WBFI Holiday Gift Guide
Choosing the perfect gift for someone can be a difficult task. You don’t want to get something they won’t use or already have, plus it needs to be something that they will enjoy… WBFI is here to help! The Wild Bird Feeding Institute (WBFI) has put together the ultimate gift guide for anyone you’re struggling to get a gift for, and you’d like to introduce to the wonderful world of birding, or maybe even the already devoted birder in your life.
See some of our member's deals to assist your holiday shopping!
Bird Feeding Newbies
Getting into the backyard birdlife is something that anyone can do! It’s as simple as putting up a feeder and purchasing seed. Bird feeders, baths, and houses are the absolute perfect gift for someone you’d like to introduce to the hobby. Finding a local retailer near you is a great way to support your community and get recommendations from bird feeding experts on what is best for your area!
Have someone who just took the big step of becoming a new homeowner? It’s probably something they haven’t thought of to buy for themselves, but a bird feeder is an element that could brighten up the curb appeal to their new home!
Feed and Feeders
The most common feeders are tube feeders and hopper or “house” feeders. There’s not really a right and wrong to purchasing the correct feeder, but something to keep in mind when selecting the right feeder for a beginner is to find one that can easily be cleaned and works best for the birds in your area. View our bird seed and feeder preference guide.
Water sources are essential to attracting birds to an area. It creates a safe space for birds to happily drink and bathe. Read more about water resources for birds in your yard at The Art of Attracting Birds to Your Yard.
The Perfect Gift for Any Age
Family and friends who are in special care, such as assisted living or a nursing home, don’t have a lot of space for gifts and knick-knacks. However, gifting a loved one a bird feeder or birdbath allows them to partake in birdwatching from the comfort of their own living space. In fact, watching birds has been proven to improve one’s mental health. You can read more about that here at Why Bird Feeding is Important.
Kids Binoculars girls or boys Real Binoculars in vibrant Pink and Blue - for ages 3 to 14 - includes Sticker Book of 40 Birds with species names
For the Urban Dweller
Help your loved one combine their gardening skills and interest in birds this holiday season by purchasing these gifts. “Gardening is an excellent way to ensure that outdoor spaces, whether large or small, help wildlife. Many North American bird species are in decline due to habitat loss and degradation, among other global threats.” – Birds Canada
Almost everyone can get something out of birding, and the benefits that come from the activity are never ending. Read some of the other advantages of bringing birds to your yard at Why Bird Feeding is Important. While shopping this holiday season, it’s important to try to shop local. That being said, check out WBFI’s Retailer Map to assist you in finding a place to purchase from in your area!
Have a wonderful Holiday Season from the Wild Bird Feeding Institute and Happy Feeding! #FeedtheBirds
Putting up a bird feeder is beautiful way to connect with the earth and see the delicacy of nature from the comfort of your home, but did you know the many other benefits as well?
By simply putting up a feeder by your home, you can help with local sustainability efforts, improve bird health and populations, better your mental health, and help support local businesses.
Sustainability and Conservation
The desire to help wildlife has positive long-term effects on the environment. Welcoming birds into your yard can make huge strides when it comes to animal conservation.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states a population loss of nearly 3 billion birds are gone since 1970, steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada. The largest cause of bird decline is habit loss, and you can help!
Bird feeding can help provide a safe environment for birds to easily access a food source, water, and habitat. Using WBFI’s easy 6-Step method to roll out the welcome mat to wild birds also supports other environmental benefits. This can mean an increase in healthy vegetation, natural pest control, and support the spread of plants back into the ecosystem reports BirdLife International.
Healthier Birds and Awareness of Bird Research
A three-year WBFI study found that, generally, the individual health of birds improved with proper supplemental feeding, including:
National Wildlife Federation also reports, “most sick or injured birds look at feeders as a place of refuge since they do not have to struggle to find food”. Naturally, this can cause you to ask questions and maybe even motivate you to do more research on your own.
Make sure that you are more help than with harm by following WBFI’s #FeedSmart suggestions. These small measures can make sure your feeding does not cause harm to birds:
For avid birders, you can be a part of the never-ending research on bird populations, migration patterns, and more. Check out Feeder Watch, eBird, WBFI Linkedin, and WBFI Facebook to learn be more active.
Improve Your Mental Health
Bird feeding is important for the birds, but how is it important for you? It helps protect and create a healthy environment for the birds and inspires you to create a positive change in your mental health. All these things can inspire a change and help influence long-lasting positive effects for both you and the birds in your neighborhood, and help you connect with others in the hobby.
In 2019, Bird Watching was studied by the American Psychiatric Institute. Their research found that about 7 out of 10 people experienced a change in their mental health after bird feeding for only once week. This statistic suggests that even 70% of people who engage with birds in their yard will experience a mental health change.
The intimacy of being in nature and having a careful and protective connection with the birds can make all the difference in your day. You will start to care for the birds and see them as friends in your life. Spending time outside for 10 minutes a day has been proven to boost serotonin and dopamine levels (American Psychiatric Institute).
Supporting Your Local Economy
Backyard bird feeding is the second-largest outdoor hobby (after gardening) in the United States. There are many options for consumers when it comes to bird feeding products, and many right in your hometown!
The Wild Bird Feeding Institute (WBFI) recommends keeping your purchases local to benefit small businesses and the community. Check the WBFI Retailer Map to find products right in your neighborhood. If you come from an agriculture community, you may even be supporting your local farmers!
For ideas on how to get started or how to expand your bird feeding experience, check out The Art of Attracting Birds to Your Yard.
Learn about exactly what kind of feeder you should buy for your neighborhood birds, check out Create a Backyard Sanctuary.
Birds help bring calm to this chaotic world, to learn more bird feeding and where to buy quality products visit WBFI’s Feed the Birds.
No one becomes a great painter overnight. Time, research, and care are all necessary for any work of art, and the same goes for attracting birds to your yard, which is why the Wild Bird Feeding Institute (WBFI) is here to help. With these few tips, you will not only be contributing to the wellbeing of our feathered friends but also turning your yard into a masterpiece!
Finding Birds in Your Area
First, consider contacting your state or local wildlife agency. Second, consider joining a bird club, as advice from local bird-lovers may offer greater insight than your state or regional agency. Next, download a FREE bird app like Merlin Bird ID or Audubon, as these apps can either identify a bird from a photo, or you can enter the details of a bird you were unable to photograph and each guide will offer helpful suggestions. To find recent bird sightings in your area, consider using the eBird app, which collects sightings from hundreds of thousands of bird enthusiasts. After you have revealed your local birds, it is time to create a bird paradise.
Making Your Yard Bird-Friendly
After discovering what local species may visit your bird haven, you can build your “bird-friendly” yard space, tailored to the birds of your backyard. You may be asking yourself, well what does “bird-friendly” really even mean? A “bird-friendly” place is an area in your yard that is safe from other animals (like outdoor cats), has treated windows, and has enough space and shelter for birds to explore your feeders, birdbaths, birdhouses, and plants. Download WBFI’s 6-Steps Guide for an easy, comprehensive list on how to turn your backyard into a sanctuary. Treat birds as new guests you are inviting to your home, and make sure everything is ready for their stay. The food you choose is important, but first, you need to know what birds you want to attract to your yard.
Putting out the Right Meal
Once you know which birds you want in your yard, use WBFI’s Food & Feeder Preference Chart from a comprehensive scientific study of the feed and feeder preferences of wild birds in the United States and Canada. You can easily access a local or online retailer of these food types by using WBFI’s Find A Retailer Map. When shopping online or in-person, make sure that the bird food providers abide by the WBFI Quality Standards Program, to ensure that your seed and feeders are following the best standard practices.
If you are not necessarily looking for a specific type of bird, here are a few options to consider:
Making Sure Your Feed is for Birds Only
You also might be asking yourself; how do I make sure that this feed is exclusive to birds? The two most common animals that try and get into bird feeders are raccoons and squirrels. There are many ways to deter these animals, but one of the best ways is to make sure that your feeder is squirrel and raccoon-proof. One of the best ways to deter squirrels is to place your bird feeder in between two trees on a wire. Squirrels prefer an easy, safe meal and may avoid walking across the thin wires, and birds will feel welcome to eat from the bird feeder. The best way to deter raccoons is to make sure that there are no lingering food scraps at night and to be sure that your trash cans are fully sealed. There are also a variety of hanging and post-mounted baffles available that you can place on your feeder setup to deter squirrels and raccoons from accessing the feeder. By taking these small steps you can ensure that your bird feeders are a special place for the birds and the birds.
Taking Care of Your Feeders
Last, but most importantly, is to clean your bird feeder regularly to help avoid the chance of birds spreading diseases, specifically through bird droppings which can cause fecal-oral transmission. The best practice is to clean your bird feeder, at minimum, about once every two weeks. Having two sets of feeders to place out when you are cleaning or adding additional feeders to the yards can also help avoid birds congregating in one area. Find more information on WBFI's #FeedSmart Resources page.
After all these steps you are ready to witness the art of bird feeding over and over again. For many, it takes time and trial-and-error, but with patience you will experience the magical moment when you hear your first glorious chirp and see the beauty of the long-awaited flapping of wings at your feeder.
For more resources to help you turn your backyard into a sanctuary for your birds, visit WBFI’s Creating a Backyard Sanctuary page. Happy bird feeding!
By: Jenna McCullough, WBFI Research Consultant
California (1), Oregon (2), Washington (3), and British Columbia (4), Canada are reporting cases of a zoonotic disease, salmonellosis, impacting common feeder birds. These cases are mostly concentrated in Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus) and other finches.
Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica, which naturally occurs in the digestive tracts of a broad range of animals, including cattle, pigs, poultry, and wild birds5. Typically, human infections are linked to contaminated produce and meat products, with symptoms that include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. The bacteria can be transmitted to humans through wild animals, such as birds, but it is rare (6). It’s more likely that contact with a pet turtle is the root of a non-foodborne Salmonella infection than one linked to exposure of wild bird feces at a feeder.
However, naturally occurring Salmonella outbreaks are more common within bird populations themselves. Salmonella is spread by contact with feces of an infected individual. These outbreaks typically occur during the cold winter months within gregarious, flocking songbird species (7) like Pine Siskins and House finches in North America (8). In Europe, a similar assemblage of birds, such as Eurasian Siskins (Carduelis spinus), Common Redpolls (Carduelis flammea), or Greenfinches (Carduelis chloris), are also reported to have similar outbreaks (9),(10). This is due, in part, to bird behavior as well as disease dynamics.
During the winter, birds in colder climates have a poorer body condition than they would in the spring due to harsh weather and limited food resources. Poor body condition causes individuals to be more susceptible to serious infections. Gregarious species, like finches, also gather in larger flocks during the winter (11). This behavior increases their population density and allows for a higher rate of disease transmission within the flock. These dynamics are exaggerated during an irruption year (12), in which larger than normal flocks of montante/boreal bird species travel outside their typical winter range in search of more food. Indeed, the fall of 2020 was a phenomenal irruption year across North America (13), particularly for Pine Siskins, the species for which the most Salmonella infections have been reported during winter 2020-2021.
You can recognize a bird with Salmonellosis by observing its behavior. Look for signs such as fluffed up feathers, sunken or closed eyes, and unexpectedly lethargic behavior compared to other birds. An infected bird will be less likely to fly away if you approach it, but that doesn’t mean you should. Since avian Salmonellosis is incurable, a bird exhibiting these symptoms will likely die and you should therefore leave it be. Dispose of the bird in a sealable plastic bag while wearing plastic gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Dead individuals will show signs of a pasted cloaca or white substances around the mouth.
Just like with the COVID-19 pandemic, our own actions can help curb the spread of this disease. If you think a dead bird near your feeder succumbed to Salmonellosis, as opposed to striking a window or being killed by a free-ranging cat, immediately clean your feeders after disposing of the affected individual. If you live in an area with a reported outbreak, be sure to:
1. Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County, California. 2021. Pine Siskin Salmonellosis Outbreak, Winter 2020-2021. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y5yhufxw
2. KGW8 News, Portland, Oregon. ‘Help the birds social distance’: Preventing a bird salmonella outbreak. (2020). Link: https://tinyurl.com/y5qzy5b2
3. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. (2021) Help protect wild birds from deadly salmonellosis. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y5ul4vct
4. Adams, J. J. (2021) Remove your bird feeders: SPCA warns of salmonella transmission. Vancouver Sun. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y6knebqw
5. Hilbert, F. et al. (2012) P. Salmonella in the wildlife-human interface. Food Res. Int. 45, 603–608.
6. Tsiodras, S. et al. (2008) Human infections associated with wild birds. J. Infect. 56, 83–98.
7. Lawson, B. et al. (2018) Health hazards to wild birds and risk factors associated with anthropogenic food provisioning. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 373.
8. Locke, L. N. et al. (1973) Salmonellosis in passerine birds in Maryland and West Virginia. J. Wildl. Dis. 9, 144–145.
9. Hurvell, B. et al. (1974). Studies on Salmonella typhimurium infections in passerine birds in Sweden. Int. Congr. Game Biol 11 493–497.
10. Söderlund, R. et al (2019). Linked seasonal outbreaks of Salmonella Typhimurium among passerine birds, domestic cats and humans, Sweden, 2009 to 2016. Euro Surveill. 24.
11. Emlen, J. T. (1952). Flocking Behavior in Birds. Auk 69, 160–170
12. American Birding Association. (2020) A Superflight of Finches in the East. Field Ornithology. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y3s3426m
13. The Audubon Society. (2020) Pine siskins have taken over the country. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y6yxv5g9
14. Feliciano, L. M. et al. (2018). The effectiveness of bird feeder cleaning methods with and without debris. Wilson J. Ornithol. 130, 313–320.
15. Loss, S. R. et al. (2018). Responding to misinformation and criticisms regarding United States cat predation estimates. Biol. Invasions 20, 3385–3396.
16. Woinarski, J. C. Z. et al. (2017) How many birds are killed by cats in Australia? Biol. Conserv. 214, 76–87.
As more and more people appreciate and enjoy the beauty of wild birds and realize the therapeutic relaxation birding and bird watching offers, the demand for increased quality wild bird feed grows. To meet the growing demand, Turtle Mountain Seed Co. management has determined it is in the company’s best interest to increase their product offerings into the Wild Bird Mix and Racing Pigeon Mix categories. This expansion will be facilitated with the acquisition of Baden Feed & Supply Ltd. and their popular product lines.