The month of September brings our attention to many species of birds migrating to their winter destinations. Raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl, and the many songbirds including warblers, thrushes, some sparrows, finches, and of course the orioles and hummingbirds will all be on the move. Birds of prey, swallows, finches and hummingbirds are diurnal migrators, meaning they migrate during the day, while other species including orioles, warblers, flycatchers and thrushes are nocturnal beginning their journeys at sunset flying through the night.
There are things we can do to help birds as they journey southward. Plant native bushes that provide berries, seeds and fruit for birds to feast on as well as take shelter. Check with your local nursery to see which ones are well suited to your region. Make a leaf pile from fallen leaves for birds to sift through for insects. Take your time deadheading plants that will attract songbirds. Leaving a small woodpile from fallen branches can also offer shelter for small birds.
The next thing we can do is offer seeds high in calories to help them bulk up for the long journey. Sunflower seeds/hearts, peanuts and suet are great choices. White millet is also a favourite of white-crowned and white-throated sparrows. Offer seed in different feeders and locations in your yard. Hopper and tray feeders are good for some birds, while ground feeders are preferred by others like the white-crowned and white-throated sparrows. If you don’t have a ground feeder you can sprinkle some millet and sunflower hearts on the garden floor or in small piles on your patio or deck.
Water is also essential for birds as they migrate. Just like us they need to stay hydrated. Keep your bird baths clean and refreshed with water daily. You can situate baths on different levels by using hanging baths or waterers, pedestal or ground baths. Birds also need to bathe to rid feathers of parasites and keep their feathers aligned.
We can also do our part to keep birds safe by replacing old window alerts with new ones. This will play an important role in decreasing window strikes and guide them safely through our neighbourhoods. Make sure all lights are turned off overnight. If you are a business owner, encourage your staff to turn the lights out when closing for the night.
Last, and not least, keep your feline pets indoors. Cats don’t need to kill birds to survive, we feed our pets with food choices to suit their special needs.
By following these tips, we can help birds get to their winter grounds safely. I hope you enjoy this fall’s migration.