Do birds depend on birdfeeders?
"Once you start to feeding in winter, you need to keep it up," said John O'Neill, a naturalist at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs. "The birds start to depend on the food and it could be detrimental if you suddenly stop."The birds depend on birdfeeders, and we could hurt them if we stop filling the feeders? I've heard otherwise.
This article at Kingston Field Naturalists appears to indicate otherwise.
Brittingham, in a study on the winter feeding habits of the Black-capped Chickadee in Wisconsin, showed that birds obtained 20 to 25 percent of their daily energy requirements from feeders, and an additional 75 to 80 percent from natural (wild) food sources. Her study also showed that in normal winters chickadees that used feeders as a supplemental food source survived at the same rate when feeding station food was removed as did chickadees that had never been exposed to feeder food.
That article refers to a 1983-1985 study by Margaret C. Brittingham and Stanley Temple.
Have you read other research that focuses on how much wild birds use birdfeeders?
Black-capped Chickadee courtesy of GatorFarm.com