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Where have all the little garden birds gone?

(26 Posts)
Adgefox Mon 22-Feb-16 13:31:26

We just seem to have big, fat healthy pigeons on our bird feeders.

We have nesting boxes, bird feeders and bird baths galore and our garden is surrounded by lovely hedging and shelter. A few years ago we had loads of tits, finches, sparrows, blackbirds and even a robin. Nothing much this year so far.

Come to think of it I have not seen any squirrels in the past year, nor hedgehogs. We do have a family of foxes in a raised wooded bank at the bottom of our garden and they look quite fit.

Is it just us with no little birds this year so far?

mupperoon Mon 22-Feb-16 13:35:59

Our garden is full of robins, wrens, great and blue tits, jays, magpies and the occasional woodpecker or parakeet... And we haven't even got any feeders out this year. We're in South London. Squirrels and foxes also rife!

patterkiller Mon 22-Feb-16 13:37:28

Outside my bedroom wi die at 6.30 this morning.

AalyaSecura Mon 22-Feb-16 13:45:54

Yep, they're all here, nesting in my eaves...

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Mon 22-Feb-16 13:47:39

We've got loads (Surrey, but just outside a large town, so not particularly 'country'). Alongside the inevitable Pigeons, Parakeets and various members of the Crow family (Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws, Jays, etc) we have Blue Tits, Long-Tailed Tits, Sparrows, Nuthatches, Starlings, Blackbirds, Robins - all sorts! Some I haven't managed to identify (some sort of wag-tailed something-or-other) And hedgehogs living in the garden too, although not seen them yet this season, bit early maybe. Foxes visit at night as we have pet rabbits, but haven't seen any squirrels for several years, when we used to have lots of them in the past. There are badgers in the area and a couple of deer and pheasants, but not in our garden. Although a random duck landed here a few years ago (we don't have a pond or river) confused

Owllady Mon 22-Feb-16 13:50:17

If you want tits and finches, they love niger seeds

Adgefox Mon 22-Feb-16 14:17:25

Evans, I am so, so jealous. I want to live in your garden! Owl, I do have Niger seeds as well as RSPB bird seeds, fat balls, apples. We use feeders and scatter seeds on the ground, for it seems, the pigeons! Oh, I despair.

Just seen a magpie on the fence but still no little birds. Any ideas on what else we can do?

mogloveseggs Mon 22-Feb-16 14:19:24

My mum uses those suet pellets you can get at Wilkinsons. The Robins love them

MrSlant Mon 22-Feb-16 14:25:26

I have ALL the sparrows, every single one, there cannot possibly be more of them anywhere! I haven't dead headed the hydrangeas lazy and they all hang out in the bush making the heads bobble about all over the place. They fly about in silly gangs, full of themselves. I do love them smile. Also some dunnocks, two robins, an occasional woodpecker, Mr Bull Finch when it's frosty and as DS said when we did the garden watch thing for the RSPB 'mummy we've seen ALL the tits' grin. I sit drinking tea smiling at the birds work from my kitchen table and have set up bird feeders on either side of the garden and they do make me happy. I love how they congregate in the bushes near the feeders then fly in and out trying to bag a spot like comedians on Mock the Week.

Catphrase Mon 22-Feb-16 14:30:58

This happened where I used to live, all the little birds had gone just leaving pigeons and magpies. It was very sad, I put it down to over development of the green space and all the hedges being replaced with fences and drives. It happened at the same time as the loss of hedgehogs.

They are just starting to do the same where I am now and it's sad knowing the future

lionheart70 Mon 22-Feb-16 14:31:54

I have heard that because it's been a mild winter there are other food sources around so maybe that's why there's less hanging out in your garden?

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Mon 22-Feb-16 14:32:19

I don't know what to suggest, Adge, if you've got all your feeders. Sounds as though you're doing all the right things. What plants do you have in your garden? Do you have lots of shrubs planted alongside your fences? Birds and other wildlife like a bit of a hidey-hole to retreat to. And cut holes in the bottom of the fences for hedgehog access (you probably already know that though).

I sometimes make up my own feed and fill up coconut shell halves and yoghurt pots: Shredded suet, fat left over from the Sunday roast, mix of birdseed and mealworms (or any left over seeds and dried fruit from my cupboards), bits of crumbled biscuit and cereal, such as muesli or oats, left-over rice. Boil it up in a pan and fill up your containers. Let it set and hang out on your trees or feeder-poles, they seem very popular.

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Mon 22-Feb-16 14:33:39

If you plant lots of insect-friendly flowers, this will naturally attract the birds. Hebe, foxgloves, for example?

Sagethyme Mon 22-Feb-16 14:34:16

adgefox mealworms are your friends in attracting garden birds.... Cost a fippin fortune though!

Sagethyme Mon 22-Feb-16 14:35:29

And tall shrubs / small trees as height makes them feel safe

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Mon 22-Feb-16 14:38:00

When we first moved into our house about 25+ yrs ago, we had hedgehogs. Then they disappeared for a long time. My DC bought me a hedgehog habitat for Mother's Day one year. It sat empty for several years. Then about four years ago, after I'd given up all hope, a mating couple took up residence and we have had them in the garden ever since.

Put things in place, then be patient and sit and wait - good luck!

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Mon 22-Feb-16 14:45:34

One thing I have noticed, if I don't clean my washing line or the patio furniture during the winter so that algae forms, the tits seem to like this, presumably because of the tiny insect life that lives within it? (I don't know for sure, not being a bird expert - just like to watch them)!

Owllady Mon 22-Feb-16 15:17:37

I won't tell you what I have in my garden. It might upset you.
But at least they are still alive smile they'll come back to you soon

Adgefox Mon 22-Feb-16 15:30:20

I will definitely search out a hedgehog nesting box and put it in a quiet corner at the bottom of my garden. I can be patient as we plan to be here a long time, no plans to move again. I would love to have hedgehogs and we do have plenty of access into and out of our garden. We did the RSPB bird watch thing too. We only saw pigeons and one or two sparrows in the whole week. That is what is making me so sad as it has brought it home a bit that our garden is barren of birds.

I forgot about the mealworms! I will get some more in as I do remember they were very popular.

We have LOADS of shrubs and trees making a bushy bank at the bottom of our garden about 20ft deep and more than a two storey house high in places. It goes at the bottom of our garden and the next two bungalows, making a small copse. Bird heaven you would think! Down the sides of our garden we have the normal shrubs against the 6ft wood fence, buddleja, honeysuckle thickets, some bushes I don't know the name of but about 6ft high and same wide. We actually have pigeons nesting in one of our small trees in the side border every year. No problems with attracting pigeons!

In other houses we have had robins nesting (and we were lucky enough to be out on our patio on the day they fledged), and all manner of small birds. We loved it. We left the nesting boxes and feeders behind when we moved as we were so confident of creating a bird friendly garden again where we live. But here, so far, nothing but pigeons and a magpie today!

AthelstaneTheUnready Mon 22-Feb-16 21:20:52

Are you fairly South/sheltered? My tiny birds bugger off when it's briefly warmer and there's live, wriggling food available elsewhere. It does also take them some time to rely on your food source rather than just checking it out now and again.

Usually have bluetits, coaltits, great-tits, robins, chaffinches, wrens, woodpeckers and pheasants, but they all go AWOL for days at a time during slightly warmer periods in the winter.

Adgefox Mon 22-Feb-16 22:07:04

We are on the South coast in Dorset and only a mile from the sea so yes, we live in a very warm part of the UK. We rarely get bad weather and it is very mild atm.

When do the birds start nesting? It must be soon.

TheSpottedZebra Mon 22-Feb-16 22:47:28

Maybe try not putting the food on the ground for a few weeks, see if that deters the pigeons a bit and allows smaller ones to come over? (also to prevent rats)

The pigeons can be proper thugs round my way. And they still get fed, as they mine sweep the floor after the smaller birds have eaten from the feeders.

I've not noticed fewer birds this year, but the species balance has changed a bit over the years. We used to have loads of starlings, but now we just have 'some'. Sparrows and dunnocks are definitely in decline in my garden, and the tits are doing well. But the goldfinches have become the most common thing round here, the noisy buggers.

Adgefox Wed 24-Feb-16 14:53:20

I have just seen the first little bird this year actually hopping around and looking interested in the feeders IN our garden. Just one tiny great tit all on its own. Hope the pigeons don't scare it off (I can see half a dozen pigeons all brooding on my fences or bombing the bird feeders).

Am going to make a coffee now and do a bit of a bird watch to see what is going on!

ouryve Wed 24-Feb-16 14:58:16

Loads of sparrows here, as we have loads of hedges.

The village is mostly patrolled by warring gangs of starlings, jackdaws and crows, though, with the odd invasion by magpies and angry blackbirds. The big gangs each have their own patch. The jackdaws mostly pull our roof to bits. The crows have the tall trees down the road and the starlings mostly congregate around one, rather shit stained, telegraph pole.

I did see a mistle thrush a couple of weeks ago, mind.

BosomySusan Wed 24-Feb-16 14:58:45

We have lots in our garden, I've got squirrel proof feeders up, otherwise the squirrel strips them bare in minutes. It also keeps out the bigger birds too, they pootle around the garden but don't come to the feeders. Maybe try some of those?
I love watching the birds, my favourites are the long-tailed tits, we get a group of them coming through every day, they are so cute! We're also lucky enough to have a woodpecker and a gaggle of pheasants who bumble through every day too.

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