Little Rock, Arkansas

1818 N Taylor St
Little Rock, AR 72207
Across from the Kroger parking lot

 (501) 666-4210

Open Today Until 6:00 pm

Monday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday Closed

Jim Allen Franchise Store Owner

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Where Are My Birds?

It happens every year about this time. Sometime around mid-August birds just disappear…vanish, it seems, into the thin air! We get calls. Lots of them. “Where are my birds?” “Has something happened to the birds?” And my personal favorite, the accusatory “There must be something wrong with your seed!”

Well, set your minds at ease. The birds are just fine. In fact, they are probably still around your yard, they just aren’t visiting your feeders as much right now, and for some very simple reasons.

First, nesting season ends for most of the birds just about this time of year. While there are young birds in the nest, Momma and Poppa birds are hitting the feeders hot and heavy. Your feeders provide nesting birds with high quality, dependable, and easy to find food sources for babies that need to eat every few minutes. Momma and Poppa are eating a lot too with all the work they have to do to take care of the young’uns. Once that last brood of babies fledges, that’s it! Time for a break! Birds at rest don’t require as much food, so they aren’t hitting the feeders nearly as often.  In addition, the adults birds are beginning their molting process, so they tend to stay close to home where they are less vulnerable.

Second, the warm weather plays a significant role too. Unlike me, birds eat to live, not live to eat! So when the weather is warm, they don’t need to eat as much to burn calories to stay warm, so again, they aren’t visiting feeders as often. Want proof? See how many birds show up at your feeder during a cool morning or when it rains. You will definitely see an increase in activity then.

Third, natural foods are becoming more abundant. I am always surprised by people who stop feeding in the ‘summer’ (they are usually saying this in about March) because ‘the birds have lots of natural food sources during this time of year.’ Yes, it’s true that birds will not starve to death without us. They have been taking care of themselves for many millennia. Unless it’s extreme winter weather or extreme drought, birds don’t ‘need’ us as much as we like to believe they do...the truth is, we need the birds! However, as previously noted, we do provide quick, reliable sources of food during the nesting season (and cold weather) at our feeders. Coincidentally, however, nesting season ends about the time that food sources are most abundant...around harvest. So, from later summer through the first frost, seeds, berries, nuts, and insects may be in great supply. Would you travel all the way across town if your had a smorgasbord just outside your door? Likewise, when they are eating during the heat, birds don’t necessarily need to make the trip to your feeder when they have fresh food sources all around them.

So what are backyard bird lovers to do during while the birds aren’t visiting our feeders?

Well, first of all, don’t overbuy on your birdfood. This cannot be stressed enough. People think birdseed is good ‘forever,’ but it’s not! Just like any grain product, seeds get stale, especially when we keep it sealed up in plastic bags, in cans, or buckets in our hot, muggy garages. In addition, moth and other insect eggs are laying dormant in the seed when it comes from the field. Given enough time and hot and humid conditions, those eggs could hatch and that creates a mess you don’t want. So, cut your food purchases in at least half from August through October. After October, base purchases on the anticipated weather. If things are cooling down, buy more. If not, then stay the course with less seed. It’s always better to buy more frequently and ensure the freshness of the food than to have it get stale. Birds do not readily eat old seed.

Second, make sure you have good, clean water sources. Birds may not be hungry during the heat, but they still get thirsty and they need to bathe themselves. Having a shallow birdbath with good access and egress for wading into the water may just provide you with a new source of enjoyment from your feathered friends.

Lastly, be patient. Birds may not be visiting your feeder in the numbers they were during nesting season, but winter migration is just around the corner, and with any luck you’ll be treated to a flock of new friends who will call your backyard home for the holidays!

Happy Birding! John