Have I done these birds a terrible disservice? Will finches go further south to find food? How serious is it if there is a break in feeding in the winter, especially when there are storms like this one?
Birds are pretty clever. If the feeder is empty they’ll look for other sources. Studies show that the birds you see in your yard eat only about 20% of their meals at feeders.
However, my feeders were overwhelmed with birds during the ice storm. They usually follow a circuit each day, visiting a number of feeding areas. Obviously for the 3 to 4 days following the ice storm my feeders were an easy, accessible source of emergency food.
Now that the ice has melted, I still have a lot more finches as well as many other bird and animal species foraging in my yard. They will eventually return to looking for other sources of food as the weather improves and you will see your birds return.
Just make sure your feeder is clean and full of fresh food!
Thank you very much for your response. I was feeling pretty terrible about leaving them with almost no food.