Important Autumn Checklist for Thoughtful Backyard Birders

Clean your bird feeders. Warm, humid summers create a favorable environment for molds and other toxins that have the potential to harm the birds you love. Be sure that all bird feeders have been freshly cleansed and all moldy remnants discarded.

Check your seed and suet for freshness. The oils present in seeds and suet go rancid with time, so any seed or suet left-over from last winter should be replaced with fresh seed.

Clean out your birdhouses. Many species, including bluebirds, Carolina wrens, and chickadees, survive inclement weather by roosting inside birdhouses and nest pockets.

Keep your bird baths clean. Fresh water will attract beautiful fall migrants as they make their journey south. Remember, the majority of migrating birds do not eat seed.

Keep your hummingbird feeders filled with fresh nectar. We’ve heard of hummingbird visitations in late October as far north as Buffalo. In eastern North Carolina, we know several people who had hummingbirds visit throughout the last couple of winters. You should keep your feeders up for two weeks after your last sighting to support any stragglers passing through. Keeping your feeders up will NOT keep the hummingbirds from migrating, but might save the lives of those that struggle to find food as they complete their migration from points north of you.

Don't deadhead the flowers in your garden or immediately pull frost-killed plants. Goldfinches will enjoy the treat and this will give you an action-packed observation opportunity while they harvest the seeds from the flower heads.

Goldfinches are especially active in the fall and the juveniles need extra seed to mature. Like human teens, juvenile goldfinches have voracious appetites. They prefer nyjer seeds and hulled sunflower kernels, so you’ll want to have plenty on-hand during the autumn months.

Be certain your field guides and binoculars are handy. The autumn migration can provide opportunities to spot rare birds and add to your life-list!

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