Studies have shown that many species benefit from the extra food from bird feeders, especially during harsh winter weather. Improper care of bird feeders and surrounding areas however, can spread harmful disease due to many individuals clustering together in one location. Watch out for the most common contagious diseases: Salmonella, House Finch Eye Disease, and Avian Pox. Take proper action to clean feeders and the ground below if you notice any of these diseases among your feathered visitors.
Two short articles that explain in more detail are linked below. Both have valuable information and will give a good overall understanding of this topic.