CELEBRATING NATIONAL BIRD FEEDING MONTH: THEN & NOW
Birds in North America can have a very difficult time surviving the winter. The days become shorter, and the nights colder and longer. The natural food supply is exhausted or covered by snow, and many insects are dormant or dead. Finding shelter and water is often difficult, and the food needed to provide enough energy to keep birds warm is scarce. Therefore, every February, at the height of the winter, we celebrate National Bird Feeding Month.
People of all ages can participate in National Bird Feeding Month. Learn more about the history of bird feeding and how we can help our feathery friends brave the elements.
HISTORY OF BIRD FEEDING & NATIONAL BIRD FEEDING MONTH
Humans have been “birding”, or the act of observing and documenting bird movements, since the dawn of human civilization for a variety of purposes, such as navigation, weather forecasting, and discovering new species.
Bird feeding traces all the way back to ancient civilizations when people would leave food out for birds as a gesture of goodwill and spirituality. Bird feeding became more popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as people began to appreciate the beauty and diversity of birds. It started to catch on and many birding clubs and societies were created during this time, as well as the development of specialized bird feeders.
Congressman John Porter established National Bird Feeding Month in February of 1994 with the determination to raise awareness for birds and help them during their toughest season of the year. All month-long people are encouraged to provide food, water, and shelter to backyard birds in areas with cold temperatures and limited natural food resources.
BIRD FEEDING TODAY
People's attitudes toward bird feeding have shifted dramatically since the hobby's inception.
The use of technology has been one of the most significant factors with the development of birding apps and online resources making it more accessible and easier for people to learn about different species of birds.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic alone, the number of Americans who participate in birding hobbies skyrocketed in 2020 by over 2 million. Bird feeding became an outlet to help improve mental health, by helping people become less depressed, less anxious, and less lonely during the pandemic.
Bird feeding and birding are now among the most popular recreational activities in North America and around the world. It is a fun, rewarding way for people of all ages to connect with our natural environment. New programs are being created to reach communities of young birders to provide an interactive and rewarding experience to learn about conservation and sustainability. Bird feeding is becoming more global as experiencing nature is a universal language anyone can cherish.
BIRD FEEDING IN THE FUTURE
Bird-feeding communities are likely to continue to grow and evolve as the hobby continues to gain popularity among younger and more diverse demographics. With the increased use of technology, more resources and tools will assist with increased engagement and getting new hobbyists involved. Identification and tracking bird populations will continue to get easier and even more important for conservation efforts.
National Bird Feeding Month is the perfect time to connect with nature, feed your soul, and raise awareness for protecting birds and their habitats that will last for generations.
Looking to get started? Find a bird-feeding retailer near you! #FeedTheBirds