I too have struggled with this dilemma and I agree with you.  I love to see "my " birds.. and it is a selfish endeavor. 
  now as to what I will do as my part to "help" bird habitat, well that's something to think about .     I cannot speak for others or for organizations. 
 Jane Allen
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St. Louis, CO

--- On Thu, 10/8/09, Christina McClarren <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Christina McClarren <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Bird feeding: Can we have our cake and eat it, too?
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, October 8, 2009, 11:42 AM

Hi, my name is Chris and I am a recovering bird feeder....

I'd like to stimulate a thoughtful discussion about bird feeding. There is a lot of information out there on the pros and cons of bird feeding, but here are my ideas on the matter, after much research and soul-searching.

1. Wild bird populations are declining, in part due to loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation and toxins strewn about the earth in large part by agriculture.
2. It's estimated that over 50 million of us feed wild birds in the U.S. (and mostly feed them non-organic, junk-foodish, and  non-nutritional seed and sugar-water.)
3. Millions of us feeding birds means millions (if not billions) of pounds of non-organic bird seed (and sugar cane) is being grown by agriculture.
4. Corporate agriculture is the number one cause of the loss of wildlife habitat and habitat fragmentation.  Millions of pounds of seed and cane destroys thousands of acres of habitat.
5. Big agriculture is the number one user of toxins and is the cause of much toxic run-off of pesticides and other toxins that kill birds and other life.
6. Even growing organic seed and sugar cane results in the destruction of habitat.
7. Bird feeding is not necessary, but habitat is.  Bird feeding is problematic for many other debatable reasons: spread of disease, attracting birds to prey, etc. However, these are not the crux of the matter.  Habitat destruction is.
8.  I haven't even begun to mention all the destruction that results from the manufacturing, distribution, advertising and consumption of bird foods,  bird feeding catalogs, bird feeders and paraphenalia.  It's huge! 

Conclusion:  Bird feeding is not beneficial, but is harmful. Especially since it's not a few people feeding them but millions.  Therefore, bird feeding is responsible for the destruction and poisoning of large amounts of habitat  - and therefore the killing and poisoning of birds. I don't think we can have our cake and eat it, too.  We can't bird feed without killing the birds.  At it's best, bird feeding might increase awareness, but ironically, and sadly, at the cost of the birds themselves. 

Bird feeding is the invention of corporations, and they are the ones profitting off it, not the birds.  They take advantage of our desire and need to connect with the awe of nature in a human-made world fast destroying nature.  Most ironic of all, they sell bird feeding to us and get us hooked with ideas like the one that bird feeding helps birds who can't find food - yeah, due to their destruction of its supply.  We could just stop destroying habitat - and their natural food sources. 

Action Idea:  Audubon Societies everywhere need to carry out a campaign to stop bird feeding, instead of encourage it and profit from it themselves.  They could start Bird Feeders Anonymous Groups for the recovering feeders like me.  I am sure we could come up with some pithy slogans:

let go and let birds
but for the grace of birds
one bird at a time
expect birds
to the birds be true
turn it over (to the birds)
this too shall fly

Well, I'm not at my wittiest at the moment but you get the point, if you are familiar with AA slogans.

Audubon could encourage more bird watching groups.  We don't want hordes of folk stampeding habitat to watch birds, but I am sure there's a way to redirect folks toward activities that minimize destruction.  Audubon could help folks fall in love with nature again - sustainably.   

Audubon might even carry out a campaign to go after the big industrialists themselves, those destroying the most habitat willy-nilly. Better yet, Audubon could help restore the original intention of the founders of the United States that corporations serve the public good -  or their charters will be revoked and their CEO's put in jail. 

That would mean taking away corporations' rights under the current laws to be seen as having the same rights as people - which they did not originally have but snuck in using the 14th amendment.  Corporations could be put back in their place so they can't evolve into monsters that in one fell swoop can set off mass extinctions without us having any recourse.  We the people would have our power restored while corporations could once again be held accountable to us, if they want to do big stuff interferring with our individual lives.  Corporations could be reduced to having to selli raffle tickets to raise money, instead of being able to reach deep into the back pockets of government, wealthy elites or the militaries around the world to get their way.

Audubons could encourage those folks who are willing to stop bird feeding to spend their millions on such campaigns - and, of course, habitat restoration.  They go hand in hand.

What do you think?

Chris McClarren
St. Louis South City
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/