All through one fall and winter our bird population was almost non-existent. Hours and sometimes even a couple of days would pass and we wouldn’t hear or see even one bird. The outdoors felt empty and way too quiet… we had never realized before that the bird sounds were such a big part of “normal.”
Then one day in early spring the bird feeders were suddenly crowded with birds again. The birds were back… lots and lots of birds. We’re used to feeding large numbers of birds but now there were more birds coming and going constantly than we had ever seen here before. The birds seemed to arrive in groups of about twenty, thirty, fifty. We started noticing that there was often one bird in the group that was different… like the one goldfinch in a group of chickadees and one bluejay in a group of mourning doves. Most unusual of all… with still freezing temperatures and snow on the ground… was the robin that was a regular visitor to the tray feeder, always arriving and leaving with a large group of bluejays.
Our winter robin stayed through the spring and summer
We also noticed that some of the birds were exceptionally small, especially one chickadee that was only about half normal size. Several of the bluejays were also smaller than usual, but although many of the birds looked thin, they all seemed to be active and healthy… and they all had huge appetites.
During a period of almost four months “our” birds ate more than 150 pounds of black sunflower seeds, 40 pounds of pigeon mix, 20 pounds of cracked corn, and countless chunks of fresh suet. We filled the feeders two or more times a day and still sometimes could barely keep ahead of the demand.
We’ll never know where the birds had been all those months or why there are now so many more birds here than ever before, but I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere. I just wish I knew what it was.