For one reason or another, you may have begun to feed birds and now need to stop. Perhaps bird feeding no longer fits in with your budget, or you find it difficult to keep up with cleaning and refilling your feeders. Whatever the reason, you might be wondering how to stop feeding birds bird food and if you can.
Any food that we feed birds is supplementary to their natural diet. During spring and early autumn, there are plenty of natural food sources for birds to forage. However, when winter approaches, birds rely on us a little bit more as these natural food sources begin to deplete rapidly. But fear not, according to the BioOne survey, 48% of UK adults feed birds - so plenty of other people will continue to do the feeding for you, and your visitors won't suffer when you stop. If you've decided to stop feeding birds, we have a few tips to help.
Gradually reduce feeding
Gradually reducing the amount of food on your bird tables and feeders is the best way to begin winding down your bird feeding habits. Birds are clued in when it comes to their eating regime, so when you start to reduce the readily available food, they will begin to find other food sources. Over time, they will stop recognising your feeder as reliable and will eventually stop visiting your garden for food.
Never stop feeding in winter
If you are going to reduce the amount you feed birds, then you shouldn't do this in winter or when approaching winter. Birds rely on us for extra energising and weight-gaining foods at this time, so reducing this amount or stopping completely would not be recommended. Winter is a critical time in a bird's lifespan when its primary aim is solely to survive, so although we say that birds won't suffer when you stop feeding them - winter would be the wrong time to do this.
When to stop
The preferred time to stop your bird feeding would be when natural food sources are abundant during spring, summer and early autumn. Begin by reducing the amount of your feeding and eventually stop. We recommend that even if your feeders are empty, you remove these once you have stopped so that birds are safe from potentially picking up any harmful bacteria or feeder-borne diseases.
If you are simply curious about whether you can stop or not and still enjoy all aspects of feeding birds, then why not remind yourself why bird feeding is so brilliant with our reasons why it's important to feed wild birds!