Skip to content

Food for Wild Birds and Ornithophobia

If you take great delight from s in your garden then it can be hard to imagine that others could be terrified of those birds. Food for wild birds might top your shopping list every week but would be the last thing that those with Ornithophobia would look for.

. It is a surprisingly common condition. You probably know someone who fears birds and several celebrities including actress Scarlett Johansson suffer from the condition.

A Debilitating Condition

With some sufferers their fear of birds is confined to certain species like birds of prey, crows or pigeons. For others, any birds are problematic. The condition can cause sweating, heart palpitations and panic attacks and so can be extremely debilitating and even life limiting. Imagine how awful it would be if you couldn’t use your garden because you were scared of birds. Think about how scary it would be if your neighbour was a birder and always provided food for wild birds.

It isn’t always clear why people develop a fear of birds. Sometimes the origins of the phobia can be traced back to a childhood incident. In other cases the cause is a complete mystery.

Curing Ornithophobia

Sufferers can be helped to overcome their problem in a variety of ways. Hypnotherapy has proved effective in some cases as has psychotherapy. Behavioural therapy is another option but this involves encounters with birds and so requires determination and bravery at least at the outset. By gradually being introduced to and acclimatised to birds, sufferers can gradually lose their fear of them.

Other Phobias

There used to be a fabulous wildlife centre in the grounds of Syon House in Isleworth, West London. It was a great place to see several exotic species and they also offered therapy sessions. People with a variety of phobias could be gently acclimatised to the animals that they feared. The centre had a friendly cockatoo which they used to help people with bird phobias. They also has a large Burmese Python called Oscar who helped people with herpetophobia (a fear of snakes). Sadly this wonderful place no longer exists.


I used to watch people in torment try to tackle their fears at Syon. I hate spiders and looked on in horror as fellow arachnophobia sufferers were introduced to a very unpleasant looking tarantula. I never could summon up the courage to have a go. That was until years later when I visited Longleat. I must have been feeling particularly brave because I volunteered to hold their tarantula and was amazed to discover that I liked it!

Phobias are irrational and so can be cured or at least improved. They are the cause of genuine distress, though. If you love feeding the birds but know someone who is scared by them, then have sympathy. There is nothing quite like that feeling of terror whether it is rational or not.


We are very sorry, but the browser you are visting us with is outdated and not complient with our website security.

Please upgrade your browser to a modern secure version to view our website.