Where have the Sparrows & Dunnocks gone...?


Over the last 2-3 weeks I've noticed that there hardly seems to be any House Sparrows or Dunnocks visiting my garden and I was wondering if it's common just around this time of the year that they are 'busy' with feeding in other areas?  They have been the prominent variety in my Garden up until now but in the last few weeks I've noticed a lot more Goldfinches visiting and I was also thinking that maybe that's put the Sparrows off, although I wouldn't have thought that they would have a problem with Goldfinches.

  • Morning Mark,
    Here, House Sparrows disappeared for a long while (as they do each year) a few months ago, only to reappear in numbers a few weeks ago, only to disappear again.
    Here at least (Switzerland) this is a fairly common pattern.

  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Hi Dave,

    That's interesting. I'm new to all of this so it's all rather puzzling and I'd like to understand why this happens. I think I need to do some reading up on bird behaviours as I was wondering if it was something that I'd done to put them off.

    I have noticed that a local cat has started appearing much more so I'm wondering if they see my garden as unsafe! However, Mr. Blackbird is carrying on as normal with his evening trip.

    Mark ( England )
  • At this time of year there should be plenty of foraging opportunities so they may be off in other gardens or hedgerows enjoying the autumn bounty

    Cin J

  • In reply to Mark_G:

    Hi Mark,
    If you're new to this, this is a good place for you, I think. Full of people (almost all much more experienced than I am) who'll be happy to advise and share.

    Don't want to launch a discussion of "c**s", because opinions differ, but I've lived for a few decades with a lot of them in our various gardens, and while I've seen bigger birds (like, say, Crows and Magpies) adjust their nesting habits, I've never seen smaller birds leave a garden because felines are around. And we're (I've long stopped counting) probably up around 60 species or so seen in, or from, the garden.

    If birds are new for you, I'd advise that you take safe, fresh, accessible water as seriously as you'd take feeding (assuming you feed the birds). Requires goggles, an ice pick, and a kettle in winter, but the birds will appreciate it.

    All the best -
  • In reply to Germain:

    I see, interesting, it looks like I might have to entice them back with some different tasty treats - plain old mixed seed perhaps just doesn't cut it anymore!
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Lol, yes goggles and an ice pick in Switzerland I can imagine are a necessity :-) Yes, I did some research when I started feeding them at the start of this year and set up my garden with two water stations and a bath. It's absolutely hilarious watching them splash around and I also clean their feeders each week and replace their water most days.

    I'm impressed with the the fast responses on this community board and I think it's a good way to learn for sure.

    Good to know that the cats probably aren't the reason and it's just a natural 'break' that the Sparrow and Dunnock are taking.

    60 different types of birds! Incredible.

    I would never have contemplated Bird feeding / watching as an interest prior to the pandemic...just goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining!

    Thanks for your feedback.

  • In reply to Mark_G:

    When it's minus ten in the day, water becomes something of a full-time job.

    It's easy to clock up dozens of species from the garden. You just need to cheat: once you've "seen everything", you just move house to a different habitat, and start counting again  ;-)

    There's lots of posters on these forums very knowledgeable about feeding, Mark. I'm sure others will weigh in with tips. You only need to ask.

    Regarding the pandemic, well, let's hope there are more like you out there. Some of us may feel that we've been engaged in some life-or-death struggle these last 18 months (and some of us genuinely may have been), but it's potentially a great leveler when we realize that birds are always engaged in a life-or-death struggle. But still manage to make us laugh, capture our attention, and lift our hearts with song.

    Happy watching.

    All the best -


  • Are they not just keeping a low profile while they finish moulting post-breeding? It takes a lot of energy and can make flight harder, so reducing risk is a big deal.

    It's possible your goldfinches are on migration -- sure I read somewhere that the ones that overwinter with you aren't necessarily the same ones that spend summer with you.

  • In reply to Internetman:

    Interesting, thanks for the comment. I definitely need to do some reading up I think. especially interesting the bit about Goldfinches. Maybe they are preparing for he long flight back to wherever they came from.
  • In reply to Mark_G:

    I'll try to track down the article. They aren't long-distance migrants, but some in southern England head to southern Europe, while some more northerly British breeders head to the southern UK.