Absence of Garden Birds

It has been a mild winter and, exceptionally, there are still berries on the holly. Normally these have gone by Christmas and I take that as a sign to start feeding the birds. But I have started putting out food anyway, because I know that they need to put on some weight for successful egg production.
But the response has been disappointing. Normally there would be numerous small birds queuing to take their turn but I have only seen a couple this year.
We are in South Manche where there is not much industrial farming and little use of agrichemicals.
Has anyone had a similar experience? Any explanation?

We have had no holly berries here during the winter, the trees were laden the year before.
The birds are already starting to sing a dawn chorus and are making mating flights.
The blossom is starting to come out.

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I think the birds are very observant. I feed them every day and our garden is very popular. It is nice to occasionally see a few unusual birds on their way south or north joining in with the natives. But when we return home after being away for a week or two there are almost no birds for several days even though I have put seeds on the table. Once they realise the food is there again they come back gradually. If I forget one day the bluetits remind me by pecking on the transparent plastic container outside where I keep the seed supply! But there are a lot less birds, especially sparrows, than there were 25 years ago.

I think I am feeding all the little birds in my area and I’ve had to buy 2 new large seed feeders, making it 5 seed feeders and 3 fat ball containers and the bird table, all generally need filling up every morning, when the weather is bad.

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I’m feeding the local birds with scraps from our meals…apart from the usual bread/biscuit crumbs… they seem to love the skins of jacket potato… and anything with bits of cheese (even the hard crust)…

Saw a chaffinch for the first time since last autumn… no idea where that one has been hiding…

We get sparrows, robins, blue tits and great tits… magpies (bullies) and blackbirds.

the buzzards … plus Little Owl and Barn Owl etc… are all around… as we see and hear them… but they don’t visit our terrace…

Probably explains where mine have gone!

We sometimes see a green woodpecker that picks up bits from the birdy balls dropped by the bluetits.
Sad, but true, little birds that fall from nests make food for baby buzzards. But there is an important lesson - any break in the food chain has consequences.

Our finches have been decimated by an outbreak of trichomonas… and we’re worried about our huge flock of squabbling sparrows now.

Do please be careful about food that is salty, like many cheese rinds, as this can be harmful to garden birds whose kidneys are not built to deal with much salt.

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I think you omitted NOT from your post.

Quite right! Edited…

We see a large number of different species in the garden but only a few at a time and sometimes only a pair, so much different to when I was a young boy in the wilds of Norfolk when sparrows, finches and tits ruled.

What part of Norfolk was that? When I visited 30 years ago it was a silent monocultural wasteland. . . . .

We lived north of Norwich, our house backed onto woods and farmland (60’s/70’s).

I understand your concerns… the cheese rind is not salty… it is just hard cheese …

Depends on the cheese, some are saltier than others.

Absolutely… we follow a strict low-salt regime… :hugs:

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we used to get lots of black-caps when we first arrived… along with yellow wagtails… both species seem to have vanished locally… such a shame…

Yes, huge variation between cheeses and some are low salt. But the rind on some hard cheeses is created by salt washing. Cheese inside isn’t salty, but the rind can be. The salt is used to draw moisture from the cheese making it hard. The one I know as it’s local is compté, and the wheels of cheese are salted, turned and rubbed practically daily for the first few months of their maturation process. We don’t give it to the birds.

Morning Mike

We are just outside Avranches, so cannot be too far from you.

I have been feeding the birds all winter.

Not being much of a twitcher all I can say is we have loads of different kinds of tits, robins and blackbirds that come to the feeder. We have 633 squadron, small brown birds, that live in the hedge and come out en masse. There are also no end of magpies this year. We also have woodpeckers and owls that we only hear.

On the hunting side we have a pair of buzzards, as well as no end of hawks that sit on the power and fence poles.

Sorry for the very non technical descriptions.

Have a good day

Andy

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We’re pretty lucky when it comes to garden birds (but we do live on the edge of a small wood, with other woods and hedgerows nearby). A whole range of finches, tits, sparrows, nuthatches, treecreepers, various woodpeckers, thrushes, blackbirds, starlings, magpies, jays, shrikes, wagtails, birds of prey (owls, buzzards, kites, sparrowhawks, merlins, kestrels), cuckoos, swallows and house martins, and the occasional wading birds (egrets, herons) plus golden orioles ,are around at various times of the year. This year has been no different really, so far, except for the lack of brambling, but that’s probably due to the lack of a real winter. Currently, the goldfinch are picking off the seedheads on the milkweed, and the tits beginning their search for nesting materials, whereas the blackbirds have wreaked havoc in the moss on the rocks at the back and around the pond.

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