Our fall weather was right on cue this year. It was fascinating to see how the weather turned cool, and has remained cool, since the first day of fall.
Countless white-crowned sparrows are back, and it won’t be long before dark-eyed juncos start showing up.
Many other winter species will be showing up in the near future, including yellow-rumped warblers, ruby crowned kinglets and red-naped sapsuckers. For those who feed wild birds in their backyard, it is probably easier to witness the ebb and flow of migration, as many migratory bird species need to refuel when they arrive here and will frequent seed and suet feeders.
This is the time of year when we receive a lot of phone calls here at the Bird Barn from individuals wanting to know when they should take down their hummingbird feeders. There is no set time do this, but my rule of thumb is to take down my last feeder by Halloween. Granted, there are many people that leave one feeder out all winter long.
I think it is a good idea to gradually scale back the number of hummingbird feeders you have in the yard, instead of taking all of them down abruptly at the same time. Already this fall, I have cut back from seven hummingbird feeders at peak season to four.
The only hummingbird species I am seeing and hearing in my yard right now are Anna’s hummingbirds. Every year we receive numerous reports from customers of hummingbirds that “winter-over.” While it is not the norm, it is fairly common. It is remarkable how these birds weighing only a few grams can endure our winter weather.
There are two schools of thought on whether you should take your hummingbird feeders down or leave them up in the fall. One school of thought is to take down all of your hummingbird feeders to encourage them to move south. Many customers feel that if they continue to provide hummingbird food in the fall, the hummingbirds won’t migrate.
The second school of thought is that by providing hummingbird feed into the fall months, you are helping the late arrivals and migrants who are stragglers. A good rule of thumb is: if you go anywhere from 10 days to two weeks without seeing any hummingbird activity at your feeders, it is safe to take them down.
If you are interested in participating in this week’s free guided bird walk, please call the store at 443-5900 to sign up. This week’s trip will be led by Zach Smith, and the group will be going to the aspen groves out Copper Basin road. The goal for this bird walk is to look for fall migratory birds.
This past Tuesday, our fifth annual wild bird photo contest exhibit opened. This year’s collection of pictures is truly amazing. Most years, the exhibit is dominated by hummingbird, hawk and owl pictures. I think this year’s collection is more diverse than we have seen in previous years. We have a nice collection of pictures of birds from Africa and other parts of the world.
The exhibit continues through the 21st. I invite you to come see it – there are more than 150 pictures this year! You get to choose your personal pick for first, second and third place, along with an honorable mention. Believe me – it is very challenging to settle on the top four! The exhibit is open from 8:30 to 5:30 every day except Sunday.