Date: 10/11/18 12:12 pm
From: Butch Tetzlaff <butchchq8...>
Subject: October lull at feeders
My wife and I have been collecting yard data for the past 4 years using the
Project Feeder Watch protocol. However, we have been doing it year-round
rather than only during the winter time period.

It has provided us with wonderful information about the natural ebb and
flow at our feeders both by time of year and species.

Looking at the data, October is consistently the slowest month of the
year. Having talked with folks in the bird feeding industry, they report
that the slowest time of year for them (in terms of seed sales) is also in
October. Birds just don't seem to be visiting feeders as much this month
in general.

The question is why?

I can (and have) posed several explanations for this including migration
timing, natural seed availability, timing of molt, and juvenile dispersal.
All of the above probably coincide to a certain degree to create a perfect
storm of fewer birds at our feeders this month. But they have to eat
something, and they have to be somewhere.

The perplexing thing is that most of our feeder birds in NWA are residents
(non-migratory). Also, many of them are insectivorous woodland birds, so
saying they are in the fields eating all the weed seeds doesn't add up.
Molt is physiologically expensive, so one would think birds would be
gorging themselves to get enough calories, and feeders are a quick way to
do that. Lastly, if it were primarily juvenile dispersal, one would expect
as much immigration as emigration in contiguous forest patches, unless
there were a systematic directional dispersal, and that is generally called
"migration", which we have already said that many tend not to do.

So, to me, this observation remains to be fully explained.

Has anyone seen any real research on this topic to better explain the
phenomenon?

Butch Tetzlaff
Bentonville

 
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