When bird feeder activity declines in the early fall, we usually write it off to the abundance of “natural food sources”. Well, what exactly do we mean by that?
Here’s just a sampling of the natural foods that become plentiful and are available (until covered by snow) to birds and other wildlife in a typical autumn. Some years there’s more of one and less of the other (we hear that acorns are widely available this year) which makes each year different in the amount and type of foods available and thus impacts the bird and wildlife activity in our yards.
- Fruits and berries from trees and shrubs (examples: sumac, mountain ash, chokecherry, crabapple)
- Weed and grass seeds
- Spent flower heads (fading coneflowers, sunflowers, zinnia, nasturtium, goldenrod, etc.)
- Insects that hide in dead wood, in plant stems, in rolled up leaves, in and under bark
- Leftover vegetables in gardens
- Pine cone seeds
- Acorns and other tree nuts (seeds)
- Small insects under leaf litter
- Tent caterpillars
- Crabgrass seeds
- Garden herbs gone to seed
- Insect and spider eggs, casings, larvae, and carcasses
You can have a hand in providing and preserving these great foods for birds and wildlife by choosing natives when you plant and maintaining a “messy” yard and garden.