As deciduous trees drop their foliage and natural food sources dwindle, autumn is perfect for hosting a banquet of our colorful, captivating backyard birds.
As branches become bare, your hungry feathered friends will decorate your yard with lively activity, busily hopping from limb to limb—- warming our hearts on cold days, and presenting our and your family with a fascinating glimpse into the natural world.
American Goldfinches have donned their winter wardrobes; males have transitioned from their bright summer yellow to a neutral olive green. The aptly namedLesser Goldfinch retains a dusting of bright yellow, bringing a little bit of sunshine into our yard on those dark days. Flocks of locally migrating birds, including American and Lesser Goldfinches, are joined by feisty and voracious Pine Siskins, identifiable by their streaked breast, and yellow wing markings. Nyjer plays an important role in a finch’s winter diet, supplementing a high-oil, protein-rich food that is otherwise scarce. Nyjer and sunflower feeders that were forgotten or quiet during the summer are likely to see an explosion of activity as the days turn colder.
Millet consumption also increases as winter sparrows return from high-elevation nesting sites. White-crowned, Golden-crowned, Fox and Song Sparrows gather in mixed flocks and forage on the ground for seeds. They are often accompanied by Dark-eyed Juncos and Spotted Towhees, who are frequently seen scratching around in leaf piles.
The scarcity of insects during winter creates a perfect opportunity to offer suet. Suet supplements the protein birds glean from insects – all in one convenient location! Watch shy Northern Flickers down big gobs of tasty suet, and see Downy Woodpeckers slink up and down suet feeders with ease as they take quick, tiny bites each time. Huge flocks of Bushtits turn suet feeders into a feathered frenzy, and clumsy jays peck off big chunks to fly off into the trees with their loot. Watch forchickadees, nuthatches, kinglets and warblers; the Townsend’s Warbler often tries to disguise itself amongst flocks of Bushtits—but his flashy black and yellow face doesn’t fool us for very long!