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
* 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
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Room 243B
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
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