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Where have all the birds gone?

Hi - I have several feeders in my garden, offering sunflower seed, suet, mealworms and peanuts.  Last year I had a huge number of birds in the garden, including flocks of 20 to 30 goldfinch several times a day, plus green finch, chaffinches, all types of tit, and the other more usual birds.  Things started off well this year again in March to May, but at the beginning of June I began to notice that there were less and less birds coming, and now apart from some blackbirds, some juvenile starlings and some blue tits, all the others have more or less gone.  There is still the occasional goldfinch or chaffinch, but nothing like the numbers of last year or earlier this year.  Any ideas on why they might have left?  Is it normal at this time of year? Any ideas gratefully received! image



  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I find this happensn in my garden every year at about this time. After fledglings have hatched, the majority seem to disperse, leaving the garden relatively empty. It's only when the weather gets colder in autumn that numbers seem to pick back up.

    It could also be because it is so wet - there are so many flies and bugs around that the birds don't need our gardens as much at the moment.

    We still have quite a lot of birds, especially sparrows, but its the same every year about this time. After the young have fledged birds moult and are more susceptable to bigger birds, ie. hawks and magpies, attacking them. Once they have grown their new feathers you will probably see more. There is a distinct lack of starlings overall tho', but sparrows and blackbirds are doing really well here in my garden in Bristol.
  • donutsmrsdonutsmrs Posts: 486

    I still have plenty of birds in my garden in Bournemouth. I have refilled the fat ball feeder twice this week. There a quite a few baby sparrows, they are so cure. I did find last year about september they seem to disapear, maybe they take their holidays at different times depending on what part of country they liveimage. Don't worry I'm sure they will be back.


  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 3,277
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  • Not sure whether moulting is the sole reason for the birds' absence.  I think it's more a case of their having to find different sources of food for their offspring - i.e. things which have some moisture content, as opposed to the dried foodstuffs which most of us put out for the birds during the winter months.  I've watched bluetits foraging al day long for tiny green caterpillars in nearby oaktrees - and when I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that it's probably the moisture content of the caterpillars which might be really important for newly hatched chicks.  That got me thinking about when birds actually drink for the first time in their life.  I've no idea!  Does anyone else know?

  • I agree with Charlie. I don't think there are fewer birds in my garden but the feeders aren't going down that quick. They don't usually at this time of year. There's a lot to pick from in the garden.Regards drinking, I'm pretty sure I've seen fledgings in the bird bath. Must keep a note of first sighting!


  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    I'm not feeding the birds this spring or summer as I wanted more nesting in my garden and concentrated more on providing a good habitat for their foraging, plus I worry that the baby birds will not learn to fend for themselves so well if there is a constant supply of lazy food.

    The blackbirds have had no problems providing for their chicks this year and the ring-neck doves would have been the same except the male blackbird wouldn't let them succeed in building a nest.

    A couple of weeks back I saw mother and daughter blackbirds picking worms out my patio troughs and last week I watched a male Sparrow catch its bug in flight just a few steps away. I never saw this behaviour while I had bird tables, but I always supply water and the whole neighbourhood seems to stop by for a drink.image

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I have a lot of birds in my garden, of all kinds (see pics on the Wildlife Photos thread taken 2 days ago).

    However, I would agree with one point made by the original poster. They mentioned an absence of greenfinches. Greenfinches used to be very common in my garden. But now there are none, I haven't seen one all Spring.

    There's a thread about the absence of greenfinches in gardens this year at the RSPB:

    The reason for this decline is a virus called Trichomonosis. It can affect all finches, but greenfinches seem to be particularly susceptible. More details about greenfinches and this disease at the British Trust for Ornithology:

  • hypercharley......chicks get all their 'drink' from the caterpillars and grubs the parent birds feed them.  Adult birds get some from the same source but they also drink water.  I've seen them drinking from the bird bath, pond, puddles and the water trays under my plant pots, this is why it's very important to have a source of water in the garden for wildlife as just about everything that visits needs it to drink or bathe.

  • Hello BW - yes - I did realise that! but it looked as though some posters were under the impression that parent birds would be feeding their young with the contents of garden bird-feeders!  It's always amazed me that swallows, for example, must have to feed a brood of chicks with literally hundreds of thousands of insects in order to get enough "liquid" into their bodies.

    I don't think Wintersong need worry too much about young birds needing to learn to fend for themselves - 


    Cheers!  Ma - AKA Hypercharleyfarley - the nickname of one of my (now deceased) much-loved whippets.

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