As fall draws nearer, migratory birds will set out on their journey to find locations with better resources through the winter. With the right preparations and resources, fall migration can be an exciting time to watch and learn about new birds passing through your backyard!

Get your bird feeders ready

While the birds travel to their winter destinations, they’ll be making stops along the way to refuel and rest. Since your feeders may be hosting more visits from travelers who are new to your backyard, it’s important to keep your bird feeders clean to avoid spreading diseases among birds. During fall migration, increase the frequency of your feeder cleanings to keep your backyard flocks healthy.

To appeal to the widest variety of birds, try filling your seed feeders with black oil sunflower seeds. This high-energy seed provides lots of nutrition and calories and is ideal for migratory birds making long journeys. High capacity bird feeders like tube, hopper and platform are great options for feeding black oil sunflower seed.

goldfinches at nature's way tube feeder

If you live in an area with migrating hummingbirds, continue to keep your hummingbird feeders stocked with homemade nectar for about two weeks after your see your last hummingbirds. This will ensure that you’re able to feed any latecomers on their way south.

Provide water

In addition to their daily search for food, migrating birds will also be on the lookout for fresh water. Provide a source of clean and fresh water from a bird bath, fountain or a shallow pond. It’s important to keep your water source clean and change the water often to prevent bacteria from forming and spreading amongst the birds. If your water source is stagnant, you can add a fountain to keep the water moving and prevent it from becoming dirty quickly.

Migration alerts

To help you make the most of this exciting time of year, follow the local bird migration alerts from BirdCast to find out whether birds will be passing overhead near your city tonight! BirdCast provides live and local bird migration alerts throughout the continental US by employing real-time analysis of bird migration traffic as detected by radar. You can also take a look at their bird migration forecast maps and live bird migration maps to see predicted and real-time intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration based on weather surveillance and historical bird movements.

birdcast migration map

Identify your new feathered friends

Since you’ll be seeing some new faces around your feeders, get ready to identify them with these recommended resources:

  • Merlin Bird ID app: Answer three simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and Merlin will give you a list of possible matches. Merlin offers quick identification help for all levels of bird watchers to help you learn about the birds across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
  • National Geographic Field Guide: This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.
  • State-specific field guides: Author, naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela is the originator of the popular state-specific field guide series and many easy-to-use identification guides for the U.S.

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