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09 Oct

Several friends, family and neighbors have mentioned the lack of birds at their feeders.  We, too, have seen quite a drop in the number of feathered friends at our feeders and in trees in the past month or so.  Likewise, usual deposits left on the rocks in our pondless waterfall as the birds sip water or bathe have diminished or disappeared entirely.  Bird songs are virtually non-existent.

So, is their disappearance due to some mysterious demise, you might wonder?  Well, not to worry! It’s a normal period of time from mid-September to late autumn for birds to be out of sight for various reasons.

Commonly, wet summers (which we had early this past summer in the Midwest) can strip birds of their usual insects, berries and seeds and thus they turn to your backyard food sources.  Many times they bring their fledglings directly from the nest to the feeders during this period.  Naturally, numbers are inflated during family visitation to the feeder late spring and early summer.

As breeding season winds down, so too does traffic to our feeders.  There is usually a glut of berries, seeds, fruit and nuts available in nature and birds are less apt to depend on us to provide ordinary bird seed.

One interesting fact I found was that birds go through a period of moulting their feathers in autumn.  Breeding season takes it’s toll on birds, leaving their feathers shabby and disheveled and in need of replacement.  Fortunately, Mother Nature has a way for them to change their feathers when they need still them to fly! Wild birds have overcome this problem by a progressive moult, meaning they shed flight feathers in an organized way. Only a small percentage of feathers are released at any one time, ensuring the bird can continue to fly throughout the process.

According to, “As a direct result of this the birds moult over an extended period and this compromises their agility, making them shy and reluctant to be seen in the open until the process is complete. Instead preferring to remain under cover in trees and bushes out of sight of threats and potential predators. So while many birds may still be in and around our gardens they remain unseen and avoid our feeders and bird tables.”

As days get shorter and the moult is complete, you can without a doubt depend on their return to your feeders.  Add that number to those that will migrate and/or winter over and you’ll soon be filling your feeders on a daily basis once again!  We look forward to that, as I’m guessing you bird people do as well.


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Gramma Golden

Gramma Golden