Where have my backyard birds gone, is a question that can be asked in any season.
Anytime of year the birds in our backyards sometimes seem to disappear.
It may not be a usual time for migration, which makes us wonder what happened to them.
But changes happen all year and not just to the weather.
Their activities change constantly throughout the year, as their life cycle dictates.
The key word here though, is change!
When the weather begins to change, the birds respond, which usually means another cycle of their life will begin.
Let's start with the summer season.
All summer birds have been busy building a home and raising their young.
When the fledglings leave the nest, they emulate their parents and begin to visit our feeders.
It is a great time for bird watching, with the increase of visitation that the young create at our feeders.
Our seed feeders and our Hummingbird feeders are very busy when the young birds are out and about.
Then it seems in a few weeks traffic at the feeders seems to slow down. Sometimes with a sudden drop and other times just a little less activity.
After the adult birds have finished raising their young they often begin to molt.
This provides the birds with fresh new feathers that are in tip top shape.
Molt prepares those birds who migrate with the tools they need for optimum flight.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a good explanation of this here.
We always think of migration as taking place in spring and autumn months. But many birds have already left by mid summer.
The males of many species, like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, have left by late summer. Some leave as early as July and many more following in August.
You may even notice the traffic at your feeders is diminishing during this time.
Where Have My Backyard Birds Gone?
But as the autumn season arrives, things begin to change more noticeably.
The migrating birds are already on the move, gathering in large groups and passing through.
The adult females are starting their trek in early fall and any remaining males.
Then the youths who are hanging about, stocking up on food and figuring out what it is to be an adult bird, prepare to leave.
Some of the youths who hatched in early summer, may have moved to a new location at some point in the summer.
They are defining their independence and when they leave your feeding station, you will notice a change in activity at your feeders.
Eventually they will leave too, when they have stocked up on body fat and are strong enough to go.
This is the pattern for Hummingbirds, as well as many other songbirds. Although Hummingbirds do not group together to migrate, they make the trip individually.
The birds who do not migrate will undergo a shift as well.
You may notice that you have fewer birds like Goldfinches and Chickadees at your feeders as the fall season progresses.
These species do not migrate on mass as Robins, Hummingbirds and Orioles do.
But many non-migratory birds will group together for the winter.
Adults together, sometimes forming, male groups and female groups.
The youths will gather and hangout together too. Sound familiar? ;)
And some will just move to a new location, perhaps where they perceive food sources and shelter may be more abundant.
These groups of birds will travel around in winter too. But when they discover a reliable feeding station that offers, oil rich food like, black-oil sunflower, suet, peanuts, they are more likely to stick around.
In the late spring and early summer you may also notice a reduced number of visitors to your feeders. This may be in part due to, adult birds establishing territory, building nests and taking turns sitting on the eggs.
Patience and keeping your backyard feeding area in tip top shape will pay out in the end.
(If you are wondering if you should be taking your feeders down in the autumn? You need to read this first.)
Hope this helps to answering the question "Where have my backyard birds gone?"
I live in central NY state (near Syracuse) and for many years I have feed wild birds.
I put out nyjer, black oil sunflower seeds, and mixed seeds.
This time of year I usually have many chipping sparrows, juncos, house finches, savannah sparrows, goldfinches, cardinals, downy and hairy woodpeckers,etc.
Starting in late August, my goldfinches often don't show up at the nyjer seed feeder, but they have always come back by late September.
This year - for the first time in 20 years, ALL of my birds are gone.
There have been no changes in what I feed, where I feed; there are no predators haunting my area.
What is going on?
Why have all my birds disappeared?
And how can I get them back?
Your experience of disappearing birds, sadly, is very common.
But to loose them all, is unusual!
Hopefully I can help.
I hope this helps a little and truly hope your birds return soon!
Where Have My Backyard Birds Gone?