Why Have All My Garden Birds Disappeared?

Garden Birds At A Feeder

Over the summer we get lots of people writing to us wondering why all the birds seem to have disappeared from their gardens. During spring, gardens are full of birds flying back and forth as they build their nests or hanging around the bird feeders eating you out of house and home. The dawn chorus is at its loudest with birds waking you up with their song at the glimmer of first light.

But come July and August it all suddenly goes quiet. Your feeders are empty and there is little birdsong to be heard.

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Birds sing in spring to defend their territories and to attract mates. Although some birds raise several broods of chicks in a year, by June most egg-laying is finished and birds will stop singing, conserving the energy they need to raise their young. This can happen quite suddenly, and the sudden cessation of early morning bird song can make it seem as though birds have disappeared.

Later in the summer as well as not hearing any song you may stop seeing birds altogether. Although young birds may have been encouraged to leave your garden by their parents to find new territories adult birds disappear for another reason.

Time to moult

After breeding season many garden birds go into moult, as a result of hormonal changes brought about by the change in season. The stresses of breeding season can leave birds with tired feathers so during moult they lose any old feathers which may be worn out or damaged and replace them with strong new ones ready for the winter when it’s important that their feathers are in optimal condition to keep them warm. Juvenile birds will also lose their young plumage and grow adult feathers.

Jay In Moult

During moult birds are vulnerable and instead of spending time out in the open, they will hide in hedges and bushes out of the way of predators which they will find it harder to fly away from.  Completing a moult can take up to eight weeks and during this time you may not see many garden birds.

Plenty of food

In the summer months, birds’ natural food sources will be abundant so they may not need to visit your garden for food, preferring instead to eat seeds, grasses, fruit, berries, and insects. Some garden birds will venture back out into the countryside, while others will visit parks and other open spaces in search of food. You may wish to stop feeding birds in the summer or put out less food. This will prevent it spoiling in the heat which can attract rats and other pests.

If you have a bird bath then it’s important to keep this topped up so any birds who do visit have fresh water to drink and bathe in. On hot days you might see a bird lying on the ground with its feathers spread out. Although it may look as though it’s sick the chances are it’s sunbathing, not to get a tan but to help with feather maintenance, or even simply for pleasure.

A predator’s about

The final reason birds can disappear from your garden is that a predator has moved into the vicinity. A sparrowhawk may have taken up nearby residence or cats may have become more active in the neighbourhood. Birds need to feel safe so if they think that they will be attacked in your garden they will move away.

Whatever the reason for their disappearance, once the days start getting cooler and shorter, and natural food sources start to become scarce the birds will return. As long as they have food to eat and somewhere safe to shelter they will come back ready to fatten themselves up over autumn and winter ready for the beginning of breeding season next year.

 

57 Responses

  1. I’m in the middle of Oklahoma. We have heard some Blue Jays (my favorite, but they’re elusive as ever) and seen some cranes every now and then, but haven’t seen any others. Very rarely, a cardinal will fly through, quickly ducking into the dense foliage of trees. Even the squirrels seem to have completely disappeared from the neighborhood. The reason? 2 Mississippi Kites have nested nearby. At least a 1/4 mile from my house, but still, the small birds are gone. As awesome a site to see as the beautiful kites soaring in the air, I miss my little finches and sparrows, and yes, even my morning wake up call from the Robins. I hope they come back soon!

  2. I live in the countryside of Rome, Italy and we have been feeding a large family of sparrows for 5 years now, and they have grown in number. But they always stayed here all year round. They have nests on two big trees in front of our apartment, and all our neighbors feed them too. Even with the extreme heat we just had in summer 38 C, they were here but suddenly since 3 days, complete silence. There are none in the whole neighborhood. Not even the pigeons, just a few crows. Suddenly they have all disappeared. It feels very strange. I hope nothing happened to them.

    1. I came here looking for information as to why the huge flock of sparrows I normally feed daily have suddenly disappeared, and your comment is the same! I am in Detroit, Michigan, and my yard suddenly has no birds. Just a week ago there were hundreds, and even goldfinches came to eat my coneflower seeds. Now, no sparrows, no hummingbirds (though the honeysuckle is still in flower), no finches. Not even the big, noisy bluejays. It’s distressing.

    1. I wouldn’t stop, just reduce the amount in the feeders in case it goes off. My feeders are still fairly busy!

  3. Al lover London birds have Dissapeard ..from our streets. parks . ie regents park, hide park….every street in London.. to Manchester Airport you will see none,, yes maybe pigeons,, a few crows, magpie…except for pigeons gone,,,,, Westminster
    The council is has been killing off pigeons….cutting trees in a way they can not hold nests……also some councils have been spraying tops of buildings but will not tell anyone why…in the long term this is this will kill us all….. awarning

  4. Very few birds in my garden at the moment (August), usually have sparrows, dunnocks, coal tits, blue tits, a few siskins, a robin, sometimes a pair of blackbirds who have a nest next door (although next door recently got a cat) and a pair of pigeons who still come every day. I have had a few visitors to the feeders occasionally but not very many. I understand they have natural food at the moment and that they are moulting, hope they come back. I have 3 bird baths and a pond, I have some bird feeders suet balls and seed. I enjoy watching the birds, especially when they feed their fledglings from the feeders. The female blackbird visited my garden yesterday. I am worried that the cat next door might deter some of the birds, I saw the cat in my garden one day, I am sure it has probably been here many times when I am out. I am in Kent

  5. Had 40/50 Sparrows in our hedge. 2 Black bird nests too. 4 days ago all Sparrows disappeared. Blackbirds are still here though! WEIRD, so quiet!

  6. By the way I am living in Co. Donegal, Ireland (with many deciduous trees and hills nearby).

  7. Have been searching internet to see if others are noticing what I am–and it seems you. I am in Edmonton, AB and in the last week I have seen few birds suddenly–as if they all got the message to leave. Even on garbage day two days ago, not one crow or Magpie tearing at the garbage bags. Disturbing.

    1. Its very concerning , my first time ever in 30 year have no coal tits vastly less other tit family ,no yellow hammers ,no dunnocks !!!,
      Blackbirds doing the best ,also flocks of siskins when i normally have a pair . Where are the warblers . One pair of swallows for the whole area ..instead of them being predominantly noticeable . There seems to be massive brood failings and abandoned nest also. Even the dawn chorus is muted and i live in a silent rural area of scotland where its normally deafening .

    2. I have the opposite experience. We don’t normally see small birds in our garden perhaps because there are lots of magpies and crows around, year round. But this year many more small birds than usual.

  8. Haven’t seen or heard any birds for over a week, now. I don’t recall this happening before. I am in Denver, Colorado

    1. I live in Texas. during our crazy snow here in february and up until a few weeks ago I had a pair of blue jay, multiple cardinals, a couple of wood peckers and titmouse. Now i occasionally have a blue jay, thr woodpeckers and titmouse i have not seen. I do have a lot of finches, starlings and DOVES. The doves eat all my food it seems

    2. Me too! Haven’t seen any songbirds since the beginning of May, and i’ve fed them for over 15 years. Weird. Maybe some sort of sickness?

  9. I live in Pennsylvania. We have put out many feeders. I have noticed no chickadees or titmice. Plenty of juncos,doves and now in early spring red winged blackbirds. Used to have five pairs of blue jays now not one. Where are they?

  10. Had loads of birds at my feeders always and now for the last week have only seen a pied wagtail a robin and a blue bird A sparrowhawk has been arriving for food but leaving empty handed because there is no birds.I live in a remote part of the north of Scotland and have been feeding the birds for thirty years and have never noticed them disappear for so long?Wonder what the problem is?

  11. Is everyone still missing birds coming to their gardens as we are too? Noticed the decline after that freezing weather we all had and even though we can hear the birds singing now still very few come to the feeders or to bathe in our waterfall to the garden pond! It used to be a constant array of birds going to and fro feeding, we even bought a different sack of sunflower hearts as we thought maybe this was the problem. We have wondered if maybe the Bird flu has killed them off or that maybe more people are feeding them now since being at home more so they have more places to go?? It’s very sad and we really miss them all!! Live Nothamptonshire UK

    1. Same here in Cardiff. I have 2 birdfeeders and various seeds & nuts plus fat balls. Over last 3 weeks saw two blue tits, nothing since. No cats or dogs close. Puzzled.

    2. I live in North Devon UK and all the sparrows seem to have disappeared – there is also virtually no dawn chorus. I still have blackbirds, a few blue tits, lots of doves and pigeons (can’t seem to deter them, they are always around!). I put out different food but the seed seems to be mostly left, whereas I used to have to fill the feeders at least once per day. We have always been surrounded by sparrow nests, and I miss their squabbling and chirping very much. When I go out in the mornings, about 07.30, there is silence. I live in a rural area and I have also noticed that there are few sparrows in neighbouring gardens. We also seem to have no best building happening. Is there any explanation?

  12. I live in the Finger Lake Region of upstate New York….I have always had wonderful birds over these many years but since coming here I cannot attract any! Have my feeders full of fresh food, suet out and not one woodpecker or tit mouse. Very odd to say the least! 😢

    1. I’m not seeing many birds at all. So disappointed. I have several feeders all around my yard with various seeds and suets. I even have mealworms out.

  13. We had a lot of birds in the garden over the winter. Then the snow came for one week and we had even more birds 6 blackbirds, 2 robins, a wren, dunnock, few blue and great tits and a wagtail. Since the snow melted we’ve hardly seen any birds and the food isn’t being eaten. Lincolnshire uk.

    1. We too are seeing very few birds, even the starlings have deserted us. I live in the East Midlands UK

  14. I live in Ontario Canada and since last fall the birds i usually have are disappearing, a couple of crows and chickadees showed up last week. People in our town are asking the same thing where are the birds. Very disturbing.

    1. Hi. I live in Ottawa and the same thing has happened in my yard! The birds have disappeared from my feeders. Even the Little chickadees are gone. I have changed up everything I can like location and food type. In my case I have noticed a new cat roaming around. Also, An unusual little squirrel seems to have made my yard it’s home. Have you noticed anything like that in your yard?

      1. We are in Kingston ON and have noticed the lack of birds at our feeders this past week. We normally have to fill them up at least every other day (we have three big ones) and now nothing for a week. We don’t even hear them when we our outside and we have a lot of trees/forest area around us. Very disconcerting.

  15. We have seen very few birds. Why are they not coming in to my garden. We have a big pool and wild life pool. I live in the west Midlands

  16. We live in South Wales UK All our sparrows have disappeared the last couple of weeks. Have visits from a couple of blue, great tits and Robins and occasional blackbird. Our RSPB garden birdwatch was very boring this year.
    Had a sparrowhawk take a blue tit from the feeder recently so would it be that it’s this that’s keeping them away?

    1. Hi, I’m living in the Highlands and in the last 4 months we have been visited by a male sparrow hawk on a regular basis, he has taken a blackbird, dunnock and house sparrow, the last week has seen little or no feeding birds except for wood pigeons.

  17. We are in an Essex village on the edge of countryside. We have got a few sparrows, blackbirds, collared doves, rock doves and the odd wood pigeon. I have seen one or two great, blue and coal tits. We used to get blackcap, spotted flycatcher, green and great spotted woodpecker, jay, greenfinch, siskin and even a reed bunting a few years ago. I haven’t seen any hawks about recently. We had a flock of 17 redwing until the holly tree they were feeding on was taken down two weeks ago by a neighbour. A male pheasant appeared at the ground seed last week.

    1. I had untold blue great and coal tits in my garden. . which backs onto woodland in Hertfordshire. . I also had red breasted nut hatches woodpeckers. . Now all I see are magpies crows and the occasional wood pidgeon. . Really baffled as to where all the small birds have disappeared to

  18. Live in S FL, had woodpeckers, Jays, cardinals and doves. Now 2/1/21 just have one set of doves who nested in our breezeway previously.

    1. Yes, same here, Folkestone, Kent, seen two bluetits in days; what’s happening. NEVER seen this before.

  19. Barry Webb 30/01/2021
    Abbeywood London

    We have had the same as many of the comments with a sudden drop in bird numbers, in the week we had a female Sparrow Hawk in the Garden that had killed a pigeon it was in the garden for 40min but now three days on and we have had no birds to speak of, could they still be aware of the danger.

  20. Same here (Louisville, Ky). Last year this time, I had 20+ male cardinals and their mates, more chickadees, titmouse, juncoes than I could count. I was filling the feeders twice/d, and replacing suet every day. I had so many woodpeckers they would line up for the suet. This year I’ve seen 4 male cardinals with their mates,very few small birds, and very few woodpeckers. I fill the feeders once every 2 days and the suet feeders every 3 or 4 days. So troubling..

  21. I’ve been wondering all summer and winter where all my small birds have gone. I’m in Norfolk by the Broads, surrounded by gardens ,paddocks, trees ,shrubs and natural hedging. No idea what’s happening. I know they tend to go in the summer with an occasional visit, but this is extreme. Especially as we’ve had a few really cold spells. I’ve a good selection of food and always water so don’t know what else to do? Every few weeks a group of tits come by for half an hour max but don’t really feed then disappear again! Help!!!

  22. It’s the same here in North Kent. Loads of Sparrows, a good few Tits, the odd Robin and Wren. Now after the cold snap they’re all gone. Less Pigeons and Doves as well. Starling numbers have dropped drastically but they may have decided to leave.

    1. I live in Northfleet Kent,we have nothing but sparrows . One blue tit in weeks. We have no gold finches, great tits blue tits or black birds no jays or doves the sparrows eat all the food so upset love to watch them.

      1. I had 50 birds visit my garden regularly last year and six weeks ago we had a flock of 15 sparrows feeding on the dandelion seeds on our lawn every day. They have all disappeared recently. A few months ago my husband said “why do you hang the bird feeders in the trees? Put them in the lawn on the bird feeder where we can see them”. What a huge mistake. Three days ago I was looking into the garden at 6am when a sparrow hawk calmly flew down and took a small bird from the young pear tree beside the bird feeder. This morning I saw a pile of soft grey and brown feathers beside the bird feeder and I realised. All we are doing by feeding the birds in an open garden with no tree cover is making them vulnerable and providing an easy and reliable source of food to birds of prey. In the nesting season this means the baby birds of sparrows and finches are losing their parents (and dying of hunger) while the falcons and sparrow hawks are presumably increasing in number. I think you are better to stop feeding birds at a bird table in an open garden after the winter than to make them unnaturally vulnerable to predation in the nesting season. This might partly explain why all our small birds are disappearing. Sparrow hawks are voracious hunters.

  23. We live in Ealing London and have always had loads of small birds (particularly goldfinches) on our feeders. Suddenly this Summer they all disappeared which has never happened before. Even the parakeets and pigeons have disappeared and they have always been a nuisance.

    1. I’m in Northwich, January 2021 and suddenly all the garden birds have disappeared!? My feeders are suddenly empty for the past 4 to 5 days and so doing the RSPB birdwatch was dull and sad! Not even a pigeon, just 2 blackbirds on the lawn today and 1 bluetit in the sunflower seed feeder! What has caused this, its usually busy all day esp goldfinches, starlings, sparrows, tits and my lovely robin. All gone. Help!?

  24. I live in a small rural town in Norfolk, UK. My garden is surrounded by trees and bushes in the large churchyard. The birds suddenly disappeared from my garden and the area 10 days ago. Normally we’d have 4-5 blue tits/coal tits/great tits on the feeders at once, all throughout the day, chucking the stuff they don’t want over their shoulders for the ground feeders. The only bird I’ve seen today is a solitary wood pigeon, waiting for the non-existent tits to feed it. No blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows, collared doves, robins, wrens, white collared doves, chaffinches, greenfinches … nothing. Where have they gone? I hope bird ‘flu hasn’t got them.

  25. Very few birds at present using my feeders, and no sparrows. Is this in any way due to the fairly mild weather we are having?

    1. I have the same problem. We normally have a flock of about 40 sparrows . Then 2 weeks ago they just disappeared. Very confusing

  26. Here in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, the small birds have disappeared since late November. Only birds now are Blue Jays and Mourning Doves. Where have the small birds gone?

  27. I live in Raleigh, NC and I have full feeders and 3 clean bird bathes. Missing the birds that visit my feeders. We did see a very big hawk about a week ago. I sure hope it hasn’t driven all my feathered friends away.

  28. I have the same problem in Wilmington, NC. A mockingbird keeps chasing the 2 chickadees i did see away. Last year at this time could not keep the feeders full. Very worried

  29. December 8 look after a small garden 8 different types of feed on offer no birds 3 weeks had a sparrow hawk attack on pidgeons about same time must be the reason time will see i hope

  30. Oddly, there seem to be many more birds in our garden right now – certainly compared to last December (live in W. of Scotland).

    At the moment we are getting multiples of blue tit, coal tit, great tit, robin, blackbird and chaffinch coming to the feeders.

    There is also a Great Spotted Woodpecker flirting with the idea of coming in but seems to be very shy – fingers crossed we see him (or her) landing.

  31. The small birds have not returned to my garden. The water is always renewed and seed feeders filled. In the summer the birds were queuing to get on the feeders but none have returned. What can I do to encourage them?

  32. Literally now December 1 st Not one bird not one sound. It’s cold here in Charleston SC but not THAT cold. What is happening. ???

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