Where are the birds? Usually there are tons of little sparrows twittering around my neighborhood and there are little upside down chickadees climbing my trees and finches singing in the fir trees. This winter, a mild winter until this past weekend, I see no birds. I did see one beautiful red cardinal, but no sparrows, no finches, no chickadees. Is there a scientific reason for this? Are all the birds hanging around the neighborhoods with bird feeders? I miss their singing and cheeping and flying whenever I look out my windows or go outside. Where are those bird brains?
On a site called ajchomefinder, Charles Seabrook wrote an article called “Where are the Birds?”, (how perfect is that) on December 13, 2011. The writer was speaking about somewhere in Georgia, but I am assuming some of the same reasoning applies up here in the north country. He says:
There are several reasons why birds may be missing in some yards – even entire neighborhoods – during certain times of the year. Reasons include:
A new predator, such as a cat or a hawk, in the area. Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks in the accipter class of hawks especially prey upon songbirds. If the smaller birds detect a hawk hanging around a yard, they will be leery about coming to it. The same goes for a cat prowling about a yard.
Dirty feeders or moldy seed. Take down the feeder and wash them in 10 percent bleach solution. Let them dry thoroughly before refilling with fresh seeds, preferably black oil sunflower seeds, the birds’ favorite.
Lack of water. Birds need clean water sources, such as bird baths, just as much as they need food sources.
Sometimes, though, birds may not be visiting your feeder simply because a lot of wild food is still available
Todd Schneider, an ornithologist with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, said a possible reason why some people are seeing fewer cardinals and other birds right now is that a lot of the birds from northern climes have not yet headed south to join our resident birds for the winter. Northern weather has been relatively mild so far, but harsher weather later this winter may drive more birds south.
Mr. Seabrook sums up by reassuring us that nothing sinister is happening:
But take heart. The seasons change. Wild food supplies diminish. Predators change locations. The birds will return.
Meanwhile, I am missing their cheerful, busy little selves.