Why Have All My Garden Birds Disappeared?

Garden Birds At A Bird 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

40 Responses

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

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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..

  14. 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!!!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!?

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

  25. 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. ???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Birds in your inbox

Sign up for the latest news and updates

Gifts, bird care, books & more

Most popular

More reading