This is the standard response Project Feeder Watch has been giving out. They 
are flooded with this very question at this time of year.

<<At FeederWatch, we frequently receive inquiries about an increase or decline 
in bird populations. Although it's impossible for us to know the cause of each 
specific increase and decline, there are several common causes for bird 
population fluctuations.

* The most common cause for a dramatic drop in all bird species at a feeder is 
the arrival of a predators, such as a hawk or a cat.

* Habitat changes frequently affect bird numbers. If there has been any change 
in your neighborhood--such as trees being cut down, new houses being built, or 
different crops being planted on nearby fields--that could be the reason you 
are seeing more or less birds.

* Natural food supplies--such as pine cones, berries, seeds, and 
insects--fluctuate from year to year, causing birds to shift ranges to take 
advantage of food surpluses or to compensate for food shortages.

* Weather fluctuations often cause birds to shift ranges, especially in winter.
I can't speak to what is happening in your area, but I know here in upstate New 
York, we had a very rainy summer, and the fruiting trees and shrubs are 
bursting with food this fall. If that is the case in your area as well, the 
birds are probably finding plenty of foods that they prefer over what they can 
find at feeders.

Migration also varies a bit from year to year, and there may be a gap this year 
between the departure of birds that summer in your area but winter elsewhere 
and the arrival of birds that only come to your area in winter. Short-term 
fluctuations are normal and nothing to be concerned about. Once the weather 
turns cold and the natural food supplies are consumed, I am sure birds will be 
back at your feeders.>>


Lee Ann van Leer

Bird Academy Project Assistant
Bird Academy<><>
(607) 254-8312
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Room 243B
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

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