live off of cookies, ice cream, and their favorite candy. I would imagine, if birds rely on french fries and hamburger buns for their daily source of calories, or even a good portion of their calories, they too will end up malnourished.

So, what does this mean? Do we stop feeding birds at fast food restaurants altogether? I’ve given this
some thought, and brainstormed a few “solutions”. [I realize some restaurants may not have a problem
with birds begging for crumbs. Other places may have an on-going gathering of birds. Also, the time of
year may influence the gathering of birds.]

1.  Don’t feed the birds, and [eventually] hunger will drive them to the grass or sky, looking for
the food they were created to eat. The problem with this solution is that everyone else will continue to
do what they normally do. Kids love to share their french fries and see the birds swarm in to eat them.
Many well-meaning parents may not want to discourage this gesture that, on the surface, seems kind.
Even as adults, we’ve all been guilty of this type of bird feeding.

2.  If you feed them, feed them bird food. At least when YOU’RE there, the birds will have a
healthy alternative. You can very easily keep a Ziploc baggie of bird seed in your car. (For over 6
months, I’ve kept a Ziploc baggie of dry dog food in the car. What instigated this was seeing a few too
many starving dogs roaming around downtown.) But how often do you plan to stop by your favorite
fast food joint for the sake of a healthy meal for the birds? Hmmm… another dilemma… Maybe the
next suggestion will help.

3. Ask the manager if it would be okay to place a bird feeder on their property. You could even supply
a closed container storage bin, full of bird seed. Other patrons and/or employees might help take up
the cause and pitch-in. Consider placing a discrete sign near the eating area stating,

“Please do not feed the birds human food, but feel free to scatter bird seed from the nearby storage bin.
Help keep our birds healthy.”

I realize this last idea may seem less than practical for some readers. If that’s the case, try the Ziploc

The purpose of this is not to make you feel compelled to stop at every fast food joint within a 30
mile radius of your house, and place bird feeders all over Timbuktu. It’s just another brain-storming
suggestion of how you could handle the situation at your favorite place to eat.

Just some “food” for thought…
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