Changing Season Tips for Birders

• Some folks had hummingbirds show up the last week of July. Mine, as usual, didn’t appear in my yard until August 20th. There is still plenty of time to attract a hummer as they slowly filter through our area. Even the occasional straggler may stop by.

• Grackles will be forming small flocks in preparation to migrate and they may congregate around bird feeders. They will join larger pre-migratory flocks only to join even larger flocks of blackbirds that will soon pass by. It will only be a temporary inconvenience before they are gone for the winter. Be patient.

• Watch for native sparrows passing through. White-crowned and White-throated sparrows, Harris’ Sparrow, Tree and Song Sparrows, and others. What’s the easiest way to tell if it that little brown bird in your yard is a House Sparrow or a native sparrow? Watch their feeding habitats. Native sparrows scratch the ground with their feet to turn up seeds. House Sparrows sweep with their bill.

• Wild Bird Habitat recommends everyone have a field guide for birds. Our staff can help you select one that fits your needs whether your a backyard bird watcher or avid bird enthusiast venturing out to identify as many birds as you can. Many online bird identification websites are available such as at but nothing can replace a hard copy field guide where you can compare and ponder the birds you see.

• This time of year some folks may experience a slowdown of birds visiting the feeders. One reason is that when birds are molting they venture out into open areas less often. Their flying ability is hampered making them more susceptible to predation. The other reason is a natural abundance of food that has matured or gone to seed. Birds will take advantage of that additional food resource. They know where the bird feeders are and we recommend you keep them stocked even if activity at the bird feeder slows down.

• It won’t be long before cold nights will lead to iced over bird baths. It is best to check your bird bath heater before to make certain it is in working function. To test your thermostatically controlled bird bath heater put it in the freezer of your refrigerator for 40 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and plug it in. You should feel some warmth in just a few minutes. Remove scaling on the heater soaking it in a solution of vinegar and water them brush good.

• As the grasses and flowers in your gardens go to seed don’t be too hasty to nip them off. Make those seed heads available for the birds. Coneflowers are particularly a favorite of Goldfinches ands seeds that drop to the ground provide a banquet for the many ground foraging birds that will be passing through over the next couple of months.

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