By Beth Daley
Massachusetts Audubon’s wildlife hotline has been inundated with one question from hundreds of anxious residents the last month: Where are the birds?
(Pam Berry/Globe photo)
Homeowners’ normally busy bird feeders are missing cardinals, titmice, chickadees and other feathery species this fall. And people on the hotline say they are not hearing as many bird songs.
“I keep hearing 'I’ve been feeding the birds for thirty years and this never has happened,' " said naturalist Linda Cocca, who has been manning the hotline for about 20 years.
The answer, for once, is good news: The birds simply aren’t hungry.
The wet, soggy spring and early summer created perfect conditions for what now is an abundance of natural food such as seeds and berries that offer birds more nutrients than bird feeder food.
“They may not like the store-bought offering as much,’’ Cocca said.
Meanwhile, autumns tend to be filled with fewer songs because the birds are not trying to find a mate or fighting for territory. But when people don’t see the birds – and then don’t hear them – panic ensues. Cocca remembers a similar early summer weather pattern about five years ago that sparked a scare among backyard birders.
Of course, some bird species are in trouble from changing temperatures brought on by global warming to housing developments gobbling up their living space.
But the missing birds are just probably contently eating a hearty feast before the long descent into winter.
And Cocca says don’t take down your birdfeeder just yet. Most natural food will be all but gone by November. Expect some visitors then.
If you have a wildlife question call the Massachusetts Audubon hotline at 781.259.2151