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I usually have goldfinches in my garden, about 2 weeks ago they stopped coming. What can have happened?

Sent in by Sue Jones

While there are many reason birds may not be appearing on feeders in gardens, the most likely cause is that there is enough wild food for them.

Human feeding is supplementary; when we have a mild autumn or winter natural food can be in abundance throughout the season. This winter (2011/12) we had an elongated summer and very mild autumn allowing natural food like berries and fruit, seeds and insects to be in abundance throughout autumn.

This can mean people will look out onto their feeders and see very few birds, and become concerned by the lack of birds. You may have seen the flocks of young and adult starlings, as well as mixed tit flocks and groups of finches during the autumn. These groups stay together for safety in numbers and will be highly mobile on their search for natural food.

The only cause for concern would be the discovery of bodies in the garden or feeding area, as this may suggest disease.

Trichomonosis is a disease usually seen in finch species, but can affect any. If birds appear fluffed up, lethargic and with food around their bill, it is in their best interests to stop feeding all together for around 2-3 weeks. Cleaning feeders and good feeder hygiene is always best practiced.

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