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When I lived in Pittsburgh many years ago, we observed the same thing with Carolina Wrens.  At least in those days, we were at the northern end of their range.  After a hard winter, their numbers would drop, if fact they could be hard to find.  After a few milder winters the numbers would be back up.  Winters, even mild ones, are a testing time for non-migratory species.  The food supply is sparse and it is cold and wet.  Birds are very well insulated, we wear down coats for a reason, but there are limits.  Still this is the natural situation.   If fact the proliferation of bird feeders, has undoubtedly improved the chances of birds surviving.  I think that is one of the reasons, we see more migrants staying further north than we used to.  Unfortunately, if birds become too feeder dependent, they may fail to survive, if the feeders are not maintained for some reason.
David Becher
Saint Louis

-----Original Message-----
From: Missouri Wild Bird Forum <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Chase Darr
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 5:58 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Brutal temps...bird loss?

Several years ago, we had a similar harsh week of weather and I tracked the observed population of Carolina Wrens in the years surrounding that harsh winter using eBird data. There was a precipitous drop in frequency and abundance for the year or two after the one with the harsh winter compared to prior years. We then had a mild winter and the population mostly recovered. This trend held for Columbia, Boone County, and Missouri as a state. I wish I still had that file. I did a lot of work on it.

It is an unfortunate side-effect of these times. Some birds adapt well, hide in the snow, find food, and survive. Others simply leave or succumb to the temperatures and lack of open food sources. With ever increasing habitat destruction and degradation from invasives, it is ever more important to supply food when we can. I admit the temps have kept me from refilling the feeders this week, but maybe I should.

To better days,
Chase
Columbia, Boone Co., MO
darrcm AT missouri DOT edu

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