National Bird Feeding Month In The USA – What Can The UK Learn?
This week is the start of National Bird Feeding Month in the United States – an entire month dedicated to watching and feeding birds.
But why was this holiday created? And, why don’t we have a bird feeding month?
National Bird Feeding Month
February is the month dedicated to bird feeding in the US – ever since 1994. How and why do Americans have a month-long celebration for feeding birds, and how did it come to be?
Well, like the UK, birds face significant hardship in the coldest months of the year, particularly January and February. When insects and seeds are in short supply, birds can struggle to find wild food sources so have come to rely on humans for a little bit of help getting them through the chilly months.
John Porter an Illinois politician recognised the hardship faced by birds and the enjoyment, and education brought to people by watching feeding and interacting with birds and wildlife. So he declared February should be dedicated as National Bird Feeding Month when he read a resolution into the Congressional Record.
Porter emphasised the educational opportunities that came with bird feeding, and how people would start to become more engaged with their local birdlife, saying:
“Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an easy hobby to start and need not overtax the family budget. It can be as simple as mounting a single feeder outside a window and filling it with bird seed mix. For many people, the hobby progresses from there. They discover the relationship between the type and location of feeders, and the seeds offered in them, and the number and varieties of birds attracted. Parents can challenge an inquisitive child’s mind as they explore together these factors in trying to encourage visits by their favourite birds.”
What Type Of Garden Birds Are There In The US?
National Bird Month is a great opportunity to learn about the different types of garden birds there are in the US. Some of our American friend’s regular garden visitors look remarkably familiar to the type of birds we feed in our gardens.
For example, Starlings are common in the US after being introduced there by the British in the 19th century. Although, many consider them a pest!
The US also have their version of the Robin – the American Robin. Although fans of the European Robin will spot the two birds don’t look that similar at all. The American Robin is a type of Thrush, which our British Robins are no longer considered.
The American Goldfinch is a popular garden bird, like our Goldfinch, the bird has bright yellow plumage but is significantly more colourful. Alongside the Goldfinch, Americans will usually find crows, House Sparrows, Black-Capped Chickadees, and the interestingly named Tufted Titmouse in their gardens.
One bird you may be surprised to find North Americans feeding regularly in their gardens are Hummingbirds. The tiny nectar eaters will readily come to gardens to take food from man-made hummingbird feeders.
Other colourful looking birds include the famous Red Cardinals and gorgeous Blue Jays.
Should We Have A National Bird Feeding Month?
Feeding wild birds isn’t a new activity – there is evidence to suggest humans have left out bird feed for centuries, and the US is no different. A national marked month maybe just helps to remind people of the importance and encourage more to take part.
The UK also has a long history of birdwatching and feeding birds. Back in 1890, numerous national newspapers asked people to feed birds we suffered an unusually harsh winter.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is generally viewed as an authority on birds in the UK – founded in 1889, the charity work to promote the conservation and protection of birds. They hold regular annual events where the public are encouraged to feed and observe birds, such as the recent Big Garden Birdwatch.
With feeding birds an already extremely popular activity in the UK, we aren’t sure we need a bird feeding month of our own. What do you think?