To Feed or Not to Feed

San Antonio River Walk

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I know it seems sweet to feed birds in the park or on the riverfront walks in cities. I probably did it at one time myself. But if you want to feed birds, do it in your own backyard using food that will help them. Audubon gives some great advice on bird food and feeders.

The other day I ate lunch on San Antonio’s river walk at Cafe Rio. Pigeons, ducks, and smaller birds wander the area waiting for easy grub.

lying in wait

I watched as a man across from me leaned down and fed a pigeon a tortilla chip. I shook my head at his female companion, and she looked puzzled. Then I heard her give a small yelp. One of the ducks had nipped at her foot. When they stood to leave, she exclaimed, “They’re on the table.”

cleaning up

I’m only surprised she was surprised.

Wildlife are not supposed to eat our food (we shouldn’t eat some of it either). They can find food in nature. When they find an easy source, they’ll go for it. Wouldn’t you? It’s not healthy for them and brings them into too much contact with humans which in turn puts them in more danger. They lose their innate fear of humans. And they can become predators, such as the duck who pecked at the woman’s foot.

So please think before you throw that white bread, tortilla chip, or french fry on the ground for wildlife to enjoy. Instead, invest in a proper bird feeder and bird seed. Teach your children and grandchildren to admire the birds from a distance and show them how beautiful nature can truly be with little interference from us.

Published by P. C. Zick

I write. It's as simple and as complicated as that. Storytelling creates our cultural legacy.

17 thoughts on “To Feed or Not to Feed

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I enjoy my bird feeders and keep them clean and use shelled sunflower seeds (so they don’t sprout in my garden – I grow them elsewhere) but feeding wild animals gives them bad habits that can become dangerous for them and us. Thanks for sharing this great post!


    1. Thanks for stopping by. When I worked as a public relations/media person for a wildlife agency, we put out news releases on this topic quite often and paid for signs to be erected all the time. Folks believe they’re being kind but it’s exactly the opposite. The other thing we had to warn folks about was bringing injured wildlife into their homes to nurse back to health. Not a good idea. Call the wildlife specialists for that.


      1. So true! I recently saw a poster of a baby robin in someone’s hands with large letters saying LEAVE ME ALONE because so many robin young are brought indoors by well meaning people who don’t understand how robin fledglings on the ground are not an accident. The parents are nearby and the young count on being scentless and hidden. Great to chat with you about a favorite topic of mine: birds!


      2. Here’s a story (but not about birds): In south Florida iguanas run rampant (obviously imported) but they do little harm. When it gets cold like it did a couple of years ago, iguanas simply freeze but don’t die and they fall from the trees. An older woman brought one into her home to revive it and wrapped it in a blanket and set it in her living room. When it “unfroze” it wrecked havoc in her house trying to get out and she was very upset when she called the wildlife folks. Well, don’t bring frozen iguanas into your home if you don’t want to pay the consequences!


      3. Oh my gosh, while undoubtedly upsetting for that woman (not to mention the iguana!) this story is a rather hilarious example to leave animals be! Thank you so much for the laugh just now!


      4. You’re welcome. And as a little footnote to this piece. On my last day in San Antonio, I ate a place on the river walk. The wind picked up and before I could catch it, my small bowl of chips blew off my table onto the deck. The man next to me said, “At least you’ll feed the birds,” as the pigeons came out of the air to the deck. I was so embarrassed but no one knew the real reason. Thankfully, the staff was on it immediately and came with brooms and swept on my blown debris. How ironic it should occur the day after I posted that piece!


  2. You should look up the crazy amounts of chickens and roosters on Kauai in Hawaii and what feeding them has done to Kauai. They’re everywhere. At the same time, no excuse for anyone in Kauai starving… 😉


  3. Great reminder post. PBS often has programs about humans feeding bears or leaving food out when bears are around. This is dangerous! I’ve also seen a program where monkeys ran rampant in a city and boldly took food out of people’s hands! It was a serious problem. I had a beautiful plant with purplish flowers in a hanging basket on my porch of an apt I used to live in. A robin liked to perch on the edge of the basket. So, I bought some birdseed in stick form and attached it to the flower basket. Before you know it, I had a family of robins: a momma, a poppa, and 3 blue little eggs in my flower basket! When the eggs hatched, those were the fattest little birds I had ever seen!


      1. Yes! I think they would! From what I remember, there is a high fat content in these seed sticks (or whatever they’re called) and that is good for the birds.


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