Over the past few weeks we have consistently been getting the same question: Why are there no birds at my feeders? Although a drop-off of bird activity at feeders is normal this time of year, this year it has been more extreme than in the past.
The drop-off is not because birds have left the area. If you go for a hike or even sit for awhile in your yard you will most likely hear the calls of chickadees, blue jays, woodpeckers and more! Those birds we are so used to seeing at our feeders are still hopping around in the trees and shrubs, but they seem to be avoiding feeders.
Feeders being dirty or seed not being fresh are the usual culprits for when birds are avoiding feeders. As long as your feeders are clean and have fresh seed, however, this isn’t your problem. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the reason birds haven’t been coming to feeders is because of the overabundance of natural foods out in the environment.
This fall has been unseasonably warm and dry. We haven’t had any weather cool enough to kill off a large number of insects, and it has been a great year for seed and nut production from trees. With warblers and other migratory birds already on their way down south, the competition for these foods has decreased, creating a smorgasbord of natural foods for birds that stay here all year long to feast on. The seeds birds get from feeders is only a small percentage of their total diet. When natural food is in abundance, their need for supplements to their diet decreases.
Although they may not be feeding much now, your birds are sure to be back! Once the temperatures begin to cool down, and when we get a little (dare I say it) snow, you will see your feathered friends flocking back to your feeders. In the meantime, it is important you make sure your feeders are clean, and at least half-way full of fresh seed so birds know they can stop by for a quick snack when needed. If you missed our feeder cleaning day last month, feel free to drop off your feeders here at the store. We will clean them and call you when they are ready for pick-up. Also make sure you have a source of natural water. We are rolling out our heated birdbaths now and they are a fantastic way to attract birds to your yard in the winter!