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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where did my birds go?

Dear @birdsunlimited, our bird table has suddenly stopped being used. Ideas as to why that mite be? ~ @susanbunny Clacton-on-Sea, Tendring, UK

Birds can stop coming to the feeder for several reasons. First make sure your seed is fresh. One way to do this is to pinch the seed with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. The birds use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. 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).

Second, make sure there is no mold in the bottom of your feeder. In Michigan where it can rain several days in a row the seed may not get a chance to air out and begin to mold. This can be dangerous to the birds and they will avoid your feeder again.

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). You can also shelter your feeder from the elements by using something like WBU Weather Guard.

Third, birds all over the world are migrating or establishing winter grounds. During this transition time you feeder may be overwhelmed with birds one week and empty the next week.

Also look for predators like hawks or cats in the which will deter birds from feeding in your area. Finally check with local birding groups. I remember reading about the UK having problems with a parasite called Trichomonas gallinae that has caused a decline in the populations of both chaffinches and greenfinches. But if your feeder is clean and the seed is fresh, be patient and I have no doubt some birds will return.

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