Easy Ways to Help Birds in Late Summer
In August, some birds are releasing their second clutch of fledglings into the world and other birds are preparing for their fall migration. Don't be surprised to see lots of activity in your yard!
Fall migrants generally make a leisurely trip down to their wintering grounds – there’s no rush as they are not competing for nesting territory or mates. That means you may see hummingbirds in your yard for 2-3 weeks, or warblers and other songbirds you haven’t yet seen this year. But you also have to still keep an eye out for fledglings learning to fly and developing their wing muscles.
Here are some ways to help fledglings and migrants right now and in the future:
Make sure you have lots of clean fresh water out for birds, this is especially important on hot days and during heat waves. Have a range of depths, from shallow to deeper baths and bowls as you may get tiny hummingbirds or even crows. Change the water daily to eliminate bacteria and viruses and make sure to keep your feeders and bird baths clean. Don't forget to add some stones to ensure smaller birds, animals, or thirsty bees can get out and don't drown.
With heat waves still coming, it's important not just to provide daily fresh water but also some shade if you can. That’s why it’s important to plant trees and shrubs and dense foliage – which can double as protection against other climatic conditions such as rain, wind, or cold. With garden centres having to sell off their stock, take advantage of discounted trees and plants and fill your garden!
Can you provide shelters for birds to escape predators? Cedars, coniferous trees and shrubs, and ground cover are great for birds to hide from predators not just in summer but winter too.
Because of habitat loss and our preference for non-native plantings, birds have a hard time finding food. So feed them year round if you can or even better, plant native shrubs, trees, flowers, and plants that provide food, such as nut trees, fruit and berry-producing trees and shrubs, or nectar flowers.
Don’t overpave – leave some greenspace in your yard. While a totally covered backyard may look fashionable and tidy – this type of landscaping is inhospitable to wildlife. Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, and other ground foragers hunt worms and bugs crawling in the dirt. If you can, please try to re-wild your yard.
Don’t use weed killers and other chemicals. Birds easily succumb to chemicals used on lawns and in gardens. In fact, if you’re worried about pests, draw birds to your yard so they can help you take care of the problem. Birds have seen a significant decline with some of the reason owing to too much pesticide use and not enough insects for food.
Lastly, leave old trees stand if you can! Not only do they provide food sources for Woodpeckers, Brown Creepers, Nuthatches, and other insect-eating birds, but they provide shelter in their hollowed out trunks as well as perches for owls, hawks, and flycatchers. If you have to cut part of it for safety reasons, at least consider leaving ten to twenty feet of trunk – it may look funny but it will help birds!
These are just some of the basic ways to provide water, shade, shelter, food, and habitat in your own front and backyard!