Bring Fall Migration to Your Backyard

Tips to Maximize Backyard Visitors During Fall Migration


Bring Fall Migration to Your Backyard

It’s that spectacular time of the year all of us birdwatchers live for…fall migration.

Fall migration is a fantastic time to grab your binoculars and see flocks of amazing high-flying travelers.

Millions of birds travel thousands of miles across oceans and continents during migration, so you never know what birds you might see and where they might stop for a rest.

Snowy Owls are always a welcome sight to see during bird migration
Snowy Owls are always a welcome sight to see during bird migration

Now is the time to get your backyard ready for feathered friends making a brief visit, or staying for the winter.

Here are a few tips to attract more birds to your yard so they’ll thrive during their stay.

1 – Provide Running Water in Your Yard

Migrating birds can hear the sound running water in a birdbath or pond from some distance.

The sound of water will draw them to the bath for a drink, and a quick dip.

You’ll benefit because most migrants that visit birdbaths with running water eat insects.

These bird species include Warblers, Vireos, Flycatchers, Thrushes and Thrashers.

Adding Running Water to Birdbaths

It’s easier than you think to create running water.

Install an electric mister or bubbler in single pool birdbaths.

You can purchase one from a bird supply store or on Amazon can deliver a solar bird bath pump ($9.99) to your door.

A small pump will move water in a multiple-tiered birdbath, causing the water to make a splashing noise as it recirculates from top to bottom.

2 – Keep Sugar Water Feeders Out

Resist the urge and don’t take down sugar water feeders once local Hummingbirds and Orioles start leaving.

We just took down our feeders, and a day later a Ruby-throated Hummingbird whizzed by me like a bee looking for the sugar water feeder.

Keep sugar water feeders out for Hummingbirds and Orioles as they migrate through your area
Keep sugar water feeders out for Hummingbirds and Orioles as they migrate through your area

There are vast numbers of Hummingbirds and Orioles that spent the summer farther north, and as they migrate through your area, they’ll recharge themselves at the feeders.

Juvenile Hummingbirds are the last to abandon nesting grounds and feed on sugar water long after the adults have gone south.

3 – Clean Out Empty Birdhouses

The beginning of fall is an excellent time to clean out and make necessary repairs to birdhouses in preparation for hosting new visitors that roost during fall and winter.

Clean out and make repairs to birdhouses to host winter birds
Clean out and make repairs to birdhouses to host winter birds

Old nests attract insects and parasites and should be removed before winter residents move in.

Bluebirds, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and winter Wrens take up residence in birdhouses to keep warm and safe.

4 – Make Brush Piles for Roosting and Protection

Gather your fall clippings of branches and twigs and pile them in the corner of the yard to create a cover for birds.

Many birds that prefer habitat on the ground, like the Dark-eyed Juncos, Tree Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows, will use brush piles for roosting at night and for protection from predators.

Dark-eyed Juncos use brush piles for roosting at night and for protection against predators
Dark-eyed Juncos use brush piles for roosting at night and for protection against predators

 

Don’t discard fallen evergreen trees. Place them along the border of your yard to provide more cover that will last throughout the winter.

5 – Plant Evergreens for Cover

Evergreens are the best natural cover for birds in fall and winter.

Plant evergreens near feeders and birdbaths to attract migrants and provide cover for birds after deciduous trees lose their leaves.

Northern Cardinal looks stunning against the backdrop of evergreens
Northern Cardinal looks stunning against the backdrop of evergreens

6 – Double the Number of Feeders in Your Yard

Autumn is a great time to double the number and types of feeders you put out for the birds.

Beginning with the first crisp fall days, the bird’s consumption of food will increase and continue to grow as the average daily temperatures drop.

To attract a variety of bird species to your feeders, provide a variety of seed and suet feeders.

Northern Cardinals prefer tray feeders so they can perch on a ledge.

Chickadees are nimble to land on small perches or cling to wire netting surrounds feeders.

White-throated Sparrows feed on or near the ground
White-throated Sparrows feed on or near the ground

Other birds, including several species of Sparrow, feed on or near the ground, and Woodpeckers are drawn to suet hanging from tree trunks.

We recommend Harvest Seed & Supply’s Red Berry Nut Blend. It’s a hearty mix that gives our avian friends an extra boost in the fall, and it helps keep life colorful.

Harvest Seed & Supply’s Red Berry Nut Blend keeps life colorf
Harvest Seed & Supply’s Red Berry Nut Blend keeps life colorful

You can purchase Harvest Seed & Supply’s wild bird food exclusively at Walmart.

7 – Bring the Birds Closer to You

The joy of feeding birds is to watch their behavior in anatural environment.

Get a closer look by moving your bird feeders and birdbaths closer to the house so you can get closer at nature without disturbing them.

Red-bellied Woodpecker looks into the house at the bird feeder during a snowstorm
Red-bellied Woodpecker looks into the house at the bird feeder during a snowstorm

If there’s not enough natural cover outside the windows, plant some or place potted evergreens around the feeders and baths.

The birds will adapt to being close to the house quickly.

8 – Provide Food for Insect Eaters

Many backyard birds don’t eat seeds and eat insects and fruits.

Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Northern Mockingbirds, some Woodpeckers, and migrating Thrushes, Thrashers and Tanagers will feed on chunks of apples, berries, and jellies from containers.

Gray Catbird enjoying some organic strawberries
Gray Catbird enjoying some organic strawberries

Bluebirds, Robins, Mockingbirds and some Woodpeckers will eat live mealworms served in a tray feeder.

Purchase mealworm at pet supply stores, or order it at Amazon and have it delivered to your door.

9 – Bring Bird Sounds Indoors

Just because it’s cooler outside and we close our doors and windows doesn’t mean we have to block out the beautiful sounds of birds singing and chattering.

Install a wireless webcam outside to bring the sights and sounds of nature inside.

10 – Protect Against Window Collisions

More birds collide with windows during fall than any other season of the year.

Migrating birds are not familiar with the terrain and see reflections of woodland in a windowpane and fly right into it.

Apply screening or window decals on the outside of the window pane to remove or mute the reflection and the birds will veer away from it.

Apply a window decal on the outside of the window to remove reflection so birds will veer away from it

Apply a window decal on the outside of the window to remove reflection so birds will veer away from it

Pulling drapes inside will enhance the reflection on the outside. Pasting silhouettes of birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, may also help deter flying birds.

Get Out and See Birds

Fall migration is the best way for us to be inspired by nature and connect with the diversity of life right in our backyard.

Keep your binoculars and camera ready for your avian visitors.

Be a citizen scientist and submit sightings to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird.

And bask in the awe and wonder that each visitor brings to your backyard.

Short-eared Owls are welcomed sights
Short-eared Owls are welcomed sights

Protect the birds, and we protect the earth.

Share some of your tricks for attracting migrating birds to your backyard in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your insight.

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