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The Backyard Birder, Issue #001 -- Late Summer Tips
August 01, 2007
August can be a very quiet time for the backyard birder. Many of the birds that have been regular visitors at your feeders become less conspicuous. There are a few reasons for this:

  • The breeding season, for most birds, has come to an end.
  • There is an abundance of natural food.

So during August you should consider reducing the amount of food used in your feeding station.

I suggest one thistle feeder, one sunflower seed feeder and one suet feeder. You can adjust the amount of food and feeders you put out if you are having to fill your feeders too often.

You can also try putting fruit out for your wild birds. Use a platform feeder and put out some grapes, apple slices, orange halves or just about anything else you want to try. You may be able to attract fruit loving birds like Orioles, Wax Wings and Tangers. It is a good idea to put the fruit out in the coolest part of the day and remove it if it begins to spoil.

There is one thing that you can do that will actually increase the number of birds visiting your yard. Add a water source like a birdbath, a small fountain or even a pond.

Why is supplying water for birds so important in August?

In many areas, natural water supplies actually dry up in late summer. This increases competition for the little water that remains available. Try to place your birdbath 15 or more feet away from your feeding station, this will help keep it clean. Placing it in an area that gets afternoon shade will help keep the water fresh and cool. It will also reduce evaporation. Since birds do not fly well after bathing, place your birdbath near plants or shrubs (not too close if you have problems with cats). This will offer protection and perching spots where the birds can preen and dry off.

If you want to make your water source almost irresistible to birds, try adding movement to the water. There are several ways to get your water moving. You can use a commercial dripper or sprayer. You can even make your own dripper. Just hang a bucket over your birdbath with a small hole in the bottom, allowing the water to drip down.

My personal favorite is a solar powered birdbath. These are great. There is a small fountain pump that sits in the birdbath spraying water upward creating a nice visual effect and the sound of running water. The best thing about it is there is no electrical cord. A small solar cell powers the pump. If you have never tried one, I think you will be very pleased.

Making your own birdbath can be a lot of fun. Click here for more information on making your own birdbath.

There are a few other interesting things that you may notice in August.

  • Many birds will begin loosing their breeding plumage.
  • Some waterfowl will loose their ability to fly as they molt and grow their winter feathers.
  • In late August many migratory birds will begin forming large flocks.

August is also the month you may want to take down your bird houses. Before you put them away, make sure you clean them out. This will make it easier when you put them back up in early spring.

August Checklist:

Reduce the amount of food and feeders at you feeding station.
Try putting out some fruit for the fruit eating birds.
Put out a birdbath or two.
Take down and clean your bird houses.
Watch for birds forming flocks.
Watch for plumage changes.
And last, take a rest. Remember, backyard birding will start to get very busy in September.

August Recipe - Summer Treat Shish kabob

Ingredients: apples, oranges, pears, grapes, prunes, dried fruit, berries, summer squash or any other fresh fruits that you have around your kitchen or garden. Slice the larger items into manageable sizes and poke a hole in the center of each piece. Then tie a large knot in one end of a 3 to 4 foot piece of twine. Run the twine through your fruits and vegetables. Then simply hang your stringed treats over a tree branch and watch as your feathered friends feast on your new offering.

News from My Feeding Station in July

We have enjoyed the arrival Evening Grosbeaks to our feeders. They are beautiful birds and one of my personal favorites. They feed from my sunflower seed feeders early in the morning almost daily.

I have also noticed an increasing number of American Goldfinches.

The big news has to be the sighting of an Indigo Bunting. My daughter was the first to see it and she came running to find me, I was able to see it as it flew away. I hope it comes back for more treats, I will let you know.

During the summer, we often have afternoon thunderstorms. I have noticed that in the hours preceding the storms, that there is a high level of activity at the feeders. But on days that there are no storms, the feeders have a more normal flow of visitors. I have been researching this and have found that this is very common.

Birds are in tune to changes in the weather. They are sensitive to pressure changes in the atmosphere and can anticipate impending storms. Watch your feeders and see if the same is true in your area.

Wild Birds in the News

This is a great story and even better news for our national symbol, th Bald Eagle.

Happy birding and I will see you next month!

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