Where have all the birds gone?

About three weeks ago my garden exploded with fledgling birds; mainly house sparrows, tree sparrows and starlings. The feeders were crammed: comedic youngsters perched on the tops of the feeders while their parents dutifully passed them seeds from the bottom. With the jackdaws fledged as well eight fat balls would last about two hours. I was seeing the sparrowhawk almost daily and a young woodpecker took a keen interest in the otherwise-ignored peanut feeder.

this young great spotted woodpecker is the only visitor that likes peanuts

The blackbirds were particularly entertaining. There were at least two nests close by, and the parents became very partial to sultanas. One of the females cottoned on that I was the source of the sultana boon and started following me round the garden. Within a couple of days at least four blackbirds would come to my call and I nearly got them eating out of my hand. I even gave them names – Scruffy, Stabby, Noisy and Baldy. Stabby is my favourite. She stabs viciously at the food as if it is alive and is not happy until she has at least ten sultanas crammed in her beak.

Scruffy the blackbird. Stabby is camera-shy

Then last week most of the birds vanished. The two blackbird families fledged on the same day – I noticed they were no longer flying back to their nests but were still collecting rather than eating food. They foraged madly for a couple more days but the youngsters are staying hidden in the bushes and sultanas are no longer on the menu.

There are hardly any young sparrows and starlings around now and my garden is no longer the place to be seen. I have heard that young birds gang together to explore the neighbourhood during the summer but I wasn’t expecting such a sudden and swift exodus.

It looks like the youngsters needed a couple of weeks easy feeding while they learned the ropes, but now they’ve found their feet they’ve set off on their summer adventures while their exhausted parents take a well earned rest – maybe in a health spar somewhere?


About Yasmine

After working with horses for many years I came to my senses and got a 'proper job'. I now live in Weardale with My Taller Half, a mad border collie and 5 chickens. Still wishing I could spend all my time in the great outdoors
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2 Responses to Where have all the birds gone?

  1. Val Erde says:

    I love the photo of Scruffy the Blackbird!

    Birds do vanish for periods, the first time it happened here I was so alarmed I thought something dreadful must’ve happened to them. Then some reading and some observation told me what was happening and I think it’s two things. One is that, as the youngsters get to birdy teenhood, they fly away to find their own territories (sometimes they chase away their parents and take over their parents’ territories instead. I think that may be what happened to Hasslebob the Robin, though she’s reclaimed her old places now). The other is that, after laying eggs and when the young have fledged and been fed, the parents hide away to moult. When the smaller feathers go it’s okay, they can manage, but imagine how dangerous it would be for them to be out in the open if they are moulting their big wing or tail feathers. So they hide til it’s save to appear again.

  2. Val Erde says:

    Sorry, typo: safe, not save!

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