The days are getting shorter, nights becoming cooler, and the birds are getting restless. As we near the end of summer, the avian calendar is beginning to signal the approach of autumn. Many winter birds have begun to migrate. There have been dozens of reports of hummingbirds gorging themselves at the feeders. Shore birds are arriving scouring the mudflats of area lakes, and blackbirds are flocking together getting ready to move south. This is a time when bird watchers are anticipating the return of migrating native sparrows and warblers, which will be begin moving through the Central Great Plains during September.
But what will our resident birds and arriving winter resident birds be up to? With the end of the nesting season their sights have changed from defending territories to searching out the numerous food sources required to sustain them during the upcoming winter. They will establish a half dozen or more feeding sites that they will rotate around to during the winter months, never relying on a single food source. Some of those sources will be natural while others supplemental, such as backyard bird feeders. That is why it is important that you keep your feeders filled during this period, or if you only feed during the winter, to get those feeders ready now. That way your yard will be part of these bird’s daily route and you’ll enjoy plenty of activity at your feeders as the weather changes. Some people may notice fewer birds at their feeders during late summer and early fall. One reason is with the ripening of summer’s vegetation there is now an abundance of natural foods. Many birds will take advantage of this new crop of berries and grains knowing it will not last. They are however aware of the supplemental food offered at backyard feeders bird, and as the natural food stocks decline, or are covered with snow, they will begin to frequent those feeders they know are there more often. So now is the time to clean the feeders and make any necessary repairs, Possibly expand your backyard bird feeding program with a new feeder or two, and most important, keep the bird feeders filled.
Fall is also a great time to consider planting some habitat for birds. Landscaping for Wildlife by Carroll Henderson is a great publication designed for the upper Midwest and Great Plaines. It lists hundreds of plant species beneficial to wildlife and all their attributes. This book truly becomes a bible for those wanting to increase the habitat in their backyard or on their acreage. So prepare the backyard now, keep your feeders filled, then when the winter winds blow, you’ll have a yard full of birds to enjoy and brighten your days.