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The Backyard Birder, Issue #002 -- September is an exciting month for backyard birding.
September 01, 2007
Hello,

September is a very exciting month for backyard birding. Summer is drawing to an end and you may start seeing a few changes around your bird feeders. Some of your day to day visitors are beginning to dissapear as many new visitors arrive... the migration south has begun!

Depending on where you live, the migration season will bring new birds to your feeders. Wild birds that depend on insects, nectar and fruit - Hummingbirds, Orioles, Thrushes and Warblers - often travel the furthest distances. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, for example, will travel as far as 2000 miles to reach its winter home. The trip even includes a 500 mile, non-stop flight over the Gulf of Mexico. Birds with a more varied diet - Black-capped Chickadees, Gold Finches and Cardinals - may only travel a few hundred miles. So unless you live at the furthest point of their range, you will see the same species of birds around your feeder, but the actual birds may be different from the ones that you saw all summer.

Migrating birds use a great deal of energy during their long flights, so they will be looking for food. This is a great time to try some new foods at your feeders to attract these temporary visitors. After months of seeing the same wild birds at your feeders, seeing a new and seldom seen species can be a real treat. Try adding fruit, peanut butter, suet and even meal worms to your feeding station. Then watch for the new arrivals.

If you don't have one, September is a great time to start a bird watching journal or calendar. Make notes of the new birds - when they first arrive, what they eat and so on. That way, next year you can anticipate the new arrivals to your feeder and know how to prepare for them.

It is Time to Think Winter

Now is the time to start preparing for winter. You may have let your feeders hang empty in August, so September is a great time to give them all a good inspection and cleaning. A clean feeder means clean, fresh birdseed, healthier birds and less risk for disease. I know it is not fun, but you should try to do it at least twice a year. Inspect your seed, have you kept it dry? If your seed has mold, it should not be fed to the birds. It will increase the chance for disease and the birds will most likley not eat it.

Do you want to attract more birds this winter? Then you want to add new bird feeders to you backyard feeding station now. When deciding on which bird feeders to add, think variety. You should have a blend of suet feeders, thistle feeders, black-oil sunflower seed feeders and a feeder for a good mixed blend.

Adding new feeders does not mean that you have to buy new feeders. Try making your own. There are many projects that can be done in an hour or less. If you want to build a bird feeder, click here to see how.

The fall season offers us an opprotunity to create our own natural bird feeders and bird seed. There are many natural sources for making a bird seed wreath or swag. Choose from the many seed producing flowers such as - brown-eyed susans, purple cone flowers and, of course, sunflower seed heads. You can also use dried corn cobs and many tall grasses. Check here to see some new projects that I have added to the website. Experiment with any materials available to you and see what works best.

September Checklist:

  • Watch for migratory visitors at your bird feeders
  • Add a variety of feeders to your feeding station
  • Start a backyard bird journal and bird calandar to record the changing birds that visit your feeders
  • Clean your feeders and inspect them for damage
  • Make sure your bird seed is fresh
  • Look for some natural resources and make a natural bird feeder

September Recipe:

Here in New Hampshire September means apples. There are also many other fruits available. As mentioned above, many migratory birds eat fuit and they will be tempted to linger at your feeders if you offer the following mix. This bird food will work best if offered in a platform style feeder.

  • 2 cups of dried, chopped apples (dried apples will not get moldy as fast)
  • 2 cups of raisins
  • 2 cups of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or any nuts you have available)
  • 1 cup of chopped prunes
  • 1 cup of dried melon or squash seeds

Simply mix the ingredients together in a large bowl or bucket. Start by adding small amounts to your feeder and store the rest in a paper bag in a cool and dry location.

News from my feeding station in August:

The traffic was slow on most days. Many of the juvenile birds are looking more mature. It was easiest to see when watching the Hairy Woodpecker family that feeds from my suet feeders. The single, young bird is now about the same size as its parents.

I saw the Black-capped Chickadees return. They had been absent since June. They are so active and full of energy. If you watch them close, you will see how they take their seed away from the feeder to eat. Sometimes they will hold the seed in one foot while cracking it open.

Squirrels continue to be a challenge. But it is kind of fun to watch my wife scream at them to scare them off the feeders. I think it helps her vent (better at the squirrels than at me).

Happy birding and I will see you next month!

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