Autumn bird feeding in your backyard is very important.
All wild birds whether they are joining the large scale movement of bird migration or facing colder northerly temperatures, are preparing for change.
They do this by stocking up on body fat, to be used as energy. They eat more at one sitting than they did all summer and visit feeders more often so they can achieve this end.
Some people think that bird feeding in the autumn is not a good idea. They mistakenly believe that their feeders will keep the birds from migrating.
I can not tell you the number of times that I have been asked if people should take their feeders down in the fall months.
Some people are concerned that backyard birds will be lulled into a false sense of security and not leave to migrate south before the winter weather arrives. So they take their feeders down sometime in the fall to force them to leave.
Wild birds are compelled to leave whether it be the shortening daylight, cooling of temperatures or the natural diminishing of food resources. Scientists are still not certain what changes make them sense it's time to leave.
But leave they will regardless of our feeders being full.
You are helping them prepare for their long trek. Think of it as filling their suitcase with all the necessary travel items, fat, energy, vitamins, full bellies!
But we are all sure of one thing and that is that the bird migration will take place on a large scale basis twice each year.
Bringing in feeders early during the fall season, is a serious mistake. Autumn bird feeding is the time of year when wild birds are preparing for their long journey south.
They are trying to stock up on body fat. Wild birds will frequent feeders more often and remain longer at the feeders to accomplish this task.
If they have become accustomed to your feeders all summer as a source of food, taking them down to force the birds to leave could cause them hardship. It may prevent them from building the necessary body fat they require to supply them with energy.
Birds develop a route during the summer of several feeding stations which they visit through out the day.
In the fall the natural sources they have dined at during the summer may have depleted. Their main source of sustenance may be your feeder. If it is removed before the wild birds have left, they may not have stored up sufficient body fat for a successful migration trip.
instinct is a very dominating factor in wildlife behaviour. There is no
need to worry about preventing the birds from going south. When they
feel the urge and need to go, they will, regardless of what you do.
Therefore you can continue your autumn bird feeding practices and leave seed feeders and suet feeders out during the fall season and continue on into the winter feeding months. There is no reason to bring these feeders in during the fall to make the birds leave.
However, some autumn bird feeding practices can be curtailed as the colder months draw closer.
For instance, if you are not going to continue feeding the birds through the winter because you are going away yourself. In this case, gradually reducing the amount of seed in your feeders and leaving them empty for a few days before adding a little more seed, will give the birds an opportunity to find other food sources.
Leave all seed and suet feeders out until there have not been any birds at them for at least two weeks before taking them down.
You will find that even birds that remain in the north all winter will move around to different locations.
So likely you will notice a period of time that there are few birds at your feeders.
This also applies to syrup feeders for Hummingbirds and Orioles. They should be left out for at least two weeks after the birds have not been observed at the feeders. I always leave mine out until temperatures drop below freezing.
First of all, it gives all the regulars time to stock up and get ready for their migration trip.
Secondly many migrating birds will stop along the way to dine at bird feeders to “re-fuel the tank” so to speak.
Over time they will come to
expect feeders to be available at certain locations along their annual migration route if they are a reliable source each year.
Birds from more northerly regions learn to use your “buffet table” during their autumn flight.
The same will occur in the spring when they are making their return trip to the northerly reaches.
They will make your bird feeders their usual lay-over if your feeders can be depended on.
Red Breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings are two species that stop at our feeders every year in the spring and autumn. They don't hang around our feeders during the summer.
In the in-between seasons, they provide a unique opportunity for our family to observe species feeding which we might otherwise never encounter. They will usually stay for two to four days and then be off to their summer or winter homes.
It is also very helpful to provide food with high energy fat content like suet and black oil sunflower seed. These particular bird foods will enable birds to build up their fat reserves easier, giving them energy and keeping them warm.
You can enjoy bird watching in your backyard all year!
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