Are there fewer birds this winter?

Courtesy photo: This Red-bellied Woodpecker is a regular visitor to my neighbor's backyard.

The survey sheets await me. This is day four of the Great Backyard Bird Count (February 17 – 20, 2012) and, yes, my tally card shows some of the expected entries for Sunapee, New Hampshire.

However, many times of the day I look out and see no activity… other than squirrels and chipmunks doing the hurry-scurry.

As for birds, compared to recent years, I’m seeing less variety and fewer species.

Once-regular visitors to the backyard feeders have not arrived. And the birds that are here…are here in fewer numbers and for shorter periods of time throughout the day. I’m not sure why.

My checklist for NH Audubon’s backyard bird survey on February 11 and 12  looked like this weekend’s GBBC count.

  • Northern Cardinal (2, a male and female)
  • Mourning Dove ( 4)
  • Dark-eyed Junco (5)
  • American Goldfinch (3, no large number)
  • Mallards (3 around open water.)
  • Blue Jays (5 and they do not stay long.)
  • American Crow (2 usually around compost bin)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (6)
  • Tufted Titmouse (2)
  • Downy Woodpecker (1 and only for a short-period)
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (1 briefly)

Notably absent: The Hairy Woodpecker (although a few were at the suet feeder earlier in the winter). No Common Redpoll. No Pine Siskin. No sparrows.

And no Pine Grosbeak. Years ago, these handsome birds were regular visitors, 20-30 at a time. It was an impressive sight, as they lined the deck railing to feed. But this was 15+ years ago.

Earlier this winter, a flock of robins (20-25) unexpectedly swept through the yard feeding on berries. That was an interesting spectacle. And I’ve seen a few in the yard since then.

Yes, we’re seeing more robins this winter according to Naturally Curious with Mary Holland. This year we have little or no snow cover and lots of fruits and berries. Both factors help explain why more robins are overwintering.

So, I am curious.

Other than robins, are you seeing fewer birds this winter?

See the GBBC 2012 count…  state by state and town by town.

Read a related blog post: Best bird of the weekend (www.10,

3 Responses

  1. […] Are there fewer birds this winter? ( […]

  2. Burkehaven Hill is overrun with crows!
    Late January, we were also visited by a large flock of Robins …. happily munching on holly berries. First time we’ve observed those red-breasted birds in such numbers in the winter.
    PS: Happy to see Sunapee News posting again.

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