View Full Version : Avian query for any ornithologists on here

Krystal n chips
31st Jul 2011, 09:53
I have a serious question for those who are interested in our feathered friends please.

My garden attracts a variety of birdlife...plenty more sit on the surrounding roof tops...being a nice person, I feed them and usually, the food disappears within a very short time. The garden also has a resident frog / toad and hedgehog.

However, over the last week, the food has not been touched ( to speak of ) and virtually all the bird population seems to have, well, vanished. Hence, I am more than curious as to what the cause(s) could be. We get the odd predator ( hawk / buzzard ) and various cats in the area, but nothing else and the birds I speak of are not the migratory species.

"birds on their summer hols " is not the answer..before some on here suggest as much....serious suggestions would be appreciated however....thank you.

31st Jul 2011, 10:05
I assume that you have checked the obvious , ie a persistent prowling neighbourhood cat from among the local population. Birds soon work it out if there is a predatory cat around and will steer clear. You don't say if you feed on the ground or on some sort of raised bird table. I feed our birds all year round and notice some birds will only go to the table, others only feed on the ground. What I have noticed though is that they come and go throughout the year - sometimes there will be lots of blackbirds, for example, then you wont see any for weeks. There is plenty of food around in the form of insects, and birds arent as hungry as they will be at other times.

I dont reckon to be an expert, I just keep the feed coming and sooner or later someone takes it (even if its the neighbour's dog).

31st Jul 2011, 10:33
Air rifles.
Nesting birds.

31st Jul 2011, 10:36
There is plenty of natural food at the moment, and you may notice they will either pop back occasionally, or stay away for a good while. It is part of their normal annual cycle of life.

It's nothing to do with predators, they live side by side with them - except for the weak, young (inexperienced) and sick that are usually preyed upon.

This disappearance happens annually and my observations note the majority of birds can stay away for a month or more. Quite often there is usually the odd one or two who stay around. Probable reasons for the disappearance:

- Many birds willl have now completed their breeding cycle - and are experiencing their annual moult - their primary (flight) feathers will be dropping, consequently they are probably more at risk of being predated, hence the need to stay under cover rather more.

- There is a lot of natural food around, and as the birds are no longer feeding their young, and defending territory, there is not the urgency of staying close to feeders - they will have dispersed to 'natural' feeding grounds.

Interestingly, it's not just the 'garden birds' of which we are most familiar, but also the red kites disappear for a while. I receive many calls from the public asking where the kites have gone. In reality of course, they are still around, just not as visible - they are experiencing their annual moult, many of their flight feathers are missing, therefore they are not quite as efficient at flying as they usually are. Their time is spent perching in the trees after having gone through a long breeding season lasting several months. Additionally, they will have their young still occasionally chasing after them for food. They are probably well and truly knackered!

The birds may stay away in the early autumn too when natural food is abundant. Personally I always think it's a good thing when they disappear - it shows there is still plenty of food out there for them. And it give my bank balance some respite!

Krystal n chips
31st Jul 2011, 10:37
TTN. I feed on the ground...the birds also have a smorgasbord from the various shrubs to choose from.

As for the cat...it is generally seen off by the birds who operate their own AWACS system....the cats principle concern is my demise as I have the temerity to mow the lawn, enter the garage etc when WE wish to sleep.

It's not just those in my garder however, it's also those who frequent the local roof tops...even the gulls have gone as have the pigeons and starlings.

31st Jul 2011, 11:14
Aye, all the pigeons are in my woods!

(The garden birds I mentioned above also include pigeons, starlings, etc.)

31st Jul 2011, 11:44
Interesting post and good answers from Helol.

We to have experienced the same disappearance of birds from our garden recently! My 84 year old inlaws say thay have never seen this before!

but they also say in the old days summers were always hot, winters were always cold with snow and there was no crime ;)

Think I will go with chemtrails they will find that more believable :ok:

31st Jul 2011, 11:50
We have an Ornithologist?

31st Jul 2011, 12:47
.....time of year when they moult and therefore keep a lowish profile as their flying abilities are a tad compromised?
I've noticed some very tatty lookig cock pheasants around our spot, lurking under low growing shrubs. They always look monumentally miffed if one accidentally disturbs them. They slink away and one can almost hear the phrase "I don't usually look this this, you know, but..."
Yes, I DO realise that hearing imaginary conversations with pheasants is a sign of something or other.

The Ancient Mariner

31st Jul 2011, 16:01
One should not feed the birds during the Summer.
Make the little perishers work for a living.
A lot of them have probably died from Obesity.

Krystal n chips
31st Jul 2011, 17:42
My thanks to Helol for the comprehensive reply....:ok: and others who also contributed.

It's the sudden absence of the noise that you notice as well...and one does have an interest in both our avian friends and the natural world along with being a gullible human for animals.......hence the query.

Ancient Observer
31st Jul 2011, 17:46
We've got Red Kites around here, they tend to keep the other birds on their toes.
The "official" website says that they do not kill birds. The pigeon that a Kite killed in our garden last week would not agree.

31st Jul 2011, 17:51
I think all my regulars are still present but they're much less interested than usual in the food I put out.

Only exception is the flying dustbin Wood Pigeon who still can't bear to leave anything uneaten, no matter how long it takes and how much effort it takes to gulp the last bit down. He then drinks half the contents of the birdbath and squats in what's left.

31st Jul 2011, 17:52
Ancient Observer.

Did you witness the kill?

Which 'official' website is that? Kites do take live prey, however their modus operandi is nothing like that of a female sparrowhawk, which does and will kill wood pigeons in a garden. Female sparrowhawks are all too often mistaken for red kites, as indeed is any raptor where kites are present.

31st Jul 2011, 17:55
Wood pigeons really are the couch potatoes of the avian world.

They just hang around waiting for the raptors to pick them off.