About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Where are my birds?

I have had a window feeder for about 3 years now in my back yard.  I have seen most of the usual Michigan birds every winter.  Same this winter. Until about two weeks ago.  Now, nothing.  I feed them safflower because the squirrels eat everything else.  I have seen a few in the trees that line my yard but they don't come to the feeder.  Am I being too impatient? What give? Any ideas?  I miss watching them!

Right now birds all over the world are migrating or establishing winter grounds. During this transition time your feeder may be overwhelmed with birds one week and empty the next week. With all the natural seed and fruit around, birds may take note of your feeders but look for other sources just in case. Birds don’t depend on feeders to survive which is good because some people aren’t dependable. They’ll probably return with the first rain or snow when it is difficult to forage.

You can also go through a little check list to eliminate the most obvious reasons for fewer birds at the feeders.

1. Make sure your seed is fresh. One way to do this is to pinch the seed on a piece of paper and see if any oil comes out. On cold days where every meal counts, if your seed has dried out your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week).

2. Clean your feeders at least once a month. Make sure there is no mold in the bottom of your feeder. This can be dangerous to the birds. To prevent mold in bad weather use Feeder Fresh™ (a silica grit that absorbs water and humidity, is safe for birds, and made from non-toxic absorbent sand).

4. Look for predators. Hawks or cats can deter birds from feeding in your area for a short time.

5. Check with local birding groups to see if you are the only one reporting fewer birds.

I can only imaging the eeriness of having no birds. I'm always lucky enough to see a constant mix of changing birds. When I walk out to fill the feeders in the morning I hear the Whoosh of birds flying from the trees. Then as I fill the feeders they slowly filter down like falling leaves and hassle me to move quicker. I love it. 

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