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Where's Everyone Gone?

If you feed the birds in your garden (and if you don't why not?) at this time of year you're probably wondering where they've gone to. I haven't seen blue tits, great tits or robins in my garden for weeks!

Well there's two main reasons why they aren't visiting at the moment.

Firstly, once birds have finished breeding for the year, they start to moult and grow their fresh new feathers. A full moult of all their feathers takes several weeks. During this period they can look rather scruffy, with bald heads and missing wing feathers. These missing feathers can be a problem as they may be more likely to get caught by predators.

During their moult, they hide themselves away as much as possible to avoid predators and territory disputes. So to us it looks like they've disappeared.

Secondly, toward the end of summer, a bounty of natural food becomes available as grain, berries and fruit ripen. A lot of birds will abandon their nesting areas and move to where the food is.

If you live in an area close to farmland then house sparrows, starlings and many finches move out to the fields to feast on the grain before it is harvested.

Even in cities, sparrows and finches are attracted to any piece of rough ground that provides a good crop of weed seeds. Tits tend to abandon their territories soon after their young fledge, and spend most of their time in the late summer high up in tree canopies, where they are easily missed. Even the blackbirds and thrushes will move to where there is an abundance of fruit or berries.

But don't worry they'll be back. When the natural food is harder to find and the frosts arrive they'll be back to tuck into the seeds, nuts and fat balls we put out for them.


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