I feed birds, squirrels, and chipmunks that come to my backyard and I also have a bird feeder. Is this okay?
There are a lot of similar topics to this one, but in my opinion, I don’t see an issue with it as long as the wildlife doesn’t become dependent on you as their sole source of food.
Here’s a similar recent topic: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/ethics-of-feeding-songbirds/37391
Apart from our regular internal and external parasites/ commensialists, there is no species on earth that requires human input for its survival. Feeding wildlife almost always bears long term negative repercussions for that which is being fed or sustained in whatever way. It is better to come to terms with the fact that activities like that are only for the gratification of humans and to instead expend your desire to see and experience wildlife by visiting your local National Park or Reserve
Surely that’s okay, if you already have it, there’s no need to put it away unless you see it’s used mostly by invasives or something like that.
Whether to feed creatures or not is depending on the circumstances.
In my city, the authorities stated that those caught feeding wildlife will be given a fine. That is they will charge us with an offence. Unfortunately, the city is too crowded. The feeding of birds especially pigeons may cause the spread of pathogen, Encephalitis related diseases. Rats may also increase. From what I’ve observed, there are cats in the neighbourhood. After the cats had their fill, the rats come out to feed too. Closer to the forest side, people may be tempted to feed macaques. This makes those monkeys bold. Those macaques are known to raid the houses and kitchens near the nature reserves.
On the other hand, I’d think that those are rules. and if there is none in your areas, then it is subjective. I’ve a 1kg bag of scrap vegetables every week. This could feed the soil. It is quite common in big cities to learn composting these days, as there is a big load of rubbish that needs to disappear. Some cities have better management than others. Innovative ways of processing organic food waste may make it more efficient in future.
Feeding birds may result in a human created advantage to one or several species. There may be some species which are genetically wired to avoid urban environments and thus do not benefit from the food sources in the gardens. so we are favoring one species over another. I’m reminded that in some harsh winters, many birds will perish, so they have a habit of feeding birds. I’m in the tropics, never seen snow. I’m obliged to buy a dozen oranges every 2 weeks which I can’t finish. so I would bring it to a thin forest patch, and half it. Saw a video in the internet, of some scientist dumping some tons of oranges on an open land some where in south America and a forest grew after many years. Naturally, a forest will grow given time, but with an organic input, it just grow faster.
When we feed the soil near a plant, the plant will grow greener leaves. That makes butterfly caterpillars appear sometimes, or pest aphids may appear. so there is an increase in insects to take photos. Some birds do not feed on seeds but flower nectar. We can grow flowering plants to feed the birds. Not necessarily feeding the birds directly using a sugar solution. Maybe I’ll grow some wild celosia to feed the doves.
Feeding wildlife using feeders can be a good thing as long as you keep the feeders and the food clean. If it rains, or snows and melts, the seed can quickly rot. This can cause disease in the birds that eat the bad seed.
Feeders can be very good because they allow people who cannot get out to parks to enjoy the birds and squirrels. Feeders can allow people to see wildlife in other parts of the world because there are web cams out there. Here is one from northern Ontario that operates in the winter. There are links to others on top of the page.
As far as the Big Picture goes, it is my opinion that one feeder won’t affect the global wildlife situation. There are millions of feeders across the U.S., Canada and around the world. Wildlife has already been affected by the multitude of feeders. But, birds and squirrels can easily exist without them if they all suddenly went away. Feeders are mainly for people. I know that some park systems are torn between having feeders or letting the birds fend for themselves - which they are perfectly equipped to do. Feeders attract people to nature centers where they can learn to appreciate and support wildlife.
If you have a yard that you can alter, you might want to consider planting native plants that can provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife. Shelter is very good because small songbirds needs a place to hide from the hawks that will be attracted to the feeders your yard. Enjoy both the small birds and the hawks. Some kind of water source like a bird bath or small pond can also attract birds. But, you have to clean the bird bath daily. Here is one link to guide you:
Best of luck with whatever you decide.