The mystery of the missing feeder

It was deep into this past winter when the feeder mysteriously disappeared.  Bewildered, I stood in the spot next to the tree from which it hung.  I looked to the east.  No feeder.  I looked to the west.  No feeder.  I looked to the north.  No feeder.  Looking south had the same result.  No fresh snow had fallen to cover it up, no fresh tracks in the snow revealed an unusual visitor to the scene.  I was flummoxed.

New feeders have slowly been added to the tree line over the years, attrition from our weather and, more excitingly, a visit from a bear claiming them every now and then.  This one was a recent addition – a small, spherical wire mesh feeder perfect for small birds.  Since the bears were all sound asleep, my mind turned to other local mammals – deer, squirrels, a wayward owl perhaps?

Disappointment reigned.  Many a chickadee, nuthatch and downy woodpecker had visited regularly, filling up with sunflower seeds to carry them through those cold, crisp nights.  Nothing to do but fill the void with another feeder.  And wonder…

This spring brought with it slooooooooowly warming temperatures and, in turn, sloooooooowly melting snow.  A couple weeks in and the missing sphere-o-sunflower-snackbar has been found!  It was twenty feet away from the tree from which it hung, hanging close to the ground near a large fallen limb. Elated, I braved the still knee-deep snow to retrieve it and put it back in use.  However, even as I sit and gaze upon the returning chickadees, I realize that the mystery has yet to be solved.  

What scenario plays out in your mind to explain the mystery of the missing feeder?