Where Did All The Birds Go?

RSPB BirdwatchOn Sunday morning, armed with a cup of coffee and trusty binoculars, we settled down in the Garden Room to count birds for an hour as part of the RSPB Big Birdwatch survey. We usually have all sorts of feathered visitors and so we were quite disappointed at the low turn out from the birds. We had to document the maximum number of birds seen at any one time (rather than the total number of birds in the hour) and the ones that could be bothered to show up were:

Robin 1
Pheasant 1
Sparrow 6
Great Tit 2
Blue Tit 3
Woodpecker 1
Chaffinch 1
Thrush 1
Crows 4
Coal Tit 1
Blackbird 3

We expected to see quite a few birds such as wrens, gold crests, tree creepers, collared doves, long tailed tits and dunnocks but there was no sign of them (not even in the 10 minutes following the survey when they inevitably all come back out to play!). It’s not as if we expected to see a Golden Eagle or Pheonix rising from the ashes… just a little wren would have made us happy!

The RSPB forums indicate that the low number of birds have been a nationwide problem and the staff are urging people to send their results in even if they don’t seem representative. I’m not sure if the birds were scarce because of adverse weather conditions or a re-run of Downton… whatever the reason the results should be interesting!

32 thoughts on “Where Did All The Birds Go?

    • The cats haven’t been out yet as they need to be neutered. The woodpecker is a hooligan and scares off all the smaller birds… I think he looks a bit evil but my husband thinks he’s great!

  1. What a pity, but comparatively, you did quite well. Although the weather was atrocious here on Sunday, I did expect to see at least a few redwings as they have been enjoying picking round the brassicas these last few days. I did have a fly over by a beautiful male hen harrier, pair of ravens and I could see our resident 50 shelducks feeding in the bay at the bottom of the garden, but they don’t count, so nil return for me! I would have enjoyed a dunnock but we rarely see them here 😦

    • Wow – I’ve never seen a hen harrier and the ducks must be a sight to behold! The usual motley crew is back today so I think that they deliberately hide from us all to make sure we keep feeding them πŸ™‚

  2. My Mum said the same – hardly a bird to be seen, but then they had rain and sleet! Still, that’s not bad for all at one time. Does the pheasant often visit?

    • We usually have between 6 and 10 pheasants milling around (and a couple who live in the chicken enclosure and seriously think they are chickens) so it was strange to see only one. It certainly seems like a nationwide phenomenon!

    • The funny thing is that a lot of people who feed the birds and have lots of feathered visitors noticed on this one particular weekend there was severely reduced activity… maybe the birds knew we were counting them!

  3. How interesting and it seems like a large assortment to me. At least you know who you are looking at. I am so bad at remembering birds names!! I have a picture chart on the side of my fridge and I still get it wrong.

  4. I’ve heard of these bird counts but have never participated. Although your list seems long, I do worry too about bird populations declining. We don’t see many winter birds downtown. I really miss them. At the lake I had a feeder for the chickadees. I just loved watching them even on the coldest days, they came to visit. Blossum really loved to watch them too. Yes, I guess the re-run of Downton was too hard to resist, LOL… you kill me.

    • I had to do a search for chickadees and they seem related to our Blue Tits which are very sweet. The kittens weren’t that bothered with watching birds and preferred to torment a spider and a dead leaf instead.

      • Chickadees are probably the most common winter bird in Alberta, if you put out a feeder. They are really cute all fluffed up in cold weather. Their markings are almost like little tuxes.
        That poor spider probably was confused, it should run away but the kitties are too cute. πŸ˜€ x

  5. Don’t know where your birds went, probably off partying with ours – do you think after all these years of the bird count, the birds know when it’s coming up and disappear on purpose? We saw fewer species than you, but more individuals (all sparrows), but it was incredibly windy so maybe that had something to do with it.

    • I think the adverse weather conditions did affect the bird results – it was white over with snow on Saturday and on Sunday it was almost gone here but the winds were so high! They’re all back again now though…

  6. It’s strange, our birds did a disappearing act for a couple of days – the weekend, then they have reappeared again? As other have said, maybe they know, maybe they do it on purpose? :s
    Wish I’d done the birdwatch today, hundreds (slight exageration) of birds in the garden, even a long tailed tit appeared and I’ve never seen one around here before!
    I wonder if the birds have a “big garden human watch?”

    • We have quite a few long tailed tits and they’re such small little things – I wonder if they were blown off course as it’s been really windy!
      Ha, ha! I like the thought of the birds counting how many varieties of humans are stood at windows with pads and pens!

  7. Didn’t realize there was a nationwide problem. 😦 I have cats so I discourage birds from coming to my yard. Still, for some reason, I have a flock of buzzards that have decided to call my garden their home! (Not sure if that’s a bad omen or what!)

    • We don’t have vultures over here… but their reputation travels far. I’m sure that they just get bad press and they’re more exotic than other garden birds!

  8. I did my counting on the Saturday, but all I saw was the 2 nesting wood pigeons on my roof! I did count them though, my house is in my garden, but it felt a bit like cheating, the pigeons live here!

    The bird food I have offered the birds have not been touched, I have now got sunflower seeds and suet balls in addition to the bird feed I intially bought. I hope the birds come back soon from where ever they are!

  9. My birds have gone missing too? We bought a new feeder a couple of weeks back and the food hasn’t been touched? I’m so amazed by the birds you get in your garden though, it would be my absolute dream to see so many in my own garden πŸ™‚

  10. PJ – I hope the answer to your bird scarcity is as you suggested — they are all hunkered down in their nests watching Downton Abbey.

  11. Pingback: Hope You Like Surprises? « Boomdeeadda

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