British Wildlife 34.6 May 2023

Identifying the costs and benefits of feeding garden birds

A previous article in British Wildlife explored how birds use gardens and the resources they provide (Toms 2007). Here, Mike Toms reviews the knowledge gained since on the impacts – on both individuals and populations – of providing supplementary food for birds.

The practice of providing food for wild birds is common within the UK, and studies suggest that it is the commonest form of participatory human–wildlife interaction globally. More than half of all households here in the UK engage in feeding wild birds, although less than a third regularly provide food at least once a week, and the scale and nature of this provisioning vary greatly across different societal groups (Davies et al. 2012).

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