|Cedar waxwings in budding magnolia tree, Strathcona, Nov. 2013|
That day in 2009, the centre of Strathcona (almost downtown Vancouver) was alive with flocks of crows, sparrows, and cedar waxwings; crows on the rooftops, sparrows in the hedges, and all the treetops sporting their flashes of yellow waxwing breasts.
|Tree over MacLean Park. With waxwings.|
I checked back: I've seen a flock of waxwings at the Centennial Park duck pond, in 2011, and solitary birds several times at the Reifel Island bird sanctuary, the last one in August of 2012. Since then, not one.
It's a pattern. We used to have families of chickadees at my door, emptying the feeders almost daily, chattering at me as I tried to do a bit of weeding. This last year, there were never more than half a dozen at Laurie's feeder, none at mine.
A busy, mixed flock of juncos, towhees, chickadees, and assorted sparrows ate in my free restaurant every day for years. Last year, I was happy to see one or two juncos.
I saw one varied thrush this summer. No flickers. No goldfinches. No house finches. One Steller's jay. One wren, three whole times. No golden-crowned sparrows. No bushtits. No nuthatches at my feeder; one did turn up at Laurie's feeder a few times.
I've been wondering what caused this disappearance. Pollution? Plastics? More and more buildings going up; noise and smoke and smells? Pesticides; fewer insects (yes, I've noticed that, too) mean less food for hungry young birds. Climate shift? All those co-ordinated schedules of insect and bird lifestyles being offset?
I don't know. But I definitely can see the results.
Is it just Vancouver area? The Fraser Valley? The Lower Mainland? Maybe. There are more birds on the water and the beaches here in Campbell River than there have been in Boundary Bay for some years. And I'm hearing sparrows twittering in hedges as I pass.
Two days ago, I hung out a suet cage for the chickadees. I had only seen one chickadee here, standing on a tree on the front lawn. Maybe he'd notice the feeder next visit.
And yesterday, I looked out, and there was a whole flock of bushtits working on that suet! Yay!
Tomorrow, I'll put out sunflower seeds, too.