MYSTERY SOLVED IN ABSENCE OF BIRDS

If you’ve read my columns or heard my radio programs for awhile, you’re going to read or hear something about songbirds. My interest in identifying these little fluttery colorful creatures was handed down to me by my mom. She loved the birds and taught her offspring all about them and how to identify them.

I have feeders up around the yard, regular feeders and one that offers suet while this time of year, another that provides thistle seed. Add to this the two bird baths I keep operational and I could almost be considered the male version of Miss Jane Hathaway of Beverly Hillbillies fame.

Thus it is with a troubled heart and furrowed brow that I come to you, my readers and listeners, with a dilemma. My birds have left me.

About the time the first days of fall converged over the landscape, sending colorful leaves fluttering to the ground, I noticed that my feeders, loaded with birdseed, were just sitting there untouched. I even had a few seeds starting to sprout because they were being ignored by birds. The birds just seemed to have vanished.

I wondered if it was just my feeders that were being ignored so I went to my favorite social media site, Face Book, and expressed my concern. The comments came quickly from scores of others who feed birds who have experienced the same dearth of songbirds in their yards.

About the time I was noticing the absence of birds in my yard, I saw something else I don’t remember seeing before, at least not of the magnitude as happened this fall. There are several big pines in my yard and there was a constant helicoptering down of pine seeds the volume of which I never saw before.

A walk through the woods also revealed an unusual amount of acorns and other seeds, fruits and nuts of all kinds, giving validation of a bumper crop of natural foods available to wildlife including, I assume, songbirds. My suspicion is that with so much natural foods to eat, the birds are filling their little bellies with these natural offerings.

I sought out experts to see if I could validate my suspicions. Dr. Kim Marie Tolson is an instructor of wildlife at the University of Louisiana Monroe and she believes that an abundance of food is available in the wild which birds apparently prefer over commercial bird food.

“We had an unusually great spring and summer with sufficient rainfall and weather conditions this year for growing natural foods; my guess is the birds are doing their feeding in the woods,” Dr. Tolson said.

Adding credence to this hypothesis was an on-line site I visited, Stokes Birding Blog, that listed the main reasons no birds are at the feeder.

1. Abundance of rain, producing a bumper crop of wildlife food.
2. Lots of wild seeds on composite flowers.
3. Tons of weed seed.
4. Lots of berries.
5. Fruit trees such as crabapple bearing lots of fruit.
6. Cone seed crop very heavy.
7. Warm weather where birds don’t have to eat as much to keep warm.
8. Mild weather means there are more insects still available.

It’s good to know it’s not just me and my feeders. Other’s have contacted me with the same questions. One thing is for sure; the birds will be back.

FISHING REPORT

BLACK BAYOU – Bass have been fair around the trees and brush. No report on crappie or bream. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water is at pool stage. Crappie fishing has slowed down with fair catches at best being made around tops in the river on shiners and jigs.. Bass are fair fishing the run-outs with spinner baits, topwater lures early and crank baits and soft plastics later. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing is starting to improve along the edges of the channel with some slabs being caught on shiners or jigs. Bass are still along the banks early with topwater lures, buzz baits, plastic frogs working. Later in the day soft plastics are best. The bream have about shut it down but catfish can still be caught fishing cold worm off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Crappie fishing has improved with some nice fish being caught along the Thousand Foot channel on shiners or jigs. Bass have been best skipping jigs under the docks with Bandit crank baits picking up a few as well. Catfishing has been fair. No report on bream. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Some bass are still schooling with some nice sized bass to 3-4 pounds caught in the schools on shad imitation lures. Fishing for them after dark is producing some bigger fish on oversized plastic worms fished along underwater humps. Crappie have slowed down with jigs and shiners picking up a few around the deeper tops. No report on bream or catfish.. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Crappie fishing has been improving with some nice ones caught around the boat slips, around the trees and on the lower end of the lake on shiners or jigs. been off and on with good catches made one day and fair the next on shiners or jigs. No report on bream or bass. Catfishing has been good on a variety of baits. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is the lowest it has been in years. Fishing has been fair with windy conditions keeping most folks off the lake. Some crappie and catfish are being caught and a few buffalo have been caught in nets. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.


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