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Update on Late Summer Birds

Update on Late Summer Birds
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by Carol Buie-Jackson, Birdhouse on the Greenway ~

If you listen carefully first thing in the morning, you may notice something a little different these days. Instead of the cacophony of songs that we normally hear on spring mornings, August can be eerily quiet. There’s nothing to worry about; we are just entering a quiet time of year for birds.

The reason is pretty simple. Mating is over for the season, territories aren’t being fought over quite as ferociously as earlier in the year, and it’s still a few weeks before migration begins, so there’s not a whole lot to sing–or to crow–about.

Bird activity at the feeders, however, has not slowed down.  Our feeders are still as busy as ever and very entertaining, but the birds aren’t as vocal right now.

Continue to feed the birds as you normally would, but don’t keep a large amount on hand.  The traffic at your feeders will slow down during the coming fall months, so you don’t want to have a lot of seed in storage that might go stale, or worse, attract those pantry moths.

Birdbaths

Fall is just around the corner, so these hot temps won’t last much longer, but right now it’s HOT and the high temps coupled with little rain are taking a toll on the birds and other wildlife.

All wildlife need water for hydration and for hygiene. Matted fur or dirty feathers will not allow the animals to adequately regulate their body temperature, so access to clean water is critical.  A birdbath or even a small bowl on the ground will provide the birds and other wildlife an opportunity to get a fresh drink of water and enjoy a bath.

Misters and drippers are great too because they use just a little water but provide a steady source of clean and fresh water during these hot days. Even a sprinkler set up on the lawn can be a great source of water. Make sure you watch closely to see the hummingbirds fly through the spray.

We’re hearing complaints about squirrels, bees, and raccoons enjoying your hummingbird feeders as much as your hummers are.

You may not be able to stop the behavior completely, but chances are they are looking for water more than for nectar.  Making plain water available might help alleviate this pesky issue.

Provide small, shallow dishes in the garden to give these critters an alternative to your hummingbird feeders. Remember to change the water at least every other day so that mosquitoes don’t become a problem. Hopefully, the other critters will quench their thirst and leave your hummingbird feeders alone.

One thing for sure: All the wildlife will appreciate the access to fresh water!

Around this time of year, we get calls from people wondering about the strange, black-headed-red-bird at their feeders

These whacky looking birds are actually cardinals who are molting.  Molting–losing and replacing feathers–occurs due to hormonal changes. With the cardinals, it seems to happen each year as mating season is drawing to a close.

Most of these birds lose and gain feathers a little at a time and you can’t even tell it is happening, but every now and then a bird will lose all its feathers in a concentrated area at the same time and we are left with some strange looking creatures!

Don’t worry, in almost all but the rarest of cases, the feathers will grow back, and those strange looking birds will be hiding under feathers until this time next year.

About the author: Bird House on the Greenway on Rea Road and Wildology at Waverly are owned and operated by Carol Buie-Jackson and Jay Jackson. Both have been avid birders and wildlife enthusiasts for more than 30 years and are more than willing to share what they know about the local birding community.  You can contact Carol at carol@greenwaybirdhouse.com.

Title photo courtesy of Andrea Reiman; Baby raccoon photo by Anna Salisbury; Molting cardinal photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.