Monday, December 08, 2008

Birdseed and the Recession



I still haven't attracted a Tufted Titmouse to my apartment balcony feeders, but a gorgeous Red-bellied Woodpecker discovered the suet on Sunday. On the Wisconsin Birding Network, someone recently introduced the topic of bird feeding relative to our economic recession.

As you're probably aware, the push away from trans-fats is one of the factors attributed to increased birdseed prices. Another is ethanol. These seed products are in higher demand in other sectors of the market. Sunflower, safflower and millet are sold on commodity markets just like corn and soybeans and are just as vulnerable to factors that drive up prices. Will the recession affect our backyard birds?

While research on Black-capped Chickadees has shown that chances of surviving a harsh winter may be greater for birds that have access to feeders, they merely supplement their normal intake of food. I think this is likely true for other birds as well. If you're thinking of cutting back, I would recommend putting out black-oil sunflower seed – you'll get the biggest bang for your dollar and many common backyard birds will enjoy consuming this particular source of food.

Now that I'm living in an apartment, I don't have as many bird feeders out and no longer use safflower or any seed blends I've used in the past. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I'm offering black-oil sunflower, suet, nyjer and peanut-halves. I'm pleased to have around a dozen bird species visiting daily. This is similar to what I was getting at Waunakee, but curiously, I haven't had a single Blue Jay yet!

Has the recession and/or higher prices affected how much birdseed you're buying?

Red-bellied Woodpecker © 2008 Mike McDowell

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