As we round out the end of September, a quick glance out your window might give you a few tell-tale signs that we have officially begun the fall season. The first day of autumn is officially September 23rd this year and the trees along the roadside or in your yard should definitely be commencing their fall routine.

As the leaves morph into their beautiful fall colours and eventually begin to fall from the trees, our feathered friends are also busy preparing for either the winter season or fall migration. As you will notice the change in natural foliage, you will also begin to notice the many changes your backyard birds are beginning to go through.

 

Plumage Changes

This is perhaps one of the most noticeable changes you will witness in your backyard birds this fall. Many bird species begin the molting process of replacing old feathers with new ones and can often appear sick or unhealthy, but it is all a very natural and necessary process. You will also notice the beautiful coloring of the plumage that was once so prominent in the spring breeding season is now non-existent. These dull colours will, however, help your bird’s better blend in with the natural autumn landscape.

Dietary Changes

Much like a bodybuilder sometimes goes through routine ‘bulking’ phases, you will notice your birds, especially those preparing for migration gaining significant weight. During the next few weeks, migrating birds will gain up to 50% more body mass as they eat as much as they possibly can so as to not rely on questionable food sources during the early stages of their migration.

Year-round residents will also begin to shift their eating habits in preparation for the cold winter months. Those that typically rely on a diet of insects will begin to shift to fruit and seeds during the fall to begin to take advantage of food sources that will be available in the winter months.

These year-round residents will also begin to cache their food in preparation for the winter. They will bury nuts and seeds in the ground, wedge them into trees or tree bark to ensure a reliable cache of food to last them over the next several months.