Ask the Bird Lady: where are the small birds?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon subspecies.
Depending on your yard, this one could be leaving,
with most coming in this next month.
A reader asks:

I have a question for our bird lady Chris Southwick. Last week I refilled the bird feeder and have seen only one small bird since(!) Usually it gets quite a bit of action. Crows and jays are still present, but I haven't even seen a small bird anywhere around my house.

What is going on? Is there something I'm not aware of with this time of year, etc? I don't recall this phenomenon in previous years.

Hope you can clear up the mystery for me.

Vicki Westberg

Dark-eyed Junco, male may have left
not to return until September

The Bird Lady answers:

Several people have noticed this happening at their feeders.

Do not worry. It is the seasonal changing of the birds.

What most people are seeing is the winter birds that have been using their feeders are starting to migrate north or to higher elevations to their breeding grounds, and the summer birds are not here yet.

I had one friend who had a Yellow-rumped Warbler that was gorging itself on high protein meal worms.  I told her it would probably leave soon -- and it hasn't been seen since last Saturday.

White-crowned Sparrow. Just starting to
be heard in the area -- breeds here
Depending on your habitat, Dark-eyed Juncos may have left, or be leaving.  I have breeding juncos in this yard, but my house just 28 blocks to the south used to only have juncos from September to March-April.

Resident birds that stay here to breed are eating more bugs and less seed (now that bugs are available again after the frosts), and many local breeders are feeding bugs to the females creating bonding for the season.

My hummingbird feeders are going down quite rapidly, so I know that I have extra hummers, maybe even a Rufus passing through, even if I am not home during the day.

Townsend's Warbler should be showing up soon
Soon, you will start seeing and hearing birds that you haven't had for six months--the passing through migrants, and the local summer birds.  Already the American Robins are serenading the mornings and the early evenings.

Soon will come the warblers--Townsend's, Wilson's, Yellow-rumped, Yellow.  Passing through will be Western Tanagers, flycatchers, vireos, etc. Sparrows that breed in this area are starting to appear:  White-crowned, Golden-crowned, Savannah, Lincoln.

Look upward, and listen too -- the season is a changing....

Chris Southwick

All photos by Christine Southwick


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