When once we heard the flurry of beautiful birdsong over the breeding and fledgling months, the approach to autumn is somewhat a barren affair, with hardly a melody to be heard. You may even ask yourselves why it is that that all goes quiet.
Well, the answer is twofold. Firstly, many of our summer visitors pack their bags and say cheerio to the winter, which isn’t such a bad idea. Typically, these are swallows, house martins and swifts heading for different areas of Africa, closer to the more comfortable, equatorial belt of earth. It’s also common to see great flocks of these birds wading through the sky, which is a beautifully majestic scene, especially during a colourful sunset.
Autumn berries, commonly eaten by birds during a season of prolific food abundance.
Secondly, many of our resident garden birds may be off looking for more naturally abundant food such as berries and nuts. This quietude can be heightened if there has been an especially abundant season, which means those regular visitors will be off foraging in woodland and other areas close to home. Starlings, for instance, are one of the more gregarious species of resident bird, and quite noisy during some parts of the year. But over autumn they have a tendency to roost in reedbeds and on buildings at night-time, meaning they are not noticed that much.
It’s like Shakespeare said that upon those boughs which shake against the cold, bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang i.e. bird song, huh?
So what can you do to help?
The birds that migrate for warmer climates are generally not the birds we would see feeding in our gardens. House Martins are well-known wing feeders, and do so during flight; so do swallows by catching insects in their large gapes.
Many of our common resident garden birds are still around in autumn, but could be out and about foraging for natural food stock in woodlands and elsewhere.
Despite this, it’s important not to forget the importance of providing food for birds in the garden. Birds, like humans, are creatures of habit, and enjoy visiting the same feeding area again and again. So, a bit of advice would be to keep food in the feeders in order to ensure your garden will be routinely visited later on, and ensure the food you keep in your bird feeders remains as fresh as possible.
The added benefit of taking this approach, by maintaining a consistent supply of food, especially high-energy food such as suet fat balls, is that come winter those resident birds will know where to feed…your garden.
- Look out for flocks of jackdaws, rooks and carrion crows flying around woodland areas;
- If you live close to a coastal area, watch out for migratory geese that arrive from Arctic breeding grounds
- Clean out your nest boxes. If there’s an old, unused nestbox in your garden, clean it out and prepare for next year’s breeding and fledgling seasons.
How can you help over Autumn?
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