15 Myths About Wild Birds
Uncooked rice will make a birds stomach swell up and explode! True or False?
Hummingbirds never land, they always hover. Right or Wrong?
If you feed peanut butter to birds, it will stick to the roof of their mouths and they will choke. Yes or No?
I'm not sure where these crazy ideas came from, but you can find the real truths here.
1. Don’t feed peanut butter to birds, they will choke on it. NOT!
I have been using peanut butter for many years. I have observed that my birds take tiny amounts, fly to the nearest tree, poke it under a piece of bark and eat it as though it were a bug they found.
If you are uncomfortable giving nutritious high energy peanut butter to your birds, just mix it with some sunflower seeds!
2. Don’t bother raking up old seed hulls, they will compost automatically, right? WRONG!
Leaving seed hulls on the ground encourages mold and disease. Besides, sunflower seeds have a toxin that prevents other plants from sprouting and growing properly. It’s best to rake up the seed and discard it on a regular basis.
3. Don’t buy bird feeders with metal perches because birds’ feet will freeze to them. NO!
Birds’ feet are protected by tough scaly tissue that keeps their feet dry, so there is no moisture to cause their feet to freeze to metal objects.
4. It’s absolutely necessary to add red dye in order to attract hummers to a nectar feeder. ABSOLUTELY FALSE! Hummers are attracted to red flowers as well as pink and orange. But they will come to nectar feeders no matter what color they are once they find them. In order for your hummers to more readily find a new nectar feeder that doesn’t have some red on it, attach a red ribbon to the hanger, or set a pot of red flowers nearby. They will find it! Skip the red dye.
5. If you keep nectar out for the hummers, they will stick around and freeze. NO!
Mine have scheduled departure and arrival times I can set my clock by no matter whether the nectar feeder is still out or not. They are genetically programmed by weather conditions and the amount of daylight.
6. Hummers hitch rides on the backs of geese.
No such thing has ever been documented!
7. A sudden cold snap will kill hummers. NOT TRUE!
Hummers have the ability to attain a state of torpor that slows down their metabolism until warmth returns and they regain their natural “Speedy Gonzalez” hyperactivity.
8. Hummingbirds never land, they always hover. They only eat nectar. NOPE!
Hummers land very often to rest, take a shower if it’s raining and watch for another hummer to make an attempt at raiding ‘their’ nectar feeder. They also eat tiny insects and spiders. In fact, they use spider silk to line their nests.
9. Don’t bother to clean the bird bath, birds use mud puddles, don’t they? CONSIDER THIS:
Unclean bird baths are perfect breeding grounds for algae, mosquito larvae and mold. Definitely keep those bird baths clean and filled with clean water on a regular basis!
10. Don’t worry about webs in last year’s birdseed. After all, it’s a moth infestation and birds eat moths, right? WRONG!
The larvae has sapped all the nutrition from the seeds and rendered it useless to the birds. Moreover, the moths have hatched and long since flown away.
11. Red milo seed is a filler only, no birds eat it. NOT SO!
Quails, wild turkeys, pigeons, doves, pheasants, and sparrows love it.
12. Feeding birds is an eternal chore because once you start they will starve without your help. NO!
Only approx. 20-25% of birds’ food comes from feeders. The rest they forage for themselves all year long. Feeding nutritious black oil sunflower seeds helps them use less energy foraging and increases survival rates. But they will not starve if you go on vacation for a month.
13. Uncooked rice will make birds’ stomachs swell up and explode. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Most birds eat all kinds of grains, including rice, with no ill effects at all. It’s part of their natural diet.
14. You don’t need to feed birds when it gets warm. NOT TRUE!
Actually, that is when birds are feeding and raising their young. They appreciate saving energy foraging if there is a ready supply easily available to help sustain Mom and Pop. The babies need protein, which means the parents need a huge supply of worms, larvae and other unsavory (to us) creepy crawlers. A feeder can be a great help for a hungry and exhausted parent bird.
15. You can buy a squirrel-proof feeder. UH, NO.
Some feeders are actually squirrel resistant, but take it from me, there are NO SQUIRREL-PROOF feeders out there. Squirrels are extremely clever, agile and persistent contortionists. They will eventually find a way to get into your feeders!
There's also an old saying about never feeding salt to birds, that has its basis in science. Salt is not a natural part of their diet, but birds can process a small amount. Large amounts can be dangerous if not fatal. If you like to toss popcorn out to your birds occasionally, try to give them unsalted and air-popped if possible.
And never give wild birds anything with caffeine, iceberg lettuce, alcohol, avocados or chocolate!