I love my Bird Watchers Digest and its companion publication Watching Backyard Birds Newsletter. Editor Bill Thompson III can always be counted on for informative, entertaining articles. Last year about this time, he shared several things that bird enthusiasts (and I am definitely one of those!) can do to attract and protect the birds in their area. They're all easy to do and very sensible:
- Don't be too quick to clean up your garden at the end of the season. It may look messy, but birds such as sparrows, towhees, and juncos love to putz around in the dead vegetation, feasting on old seedheads of flowers and plants there.
- Keep your cat indoors. Your regular birds are probably familiar with your cat's hunting habits, but migrant birds won't be aware of the danger, and naive young birds making their first flight south will be especially vulnerable.
- Provide some moving water by using a mister or dripper in your birdbath. Birds love this and will flock to your birdbath to bathe or drink. Keep it clean and place it where you can see it too.
- Use something to break up the reflection on large expanses of glass in your windows to prevent birds from flying into the glass. Screen or strips of plastic or foil can work nicely.
- Keep your hummingbird feeders up into the fall and make sure they're clean and fresh. They won't deter your summer hummers from migrating when it's the right time, and you might even help late migrants from the north who are passing through.
- Leave your fallen leaves on the ground to hold moisture and attract insects that provide food for birds such as thrushes, catbirds, bluebirds, robins, and blackbirds. “A healthy lawn is a birdy lawn,” says Thompson.
- Clean your nesting boxes. By the end of the summer, they're caked with all kinds of things, so sweep them out and put in new dried grasses. They might provide a warm respite on a cold winter night for a bluebird, chickadee, or woodpecker.
- Get your feeders ready for winter. They might need cleaning or repairing, and you might need to replace one or add an additional type of feeder. Stock up on supplies before the holiday rush.
- Scatter a mixture of seed, sunflower hearts, and peanut bits under brush piles and shrubbery around his yard. Thompson feels it helps those ground feeders who are unlikely to come to the bird feeders. He admits that squirrels, chipmunks, and mice are also probable beneficiaries, but they, in turn, could attract a red-tailed hawk or kestrel into the area in search of a tasty little mammal to eat.
What else can you think of that might help the birds this fall? Please share in the comments below or join the conversation at my Facebook Page.