Should We Feed the Birds in Summer?

Ken Thomas, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Avery Schu on July 20, 2022

Hey there, Creation Explorer!

In our explorations into God’s creation lately, we’ve been seeing a wide variety of birds (including a beautiful flock of swans at a lake the other day!). You can see (or hear) birds as you walk through the woods, in a park, or in a field or meadow. The variety in God’s creation is incredible! And you can attract them to your yard by feeding them.

Now, feeding birds is a popular wintertime hobby. It’s often harder (or at least less pleasant!) to get outside to observe God’s creation during the colder winter months, but bird feeding brings creation to our backyards. But should we continue to feed the birds through the spring, summer, and fall months?

There are two different camps in the birding community when it comes to this question.

  1. Only Feed the Birds in Winter

    According to this group, food sources are plentiful in the spring, summer, and fall months, so there’s no reason to fill the birdfeeder during these seasons. Some will argue it makes birds lazy and dependent on humans to feed them year-round or that having birds grouping together can spread diseases (you can help mitigate that risk by leaving space between your feeders, however).

    Also, bird feeders can attract bears, squirrels, rodents, raccoons, and more—especially during warm months. And no one wants bears in their backyard! This is definitely something to consider if you live in bear country.

    During the summer, birdseed, soft suet, and nectars are more susceptible to mold and rot, so homeowners need to be intentional about cleaning feeders, changing out seed, and only putting one or two days’ worth of seed in their feeders during hot months. If someone can’t commit to that, they probably should refrain from feeding the birds in summer.

  2. Feed the Birds All Year-Round

    Others argue that feeding the birds throughout the course of the year has benefits for the birds and for those who enjoy watching them. Parent birds are often very busy in the spring trying to find food for their fledglings, and supplemental food from birdfeeders can help take that pressure off—especially in cities where natural environments and native plants are less common. (This benefits you too as parents begin bringing their juveniles to your feeders, allowing you to see juveniles of various species.)

    During the spring, many birds lose their drab winter plumage and burst into color. You will enjoy seeing colorful birds at your feeders over the warmer months. You will also see many more species that only live in your area during the spring and summer season.

Feeding birds all year-round has both benefits and drawbacks, but there’s also a middle ground: fill your yard with native plants. Native plants produce native seeds and host native bugs, and native birds love to eat those seeds and bugs! Native plants are healthiest for your backyard and for the creatures in your neighborhood, so planting some of these in your yard (including ones specifically for hummingbirds) is a great low-maintenance and affordable way to encourage birds to visit. We personally love this idea!

Feeding birds is a great way to enjoy the wonderful creation God has so graciously given us. As you see bursts of color, listen to gorgeous melodies, and watch parents instinctually care for their offspring, be reminded that it’s our Creator who has given us such beauty to enjoy and who lovingly cares for those birds—but, oh, how much more he cares for us!

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25–26)

Well, we’re off on another adventure. Until next time, remember Matthew 10:29–31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

P.S. You can follow us as we go birding at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum (and discover something very surprising on our birds list!) in Schus Off! Season Two: Birders. Ask your parents to help you try Answers TV for free for seven days!