When It's Time to Stop Feeding the Birds

Posted by Jim Mize on October 13, 2022

People who feed birds find it rewarding and time well spent. Usually, they can rattle off the species at their feeder like they were family names.  Sometimes even better than family names. So when you suggest that it might be time to stop feeding, you might need to duck until you have a chance to explain why.  

Our home-place is a haven for wildlife and the house sits on a knoll overlooking trees and fields. The den has large glass windows and just in front of them are bird feeders hanging and a concrete entry that makes for good ground feeding. My mother keeps the birds well supplied and they respond by visiting her regularly.

One day, she felt she was being watched and looked out the den window to see who might be the culprit. Looking back was a yearling bear, standing with his paws on the window to look in.  

When female bears get ready to give birth to new cubs, they often run the yearlings off so you have disoriented one-year-olds wandering around looking for a free meal. That’s what her visitor was up to.


Rather than knock to come in, the yearling followed his nose. Apparently, he caught wind of a pizza box inside the screened porch. Not being adept at using doors, he made his own entrance through the screen and proceeded to sift through the trash for food. 

Sift is perhaps too kind a word; he created havoc and mayhem in her garbage. Litter was strewn like a cherry bomb had gone off in the garbage can.  Confetti littered the porch as he shredded wrappers to find food. 

We had suggested to Mom that bears are better kept wild so having them as regular visitors might not be a good thing. To run them off, all she had to do was press the panic button on the key fob to her car in the driveway and the bear would likely make a quick exit.

She did and he did.

When she pressed the panic button, the bear . . . well, panicked . . . and made an exit in the screen porch that was different from the entry he had made.  So now she had two big holes thanks to a clown in black fur.

Not wanting to become a regular stop on the bear’s feeding circuit, we moved the garbage into the basement and convinced her this might be a good time to stop feeding the birds and bears. At least, stop feeding both until the bear had become acclimated to the wild and no longer stopped by for a snack.

So, should you find yourself in a similar situation, just remove the bird food until wild creatures once again become wild. It shouldn’t take long and you’ll be doing them a favor.

Regarding the holes in the screen porch, we did have a little fun with them before they were repaired. In the interim, we put up Bear Crossing signs.  You can take pleasure in wildlife in many different ways.



Jim Mize

Jim Mize has written humor and nostalgia for magazines including Gray's Sporting Journal, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Field & Stream, and a number of conservation magazines, picking up over fifty Excellence In Craft awards along the way. His most recent book, a collection of humor for fly fisherman entitled A Creek Trickles Through It, was awarded best outdoor book in 2014 by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. More on Jim and his writing activities can be found at acreektricklesthroughit.com

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