Where Have All The Birds Gone?

 The keen eye and lens of  Sharron Hozley Tyrrell   captured this magnificent picture of a grouse in April 2016.

The keen eye and lens of Sharron Hozley Tyrrell  captured this magnificent picture of a grouse in April 2016.

It’s been an oft asked question around these parts lately. In fact, Schroon Laker Hazel Fern wrote a letter to Editor at the Post-Star seeking guidance:

“For some reason this year, all the birds have left and there are none at all. Can anyone please tell me what's going on? I have seen a few letters to the editor about this but no replies. Has anyone done any research on this matter? I used to have every kind of bird in my yard in snow, now there are no birds”.

Hazel didn’t have to wait long for an answer, from a very knowledgeable source: Catherine Martini, the Master Gardener Coordinator of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County. The good news is there is no bad news.

Here is Catherine’s response:

“Hazel in Schroon Lake and anyone else wondering where all their birds have gone: We have received many calls about absent birds here at Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension. All over the state, dedicated bird watchers have noticed fewer birds at their feeders this fall. While this may seem concerning, the reason for their absence is quite normal!

This has been a record year for fruit and nut production, and the birds are simply enjoying nature's bounty. There are plenty of birds in wild areas, and no sudden population decrease or new epidemic has been reported.

If birds suddenly left your feeder, you may have a new predator (hawk, cat, and owl) in the area. Consider adding more cover to your feeder to make the birds feel safe. Or, you may have done some renovations recently; if you have taken down trees or altered bird habitat, they will take time to adjust or go somewhere else.

Populations also fluctuate naturally and migration patterns can change with some species based on the weather. If you are a feeder of birds, remember they also need water through the colder months. So be sure to keep fresh, not frozen water out near your feeder.1): 0:10

Having said this, some bird species are declining in number due to a number of reasons. For more information on this and to see how you can help scientists track populations, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at birds.cornell.edu. This website also provides great information on migration patterns, birding news, live bird cams, and citizen science projects.

Generally, however, your birds are probably just enjoying all the food in the wild! If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to contact the Warren County Master Gardeners at 518-623-3291 or email me at cm648@cornell.edu”.