Very sharp decline in the number of birds at my feeder.

Discussion in 'Celebrate Biodiversity' started by Sundrop, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    I have noticed much less (in fact, only a few) small birds coming to my feeder this winter. It is not just visual observation, which could be misleading.
    Last year I run out of organic seeds I always buy for my birds and had difficulty to buy some more later in the season. So, at the beginning of this winter I bought as much as I usually needed for the whole feeding period. Looks like, I will be left with most of the seeds when the spring comes.

    I would appreciate to hear from other people on the forum about their observations.
     
  2. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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  3. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your response togata57. It is nice explanation that possible reason in the decline of small birds coming to our feeders this year lies in the abundance of food in the wild. Hopefully it is true.

    Accidentally, I had a visit today from one of my neighbours next-door. He was looking for the owner of a cat that wandered into their yard. He said, he has several cats, too. So, may be this is another piece of the answer to my question why.
    I did some research on the Net to find out that "America’s cats, including housecats that adventure outdoors and feral cats, kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in a year" https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cats-kill-more-one-billion-birds-each-year
     
  4. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That author lost me in this assertion, because I'm just not sure where the proof is:

    I suppose I can imagine isolated situations where high rodent populations are more detrimental to birds than a resident cat population, but .... proof?

    Now that the magnitude of bird death due to irresponsible pet ownership and feral cats has a number, steps should be taken to try to get that number down. Some approaches as suggested in the article will help (re: feral cats and neutering/spaying), as would suggested approaches by other concerned groups to help cat owners take steps to reduce the impact of their cats on local bird populations.

    Yes, habitat loss is the major factor in bird population decline (for most species), but reducing the effectiveness of / opportunities for cats killing birds in one's local neighbourhood _can_ help local populations and be something that individuals _can_ do and see the results of.
     
  6. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes, I think the author overstates it when he says "many bird species" instead of "some" (an assertion which does have some support in the references cited). However, it does bring a more ecological perspective into the discussion: predators play a role beyond their relationship with one particular prey, and even when said predators are introduced, it is done in the context of a highly modified natural system(s) of which various animal (and plant) populations are in part a product--including egg and nest raiding rodents such as rats. More proof is needed on both counts: I think the article (minus the sappy insipid bit about 'purring' at the end) does point to some larger considerations, however, and highlights the need for a much broader consideration of the 'impact' of cats.

    Here's a decent (and properly scholarly) summary of the research highlighting some of the beneficial roles cats can play in this regard: it mostly applies to island systems, but cites a number of studies which provide some of the proof you requested:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2656.1999.00285.x/full
     
  7. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Based on my own observations of the fauna in my neighborhood, I suspect that birds are being preyed upon not only by feral cats but by hawks as well. These latter used to be a rare sight, but have become nearly commonplace.

    Am seeing more raccoons and possums too. Big ones. Saw a raccoon trotting up my next-door-but-one neighbor's driveway a few days ago. Broad daylight.

    And I read in my local paper that certain parts of the city are home to most unwelcome residents: rats.
    I fear that the nice folks who put out food for the birds are unintentionally feeding these vermin...who in turn feed upon the birds.

    I myself do in fact have bird feeders---a squirrel-proof suet feeder and a tubular thistle-seed feeder beloved by goldfinches. Gone are the days when we put out mass quantities of 'wild bird seed', most of which would end up piled on the ground to decompose. Feed the birds by all means---but put out reasonable amounts, and spend the $ to get good stuff that will be quickly eaten by its intended recipients!
     
  8. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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  9. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    As the article in the Columbus Dispatch noted, some birds have adapted to city life better than others. I don't know how crows are doing in the Kootenays, but here in Burnaby I've noticed that crows have gotten noticeably more abundant over the last 30 years, while other previously common species have declined. The declines have been most obvious in starlings, robins, English Sparrows, and House Finches. I don't know about some of the less common songbirds, but I'm quite grateful about the decline of the 4 species I mentioned because they all created problems in my garden. And 2 of them are introduced, invasive birds apparently being out-competed by an intelligent native. Sure, crows have their bad points; but I find them more tolerable than the smaller birds.
     
  10. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Silent winter. Well, maybe not completely silent yet, but very close.

    my_place_birdfeeder_2014-02-23.jpg

    It looks like bird populations are in very sharp decline all over the world. Here is some recent information:

    2014-01-23 Arctic Arctic birds experiencing STEEP DROPS in population

    2014-01-20 Canada Canada chickadee population in DRAMATIC DECLINE

    2014-01-16 India This year’s mid-winter migratory bird census revealed LOWEST figure of the birds in the last 10 years. In 2008, the forest officials counted 1,01,293 birds. . . . This year’s count was the lowest ever at 68,514.

    2013-12-09 UK SHOCKING declines in countryside birds

    2012-06-06 Europe Europe Farmland birds are declining across Europe at an ALARMING rate

    Climate change, pollution, industrial-scale monoculture agriculture, destruction of tropical forests, invasive predators, especially rats and cats, reduced fitness resulting from introduced micro-organisms, contamination of food sources with poisons and veterinary drugs, longline, gillnet and trawl fisheries, all contribute to the gradual destruction of bird populations.

    The recent rapid drop in the number of birds could be a result of something new, that human limited intelligence was not able to grasp yet, like, for example, the rapidly growing presence of human introduced magnetic fields generated by wireless technology. Since birds use Earth's magnetic field for navigation, the human introduced magnetic fields have the potential to disrupt that navigation and cause sudden rapid extinction of species like birds and possibly others.

    Evidently we were able to survive for millions of years without our recent inventions. Those of us however, who believe that human species will be able to survive after destroying the environment that shaped us over millions of years, are deeply mistaken.

    Unfortunately, in the contemporary society ingenuity takes precedence over wisdom. I think it is very high time to wake up and reverse that trend. It may be too late, but it is worth trying.
     
  11. Fine ocean parker

    Fine ocean parker Active Member

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    I've spent some time sitting in my window just this past weekend. Before the snow came my feeders were just filled and I had a fair numbers of birds. Upwards of 30 juncos and sparrows ( hard to get a accurate count with that many ), also saw a flock of 8 Robbins ( and I don't normal get Robbins ) and I just today saw a band tail pidgin. I normal have a hummingbirds but haven't seen them lately. I have found that they sort of come in wave. Sometimes nothing for awhile then a bunch. Anyways sorry to hear the lack of birds
    Up your way.
     

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