It may seem arbitrary, but many community associations institute a policy against bird feeders, or any outdoor animal feeding, but there reasoning is sound. There are many reasons why feeding the stray animals in your neighborhood could be a bad move, not only for your community but for the animals as well.
The Problems with Feeding the Wildlife
- Most people assume that feeding a stray animal or giving the occasional duck a bit of bread is helpful and even a fun activity however, it can make animals sick, or even kill them. The food we put out for animals is often not in their natural diet, and is commonly unhealthy for them. The tradition of feeding ducks bread is particularly bad. Bread can cause malnutrition in ducklings and it can cause a condition called angel wing in ducks and geese, in which an overgrowth of bone deforms the wings and leaves them unable to fly and thus vulnerable to predators.
- Food that is not consumed by the wildlife you meant it for can attract pests, including rats and mice. Leaving any food outside without being under constant supervision is likely to attract rodents, ants and pests, not to mention the other scavenger animals that may be attracted to the smell. These can infest your home and make it unsafe for children to play outside.
- Animals that are being fed can become a nuisance. The droppings of ducks, geese, and pigeons can, in excess, cause damage to outdoor art and even buildings. Deer that come to associate humans with food may decide to also chow down on your garden, or may bring ticks (which carry Lyme disease) in contact with humans. They may also eat plants which are toxic to them. Coyotes will also follow deer into the neighborhood, or may eat pet food, and they have been known to eat cats and small dogs that get out.
- An over increase in carbohydrates can even cause the local water bodies in your neighborhood issues, with algae blooms and animal waste causing water quality issues.
- Bird feeders can contribute to outbreaks of avian disease as species that seldom hang out together come into contact with each other.
- Feeding animals may also result in direct injury to yourself or others. Small animals can be rabid, resulting in unpleasant treatment. Rodents can carry a wide variety of diseases and often pass them to you through saliva or bites. You should never touch any wild animal, and if you find an injured animal call animal control or other expert help before attempting to move it.
Because of this, it is a good idea to either ban all animal feeding or allow only small bird and hummingbird feeders with posted guidelines.
- Clean all feeders a few times a year with a 10 percent solution of non-chlorine bleach.
- Use specific seeds for specific feeders to reduce inter-species interaction and waste.
- Make hummingbird nectar using only refined white sugar and tap water. Never feed hummingbirds brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, or honey. Red dye is unnecessary.
- Clean hummingbird feeders twice a week in hot weather and once a week when cooler