Right now is a great time to be thinking about your winter bird feeding plans.

Are your bird feeders ready to take on the upcoming weather challenges like wind, rain, and snow? Will the feed stay dry during the various weather events that are coming our way for the next several months?

Remember last fall? Most of October was cold and rainy and then came November with a full shot of winter with four different snowfalls and a very early start to a long winter.

Right now, several readers are asking me where their birds are. Why aren’t they patronizing the bird feeders? Well, we have had a wonderful late summer and fall and the amount of natural food out there is really quite substantial. That, together with warmer temperatures, makes it easy for the birds to search for food in hedgerows, thickets, and woodlots. The various nut trees have produced a healthy crop of nuts which is especially good for the turkeys and some woodpeckers, and the deer and squirrels as well. Wild and ornamental berry production was also robust this summer.

A few neat species of birds have been moving in from the north and will likely be with us for the winter. One that comes to mind right now is the golden-crowned kinglet which is a tiny bird that feeds in the woods and most trees but does not come to the bird feeder. It has a bright yellow crown and flits among the branches of the trees – especially evergreens. It has a distinct, but high pitched, ringing call – one that many people either don’t notice or can’t hear or simply don’t pay attention to.

Another recent arrival is that of the dark-eyed junco. Though a few do nest in our local wood lots, the vast majority of them are moving in from higher elevations and points north of here. You can hear them twittering in the thickets and when you do see them fly up from the ground to the bushes you will notice their distinct white outer tail feathers. They’ll be some of your first “customers” when we get the first snowstorm.

The white-throated and white-crowned sparrows have both made their return from the north. While most are planning on heading even further south, many do spend the winter here where they can find a good supply of natural foods and thickets for protection from winter’s cold winds. If you feed the birds, you are likely getting some of them right now and will likely attract a few throughout the winter. These large native sparrows are great to have around. Keeping an active ground feeding tray going will really help attract them and several others. Remember that native sparrows and other birds significantly prefer feed mixes with white millet (the tiny white seed) and not milo (the bigger reddish and cream colored seed) which is simply a filler that most birds do not like. Sunflower, nyjer, and peanuts are excellent ingredients for attracting many preferred bird species.

Waterfowl are moving in right now as well. They will be with us until the local bodies of water freeze over. There are many species. The various ducks are generally in one of two main categories – one is dabbling ducks (like mallards) and the other is diving ducks (like mergansers) that swim under water to catch fish. Several other species of water birds also exist.

Birds of prey are also on the move. Several are migrating south and others are arriving here to spend the winter. The same is true for another group of birds called the winter finches which include seed eating birds like grosbeaks, finches, pine siskins, snow buntings, longspurs, redpolls, and crossbills. Some years we have a great showing of them and others we don’t. We just never know, but it does add an element of surprise to many bird feeding stations and beyond.

If you plan on feeding the birds, it’s really easy. It can be as simple as putting bird feed in on your porch floor or just hanging up a simple feeder or two. If you want to really cover the bases and greatly improve your bird feeding success, a little more work is involved. One key is a good bird feeder that keeps your (quality) seed dry and readily available. I can help you out with that any time you want – just give me a call or text at 585-813-2676.

So enjoy the many birds that are still lingering and those that are moving in. So many birds to enjoy together with the fall beauty that adorns our yards and landscapes right now! Happy birding … and lets hope for a nice November!