Late summer birding

Now that the buzz of spring migration has quieted, on come the high temperatures and humidity of hot sunny days. You might notice less bird activity at your feeders and a quieter tone in the trees. But just because it’s summer doesn’t mean birding season is over! As they lay low in anticipation for fall migration, there is still a lot taking place behind the scenes with your feathered friends that you may not even notice or know about. We have the answers to a few of the most common late summer birding questions to help you understand what’s happening with your backyard birds during the summer!

When do birds molt their feathers?

Once the summertime arrives, you might notice that the birds can look a little worse for wear with dull and drab colors. After an active spring of using their brightest and flashiest feathers to attract a mate and expending lots of energy to raise their young, a bird’s feathers can become worn out. Once nesting season is over, birds can then afford to lie low as they begin the molting process of replacing their entire plumage. Molting can leave birds with partially grown flight feathers, making them more vulnerable to predators. They may not seem as present around your backyard but rest assured that they are there saving energy and preparing for the season ahead.

blue jay feeding from nature's way weathered hopper feeder

Blue Jay visiting Galvanized Weathered Hopper Feeder (Model# WWGF2-DECO)

Why do birds stop singing in the summer?

Much of the singsong background music birds make while attracting a mate or defending their territory in the spring is no longer necessary once nesting season is over. By July, most backyard birds have attracted their mate and their spring hatchlings have fledged, leaving a quieter sound behind. Some songbirds will continue singing in order to teach their young how to communicate, but as the summer passes, your birding sessions will likely have the volume turned down.

Do birds nest in the summer?

Birders commonly refer to “nesting season” as the time between late March and late June, or springtime. It’s true that most birds do take advantage of the early spring months to mate, nest and raise their young. But don’t forget that some bird species have multiple broods in one season – even as many as six! For these birds, nesting season can extend well into the late summer months.

eastern bluebirds making a nest in nature's way bluebird house

Eastern Bluebirds making their nest in the Bluebird Box House (Model# CWH3)

How do birds stay cool in the heat?

As the summer temperatures continue to rise, many birders may wonder how birds can manage to stay cool in the heat. Since birds don’t have sweat glands, they rely on other physical behaviors to regulate their body temperature, like panting, or gular fluttering (a combination of panting and vibration of the throat which results in evaporation and cooling). Keeping in the shade, bathing and staying less active also help to lower a bird’s body temperature.


Don’t forget to check out our tips for birding in hot weather to make the most out of your summer birdwatching experience!

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