Where have the birds gone?

House Finches by Jim deVries

We received questions this fall from numerous people voicing concerns that there are virtually no birds (or even squirrels!) at their feeders. Our November Ask-a-Birder Expert, Noreen Baker, weighs in:

The lack of birds in the fall, especially in September and October, is a common phenomenon that happens to varying degrees each year. It is related to several factors including the abundance of natural food choices in the fall, migration patterns and weather in general, and end of breeding season. In a year like this year when we have had good late summer rains, the seed crop in the wild is quite good and birds prefer natural food to feeders when the natural food is available. This year’s live oak acorn crop is also quite good, which explains why squirrels are not coming to feeders.

Fall is also the time of year when our summer birds have gone and our winter residents have not yet arrived. This year has been very warm so far and many of the winter birds are lingering to the north and have not arrived in large numbers yet. The end of breeding season with young birds have fledged and are out of the nest also leads to a drop in feeder visits because parent birds do not have to work as hard at feeding youngsters and fledged birds are now out in the woods enjoying fall’s bounty with the parents.

So bottom line, the lack of birds at this time of the year is not cause for alarm, and we should see birds return to the feeders once colder weather arrives and the natural food sources become less available.

Have a bird question? Fill out our Ask-a-Birder form!