Birds all gone ?

I am hoping someone is going to tell me this happens at this time of year ! Went on holiday last week, already the birds had trickled down to damn pigeons, magpies and very occasional blue tit, but after return, only the big birds are now visiting despite leaving varied diets for them (normal mixed; peanuts; sunflower seeds; nyger seeds) and fresh water.

The full story is this. I had a mixed seeds bird feeder which we also mixed in mealworms and fat balls. The starlings (now gone); sparrows (the hens used to arrive in hoards !); great tits and blue tits loved this, but unfortunately so did the greedy pigeons and magpies. I therefore moved this to hang down below instead of sitting on top of the surface - the result was only very occasionally would a blue or great tit come, the sparrows just looked at this and considered it to be an impossibility to feed like that ! So I bought one of the special "keep starlings; pigeons and other big birds away" customized cages. I used a crimson coloured plastic plant tray to secure on top to prevent rain getting into the food. 

Initially, the sparrows tried to get the food, but it seemed like they were unable or unwilling to go into the cage for the food. They have now all disappeared and all I am getting is the occasional magpie or pigeon trying their best to work out how to get at the food in the cage (which IS quite amusing). The strange thing is, we also used to have several time s daily visits from families of goldfinches (mainly for sunflower but sometimes nyger), a lone robin, several blue and great tits, and a couple of coal tits. All have now gone !

Apologies for the diatribe, but I felt it necessary for you to know the full story. So is it just time of year, the new feeder, its roof (crimson plant tray), or something else ?

Writing from Dublin, Ireland, all feeders on balcony of apartment I can send pictures if helps ?

Thank you to all who respond.

  • This probably means that birds have enough of natural food sources. As plants die around this time it leaves lots of seeds for the birds to enjoy. As this starts to run out the birds will return to use your feeders again.
  • We've had mixed success with caged feeders as you call them. The guards are to stop squirrels getting the food and allow small birds to access the feeders.

    I can only presume because the openings make the birds feel restricted and over cautious about going in for fear of becoming trapped, and as a result, will have found food elsewhere.

    You could remove the guards or replace place the unguarded feeders back and see if there is any change, if they come back then you've got your answer, but don't expect them back within a day or two, it could take a good few days plus while word of beak gets around.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Thanks James/Mike

    I guess will wait till they get hungry and see. The real surprise was how the goldfinches simply disappeared overnight - we had loads of them coming up until then, and this was nothing to do with the feeder as they never used that anyway.

    Ah well.
  • In reply to TheGeezer:

    TheGeezer said:
    Thanks James/Mike



    I guess will wait till they get hungry and see. The real surprise was how the goldfinches simply disappeared overnight - we had loads of them coming up until then, and this was nothing to do with the feeder as they never used that anyway.

    Ah well.

    The goldfinches that visited out feeders (now temporarily removed due to the observation of one rat), were very uneasy feeding birds, forever looking around for a while on the feeders before dipping their beaks in. The blue tits are a quick in and out job, the great tits not that much slower.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • The difference in behaviour of the same species of birds in different locations is quite interesting.
    I also bought a couple of feeders with guardian cages for my garden on the east coast of Scotland. I didn’t construct a roof for them though. After some initial reluctance, sparrows, finches and tits have used them quite readily. I even had a redpoll regularly using the sunflower feeder at one point. Long-tailed tits can apparently bend their tails almost at right angle to their body. The goldfinches got comfortable enough to seem glued to these feeders even in strong winds, which are quite common here.
    But I have few birds visible / audible in my garden at the moment. This may be partly because there is still a lot of natural food around as James and Mike have said. This seems to have been a bumper year for berries, etc and I have seen a lot of seed heads on my walks. It is at least partly because sparrowhawks have been making frequent visits to the garden in the last few weeks. Since both are natural causes, I don’t think I can or should do much about either.
  • Hi, I live in the US. My residence is in south FL, but I spend a lot of time in South Carolina. In both places, there has been a big decrease in the number of birds. In Florida, I have noticed a decrease over the past 1-2 years. In SC, the decrease has been over the past 3-4 weeks.

    In SC, the feeders are normally covered up with birds all year, with the winters being busiest time. In the past I felt badly for some of the "regular" songbirds because the migratory birds took over the feeders when the weather cooled off. This year that has not been a problem, but even the population of the regular year round songbirds has recently decreased.

    A couple of weeks ago in FL, a neighbor and I discussed the huge decrease in the bird population over the past year. He agreed that the change is dramatic. In the past, it was very common to see as you drove down the streets flocks of white Ibis eating insects in yards, and it was also very common to have great egrets or great blue herons hunting for fish from your dock or seawall. The great egrets could also be seen slowly walking across yards searching for lizards and snakes. Over the past year, I can only recall seeing one great blue heron and two great egrets. It's probably been over one year since I have seen a flock of white ibis'.
  • Interestingly, some goldfinches ventured back last two days, and we have a pair of avid great tits warily taking the food from the covered cage. I feel the presence of the pigeons may overawe the smaller brds, but have found no way to exclude them. Even though they cannot actually access any of the food now, they still insist on coming back and strutting around pecking at the ground - any ideas ?
  • In reply to ConnieBW:

    ConnieBW said:
    Hi, I live in the US. My residence is in south FL, but I spend a lot of time in South Carolina. In both places, there has been a big decrease in the number of birds. In Florida, I have noticed a decrease over the past 1-2 years. In SC, the decrease has been over the past 3-4 weeks.



    In SC, the feeders are normally covered up with birds all year, with the winters being busiest time. In the past I felt badly for some of the "regular" songbirds because the migratory birds took over the feeders when the weather cooled off. This year that has not been a problem, but even the population of the regular year round songbirds has recently decreased.

    A couple of weeks ago in FL, a neighbor and I discussed the huge decrease in the bird population over the past year. He agreed that the change is dramatic. In the past, it was very common to see as you drove down the streets flocks of white Ibis eating insects in yards, and it was also very common to have great egrets or great blue herons hunting for fish from your dock or seawall. The great egrets could also be seen slowly walking across yards searching for lizards and snakes. Over the past year, I can only recall seeing one great blue heron and two great egrets. It's probably been over one year since I have seen a flock of white ibis'.

    Wildlife is in decline generally in a lot of countries, increased urban building and removal of habitats along with agriculture methods being probably the main causes.

    Unfortunately I don't know the States so its hard to give a realistic response, other than look at what development there is around you, and the nearby agriculture.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler