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IMG_3740As summer winds down, it’s important to be aware that many birds have already begun migration.  If you are like me, your feeders are not always full throughout the summer.  But as bird migrations head into full swing it’s time to start regularly filling them again – don’t worry about creating a distraction to the birds in flight – you are actually providing essential energy for birds that are flying hundreds – even thousands! – of miles.

Here are a few things you can do to make your backyard a prime feeding area as birds head south…


  • Clean out those feeders that have been sitting all summer AND the ones that have been full throughout.  Empty uneaten food, take the feeder apart, wash with hot, soapy water – at the very least spray them down.
  • Try to keep your feeders 5-7 feet from branches, shrubs, and fences.  If you are hanging them from branches, try hanging it on a hook or rope so predators cannot climb right onto or reach right into it.  If you have them on posts, add protection to ensure predators cannot climb right up to your bird’s front door.
  • Don’t forget the birdbath!  This also needs to be cleaned out – again use hot soapy water.  Use a birdbath heater once the temperatures begin dropping below freezing.
  • As for seeds, if you’ve got seed bearing plants in your yard, consider leaving seed heads throughout winter.  As summer winds down, so do the valuable resources that birds depend on for food.  Sedum, coneflowers, sunflowers, etc. all offer seeds that birds love to eat.  Just let the heads dry and watch as birds visit throughout fall and even winter.
  • As for shelter, roosts, shrubbery, and wood piles all serve as excellent shelter for all birds.  If you’ve got nests and roosts in place, clean out the overstuffed and abandoned ones, check for and repair damaged shelters.
  • To help prevent window strikes, tie/attach ribbon or yarn to help birds steer clear of windows.
  • Offer energy-laden foods that a variety of birds can enjoy – black oil sunflower seeds, suet, mealworms, berries, and nuts are all great options that many birds can rely on for energy and protein as plants and insects begin to die off.

For those of you interested in migration patterns in your area, take a look at these websites:

Audubon’s Mississipi Flyway

North America Flyways

Cornell Lab BirdCast