Where are all the birds?

People have been asking me; where are all the birds? It does seem that numbers are down in northern Minnesota. Even Pine Grosbeaks seem to be absent or in very small numbers.

Remember back in the fall when the Finch Forecast came out? The Finch Forecast came to us from the Ontario Ornithology Society. They said that there was a huge cone crop failure across central Canada, and many birds would be moving either to the south or to the east and west. They had already documented movement to the east and west.

I remember reading this report and thinking to myself that either we would see tons of birds or we would be affected by this same cone crop failure.

As you know, northern Minnesota had been in a severe drought since the summer of 2005. It was very dry two summers ago and it seemed like the trees reacted in 2005 by putting on massive amounts of seeds. Reproducing in an attempt to save their species.

The winter of 2005/06 was extremely dry as well, it hardly snowed last winter. We finally received some snow at the end of February, but it was too little too late. When spring sprung last year, the rivers were low and it didn’t rain.

Last fall it started raining and wouldn’t stop. The rivers filled up and it seemed like old times. But I think our trees have paid the toll. The Ash tree in my front yard is usually a place where the Pine Grosbeaks gather – they love those seeds. I knew I was in trouble last fall when the tree did not produce a single seed. It is completely bare.

This winter again we are receiving normal amounts of snow – it’s great! Hopefully when the birds start heading north this spring, our feeders will once again need to be filled often and folks will start complaining about the price of sunflower seeds.

Take a look at this video that was taken last winter when my ash tree was laden with seed.


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