If you feed birds in winter, you're helping them survive the natural lull of insect and fruit abundance. And you're not alone: A 2006 study estimated that households in the U.S. and U.K. provide more than 500,000 tons of bird food annually.
While all of the suet, seed, and mealworms mean that lots of birds can make it through the cold, snowy months, we've never really known what other effects winter feeding might have. Until now.
Research published Wednesday by the journal Biology Letters shows for the first time that the extra food we provide backyard birds in winter boosts their breeding success in spring.