The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping, and birds are migrating to warmer climates. As birds fly down from Canada and the northern states they will be looking for places to stop and refuel. The Appalachian Mountains to our east provide migratory birds with a vital lifeline as they head south. This gives bird watchers an opportunity to see species of birds you wouldn’t normally see. To see these amazing birds you need to attract them to your yard. Here are some tips for turning your yard into an attractive pitstop for migrating birds.
As food becomes harder and harder to find, birds will start to head south in search of vital calories. Along the way, they will need to stop and eat. Hanging feeders around your yard and providing a variety of seeds will help you attract a wide range of feathered friends.
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds: Cardinals, sparrows, titmice, and chickadees
Suet: Blue jays, woodpeckers, and warblers
Thistle Seed: Goldfinches, house finches, purple finches, Cassin’s finches, pine siskins, and redpolls
You can also plant trees that attract birds and other wildlife in the winter. Fruit-bearing trees that hang onto their fruit well into winter can add color to your yard and act as a local feeding trough for a variety of animals.
As winter progresses south, water becomes harder to find as it becomes locked up in ice. Providing birds with a place to rehydrate and clean up will make your yard an even more attractive rest stop for migrating and local birds. All you need to do is set out a birdbath or have a small pond with moving water. Using an agitator or fountain can keep the water moving and prevent it from freezing.
Hummingbirds start their annual migration a little bit earlier than other birds. They will usually start to head to their breeding grounds of South America at the end of July. This is because their main food source of nectar begins to dry up. Migrating hummingbirds will thank you with their presence if you provide nectar for them. You can purchase hummingbird nectar at any feed store or you can make your own.
People tend to forget that after nesting, birds still need places to sleep at night. Not only that, but not all birds migrate for the winter. Birds such as blue jays, chickadees, cardinals, and wild turkeys stick around all winter and never head south. What you want to do is to turn your yard into a resort for local and migrating wildlife.
Roosting Boxes: You can achieve this by putting up roosting boxes instead of birdhouses. Roosting boxes look like birdhouses but have room for several birds to roost.
Trees and Shrubs: Evergreen trees and shrubs like blue spruce, pine, cedar, and hemlock all provide shelter and protection from the elements.
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