You know Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring? The one published in 1962 about what pesticides do to the environment and especially to birds? Thankfully the silent spring never came but so far it’s been a silent winter in our backyard. For the last three years there has been even hundreds of birds a day feeding on the grain we have provided, but not so this year. Last winter I filled the feeder even three times a day, now one filling can last for almost a week. What is going on?

There are still quite a few yellowhammers, Emberiza citrinella, around but almost no sparrows at all. That’s strange. Usually there are hundreds in our neighbourhood chirping madly in the hedges but now – nothing. What’s going on? What has happened? My friend living some 50km away says that all she gets in her yard are sparrows but not single yellowhammers. Strange. Where have the sparrows gone? Their numbers have been dwindling, but this is not just a drop in numbers: they have simply disappeared.

The trouble is, yellowhammers don’t like to sit up on the feeder but eat from the ground. Usually the sparrows, which are really, really messy eaters, throw most of the seeds down to the ground where the yellowhammers then feast on them. Now that cycle has been interrupted and yellowhammer that come by find only a little to eat and soon move on. I could put the grain on the ground but it gets quickly covered up if it snows or the wind blows snow over. But I guess that’s what I have to do.

The picture is from last winter and it was much snowier then. We got to do some shoveling almost everyday. This winter has been really easy on our backs.

I just miss the traffic. Hope they will be back next year.