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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Aug 18, 2011

Two things you can do to help birds survive fall migration

Bird migration is a long, and exhausting process for birds.  They face many dangers along their migration routes which can include foul weather and a shortage of food in many instances.  Predators always represent the largest portion of threat of course.  However, there are two things that you can do the help birds survive their migration.
Cat watching a bird

First and foremost, please keep your cats indoors:

Cat populations have soared in the last fifty to a hundred years.  Many people keep cats as pets, including myself.  Who can resist after all.  However cats, no matter how delightful their company, are predatory and hunt birds instinctively.  So even the healthiest, most well fed cats will hunt and kill birds.   They cannot resist the rustle in the bushes, nor the quick movements of birds as they move from branch to branch.   Cats have quick reflexes and do not just hunt on the ground.

Kitty can't resist

They will climb trees, jump up on fences to reach the rooftops of sheds, where a tree or bush might be more accessible.  Cats will also sit patiently and watch as inexperienced birds come within reach of a quick pounce and it's claws.  Sad as it is, cats are responsible for a large portion of the declining numbers of some of the different bird species. 

Kitty stalking birds

The second thing you can do is to feed the birds:

If you know what species of birds are likely to frequent your feeders, fill it with the appropriate seed and keep it full.  If you are unsure of the species, or of the type of seed a species might eat, then more than one bird feeder is good to have on hand, with different seed types in each feeder.  Keep in mind that flycatchers need protein which suet provides.  Suet feeders are easy to hang and maintain.  They can also be kept up year round to feed local birds.  You'll be both surprised and delighted by the number of bird species attracted to these types of feeders.
Chipping sparrow feeding on the ground

If Hummingbirds are known to reside in, or migrate through your area, please remember more than one feeder is required, spaced well apart.  Preferably out of visual range of each other.   Hummingbirds, one of the first bird species to migrate, need to feed every two hours and they will need food most urgently at first light.  Also keep in mind that Hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned once a week, when they should be refilled with fresh food. 

Downy woodpecker at the feeder

There are many kinds of bird feeders to choose from and they come in a variety of shapes and colors.  Hummingbirds, as I'm sure you know are attracted to the color red.  When buying your bird feeders, keep in mind that some birds like to perch when they eat, some prefer getting their seed from the ground underneath the feeder,while others are quite comfortable clinging to the side of a more cage like feeder.  Some birds will attend a feeder while other birds are feeding and some will not.

Bird feeders should be hung from five to eight feet off the ground, in a sheltered area, or placed a short distance from sheltering bushes and trees.  A convenient water supply nearby, such as a bird bath would also be helpful.  In fact many birds prefer to be near water, or are attracted to the sound of water.

Clinging to the suet feeder

While the most important reason for doing these two things is to help birds survive migration, there is a marvelous bonus attached to the doing for you.  This is the fact that you will get many hours of enjoyment watching the birds which attend the feeders in and around your yard or garden.  You might actually see a species of bird you have never seen before, which is always a delight, and if you are really fortunate these birds will return to your feeders in the spring and every migration to come.


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