Sep 18, 2019 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2019

Fall Is Upon Us! What to Watch For In Your Backyard.

October is time to watch for migrating birds in your trees and bushes, like this golden-crowned kinglet.
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The first day of fall—the autumnal equinox—is September 23, and where I live (southeastern Ohio), the dog days of summer are beginning to cool down a bit but the leaves haven’t started to change. Those who live farther north may be feeling chilly weather already.

Many bird species are getting restless at this time of the year, not because of the temperature, but because of the decreasing hours of daylight. In fact, some birds are already well on their annual southbound trek. Common nighthawks and orchard orioles left their nesting areas a month ago.

Swallows are flocking and staging, and chimney swifts are swirling into chimneys at dusk to roost. September is the height of warbler and flycatcher migration, and even though these birds are unlikely to visit your feeding station, they might well be stopping by the trees and shrubs in your yard. Keep an eye to the sky to see southbound broad-winged hawks (in the East) or Swainson's hawks (in the West) in late September. Both species migrate in huge, high kettles that can be visible from backyards—for those who are at home during daylight hours and keeping an eye to the sky.

October is time to watch for yellow-rumps, kinglets, and hermit thrushes in your trees and bushes, and to watch for waterfowl migrating overhead. By November, winter-only visitors should be turning up in your yard.

Backyard birds are usually most numerous at your feeders or birdbath, but backyard bird watching can be even more rewarding if you look beyond the feeders.

Here's to a birdiful autumn!



About Dawn Hewitt

Dawn Hewitt is the managing editor at Watching Backyard Birds and Bird Watcher's Digest. She has been watching birds since 1978, and wrote a weekly birding column for The Herald-Times, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Indiana, for 11 years.

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