After 32 years we have stopped feeding the birds. It would be fine if it were just birds who came. We love the chickadees, blue jays, nuthatches, mourning doves, and woodpeckers. They make for delightful watching. Along with the birds come the chipmunks in the fall, and then the red squirrels. We've accepted them because they really are cute little creatures, even though I'm pretty sure I hear the squirrels running around in the ceilings sometimes. In recent years the deer have been coming to the feeders, and we have loved that.
Bears are a problem only if the feeders are left up too late in the spring.
However, the other night we looked out and couldn't believe our eyes when we saw this
Coyotes! We often hear them, but never in all the years we've lived here have we ever seen them. They were happily eating sunflower seeds we had scattered for the ground feeding birds. They stayed a long while that night. A day or two later we had deer visiting the feeders, and two hours later the two coyotes came. Sometimes just one coyote would come. When we saw this was becoming a routine, we began to be worried for Sadie. Yes, she is a big dog, probably outweighing a coyote by 50 pounds, but still, they could team up and go after her. We had begun taking her out on a leash - a leash! We live on 200 acres, and have a large fenced in lawn and field so she doesn't even wear a collar and runs free as she wishes. But our biggest concern was little Piglet, Matt and Margaret's pug who lives just down the road. There are stories of coyotes coming right into a yard and taking a little dog. Their dogs are also used to being free. They never go far from the house, but they are often out without people.
We have been very concerned, wondering what to do. So last evening I went to the source of all things bird, my state's Audubon Society. I emailed them:
I've been all over the internet asking these questions and have received differing answers. If we stop feeding the birds right now, will they die? Are they dependent upon us for their survival? The birds that come are chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, mourning doves.This morning I was grateful and relieved to read this response:
You might wonder why I ask. Well, the reason is that we suddenly have two coyotes eating the bird seed. We've had deer around for years, but this is the first time we've ever seen coyotes. Our near neighbors have a small dog, a pug, and we are concerned about the coyotes getting her. We have a dog too, and aren't awfully comfortable letting her out now. We are out in the country on a couple hundred acres of land.
We'd really like to take down the feeders, but don't want to kill the birds.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
I am not speaking as one of the experts here, but I can tell you that the conservationists tell me over and over that taking down a bird feeder will not impact the birds in any way. Birds naturally feed in the wild and if someone takes down a feeder, they just go to their sources out in the wild or find a feeder elsewhere. I think you will agree that your safety and the safety of the dogs is of utmost importance.So, Tom went out and took down all the feeders. An era has ended. Yes, we will miss seeing them close to the house, but we can still see and hear them in the woods, and the benefits far outweigh the loss. I expect it will take a few days for all the seeds on the ground to be cleaned up, but soon, the coyotes and deer and birds will realize that this particular restaurant has closed forever.