East Texas birding expert: Birds are still there; they're just n - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas birding expert: Birds are still there; they're just not eating from feeders

A TP&W ornithologist said the region's birds haven't gone anywhere. (Source: KTRE Staff) A TP&W ornithologist said the region's birds haven't gone anywhere. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Fewer birds are stopping at backyard bird feeders across East Texas. (Source: KTRE Staff) Fewer birds are stopping at backyard bird feeders across East Texas. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Abundant berries, nuts, and insects caused by recent rainfalls created perfect natural diests for birds. (Source: KTRE Staff) Abundant berries, nuts, and insects caused by recent rainfalls created perfect natural diests for birds. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Cliff Shackleford, a TP&W ornithologist said the birds are just chowing down on natural foods. (Source: KTRE Staff) Cliff Shackleford, a TP&W ornithologist said the birds are just chowing down on natural foods. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Novice to hard-core birders are asking the same question. Where are the birds?

Expert birder Cliff Shackelford hears birds before he sees them.

“The 'peeter-peeter-peeter' is the tit-mouse and the 'brrrrrr-brrrr' is the red-bellied woodpecker,” said Shackleford, a non-game ornithologist for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Those were just two of about 15 bird species Shackelford said he heard within a 10-minute period. Yet he's getting the same question from East Texans over and over again.

“At Parks & Wildlife, our phones have been ringing off the hook from people concerned about where the birds are,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford said the songbirds are out there, just not at feeders, no matter how many a person puts out.

“If your feeder stays full, and birds aren't using it, it doesn't mean birds aren't here. It just means they're eating something else,” Shackleford said.

Like berries, nuts and insects. The woods are filled with them following all the recent rains. Birds are thumbing their beaks at fast-food birdseed.

“They would rather have mother nature's home cookin' than what we put in a bird feeder,” McCollum said.

Bird watcher Suzie Lower owns one bird feeder. It's modest to say the least. She does spread a bit of seed out on her deck. Her serious bird watching is in woods and fields. Wildscaping can be done just about anywhere.

“Habitat is so important to these birds,” Lower said. “If you don't leave your weeds, your snags, your tall grass, your weedy edge rows, they have no place to go.”

Eventually, natural foods will become scarce. The birds will seek out supplemental seeds and return to feeders across East Texas.

The Nacogdoches bird count is Saturday, December 14th. Pineywoods Audubon will take to the woods and residential streets conducting a bird census in a 15-mile radius from midnight to midnight. Volunteers are welcomed.

For more information, visit this link.

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