Sep 12, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2018

Editor's Note: Passing Seasons

Magnolia warbler in fall plumage, photo by Bill Thompson, III.
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I don't know about you, but I feel the changing seasons keenly—especially where the birds are concerned. The only thing that helps me get over the loss of summer bird song is the helter-skelter of fall migration, with warblers and vireos, thrushes, and tanagers flitting through the backyard trees on fall mornings. Then they are gone and the backyard is mostly quiet. With cold weather's arrival here in southeastern Ohio, the windows stay shut (except on warm afternoons) and we're reduced to enjoying our birds through a pane of glass. It's like we're inside a fishbowl, looking out on the bustle of activity at our feeders. Except the birds really don't care what we're doing inside our fishbowls. They have more interesting and important things to worry about—like getting enough food and finding proper shelter.

I adore a cold winter morning when the offerings at our feeders seem to draw birds from near and far. Add a cup of coffee and I'm a happy camper. Sometimes I envy the birds their freedom and their high-energy life force. But then a Cooper's hawk zooms through the yard and nabs an unsuspecting sparrow or junco or mourning dove, and I'm kind of glad to be inside and cozy and safe. I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years now, and it never gets old, though I seem to be.

Happy fall and winter backyard birding!

Bill Thompson, III
WBB Team Captain



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  • I had a pair nesting for the first time this year at our farmstead in South Dakota. Boxes put out for Bluebirds which didn't come, but these were a very pleasant consolation.
    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cleaned...so cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018