Bird feeding is not only for the birds

Humans benefit from the activity, too

While researchers often focus on the effects of bird feeding on birds, what about the impacts of the activity on people? Some researchers argue that not only is it good for people, but it can also play a role in policy.

The team noticed that state agencies were advising people to stop feeding birds after a number of avian disease outbreaks in 2021. But these recommendations didn’t necessarily follow any evidence that bird feeding would increase disease spread, they found. What’s more, there wasn’t really a method of gauging if people were listening and how the guidelines impacted them.

Both the well-being of birds and of people need to be considered, the authors argue.

“The psychological benefits of bird feeding for humans are well-documented but often overlooked in management decisions in response to avian disease outbreaks,” they wrote in a study published in People and Nature.

“Ecological and social science need to be applied in tandem to ensure that well-intended guidance to cease feeding of birds does not have unintended consequences.”

Read the study in People and Nature.

Header Image: About 57 million people in the U.S. participate in bird feeding each year. Credit: Courtesy Richard Hall