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stevetkovac

Do different birds travel in "packs" ?

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Every morning early (6:00a) I have about 10-12 different birds actively feeding at my feeders in the backyard.. Cardinals, chickadees, 3 types of woodpeckers, titmice, pine warblers, bluebirds and others. After about an hour, they all seem to leave and there's no activity for a couple of hours, then they all seem to return at the same time and start feeding again, repeating this pattern a couple of more times a day into the afternoon and early evening. I assume they leave my feeders and go elsewhere to feed, and then return together as a pack or flock. I live in the north-eastern suburbs of Atlanta.

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Welcome!

These are called 'mixed flocks', and this is common winter behavior.  Yes, they'll often work a circuit of feeding locations.  Some may be migrants, others are locals.  They hang out together for a variety of reasons.  More birds looking for food makes it more likely some of them will find something they can all eat; more birds watching for predators means they're more likely to spot one; and if they do, each individual is less likely to be targeted.  It's the bird equivalent of mixed herds of herbivores in Africa, or flocking for species that don't normally for exclusive flocks.

The flocks will start to break up in the spring, as the individual species either migrate or focus on breeding.

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Excellent response Charlie... I have noticed this as well. I have a mixed flock of resident birds that stay together throughout the year except for breeding season.  My mixed flock is comprised of:

Chickadees, Titmice, Cardinals and House Finches. 

My bluebirds, carolina wrens, warblers and other non-seed eaters tend to stay together within their own species rather than coming and going with the mixed flock. 

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Now that I have read the article Charlie, I forgot that my mixed flock has a downy woodpecker in it.  He doesn't show up every time with them but maybe half the time.  Very interesting article. 

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