Shortening daylight hours is the cue that migrating birds use to begin making their way to wintering grounds, be it lower latitudes or lower elevations. Here in the Portland-Vancouver area, we welcome new and returning birds into our yards each fall; like dark-eyed juncos, golden-crowned sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, fox sparrows, hermit thrush, varied thrush, yellow-rumped warblers, Townsend’s warblers, and more. As a part of that, we also have more year-round residents as well. This includes spotted towhees, northern flickers, chickadees, and nuthatches. Fall is a great time to attract birds to the yard and setting out a feeder is an easy way to bring them in.
What food should you offer? Black oil sunflower seed is a favorite of seed-eating birds. These small seeds are nutritious and have a higher meat-to-hull ratio than the larger striped sunflower. The soft hulls of black oil sunflower make it easy for even our smallest seed-eating birds to open and eat it.
While a feeder with black-oil sunflower will bring you the most variety of birds, you can bring in even more if you add suet and nectar to your wild bird buffet. Suet is rendered beef fat and attracts insect-eating birds such as kinglets, warblers, and woodpeckers. It becomes especially popular during cold weather when insects are less abundant.
It is a myth that leaving your hummingbird feeder out in fall keeps birds from migrating. The Anna’s hummingbird is a non-migratory bird that stays here year round. In fall and winter we have even greater numbers of Anna’s as they come in from breeding territories that suffer severe winter weather. Anna’s dine on tiny insects for protein and fuel themselves with nectar. As blooms fade in fall, you can readily attract them to the yard to sip nectar from a hummingbird feeder.
Stop by Backyard Bird Shop to pick up all of your autumn ornithological gear!