Where did my backyard cardinal & other song bird go?

We live in No. Carolina & have beautiful cardinals - so I set up a little sanctuary where they can eat, have water to drink or bathe & just love watching them along with other song birds. The last 4 days I have not seen one!! Do they leave for a while or is it because of a threat - like the hawks & owls also in our area? I really miss them & I'm not putting food out as none of the birds are coming around right now & I can honestly say their feeding times are like clock work. Can you give me a idea on what's going on. Thanks for your help & really look forward to hearing from you!!
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  • Robyn (Official Rep) April 09, 2012 18:18
    Hi Mary,

    It could be several things:
    1) You could be right that something has spooked the cardinals, which could include any kind of predator
    2) The cardinals could have a nest somewhere that demands their energy and time now
    3) They could be coming to your feeders, but not when you're around to see it.

    This is a good opportunity to clean and refill the feeders, and hopefully they'll be back before you know it. For more information on creating a bird sanctuary in your back yard, we welcome you to try out YardMap, our newest citizen science project that helps you build your own bird habitat for cardinals and other backyard favorites. Visit Yardmap.org to learn more!

    Regards,
    Robyn
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  • I’m thankful for your answer
    I'm home most of the time and spend alot of time making sure there is feed as well. I figured they are nesting as you suggested but I'm leaning towards the spooked idea as I personally have seen 1 cardinal & 1 dove literally taken by a hawk. My little "sanctuary" for them (I believe) leaves them wide open especially a month or so ago as the trees didn't have leaves on them yet where today all the trees are almost full of foliage. What I'm trying to find out is if they do this dissappearing act every year or should I consider moving the little "sanctuary" to where there is lots of foliage. I do want to let you know that I had 30 to 40 cardinals alone, along with 3 other species of birds at the feeding area 3 to 4 times a day and the last visit would be from the cardinals at dusk. The feeders (as you can see from the picture) we're always busy as well as their water bowl (that I changed out 2 xs a day). I'm just in hopes that they will return as I love watching them, the females & males and the funny little talking, hissing, chasing and bathing that they do - along with the other species and their little habits. I will visit the Yardmap to get ideas though to see if I can add something to it but I don't have alot of cash to put out so we make almost everything by using as much natural items as I can. Thanks for your response and if there is any thing else you can offer me information wise I'd appreciate it.
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    Robyn (Official Rep) April 09, 2012 20:56
    Wow, 30-40 cardinals? That is so many! Now that makes their disappearance especially noticeable, doesn't it? It may be related to the hawk's presence, but this time of year the cardinals do get very territorial and chase each other away. That many cardinals definitely sounds like a winter treat; a high abundance like that cannot really be expected to keep up during the breeding season, but you should still see a pair or two close to your property.

    They like to nest in shrubs, so maybe you could plant a few more shrubs back there. Oh, and by the way, I think making things out of recycled/ repurposed/ natural materials is an excellent way to go! This feeder stand is great!

    Best,
    Robyn
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  • I’m excited & happy!!
    1
    Hi Robyn,
    Well, our cardinals are back BUT I've got a new couple that have been hanging out!! They are the most beautiful aqua/tourquois color bird. Can you tell me anything about them. I've added a couple of pics as when I look at them closely - they look like cardinals but different colored!! I'm so excited about them so I'm really eager to find out what they are!!! I've also decided I'm going to make a bigger space for all of our birds to use that will consist of probably a piece of 10ft-12ft long X 4'-6ft wide plywood just like the one you saw in the pics I sent earlier. I will also add a 45 degree angle made with chicken wire or plastic holed fencing to the front to deter the hawks, etc.. I will also add another branch with longer feed dishes so they'll have 3 rows of branches with food and add another water basin for them to drink & bathe. This will all be done so I can figure out during the next few months what I will do as far as next winter comes around so they will be able to use this little sanctuary all year around. OH and I will defineately going to add greenery which will consist of a couple of "green giant" trees that are green year round and grow 3" to 5" a year!! Being retired, and with photography being one of my favorite hobbies and watching the wild birds - it doesn't get any better than this! Sorry, didn't mean to write your eyes out but, again, so excited about this new couple. Hope to hear from you soon and thanks again!!!!\
    Mary
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    Robyn (Official Rep) April 23, 2012 18:57
    Hi Mary,

    These are male Indigo Buntings. The females are about the same shape and size, but are brown with a little bit of blue in their tails. They feed on or near the ground on seeds and insects. You can learn more about these bright little birds on our All About Birds guide.

    Congrats on getting these beauties to stop by for a treat! They're wonderful.

    Best,
    Robyn
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  • 1
    Hey Mary,
    Just had to say that I have the Cardinals like you have, too. I'm in Central Kentucky and in the late winter, early spring, I'll have 10-15 pair in the bushes around the feeders in the yard. Our back yard is "fenced" with Burning Bushes which we do not trim, so they are about 8ft. tall and 6-8ft thick. They aren't evergreen, but the stalks are stiff and provide great nest building support and shelter all year long. Every year we have a couple of Cardinal nests, usually one Brown Thrasher nest and several Robins nesting in various places in this hedge. Plus in the fall, we get that glorious burning red color on the bushes. The grow pretty fast if you're looking for something to fill in fairly quickly.
    This time of the year, our Cardinals have begun to nest and don't flock as they do in the winter, but we still will have 2 or 3 pair who will tolerate each other around the water dishes and feeders. And CONGRATULATIONS on your Buntings! They are just like butterfly wings when the sun hits them, aren't they? Years ago I lived in North Mississippi and there was a period of about a month in early summer when the Cardinals, Indigo Buntings and Goldfinches would all be in full color at the same time. They would look like Christmas ornaments sitting in the trees out back!

    Constance
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    I live in northeast Florida and had two distinct pairs of cardinals visit every day. They would land on the railing of my patio and then hop down and eat the leftovers from the other birds in the hanging feeders. They disappeared in June and I haven't seen them since. I miss them and have even bought a high priced fancy seed mix to entice them back; both black and stripped sunflower seeds, fruit, etc. Nothing. I miss them and wish I could figure out why they disappeared.
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    I'm not an official from Cornell but that happen to me as well (I live in No. Carolina). I do know that around this time of year that they have plenty to eat (here) on the ground so they're not in great need of food as they are in fall & winter. Mine aren't coming around as much right now due to that & due to a couple of hawks that have been hungry lately and the hawks know my little sanctuary has a lot of cardinals. I get about 20 or more a day along with the chickadees and sparrows. It's very hard for me to watch the hawks (oh and owls) swoop down and grab one - I watch the birds through the window on a daily basis because they can be so funny to watch. They are real characters so sometimes I get glued for hours watching them!! I know it sounds nutty but it is soothing and relaxing as well (I'm retired and get bored very easily)!! If you've been feeding and they know you're there, they'll be back - be patient!!
    mary
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