If you love them, don't feed them
It could be tempting to feed wildlife during the cold winter months. It may feel like an act of kindness but in reality, it is a disservice to the animal. Here are a few reasons why:
Wildlife adapts to the changing seasons
Mother Nature has provided animals the ability to continue to thrive throughout the cold months. In many cases, an animal's GI tract changes to allow them to eat what is available. Deer, for instance, go through digestive changes so they can eat twigs and bark. Feeding a deer more nutrient-dense food during the winter months can be detrimental to the animal's health.
Wildlife will naturally move to a location where food sources are readily available
When a food source has been depleted, animals will move on to a new area, sometimes miles away. When animals are artificially fed by humans, it can cause crowding and they will stay in the area longer. This can result in the spread of diseases, as well as increase the chances of fighting and injuries between animals.
Feeding wildlife will habituate them to humans
This can cause the animals to lose their natural fear, which can lead them to become a nuisance as they learn to look to humans for food handouts. In some cases, it can also become a public safety risk.
If you do choose to set out bird feeders for the winter, remember that they have the potential to attract coyotes and bears, as well. An alternative to feeders could be a heated bird bath. More birds suffer from dehydration in the winter than hunger. They also use the water to fluff up their feathers and increase their natural insulation.