SEP 05, 2018 7:03 PM PDT

Bigger Birds Dominate Food Sources, Study Finds

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Setting out bird feeders stocked with fresh seeds is a common practice among bird lovers and nature appreciators. But would you actually be doing local birds any favors by handing out these tasty treats?

Most would answer the question above with an undeniable “yes.” But as a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE points out, the answer may not be as black and white as it seems.

The blue tit may not get any food from your bird feeders, as larger birds bully their way to the finish line first.

Image Credit: Pixabay

"Bird feeding has become increasingly popular in the UK and throughout much of the world in recent decades," explained Professor Jon Blount, the study’s senior author from the University of Exeter. "However, its impacts are still poorly understood."

Related: Crows allegedly instigate fights with ravens

To learn more, the curious researchers allegedly surveyed bird feeders scatted across their campus to observe bird behavior. Captivatingly, most instances revealed larger birds expressing dominance over smaller ones by taking all the best food for themselves and leaving the unpreferred scraps for the smaller birds.

"Bird feeders create a concentrated food source which can result in more quarrels between individuals of different species, which we predicted would lead to the formation of a dominance hierarchy," Blount continued.

"Our findings show that larger, heavier species get better access to food, so if the aim of bird feeders is to benefit all species, we need to investigate ways to achieve this, such as different mixes of foods and feeder designs."

Related: Air pollution threatens birds' health

In most cases, smaller birds were unsatisfied with their treatment at the bird feeders and retreated, leaving the larger birds to feast to their hearts’ content. Given the circumstances, bird feeders may not help smaller birds at all, but rather serve as all-you-can-eat buffets for larger birds that likely don’t need the extra food to begin with.

The findings are too preliminary to make any definite claims, but they could go on to spur more studies outside of the researchers’ limited campus. Perhaps additional research could go a long way to understanding whether bird feeders have any substantial impact on birds or if it’s all just a scam for the fatter birds to engorge themselves even more.

Source: University of Exeter, PLOS ONE

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 20, 2020
Plants & Animals
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Are Usually Understated
AUG 20, 2020
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Are Usually Understated
Cuttlefish are well known for their incredible camouflaging abilities; they can rapidly change the color and texture of ...
AUG 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Is a Supernova to Blame for the Devonian Extinction Event?
AUG 26, 2020
Is a Supernova to Blame for the Devonian Extinction Event?
Over the roughly 4.5 billion years of Earth's existence, there have been several periods were biodiversity has been near ...
SEP 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
High Arctic Polar Bears are Temporarily Benefitting from Climate Change
SEP 24, 2020
High Arctic Polar Bears are Temporarily Benefitting from Climate Change
For the past few decades, polar bears have been harbingers of climate change. However, not every polar bear subpopu ...
OCT 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Legacy chemicals found in migratory birds
OCT 22, 2020
Legacy chemicals found in migratory birds
A study published in the journal Environment International has found long-forgotten chemicals, called legacy chemicals, ...
NOV 24, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Cracking the Code of a Locust Swarm
NOV 24, 2020
Cracking the Code of a Locust Swarm
With a reputation for destruction that goes back to ancient Egypt, locust swarms are once again a major problem for some ...
JAN 23, 2021
Microbiology
Host Vouchering & How Can It Improve Pandemic Response
JAN 23, 2021
Host Vouchering & How Can It Improve Pandemic Response
About a year ago, I wrote about the virus that would come to be known as SARS-CoV-2 for the first time. And while we've ...
Loading Comments...