The weather in the northeast has been rather cool as of late, and it reminds us that fall is fast approaching. Fall is a great time to go birding, but just as birds change their behaviors as the seasons change, so too must birders change how they approach birding if we hope to enjoy the great bounty of birding opportunities of fall. Here are a few fall birding tips to get you ready:
Fall Birding Benefits
Fall is after most birds’ nesting season and young birds help create larger flocks for birders to spot. This is also a peak migration time, bringing many different birds to areas where they wouldn’t normally be seen. Because of this, fall can often be one of the most productive seasons for birders who know how to take advantage of it.
Where to go birding in the Fall
Knowing where to find birds during the autumn months can make the difference between seeing the same local species and spotting new migrating visitors. The best spots to bird in the fall include:
Waterways: Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds travel near bodies of water, including coastal areas, lakes and rivers.
Cliffs: Thermal air currents near steep mountainsides or cliffs are the best place to spot migrating raptors.
Grasslands: Open grasslands that have gone to seed are a hotspot for migrating sparrows and songbirds.
Of course, any suitable bird habitat can be a great place to check for unusual species in the fall. Don’t neglect your favorite birding hotspots as you watch for traveling visitors.
Here are a few fall Birding Tips
Get your backyard ready
Like most of year, have your water supplies continually filled and ready to go. With dropping leaves, make sure they are clean of leaves and other debris that could mask them. As the flocks migrate, they’ll be especially hungry and it is always recommended to have an ample amount of feeders and tasty morsels ready to go!
Identify Birds Carefully
Fall is an exciting time that may bring many transient birds to an area, but avoid jumping to unusual conclusions when spotting an unfamiliar bird. Young birds often resemble other species and can be tricky to identify properly.
The weather can be unpredictable in the fall, ranging from Indian summer heat to pre-winter chills in just a few hours. Dress in layers, and don’t forget to add a touch of bright yellow or orange to your attire if you will be birding in areas where hunting is popular.
Watch the Time
As the days grow shorter and the birds more diverse, it can be easy to forget when the sun goes down. If you are birding in the evening, be sure to keep an eye on the clock so you aren’t caught far from safety as darkness settles.
Attract Migrating Birds
It isn’t necessary to venture far to see unique migrating birds in the fall. Stock your backyard with seed and water, choose late blooming flowers, and try other tricks to attract migrating birds right to your door.
Keep Dogs Leashed
Birds gather in large flocks in the fall as they prepare to journey to their winter habitats, and so many birds in one location can be overly stimulating to a dog. If your dog will be joining you on a bird walk, keep it securely leashed so it does not disturb our feathered friends.
Check Flocks Thoroughly
While from a distance a flock of birds may seem to be made up of a single species, many birds congregate in mixed flocks after the nesting season ends. Check flocks carefully to see if there are any unusual members you wouldn’t want to miss.
During the fall migration, new birds will arrive at the same location every day. Visiting one location repeatedly can yield a range of unique species and is a great way to learn the migration habits of different birds.