Bird Watcher's General Store

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Birds Eating Like Pigs

Dear Bird Folks,

Just like you talked about last week, I’m getting lots of young birds at my feeders. However, lately, all the birds, not just the babies, are eating like pigs, I can’t keep my feeders filled. Does this mean we are in for a long winter?
– Tim, Provincetown


Well Tim:

If the birds in Provincetown eat well in September, then the whole Northeast will be buried in snow all winter. Isn’t that the old saying? Where do these ideas come from? I’m not really sure, but my understanding is that weather prediction has more to do with satellites and radars and less to do with the appetites of the Chickadees on a bird feeder in Provincetown. Although at times it seems that meterologists would be better off looking out the window at Chickadees than staring at their computer screens.

The reason that the birds are chowing down now has little to do with an approaching hard winter. They are eating more now because they always seem to eat more this time of year. The adult birds have just finished raising families and now they have a chance to eat for themselves. Many seed eating birds feed insects to their young. Now they are back eating the seeds that we offer. Also, most birds are going through a molt now and growing new feathers takes tons of energy. The birds are eating more to refuel the energy that molting takes away.

Finally, like we talked about last week, there are tons of young, punk, first-year birds around now. And like most teenagers, these birds have little on their minds but eating and sleeping. And eating and sleeping is all they will want to do until spring comes when they will have something else on their minds, just like teenagers.