Last week I did a daily check of Granite Creek and Watson Lake. With all of the rain we had, I was hoping the level of the lake would rise to the point where the city could open the gate to the cross-cut channel and send excess water from Watson over to Willow. Unfortunately, that never happened, as the lake didn’t fill up enough.
However, the lakes have both come up a lot—several feet, in fact. On Labor Day, I kayaked from Watson Lake upstream into Granite Creek. I was able to go pretty far, as the water level is high enough in the lake that it has backed up into and filled the river channel.
The abundant rains we’ve received have created a carpet of green everywhere you look in Prescott. It has been a long time since I have seen Prescott looking as green as it looks right now, and it looks good! The profusion of plants spawned by the rains will produce food sources that will last into the winter months for seed-eating birds that winter here.
The effects of migration have not yet been significant in the way of arrivals, but it is the departures that are most noticeable. Orioles have already left, and grosbeaks, tanagers, buntings and hummingbirds are soon to follow.
Turkey vultures are passing through Prescott each day from points north of Arizona, filtering down from Canada, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. It is not uncommon this time of year to see them in large groups, as they roost communally at night.
Later this month, our winter residents will begin to arrive. Look for red-naped sapsuckers, white-crowned sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, yellow-rumped warblers, and ruby-crowned kinglets. You might be wondering—with some birds leaving and others arriving—whether or not you should change what you are doing in the way of bird feeding.
Certainly, I would say it is safe to take your oriole feeders down by now. However, I would strongly encourage you to continue to keep your hummingbird feeders up. I took two feeders down on Labor Day, but that still leaves me with six, which is more than enough this time of year. Hummingbird numbers will be declining over the next few weeks, but by supplementing their diet, you are aiding them in their migration by providing food and fuel.
As you gradually remove hummingbird feeders over the next month or two, I encourage you to replace them with suet feeders if you live in the right habitat for foliage-gleaning, insect-eating birds. Suet is a high fat, high energy food source for birds and will attract a variety of non-seed-eating birds to your yard.
It has been my observation that millet consumption increases in the fall and winter months. Chances are, the seed blend you are currently using has millet in it. Most blends use some black oil sunflower seed and millet as the basic ingredients. If the seed you are using has these two ingredients, you are probably in good shape for winter birds and don’t need to make a change in what you are feeding. Remember, however, to stay away from milo.
Providing water is just as important in the fall and winter months as it is in the summer months. Maintaining a clean water source that is always available will bring you a steady stream of birds.
This time of year, everyone seems to be getting eaten out of house and home by the lesser goldfinches. We are asked daily, “When are the goldfinches going to leave?” In reality, while some will leave, many will stay year-round. So be prepared, as you may have them all winter!
Until next week, Happy Birding!