what do birds do in the fall

Our autumn menus are full of fabulous tastes, from elaborate tailgate grilling to crisp apples to all things pumpkin spice. Bird diets change in fall as well, allowing birds to take advantage of the most plentiful food supplies. Birders who understand those dietary changes can be better prepared to feed backyard birds in autumn and help them adapt to the shifting seasons.

4. How far do birds migrate?

It depends on the bird. Some short-distance migrants, like the northern bobwhite, bridled titmouse, and blue grouse, may only shift their altitude to migrate to lower elevations for the winter. While they travel to find better conditions, medium-distance birds like the blue jay, eastern bluebird, killdeer, and white-crowned sparrow typically remain in North America Particularly blue jays appear to engage in a kind of seasonal roulette whereby they spend one winter in one location and then migrate south, or the opposite. Approximately 350 species migrate long distances as “neotropicals,” spending the summers in the United S. and Canada, before spending the winter in warmer climates in the Caribbean and northern South America The Cornell Lab of Ornithology lists these as raptors, vultures, waterfowl, shorebirds, hummingbirds, thrushes, warblers, orioles, and tanagers. Whooping cranes and Arctic terns, with respective travel ranges of 2,500 and 24,000 miles, are the long-distance winners.

Birds’ Favorite Fall Foods

While summer birds feed their young by snacking on insects high in protein, in the fall, as insect populations decline, birds’ dietary needs shift. Autumnal foods that birds prefer are heavy in fat, sugar, and calories. This aids in the birds’ growth of body mass and helps them store excess fat for migration.

Natural foods that aid in autumnal bird preparation include:

  • Seeds and grain from late-ripening grasses and flowers
  • Nuts of all types, including pine nuts
  • Sugar-rich fall fruits, including grapes and late berries
  • Nectar from the last flowers blooming in autumn

Seasonal changes in bird diets result in similar behavioral changes in the birds. Fall brings more frantic feeding for migratory birds due to hormonal shifts that force them to overeat and put on weight. Small birds benefit from hyperphagia, an increased appetite that helps them put on a lot of weight in order to support their migration. This extra energy is crucial during migration, when the birds may not be stopping to feed during their journeys or their food sources are much less reliable along the way. Some birds may nearly double their overall weight in the fall!

As winter draws near, non-migratory birds also alter their eating preferences. A lot of jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice will start storing food in their bodies, known as caching, rather than consuming it all at once. Nuts can be buried in the ground, pushed into cavities, or covered in fallen leaves. Seeds can be tucked into cracks in rocks or tree bark. When other food sources become scarce in the fall, various birds may use dozens or even hundreds of hiding spots to store food. Throughout the winter, they will return to these caches.

5. How do birds know where to travel?

Scientists are still trying to unlock that mystery. Birds migrate by a number of means, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, including “navigation by the stars, sensing changes in the earth’s magnetic field, and even smell.” “.


What happens to birds in fall?

Why do birds migrate in fall? Decreasing number of hours of light and cooler temperatures both help birds know it’s time to move on. But the most important reasons for migration are changes in food sources, especially insects, and changes in nesting locations as trees lose their leaves.

Where do birds go in fall?

Long-distance migrants typically move from breeding ranges in the United States and Canada to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Despite the arduous journeys involved, long-distance migration is a feature of some 350 species of North American birds.

Do birds fly in the fall?

According to the experts, birds are in search of climates that will provide more food and daylight hours as the world heads towards the winter equinox. The annual migration begins in August and lasts through November, but September and October are considered to be the peak months in North America.

Do birds eat more in fall?

Migratory birds feed more frantically in autumn, driven by hormonal changes that compel them to overeat and gain weight. This increased appetite, called hyperphagia, helps small birds gain large amounts of weight to fuel their migration. Some birds may nearly double their overall weight in fall!