Winter arrived with a vengeance here. Suddenly we had lots of snow on the ground and temperatures that stayed below freezing during the day and hovered around zero at night. The bird feeders were full of mixed seed, thistle seed, black oil sunflower seeds and big chunks of beautiful white suet. We had the snow, the cold temperatures and the feeders all ready to go… what we didn’t have were the birds.

Instead of dozens and dozens of chickadees flying in and out of the feeders, we now saw only three. There were five or six woodpeckers, four bluejays and eleven mourning doves… and yes, mourning doves will eat from an elevated feeder. Despite a heavy snowfall over two days, there were no other birds around.

The Audubon Society and several other local bird information sources insisted that nothing was wrong… that because of the warmer than usual fall weather and the unusually abundant sources of natural food… the birds were still finding plenty to eat in the wild. Another explanation they gave was that bird populations naturally fluctuate from year to year and that a feeder that is really “busy” one year may have few birds the next.

This is all true, but we have been feeding birds here for many, many years and it was obvious that there was something very different happening (or not happening). We had had the normal number of birds the previous winter and into spring and early summer. I think it was in July when we first noticed that there weren’t as many birds around as usual. We keep one feeder filled all summer, and we usually have baby birds perched on or around it with the parent birds feeding their babies from the feeder. I love watching them, and their screeching is hard to overlook, so I know for sure that there were no baby birds being fed at this feeder. We also didn’t see the usual number of baby robins.

I wonder… was it just too cold and wet for the summer’s baby birds to survive? Did the organized spraying campaigns kill the birds as well as the massive caterpillar population? Or did the birds just go somewhere else looking for better weather?


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cricket

I have the feeder this year and bread that I have thrown or the Hippy thrown out one. We do not have as many birds niether this year. All I can say is a long hard cold winter once it sets in. 2 inches here and feet in the South Towns.

goldfish

I’ve noticed the same thing here in central PA. I even bought a nice “squirrel-proof” bird feeder this year. I was beginning to fear that it was bird-proof, too! So far just a few chickadees, juncos, titmice and a cardinal couple have stopped by.

Debbie

We just moved to this place in April so I am not sure what is normal here but I do know that I rarily saw a Robin. My computer sits next to a large window that has a couple huge bushes in front of it. Usually in the mornings I can sit at here with my coffee and enjoy cardinals, chickadees, wrens, etc… We didn’t feed them this summer but we did put a couple feeders out when it started turning cold and I don’t think they have really noticed them yet.

I miss our old place. We had tons of bluebirds and finches there and I enjoyed watching them play in the snow.

Stay warm,
Debbie

Jo

I am not sure but I think the windmill “farms” that are beginning to scatter the landscape here in Maine have taken their toll on the bird population. I have been doing a lot of research on these 400 foot monsters and have concluded that they will (or have already had) a negative effect on bird populations.

Rachel Carson wrote about a “Silent Spring” due to the poisons mankind has put into our environment. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the butt to find out we have another silent spring and winter) due to trying to clean up the environment.

The sad truth about the wind farms is that not one of them, worldwide, has closed one coal-fired plant. And none of the electricity generated here in Maine will benefit Maine people.

I have not been able to get an honest assessment about the impact of windfarms on the environment and wildlife and especially birds from the people who are making the big bucks building these “farms”. I doubt if they care about birds or anything else except their profit.

I saw my first winter cardinal this evening. I cried because we used to have so many of them. And our sweet juncos (snowbirds) that used to come in huge flocks are all but gone. We have the titmice, chickadees, both kinds of nuthatches, a couple of woodpeckers and some sparrows and mourning doves but not in the numbers of last year.

I hope I am wrong about windfarms. I hope the birds make a comeback. I hope it is just what you suggested, Shirley, that the cold wet summer was not good for the survival of the baby birds.

I hope because a planet (or just a backyard feeder) without birds is incomprehensible to me.

Sylvia

I haven’t noticed a change this year. I sit in a place where I can see our yard all day and we still get plenty of finches, siskins, chickadees and titmouses (mice?) I’ve even seen some cedar waxwings some warblers and vireos, in addition to a host of tree clinging birds and armies of robins. I don’t have a feeder but, I do grow berry producing bushes (like viburnum and wild roses.) I also have a bird bath with a water drip. Each morning, I dump the block of ice and put warm water in it and the wildlife arrives right away. The poor things really need water these days, even if all you have is pie tin to place on the ground, it will help.

jennifer

i read somewhere that it might have something to do with the earth’s magnetic field since that is how birds navigate in the winter. but what about the bees? I hear they’re disappearing too.

moonlightlady339

So far, so good here in NC. We have feeders, birdbaths, and lower feeding stations for the squirrels. We still have at least three families of cardinals, and a variety of finches, chickadees, pidgeons, etc. I think a lot depends on the area. We live in the city but behind our houses, is a dense “forest”…hence the name, “Oakwood Forest”, and back there, they have a number of shrubs, extremely tall old gum trees, lots of grown over tree limbs, etc…makes for pretty good shelter. Well, we all know that everything in the wildlife world is “predatory”. Something “does” kill off small things around here. A neighbor told me that some idiot introduced coyotes into Uwharrie Forest to “control the deer population”…eek.
Well, I’m not sure, but I think I’ve seen “foxes” and “coyote-like” creatures back in there. Something swift and fast took out a cat of ours. Owls are becoming a problem…they swoop down and carry off small dogs and kittens, no lie. We’ve seen them. Also, I read recently where one deadly strain of “bird flu” can kill off a percentage as high as 90% in bird colonies. I agree with the windmill thing. Wouldn’t be worth it if it’s not saving enough energy to really make a difference, and definitely wouldn’t be worth it, if it’s mutilating the poor birds. Birds have enough trouble with “airplanes”. I “wish” birds were smarter. You’d think “once” they say “one bird” get eaten by a cat…it would be like, “ooh, let’s don’t go too close to the ground there…predator”. You’d think that “once” they saw one relative hit the giant corporate window…they’d go, “eek, that’s not an open window”. You think that “once” they saw relatives get grinded up in an airplanes’ propeller, they’d go “eek, blender, let’s avoid that one. But no-o-o-oh…they just keep on making the same deadly mistakes. We’re lucky “any of them survive”. I’m glad some do. The songbirds in our backyard actually serenade me when I come out to bring them fresh water and feed. It’s “so touching” to hear how “gracious and grateful” they are. Yes, it would be “so sad” for God’s beautiful winged creatures to no longer exist. I’m getting on in years, but let’s hope they’ll all be around for centuries to come. “moon”

Lee-Ann

I live in Northern Ontario and up until this winter we have been buying 50lb bags of oils a month for the winter birds. Last year, the only species of birds we didn’t see were the Evening Grosbeaks. This year, we had an abundance of Blue Jays at the start of the late November, now almost January 2014, and we are lucky to see one or maybe two at a time at the feeder. Many different species of Wood Peckers can be occasionally seen at the feeders, Chickadees are not many, the Pine Grosbeaks, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, Red Polls and the Junco’s , well, haven’t seen not one of those. Our lawn is usually riddled with Snow Birds, a winter staple of birds, and have had many snow storms to date with not one Snow Bird in sight. The Environmental studies say everything is fine, I beg to differ. I had one 50lb bag left over from last winter stored and unopened in a garbage can with lid on, and am still using that same one for the last 3 months. There has to be a reason why, and I do not believe that the “natural bush” has enough on the branches for the birds to eat. All I have to say is give us a good reason as to why or where the birds are going. I want my birds back!!!

Sue pfisterer

I fill my feeders everyday. I have 4 sets of cardinals, to many gold finches to count, Downeyand red headed woodpeckers . Birds in my yard all day, every day. In the last few days my feeders are full everyday, no cardinals no chickadees no woodpeckers no finches. Not even a squirrel. I see a few robins and mockingbirds nesting in my trees. Where are my song birds I so love? Does anybody have an explanation? Did I get a batch of bad black oil sunflower?

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Sue, sadly, it is entirely possible that the seeds were bad. Did you read the post I wrote about the poisoned seeds that the Scotts Miracle-Gro company sold a couple of years ago… knowing that the seeds were poisoned and would kill the birds? I have a post about it here

I hope YOUR birds are OK and that they come back.

mark kortegast

I have lived in venus tx for 40 years on a 6 acre land, in all my life I have never seen this. This time of year I have thousands of birds perching in the woods and today none. I would save my bread to through to the birds at the parking lot at work and it would be there the next day. I would whistle to the mocking birds all year round and now they are gone. I need answers! they say it is natural, but it is not. Something serious has changed. And I’m scared. first the birds then what?