I was walking with a friend earlier this week, and we were talking about how much we are spending to feed the little feathered gluttons in our yards. I haven't done real well this year tracking my birding expenses, but I know I spend a lot. Not just on food, but gas, books, magazines, memberships, donations, equipment, etc.
Sometimes I wonder whether I should be spending that money on my hobby. There are so many other things I could be spending that money for. That thinking lasts about 30 seconds...maybe. I know the birds don't need the food I put out for their survival. I don't feed the birds for them; I feed them for me. I spend a couple of hours walking the trails in the parks to watch the birds, not for them, but for me. I volunteer at Wild Bird Rescue for my satisfaction when I get to see a beautiful bird released that would have died or I get to see the fascination on the faces of people who have never had the opportunity to see a hawk or an owl up close.
If I went out to dinner, I would enjoy that and wouldn't begrudge the $20 or $30 I would spend. I could go to the movies, and between the ticket and the popcorn (you can't go to the movies without popcorn) I would spend $20. Each of these things would last a couple of hours, at most. I spend $20 or $30 on a bag of bird food and I can get many hours of enjoyment watching the birds over the course of a week. Looked at that way, I think I am getting good value for the dollar.
In addition, when I go out birding, I am getting good exercise and lowering my stress level. I always feel better after a few hours away from all of the other "To-Do" things that crowd the day.
So yes, even if most of the birds I am getting right now at my feeders are not the ones I most want to see, they are worth every penny. I added two more feeders to my yard today...