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Fall is the Best Time to Start Bird Feeding

Although there is never a wrong time to put out a bird feeder, fall bird feeding is often considered the most helpful time - right after the season has changed. During spring and summer, there are a plethora of natural food sources for birds from insects to plants, but as the seasons change, so do their diets and their sources become scarce. Birds have a high protein diet in the warmer months which they obtain through insects, lizards, small animals, and nectar. As winter approaches they move to a seed and fruit-based diet to pack on calories so they can sustain themselves through winter. Keeping your feeders out through the cooler months can help your local birds and many migratory birds stay full and healthy as the temperatures drop. There are even special winter mixes in bird seed that you can buy that contain all the different nutrients and fats they will need.

The fall months leading up to winter are the most active when it comes to eating and looking for food sources. Once your feeder has been discovered you will start to see not only new birds every day but the same birds coming back multiple times a day to eat. Several species of birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, jays, crows, and some woodpeckers use this time to stock up on their food supply by bringing it back to their nest so they do not have to venture out when it is too cold, so the extra food in your feeder will be welcomed. The word may even get out that this is a place where you can always get food and more birds will start to appear throughout autumn.

Some people take their bird feeders inside towards the end of summer because they believe it will cause migratory birds to stay during the winter months, not allowing them to make it through to spring. Do not worry, this is not the case at all. In fact, it is the exact opposite. As these birds migrate through different areas, they will need to take a break just like we need to when we go on long trips. They may stop in your area and stay for a few days to eat and rest but they know exactly the right time to continue their migration. By continuing your fall bird feeding, you are helping these birds be able to find food and continue their journey.

As fall approaches you will also start to see the younger birds emerge that were born during the previous spring months. You can tell the difference between juvenile birds and adults by their feathers and beaks. Their beaks may look too big for their smaller head. Also, juvenile birds have shorter feathers with stubbier wings and tails and are often duller in color.

Since the food supply has started to dwindle, these younger birds will be amongst older and bigger birds, all fighting for that last flower that has poked its head out or those last insects that have not died off yet. The bird population will have increased as well, due to migratory birds coming through your area making it even harder for them to find food. Many birds build their nests in high-up places near homes such as gutters, ventilation, and of course your surrounding trees to lay their eggs. Bird feeders act as a safe and wonderful resource for these young birds. It allows them easier access to food in their location so they do not have to fight with the bigger birds that may be around. They can get their food and go back to their nest, full and unharmed ready for another day.

Keeping your feeder out and full throughout the winter months is particularly important when it comes to your resident birds. These are your birds that live locally and do not migrate for the winter. Despite the cold temperatures these birds still must leave their nests to look for food. Leaving your feeders up will help them survive and thrive. Having larger bird feeders with multiple perches is ideal to help feed all your birds whether they are local or just passing through. Remember when hanging your feeders, you do not want them to be too low to the ground. Keeping them between 5-6 feet is the ideal height for most feeders and most breeds of birds. A low feeder attracts backyard pests and predators such as squirrels, raccoons, and cats. This creates multiple problems for you and all the birds coming to visit you. Birds want to feel safe when they are eating so hanging your feeder far enough up and keeping it full through fall and even winter will make your birds happy and coming back to see you for many years to come.

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