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The best first pet? A bird feeder.

Getting a pet for your child? Forget it. A bird feeder, though? Now that is an idea...

Violet-crowned Hummingbird and Broad-tailed Hummingbird use a hummingbird feeder
A Violet-crowned Hummingbird checks out a honey bee and a Broad-billed Hummingbird on a feeder.

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Every sitcom in history has produced an episode where chaos ensues when irresponsible children sneakily acquire a pet behind the back of their parents. Of course, those episodes always end on a heartwarming note. As we (and many humane societies) know, taking on the responsibility of a pet does not always end well. BUT, what if you could teach the responsibility of caring for an animal while also learning about life cycles, populations, budgeting, ratios, abundance, and frequency, while not risking catastrophic failure?

Welcome to the wonderful world of feeding birds. If you forget to feed Gilligan the Goldfish, they get flushed down the ol' S.S. Minnow. However, if you forget to feed the birds, they will simply shun your feeders until the buffet has returned. (Similar to how patrons of Golden Corral behave when the ice cream machine stops working.)

How can feeding birds relate to caring for a pet?

  1. Feeding

  2. Cleaning

  3. Water

  4. Walking

  5. Enjoying

Seem simple? Well, read on for our broad and over-simplified competition of pets vs feeding birds.

Feeding Your First Pet = Feeding Birds

One of the most essential duties of pet care is feeding your pet. Want to simulate that? Fill your bird feeders! Feeders that hold several pounds of food are often too big for the number of avian visitors, leading to spoiled food. Try a smaller feeder that must be filled daily or even twice a day! If you forget to feed the birds or go on vacation, you won't have to take Fido to "the farm."

Winner: Birds


Interested in feeding birds? Check out our guide to buying bird feeders!


Cleaning Up After Your First Pet = Cleaning Bird Feeders

Everyone's least favorite duty in pet care involves doody. Cleaning up after a pet is a daily chore, especially if you want a hygienic yard and pet. However, some people allow their duties to pile up (literally). With bird waste, you do not have to put that plastic bag on your hand and 'claw-machine' up that warm, hopefully brown, collection. While bird excreta is not water-soluble, it is easily cleaned with a hose or a quick soak/scrub. See? Much less repulsive to think about.

Winner: Birds


Learn how to clean bird feeders in our post on Feeder Cleaning!


New to birds? Get your first pair of nockies!

a pair of nikon monarch m5 binoculars sits in front of a birdy background

Pet Hydration = Birdbath Maintenance

Jeremiah was a Bullfrog. Or, at least, he was until you forgot to fill his water. Almost all pets require a regular water source to keep them hydrated. If you forget, the consequences are far direr than forgetting to feed for a meal. Dehydration is dangerous to animals, even domestic ones. Birds appreciate a fresh source of water in your yard, but if the birdbath dries up in mid-July, those wonderful feathered wings will carry them to a nearby water source.

Winner: Birds

Walking Your First Pet = Go Birding!

When you get out the leash, and your dog shows extreme levels of excitement, these moments cannot be replicated by feeding birds. You cannot capture a bird and take it for a flight. Not only is it highly illegal, but capturing wild animals is unethical. This is an area where feeding birds cannot compete with a pet. The joy of going on a walk with your favorite pooch is unmatched. However, if you enjoy the exercise generated by walking a pet, go birdwatching! Hiking and finding birds is a relaxing and cathartic activity.

Winner: Pets (unless its a goldfish)

Pet in an Apartment? Get a bird feeder!

Pets are often not allowed in apartments. However, a balcony or window bird feeder can often still be used to attract birds. You will want to confirm this with your apartment managers, but if feeders are not allowed in some capacity, you can always convince them to plant native plants around the property. Don't know which plants to recommend? There are countless resources online, and we even have a list of state-specific native flower packs!

Winner: Birds

Red-breasted Nuthatch on a small feeder
Red-breasted Nuthatch on a small feeder

More Pets or More Birds?

Approximately 1.5 million pets are euthanized each year in the US. Over 70 million pets have been abandoned and/or are running around as strays. Since the 1970s, we have seen a net decline of 30% of overall bird populations or around 3 billion birds. These numbers do not make anyone feel good, but fewer pets and more birds seem like a strategy that should be adopted (just like millions of pets). But that is not funny, and we are here for the funny. Or stupidity. I'm not certain anymore.

Loser: Everyone

Enjoy the Birds!

The affection and loyalty that a pet can bring to someone are immeasurable. Wild birds are neither affectionate nor loyal. They visit the best feeder that remains full. Pets often become a part of your family, and this post is not meant to discourage pet adoption/ownership. You cannot replace pets, but birds can provide a different appreciation and enjoyment than a pet. Seeing their freedom, their care for their young, and their immense beauty can create joy for many!

Winner: You

If you are considering being a first-time pet owner, bird feeding is a great way to test your, or your family's, commitment. If you cannot keep a bird feeder clean, can you look at yourself in the mirror and honestly believe that you would provide the best of care to a pet? It is a tough question, but feeding birds could help answer it for you.

Want bird feeder tips, tricks, and ideas? Check out the post below!

So, who wins? You do. Pets and birdfeeders are excellent additions of joy to our lives. Responsible pet ownership and bird feeding are not activities that I would ever begrudge people for!

I have two addenda to this post:

  1. Don't buy that puppy from the toothless person selling animals out of the back of a U-haul between the Walmart and Pump & Pantry, Wawa, or Common Cents.

  2. I seriously should not have to write that sentence.

  3. Don't buy exotic pets. The illegal pet trade is a MAJOR conservation issue.

  4. Did you know the plural of 'addendum' is 'addenda?' Thank you, spellcheck.


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Zach is showing off gear and encouraging visitors to check out his favorite gear on his Amazon Associate page.
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