Not too long ago, I wrote a post called "A Letter from Your Feeder Birds" about our bird activity being slower right now due to the abundance of natural food sources. Many people across the country are experiencing this as birds are feeding on seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, spiders, berries and more.
So, the next question many folks ask is, "so when will they return?" Here's what you can expect:
- After the first big freeze that kills off insects, you might see a bit of an increase, but the birds will still be feeding on insect carcasses, egg casings, and other insect debris left behind.
- When you get your first snow cover, you'll see an increase in activity at your bird feeders as the natural food on the ground gets covered up. If you get an ice storm, natural food hidden in tree crevices could get iced over and become unavailable to birds until the ice melts.
- As temperatures decline, birds may visit your bird feeders first thing in the morning to get some easy pickin's before they head out to forage for the day. Likewise at dusk they may visit for some quick, easy calories before tucking in for the night.
Bottom line: Birds will return to bird feeders in earnest when natural foods are gone, either depleted or made inaccessible by snow and/or ice.
The moist spring and warm summer has given wildlife a wonderful supply of natural foods. That's a good thing for the birds and other creatures we enjoy seeing in nature. The price we pay is that things are a little slower in our yards, and sometimes we don't like that. We miss the movement and color and sound in our yards!
But there's nothing we can do to speed their return. What we CAN do is this: keep your bird feeders clean and partially filled. This will serve multiple purposes. First, it will give the birds that quick easy source in the morning and at dusk. Then, as they come in for these easy food sources, they are taking note of your yard as a reliable food patch to return to once natural foods are depleted. Yes, they are "bookmarking" your yard!
It doesn't take a lot of food in your bird feeders to accomplish this. In fact, during slow times, you'll waste a lot less birdfood if you just fill your feeders halfway. Keep an eye on your feeders to make sure that the slower-moving food is not molding or clumping. If you see that happening, throw away the bad food, give the feeder a good cleaning, refill it partially, and put it back out.
It's too bad the birds aren't busy in our yards as we enjoy the beautiful weather and colors that autumn provides, but it's all part of nature's cycles. Before we know it, when the trees are bare and the landscape has been transformed into its winter pallet of grays and browns, our birds will return, just when we need it most.