Feeding the wildlife is sometimes done like this, unintentionally, or by people like me, who like to feed the birds. It was a winter ago when I saw birdseed put out by a neighbor, and I saw all the little tracks in the snow that got me started. It occurred to me that birds might need to be fed in the winter. And then I didn't stop when summer came around, and now I'm hooked on feeding the birds. And the squirrels by default.
At least I live in a second-story apartment so I don't get the deer eating up my hummingbird flowers, but I watch them eat the ground-level flowers that appeal to them. The whole Pacific Northwest is their salad bar, after all.
I have followed the tenets about feeding the birds that comes from some well-known and respected sites, such as the "All About Birds" site at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I just looked up some information, out of curiosity, wondering how the birds crack the sunflower seeds. I learned that the black oil sunflower seeds have thin shells that are readily cracked by most birds. Some people in my apartment complex put out corn for the birds and other wildlife, but I don't. I found that it rots quickly, and this information on that website caught my eye:
Corn is eaten by grouse, pheasants, turkeys, quails, cardinals, grosbeaks, crows, ravens, jays, doves, ducks, cranes, and other species. Unfortunately, corn has two serious problems. First, it’s a favorite of House Sparrows, cowbirds, starlings, geese, bears, raccoons, and deer—none of which should be subsidized by us. Second, corn is the bird food most likely to be contaminated with aflatoxins, which are extremely toxic even at low levels.So, it is quite possible that you could be harming rather than helping the wildlife by feeding them. After trying my best to rid myself of the House Sparrows, I've stopped putting out everything except the nyjer thistle which the finches love, and black oil sunflower seeds. I just love the cheeky chickadees, and they eat the sunflower seeds, as do the House Sparrows. I won't stop feeding my favorite guys, so I guess I have to endure the House Sparrows as well.
I gain so much pleasure from watching the birds, and now from chasing the squirrels in the ancient tradition of all neighborhood kids with Super Soakers. I've written about this guilty pastime of mine before (feeding the birds), and I've decided that I'm not likely to quit doing it anytime soon. Learning to coexist with our wild neighbors takes a bit of effort. Just like those pesky humans I share my environment with, too!