A joint study conducted by the University of Exeter and The British Trust for Ornithology has suggested that feeding garden birds during the winter months may actually do more harm than good.
The study, published in Animal Ecology, found that blue tits in particular, are suffering from their diet being supplemented at bird tables and feeders.
More than half a million tonnes of commercial bird feed is sold each year in the UK and USA combined.
The study found that the additional fats and vitamins found in traditional bird feeds actually decrease the chance of a healthy chick emerging from an egg. In fact the supplement actually reduces the number of yolk building caretenoids and nutritious chemicals, needed to produce a healthy youngster.
Although feeding birds will almost certainly help them in the short term – getting through the harsh winter months is by no means easy – it could also lead to a culture of dependence amongst birds, leaving them open to health problems.
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