Seasonal bird feeding is a sensational hobby! Not only do we take great joy if feeding wild birds, we remain conscious of the benefits we bring backyard birds as we feed them through fall.
Before we discuss the benefits of feeding birds in fall, I would like to share a concern common to many people who are unacquainted with bird feeding.
With fall migration well over, many beginning bird watchers are more comfortable with the thought of providing bird feed. Around the time of fall migration, they fear that the feed will distract migratory birds from their migration. They are under the impression that birds will not leave until their food sources are dry.
Surprising to such ones, migratory birds do not stay in your backyard to finish your food supply; nor do they remain to finish their natural food sources.
So what signals a bird to migrate?
Surprisingly, an empty stomach isn’t their reason for leaving. Birds prepare themselves for migration before their food withers.
Instead, the shortening of daylight hours signals them to prepare for fall migration by eating fattening fruits. Once they have accumulated enough fat to energize for their flight, they instinctively await a suitable wind, which determines the best time to fly.
Now that we know that our provisions do not prevent wild birds from journeying to warmer grounds, I would like to share a benefit of feeding birds in fall
While food sources are still available, backyard birds are establishing fall and winter feeding territories. Weaning them onto feeder foods will give them a reason to establish a group in your backyard and the immediate area while still providing them a chance to rely on their instinctive food sources.
By providing food now, you are welcoming wild birds to establish a territory where they can feed now, and then rely on your provisions through winter.
If you wait for winter to feed wild birds, and at the same time your neighbors also delay feeding, backyard birds will have established territory elsewhere.
Perhaps you may try to feed them in the afternoon each day or all day long every other day. See what works best for you. Just be sure to give them the opportunity to search for their natural food sources until they are scarce.
I hope this will make you more comfortable with feeding wild birds during the time of fall migration, as we see that our provisions do not delay or prevent them from migrating. I hope you also see the value of weaning them as they establish feeding territories, as this welcomes them to your backyard this winter.
– Craig Curtis