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View Full Version : Why do I notice so many fewer birds in my new town (Fredericton)?


Speaker for the Dead
07-06-2012, 12:34 PM
I just moved from Saskatoon (200 000 people) to Fredericton (60 000), which are surprisingly similar cities--similar amounts of greenery with lots of trees, friendly people, large parks, and rivers run through each. But in Fredericton, even near the river, I barely see any birds. I might have seen 2 robins and a dozen pigeons, in addition to a handful of crows, in the two weeks since I moved. In Saskatoon, by contrast, there are geese on every stretch of grass within 200m of the river, songbirds wake me up in the trees outside my window (I have even larger trees next to my window in Fredericton), and pigeons wander all of the parks.

Is there a reason I'm not seeing birds? Is it something to do with eastern Canada versus the prairies? Or am I missing an obvious reason why I just wouldn't notice them, despite being outside just as much?

John DiFool
07-06-2012, 01:23 PM
Midsummer might mean few migrants coming through, any heat you have up there from our recent continental scorcher might inhibit their activity, and with home territories firmly established and chicks to be raised they might not be singing as much as they did in the spring. IOW it's likely a seasonal not geographical thing.

prongo
07-06-2012, 03:41 PM
My father and I lived in Fredericton for nearly 30 years before we moved out west. I don't know anything about birds but my father does. He worked for the federal forestry service for 35 years as a research scientist and part of his field of study was population dynamics and his hobby was birds. So I wandered over and asked him your question. :)

He didn't seem at all surprised about your observation and nodded his head in agreement. You will indeed see more waterfowl and other birds in Saskatoon than in Freddy Beach.

As to why this is, he cautioned that he was just throwing an educated guess at me, and that he is an expert on insects, with birds as a minor personal interest.

However, if he had to give even a ballpark estimate, it would be for three reasons: climate, food supply and geography.

Saskatoon has a more desirable temperate climate, the food supply of grains is more plentiful and the geography is more homogenous than the Maritimes. His answer was a tad more detailed but I honestly didn't quite follow all of it, so I am just summarizing here.

He ended by saying that the truly honest answer is that we really do not know for sure why any particular species of bird flocks in one area and not in another. They have a lot of general theories and "common knowledge" answers for it, but that there are holes and errors in all these explanations. So while some of these theories appear to be common sense or widely accepted, a detailed examination of all the math and data available will present significant unexplained problems, contradictions or inaccuracies. I'd ask him for an example, but I'd need to go study for the next decade just to understand the math involved...

Northern Piper
07-06-2012, 07:44 PM
If I recall correctly from my Grade 5 Science, there are 4 major migratory paths in North America and one of them goes straight through Saskatchewan.

Speaker for the Dead
07-06-2012, 10:10 PM
Wow! Thanks everyone--thoroughly answered. I think season is the reason I noticed such a dramatic drop in population, because when I came back to Saskatoon for a wedding today, I went "huh, where are all the birds?"

Northern Piper
07-07-2012, 10:46 AM
Here's a map of the North American flyways (http://birding.about.com/od/birdingbasics/ss/North-America-Migration-Flyways.htm) - Saskatchewan is smack dab on the route of two of the flyways (Mississippi and Central). Fredricton is just on the edge of one, the Atlantic flyway.

DrDeth
07-07-2012, 12:06 PM
For the smaller birds, the town may have a group of feral cat feeders. This causes a significant drop in small bird population.

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