Where Are Your Birds?

Does it feel like you’re watching an episode of the Outer Limits out your window? There is nothing wrong with your bird food or bird feeder. No attempts at altering your feeder setup or cleaning your feeders have brought the birds back. Something is causing the seed to be eaten very slowly and you don't know why the suet sits untouched. You can worry and fidget about where your birds are but only Mother Nature knows when they’ll return. You see Mother Nature controls everything. She blows away the clouds for the sun to shine through, she makes it rain, and she provides the natural foods birds need. This autumn, Mother Nature seems to have out done herself. She’s provided enough seeds, fruit, nuts, and insects so the birds don’t require the fare you’re offering as much. Her cosmological, ecological, and meteorological attributes will also determine when the birds will return to your feeders. Approaching storm fronts, dwindling daylight, colder temperatures, and over time the lessening of natural foods will all contribute to the return of the regularly scheduled activity of your birds. There’s no knobs on your window. You can’t alter a thing outside. Mother Nature controls all you see and hear in your backyard.

Slowly the birds are returning back to our feeders. The darkness of dawn and the shadows of dusk are the best times for seeing Cardinals. The Blue Jays seem to be everywhere at once. Their jeering screams echo from hill to dell. They steal the whole peanuts I offer and secret them away in caches for the winter. Some of the most common of backyard birds have been so scarce, we get overly excited when a Chickadee, Titmouse or Nuthatch. Occasionally a Downy or Red-bellied Woodpecker sneaks in for a peck of Bark Butter or peanut but the suet goes untouched. Mourning Doves are early morning visitors. House Finch numbers are up but the Goldfinches have abandoned the feeders for the fields. Male Bluebirds and Towhees can be heard singing. The murder of Crows greets the day with caws and croaks. At night they return to a maple tree in our yard to roost. Along the trails, we’ve spotted White-throated Sparrows and Juncos in the brush and Chipping Sparrows. Vultures take advantage of any thermal. By the dozens they stream from and to their roosting site each morning and night. Bald Eagles and Hawks can be seen up high as they are migrating through our region. We’ve observed late migrating birds like Golden-crowned Kinglets and the above Hermit Thrush filling up on seeds and berries before continuing their journey southward. Natural foodstuffs are beneficial to our customary seed eating birds and also a variety of migrating birds. The birds are still out there. They’re just beyond your window.

I don’t watch TV. I watch the birds. And when they’re not at the feeders I don’t fret. I switch my channel and go for a walk. I feel like a character in an episode of the Outer Limits. Whereas, I was sitting contently inside looking out at the scenery through my picture tube of a window, now I'm actively part of this beautiful Autumn day. Get Outside.

Happy Birding, Charles Shattuck

November 2021

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