For more information on the Living With Wildlife series, contact the WDFW Wildlife Program




When to Feed

It’s best to start putting out food around the middle of October. Natural food is becoming hard to find then, and what’s available will be used up through the winter. It’s best to continue feeding through February and March when food supplies are lowest.

There is a notion that once you start feeding birds you need to continue without interruption—otherwise the birds that have become dependent on your feeder will starve. It's more likely that backyard birds visit a number of feeders in their daily search for food. If yours is empty, they'll just go to their next stop. The biggest problem in interrupting a feeding program is getting the word out to the birds once you resume feeding.

If too many birds are concentrated in a small area, they may suffer from stress and increased exposure to diseases. This can happen if too many feeders and an overabundance of food are placed in a single backyard. A large concentration of birds may also attract predators and cause problems with neighbors.

Moderation is the key. Remember that one reason you feed birds is to replace the food that was lost when your property was developed. Going beyond this with too much kindness may not be favorable to the welfare of the birds.