Southern Ontario’s Continuing Bird Vacuum

The unusually variable weather pattern that has characterized autumn 2017 in southern Ontario has continued on without too much change. Although the days are growing shorter and the nights are getting long, bird migrations – at least in our area – seem to continue in more of a trickle than a torrent.

Where last year we saw large numbers of blue jays at the feeder, this year we’re continuing to see them in pairs or small family groups – still no flocks of 20 or more birds as we’ve seen before. And while the first dark-eyed junco made its appearance a few days ago, even goldfinches seem to be stopping by only singularly, or at best, in pairs. By this time last year, it was quite normal to see every peg on both thistle feeders fully occupied, with another dozen or more finches waiting their turn in the trees nearby. This year, even if they are there we would have trouble seeing them anyway, them as most of our trees are still thick with leaves. Very strange indeed.

Our new tulip tree is still almost fully leafed.

The lack of migrant birds has let the sparrows get far too comfortable at the feeders.

Mourning doves seem to enjoy the warmer autumn weather.

Even the plants seem confused by the up and down weather.

Most of the grackles cleared out weeks ago. Then this one turned up. We’re not sure if it’s a straggler, or it got fooled by the warm weather and came back!

The first of the winter goldfinches have finally begun to arrive. But we’re still only seeing them in singles or pairs. The big groups still haven’t materialized.

Cardinals seem to be enjoying the warm sun while it lasts.

Forgot to fill the feeder one day. This blue jay was not impressed.

The downy woodpeckers weren’t impressed either.

Fortunately they had lots of peanuts and Woodpecker Picnic to munch on in the interim.

We’re  supposed to see some more seasonal conditions over the next week or so. Although I’ve enjoyed the warm autumn, part of me is actually looking forward to some colder nights and blustery breezes – if only because they will finally bring us some new migrants to admire.

About Craig Ritchie

Craig Ritchie was born in Toronto and has always held a deep fascination with nature and wildlife. After an initial attempt at putting a bird feeder in the yard led to confrontations with gangs of house sparrows and mischievous raccoons, he set out to learn more about birds and birding, sharing those discoveries on his blog. Craig currently divides his time between southern Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

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2 Responses to Southern Ontario’s Continuing Bird Vacuum

  1. Craig Ritchie says:

    Your guess is as good as mine, Debbie. The up and down weather seems to have everything out of sync.

  2. Debbie Horrocks says:

    We live north of Montreal on the edge of a forest and are experiencing the same thing. In the past our feeders were full of chickadees, finches and nutchatches all year round, but since mid-September we haven’t even had to fill our feeders up because the birds have ‘disappeared’. No woodpeckers at the suet and not even many squirrels lurking around looking for fallen seeds. We haven’t seen/heard any predator birds, which we also have had in past years (but that didn’t deter the birds). We get the occasional chickadee and have seen a pair of cardinals once or twice, but essentially our feeders are empty. What is going on?

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