Where Have My Backyard Birds Gone?

Tray bird feeder pole mountedWhen I used to run my birdfeeding store, a common question I used to hear in August was “Where Have My Birds Gone?”  In the traditional “dog days of August” it IS not uncommon to see and hear a lot less birds.  Why is this?  Here are some of the main reasons….

  • The nesting season has ended.  So, young birds and their parents have dispersed and left their nesting territories (your yard).
  • Natural food is more plentiful.  As late-summer berries and seeds ripen, birds have many more sources of food.  So, they come to feeders less.
  • Migration has started for some species.   Backyard birds with long migration routes (like swallows and orioles) will start leaving this month in more northern areas of the country as insect populations start to fall off.
  • Midday heat will make birds more inactive.  Summer temperatures will often cause birds to be less active during the middle of the day.  So, they won’t come to feeders as much.
  • Goldfinches may be busy nesting.  These birds are unusual in that they nest in mid to late summer.  So, they may not be nearly as common at feeders as they were in the spring.

Although this may seem sad to see your favorite birds of summer around any more, it’s actually part of nature’s wonderful year-long cycle.  As we transition into fall, you’ll see your regular birds more active foraging for food as days get shorter and the weather cooler.  Some birds like nuthatches and jays will cache food for the winter by hiding it in cracks and crevices in trees or even your house siding!

So, the good news here is that the birds WILL come back.  But, it’s still important to keep feeders and birdbaths filled.  Migrating birds will often take advantage of them for an easy meal or drink as they head southward.  This will provide you with an excellent opportunity to watch for some new and exciting species of birds that may wander through your yard.



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Cornell Lab of Ornithology