Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
You can feel it in the air. Summer is getting tired, and the shorter days are reminding us that soon we will have to wait another year for the warmth and endless sunlight to appear again. Twilight skies are the color of sugar maple leaves and orange pumpkins. Yes, fall is knocking.
The birds are packing their bags. Those familiar dawn nesting calls are now replaced with a different chorus of crows and geese.The fall migration is a critical time for birds. Whether the flocks are songbirds, hawks, or waterfowl ... the ancient routes are being traversed as they had for millennia.
Chubby Mealworms wants to make sure your yard is ready for those departures and the new arrivals! Bird habitat is under threat. The loss of feeding and resting grounds means that all of us need to give the feathered travelers a big welcome (and a little bit of assistance) as they wing through your fall flyway. In fact – the migrations have already begun!
Depending on your locale, the fall migration visitors vary considerably. Most of us are not aware of just how impressive this event really is. According to the Audubon Society "fall migration season is a drawn-out affair—far more protracted than the northward rush in spring. Some hummingbirds, for example, may be moving south from their breeding grounds before the end of June, and some waterfowl are still southbound at the end of December.”
Grab your binoculars
Birds in the North and South American continents converge in renowned “hotspots” such as the Chesapeake, the Great
Salt Lake, western Canadian wetlands, Midwest prairies and the Gulf regions including Mexico down into Central America and Brazil. The western seashores – stretching from Alaska to the border of Mexico are ready to “check-in” some spectacular shorebirds, birds-of-prey and delightful songbirds escaping the winter’s chill.
Sun lovers relaxing in the Caribbean need to keep binoculars ready for buntings and warblers enjoying their tropical vacation in the marshes and woodlands (of course the coast is hosting waders, terns and frigates – to name a few beauties). Birds congregate to locations based on habitat – so keep an eye out for different species as the terrain and flora changes. Habitat transition zones are home to a wide variety of species that like to keep their “feet” on either side of the marsh or forest!
Birds (including hummingbirds) need to ensure their energy reserves are full before they begin their journeys. The flocks follow familiar traveled routes and stopovers (think of the magnificent numbers if waterfowl entering the waters of the Chesapeake, or the Whooping Cranes soaring into the plains).
on for “several weeks after the last hummingbird leaves the area, just in case a straggler shows up in need of additional energy before completing the long journey south.
Europe hosts critical migration routes that support species flying to the African continent. Conservation efforts are underway to preserve the shores, forests, plains and wetlands that house and feed these birds. Many species undertake fantastic journeys of over 30,000 kilometers on their way to Africa and the famous Sahel!
European Flyways: Western (through Britain, Scandinavia and Germany), the Eastern Route (Baltics, Eastern Europe, Russia, Bosphorus and Middle East), and the Adriatic/Central European - this route runs from Northern Europe to Poland and Hungary to the Adriatic and Southern Italy.
Chubby's Conservation Alert: Birds on the Adriatic Flyway are at high risk. Illegal poaching and sport hunting along the Balkan wetlands is second only to habitat destruction in impacting bird populations. Be bird friendly by creating bird habitats in your yard and supporting global conservation efforts.
Prepare your yard for the fall and winter feeding events. Your home will be ready to help out feathered residents and the newcomers that overwinter at your stations. Here are a few MUSTS to ensure your yard has the welcome mat dusted off and the cupboards full!
The natural grocery
Plant a variety of shrubs and trees that offer a cornucopia of fruits of nuts. Choose those species that fruit in the fall. Many shrubs and trees (such as holly, dogwood and apple) hold their fruit well into late fall, and even throughout the winter. These resources are relished by your feathered visitors.
• Protein Power
Set your tray feeders out and fill them with a delightful buffet of dried Chubby Mealworms, nuts, dried fruits and prepared bird pellets. Hang an apple nearby, and you have built a treat station irresistible to most birds! The high fat and “natural” insect shape of the dried mealworms attracts titmice, jays, chickadees, bluebirds, robins, wrens, orioles, nuthatches and warblers.
If the wild birds are reluctant to snack on the dried mealworms, try adding some live worms to the tray (set the live worms in a glass cup with smooth sides – they will escape from a regular wooden feeder tray). In cold weather, the live worms will become dormant and will not move around in the feeder. Hard freezes are a perfect time to mix the live worms with the dried, since you won’t have to worry about the worms crawling out!
• Chubby Mealworm Cake
It is easy to make your own fun and fancy hanging feeder. Simply tie a string around a large pinecone. Carefully spread peanut butter or softened lard on the cone. Be sure to pile extra lard or peanut butter into the scales. Roll the pinecone in the dried mealworms.
This is a great way to get suspicious birds to eat the dried mealworms. Once they get a taste of them…they will be back for more.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day! This is the one holiday that is enjoyed on different days – because birds migrate according to their area. Isn’t that fun! “International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) celebrates and brings attention to bird migration, one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas. IMBD began in 1993 and is now hosted at more than 600 sites from Canada to Argentina. Environment for the Americas, with the collaboration of international sponsors and partners, fosters bird conservation education in the Western Hemisphere through International Migratory Bird Day.”
So, don’t be late... visit the Bird Day website and get ready for when the holiday flies into your neck of the woods.
Share your celebration stories and pictures with Chubby Mealworms. Remember, International Bird Day…it’s all for the birds!