I confess. I am jealous when I see so many amazing close-up shots taken at bird feeders all over the United States.

I just moved into a new home that has a backyard sheltered by trees and shrubs with the potential to be very “birdy.” I can hear them twittering and see them darting into the foliage even as I type this.

As you can see from looking at part of my backyard “jungle,” it would be SO much easier to view and photograph them at a feeder rather than in the bushes and trees.

Backyard Habitat

I find myself wandering around and wondering (sometimes out loud) if I should put up a bird feeder and get some of those great shots, too.

Go for it, you say? But, unlike birders that live in cold climates, I am in east-central Florida, near the coast, where winter comes and goes in a few days. We have a few days or maybe a week of cold weather, and
then it warms up. And so it goes all “winter.”

Migrants winter in Florida for good reasons. Here they find warmth, food, and shelter to avoid freezing or starving in colder climates.

Do winter or year-round birds in Florida really need a bird feeder? Or, am I messing with nature somehow to serve my own (selfish?) desires to view and photograph them?

When I lived in the Boulder, Colorado in the Rocky Mountains, I definitely put up a bird feeder. I felt pretty good about it too. But at times, I worried that I might be creating an unnatural situation, and even gave this a name.

I called my feeder an ecological catalyst, because it was an attractant that promoted interactions among many species. My daughter, Karyn Lewis, as a young and developing artist, captured the concept in a drawing, which still hangs in my home office, nearly twenty years later.Rocky Mountain Bird Feeder, Boulder CO, by Karyn Lewis

Seeds nourished birds and Abert’s squirrels. Sometimes, sunflower seeds sprouted beneath the feeder, an odd sight in my neighborhood, for sure. However, my feeder also attracted bird predators, such as prowling cats or hungry, sharp-eyed raptors. But, at least my feeder visitors could find food in the cold, snowy Colorado Mountains, in both the winter and spring seasons.

Should I give in to temptation and take up backyard bird watching in Florida?

After all, I can walk on the beach or visit parks year-round to observe birds and wildlife in their natural settings. For example, a black vulture posed patiently for me near the banks of Mosquito Lagoon, in Canaveral National Seashore last December. Or, while walking on Bethune Beach, I snapped several shots of sanderlings trying to stay warm on a chilly November morning.

Black Vulture, Mosquito Lagoon, Canaveral Nat'l Seashore, Dec 2008

Sanderlings, Bethune Beach, Nov 2008

Do I need or deserve more than this? If I do set up a feeder, what are my responsibilities? Once started, can I stop? Am I required to ask folks to bird feeder sit when I leave town?

To feed or not to feed, that is my question. I need help! Lyn

2 Responses to “Bird Feeder Envy!”

  1. Karyn Lewis Says:

    I say, go for the feeder. Since it’s mostly warm weather there, it won’t be a hardship for the birds to find alternate food if your feeder runs out.

  2. Lyn Says:

    Good point! This morning the lawn was covered with foraging robins and other birds were flying in and out of my trees and shrubs. The cats and I would have enjoyed a much closer look at them all. :-)

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