Should You Have Bird Feeders Out During The Summer? Here's What You Should Know

Whether you love bird watching in your yard or want to help the local wildlife by providing nutritious food, a bird feeder is a staple of many backyards. But you might be wondering if it's a good idea to leave it up as the seasons change. The answer isn't a simple yes or no; it depends on personal preferences and where you live, including considerations about the other local wildlife and the climate.

In general, while leaving a bird feeder up year-round isn't harmful, it also isn't necessary. In any season, there are some benefits to keeping a bird feeder in your yard, both for you as a birdwatcher and for the birds. In the summertime, warmer weather means spending more time outdoors, so it's natural to want to attract as many birds as possible. However, there are also some downsides to consider. Here is all the information you need to know to decide whether or not keeping the feeder up during the summer is right for you.

Pros and cons of bird feeders in the summer

Most of the pros for keeping a bird feeder up in the summer benefit the human birdwatcher more than the birds themselves. This is because summer is when birds' natural food sources are most abundant. Anyone who is prone to mosquito bites knows insects come out by the hundreds once the weather warms up, making a protein-packed snack available whenever birds want. Of course, variety is good for a bird's diet, so providing some extra nuts and seed in the feeder will help. The main draw for keeping feeders up is that it will attract more birds to your backyard. This can include species that you may only see during these summer months, and you might even get to watch adorable baby birds be introduced to eating from a feeder.

However, other critters will also be attracted to this feeder. If you live in an area where bears are common, it might not be worth the risk of them visiting, potentially causing harm to the nearby birds. Some people worry that providing a feeder will discourage birds from finding food naturally, but there is not enough consistent evidence to prove this. Birds have a diverse diet and will enjoy grabbing bountiful insects from the ground and seeds from your feeder.

Ways to support the bird population during the summer

A well-stocked bird feeder benefits birds the most in the winter and early spring when natural food sources are scarce, but there are many things you can do to help your feathered friends in the summer. It's crucial to keep your bird feeder clean if you choose to keep one up. The warmer weather causes food to spoil more quickly, which can lead to birds becoming seriously ill. Stick to dry bird seed and avoid suet (which will go bad much more quickly in the hot weather) until things cool down. Stocking the feeder with seasonal food will also help give birds the nutrients they need. 

Helping birds beat the heat is one of the most important things you can do. A birdbath will give them a place where they can preen and regulate their body temperature. It's even better if you have a feature with moving water. Providing shade is another way to keep birds cool, so be sure to place any feeders in a spot that is shady for as much of the day as possible. By integrating some of these ideas into your yard, you can turn your home into a summertime sanctuary for birds — regardless of whether or not you keep your feeder out.