Birdfeeding is the activity of feeding (and usually observing) wild birds.
A bird table, with a Wood Pigeon on the roof, in an English garden. The table provides water, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and a seed mix
Birdwatching is a non-invasive activity in which the birdwatcher goes into the field and tries to observe birds in their natural habitats with a minimum of disturbance. However, birdfeeding involves a deliberate attempt to modify nature by providing food and sometimes shelter (which may be of benefit, harmless, or harmful to the birds, or even illegal, depending on the circumstances).
Feeding birds in a garden may attract them closer to a vantage point in the house. Alternatively, the observer may sit in the garden, or on a terrace or bench in the street, a square, or a park.
Birdfeeding can be a harmless and environmentally helpful pastime, but must be practised with thought and care. It is easy to do more harm than good by, for example, allowing birds to become dependent on artificial food supplies, or upsetting the natural balance between different species.
Large sums of money are spent by ardent birdfeeders, who indulge their wild birds with a variety of wild bird seeds, suets, nectars, home concoctions, etc. Birdfeeding is regarded as the first or second most popular pastime in the USA. Some 55 million Americans are involved in birdfeeding.
The activity has spawned an industry that sells birdseed, birdfeeders, birdhouses (nesting boxes), mounting poles, squirrel baffles, binoculars, etc.
Most countries have birdfeeding hobbyists. Some simply share their table scraps with the wild birds; others, primarily Western European and North American birdfeeders, have developed a more studied approach, providing special feeders for seed, suet, and nectar, and a host of other feeding aids.
The most common birds in U.S. cities are:
Several of these species do damage, and are classified as invasive vermin in many parts of the world; these include some species of gull, the domestic pigeon, the domestic sparrow, and the European Starling. In some cities or parts of cities (e.g. Trafalgar Square) in London) feeding certain birds is forbidden, either because they compete with vulnerable native species, or because they abound and cause pollution and/or noise.