May 26, 2021 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2021

Ask Birdsquatch: Vanishing Act at the Feeder?

The level of activity at a backyard feeder can vary from day to day. Learn why!

Dear Birdsquatch:

Why is it that birds disappear from my feeders—except for a few—when I had so many up until a day or so ago?

—Diane M., Covington, Georgia

Dear Diane,

People ask me this question almost as frequently as they ask if I've seen my cousin Sas lately. It is a survival skill for birds—and squatches—to always be on the lookout for new food sources. Maybe one of your neighbors hung or refilled a feeder with fresh seed, or maybe some weed flowers in a nearby grassy area finally turned to seed. If this occurred in the fall or spring and the throng that was at your feeder was of pine siskins, perhaps they've continued their migratory journey. Or, maybe a Cooper's hawk has discovered the largesse of your feeders and has become a frequent observer! As long as your feeders are stocked with fresh seed, the birds will find them. Maybe not the same ones that were there a few days ago, though. It is normal for bird numbers to fluctuate at feeders. I predict that your birds will soon return in big numbers. And then they'll leave again, and then return.

About Birdsquatch

Birdsquatch is WBB's tall, hairy, and slightly stinky columnist. He is a bigfoot who has watched birds all his life. His home range is unknown.

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  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021