I realized in the past couple of days that our normally swarmed feeders are devoid of birds. My 93 year old mother, who watches the feeders religiously, mentioned to me today when I went to pick one up off the ground, that they haven't been around this morning so never mind.
I went outside and checked our bird condo tree which is normally raucous with birdy life. I couldn't even see any on the power lines or anything.
Am I paranoid or is there a time of year/weather pattern/???? that makes them lay low? I did see some Mergansers on the lake this morning.
I know that different parts of the country have been having very varied weather- but I can tell you that the weather will greatly effect your feeder activity. When the temps drop really low- birds need more energy and will be more active at feeders- when it's warmer, they just don't need that extra boost and can forage fine from natural food sources- this ebb and flow will happen on a daily basis as the temps go up and down. Snow cover will also drive birds to feeders when they can't forage on the ground.
If you usually have cold temps or snow- remember that it's not the DATE that determines feeder activity- but the conditions in your area.
One other thing is that there may be a bird of prey stalking the feeders and keeping others at bay.
And MSJ- there are traps you can use to catch house sparrows and winter is a great time to do it. They use no poison and also don't kill the birds instantly- so on the odd chance that you accidentally catch a native bird- you can release it unharmed. The downside of this means that you are tasked with killing the sparrows you do catch. google "repeating bait trap house sparrow"
I'm inclined to think this is weather related. In a span of a week we have had temps from single digits to 60, snow to rain. Do you blanket the horses or not, colic inducing kind of weather. Still very, very few birds. I've even tried different seed. They haven't touched the suet cakes either. I've saved a lot of money but I really miss the birds!
We no longer feed the birds, but a friend of mine has a large multiple feeder station in her backyard. She has small birds, cardinals and woodpeckers, and that's it. Her large birds are gone, and none of the birds will touch the commercial suet squares she hangs out for them, either. Previous to this winter, those squares would be history within hours. Her theory is that the seed is now GMO and the birds do not eat it. She did prove part of this theory out with the corn cobs she was putting out for the squirrels. The organic ones vaporized, but the GMO corn cobs went untouched for weeks. She ended up tossing them. Makes sense. If they don't like or trust the taste, they won't touch the food.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein
We were already seeing no activity at the bird feeder when the OP originally posted and could not figure out why.
I am talking no activity for a good month. We have been here ten years and this is the first time we've ever not had birds at the feeder longer than a few days.
We went so far as to change bird feed three times and bought a new feeder.
Slowly, in the last ten days or so, the birds have started to come back. Cardinals, Wrens, Finches, and that Red Headed Woodpecker who makes no bones about owning the feeder when he's hungry. He never dives on anyone, just a quick snake of the head and everyone scatters
Anyway, I have no idea why they all disappeared and are now slowly returning (including the Pigeons and Starlings). This is something that has never happened before.
Like others, I tried to watch the weather, thought maybe the horses in the yard were scaring them but, we just flat ran out of ideas. Especially since we saved the bird seed they stopped eating, are throwing it on the ground and they're eating it now
If we connected the dots to where we all live (generally speaking) I wonder if it would tell a story to anyone familiar with bird habits and/or the weather pattern?
I was about to shrug it off until this thread appeared and got my curiousity aroused again.
Seeing how I live so close to the ornithology lab at cornell (sapsucker woods) I am going to investigate this further. The change was so dramatic I don't think it is a gmo thing, bt am open to any and all explanations
I haven't paid much attention to specific daily activity, but mine eat the commercial suet I put out. I only feed that and black oil sunflower seed, as other kinds of seed don't seem to get eaten.
I have noticed on some days that activity is low, but then they are back the next day. But now you have me wondering... I have house sparrows living in my run-in, and they've been quiet. Are they gone, or just too cold to move when I'm out there?